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Buying guide for best wii u motion controllers

It’s been more than a decade since Nintendo’s Wii video game console made waves with its use of motion controls. With their wildly innovative combination of advanced movement-tracking technology and gyroscopes, motion controls proved so successful that the Japanese game developer ran with the concept, integrating motion controls into the heart of its successor, the Wii U.

Longtime Wii players still enjoy playing a variety of games on the new system using their older Wii motion controllers alongside the new Wii U GamePad. But if you don’t already have a closet full of Wii motion controllers, or are completely new to the Wii U, it’s easy to get lost while trying to understand which controllers you need for getting the most from the Wii U.

Nintendo created the Wii Remote, Wii Remote Plus, and Nunchuck controller accessory to work perfectly with the Wii U, and third-party controller manufacturers have gone to great lengths to ensure that their devices look and perform like the originals.

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The GamePad controller included with your Wii U console features a built-in accelerometer and gyroscope, allowing it to utilize motion controls like a Wii Remote Plus controller. Try it out with games like Pikmin 3 and Mario Kart 8.

Key considerations


When it comes to responsiveness, the original Wii Remote, colloquially known as the Wiimote, is a serviceable motion controller. That said, it may be a little finicky at times, especially if used more than three feet from the Wii U console. The Wii Remote Plus is much more sensitive to your body’s natural movement, making Wii U games that rely on motion controls far more enjoyable.


Nintendo has gone to great lengths to ensure that their motion controllers feel comfortable in your hands, especially since you’re probably going to be punching and karate chopping the air for hours at a time. While official Wii U motion controllers fit perfectly, third party controllers are hit and miss. The good ones copy the ergonomic design of official controllers as closely as possible.


Nintendo encased the Wii U motion controller’s gyroscopes in an ultra-sturdy plastic shell designed for children. While third-party Wii U motion controllers may be more affordable, there can be long-term reliability concerns. Still concerned about extending the life of your Wii U motion controller? There’s a wide range of protective silicone, foam, and plastic motion controller skins available online.

Wii U motion controller features

Because the singular goal of a Wii U motion controller is to reliably match your movements as you enjoy your favorite Wii U games, there aren’t many bonus features to keep an eye out for while considering different models. Third-party controller manufacturers have gone to great lengths to ensure that their devices look and perform like the original. That said, there are a few defining features to keep in mind.

Motion accuracy

Although the original Wii Remote is a fine motion controller that will work with the vast majority of Wii U and classic Wii games, there is no denying that the Wii Remote Plus is by far the more precise motion controller. To ensure that you have the best motion-gaming experience on the Wii U, we highly recommend using the upgraded Wii Remote Plus.


The Wii Remote Plus is compatible with the entire collection of Wii U games. While the original Wii Remote works with most Wii U games, Wii U owners will have to buy a Nunchuk accessory to play certain Wii U and backwards compatible Wii games. If you’re unsure if you can use your controllers to play a specific Wii U game, check the back of its box for a clearly indicated list of compatible controllers before you buy it.


If you want Wii U motion controllers and accessories that match the color of your console, black and white models are widely available. For gamers who want their controllers and accessories to pop, there’s a rainbow of models from which to choose.

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Expert Tip
If you want to enjoy original Wii games via the Wii U’s backwards compatibility feature, you will absolutely need at least one Wii Remote or Wii Remote Plus to play.

Wii U motion controller prices

While Nintendo’s official controllers guarantee the best gameplay experience available, they’re also the most expensive models on the market. Savvy buyers who don’t mind playing with unofficial motion controllers that may have a shorter overall lifespan and include fewer features should shop around online for offers that include multiple Wii Remote controllers and Nunchuck accessories at a major discount.

Inexpensive: Third party Wii Remotes and Nunchuk-like controller accessories are widely available for $10 to $25. These cheaper third party devices may seem like a nice deal at first with their low cost and availability in a rainbow of colors, but they often lack a rumble feature and have a far lower average lifespan than the official Wii Remote and Nunchuck offered by Nintendo.

Expensive: Official Wii Remote and Wii Remote Pro motion controllers cost $30-$50 each, and the official Nunchuk accessory costs $20-$30 on average. Nintendo’s controllers are pricier for a reason; they are the sturdiest and most precise motion controllers available for the Wii U. Although Nintendo has released a range of stylish Wii Remote designs, the most common Wii U controller colors, white and black, are often the cheapest as well.

Keep an eye out for Wii Remote and Nunchuk bundle packs. Not only will you likely save a decent amount of money by purchasing these essential motion controllers together, you’ll be able to play a wider variety of Wii U games right out of the box. On the other hand, you should watch out for bundles selling third party Wii Remotes that may not function as well as the official version would, or for sellers trying to pawn off used controllers.

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Did you know?
Some Wii U games that heavily rely on motion controls require the pinpoint precision of the Wii Remote Plus controller, meaning that original Wii Remotes are not compatible with all Wii U titles.


  • You can instantly check the battery level of a Wii U GamePad, Wii Remote, or Wii Remote Plus by pressing the HOME button. The battery icon of each connected controller will be displayed at the top of the screen.
  • Wirelessly connecting controllers to the Wii U console is easy — simply tap the red SYNC button on the front of the Wii U, then the SYNC button on your Wii Remote, Wii Remote Plus, or Wii U GamePad. The lights on your controller will flash as soon as it connects to the Wii U.
  • If a Wii Remote’s motion control icon is moving erratically or disappears entirely, move within 1-3 feet of the Wii U console, recalibrate your motion controller by placing it on a flat horizontal surface for 10 seconds with the buttons facing down, and try again.
  • If you’re still having difficulty with the motion controls, go into the settings menu of your Wii U, scroll to the “Wii Remote and Sensor Bar” icon, and make sure that the “Set Sensor-Bar Position” option matches wherever you’ve placed the Wii U sensor bar: above or below your TV.
  • Always buy new video game controllers whenever possible to avoid worn-down control sticks, sticky buttons, and other awful controller complications!

Other products we considered

If you already own an original Wii Remote and want to enjoy the incredibly precise motion controls of the Wii Remote Plus without buying additional controllers, you can easily upgrade your older controller with a Wii Motion Plus adapter. Simply plug the Motion Plus adapter into the end of any original Wii Remote, and your last-generation controllers will have the ability to follow your movements far more accurately. Each Wii Motion Plus adapter includes a bonus silicone cover for your newly improved controller.

Some racing fans can’t imagine playing Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U without their Wii Wheel controller accessory. The Wii Wheel is a simple plastic steering wheel that players insert their Wii Remote or Wii Remote Plus into, turning the device into a surprisingly responsive wireless steering wheel. The Wii Wheel is compatible with a handful of great racing games for the Wii U, including Mario Kart Wii and Excite Truck.

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You may not realize it, but the Nunchuk controller accessory features motion-sensing technology and an accelerometer to match the Wii Remote’s. Perhaps the most famous use of the Nunchuk’s motion controls is in the boxing game from Wii Sports.


Q. Do all Wii U games utilize motion controls?
A. No — and you will need to research a game’s specific features to learn if it incorporates motion controls. For example, Mario Kart 8 sports completely optional steering motion-based controls.

Q. Can I still use a Wii U motion controller with a game that doesn’t support motion controls?
A. Probably! There are many Wii U games like Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and New Super Mario Bros U that do not support motion controls, but which allow additional players with Wii Remote Plus or Wii Remote controllers to join in by holding the device like a traditional controller instead of a TV remote.

Q. How are Wii U motion controllers powered?
A. Wii Remote and Wii Remote Plus controllers require a pair of AA batteries, but if you get plenty of use out of your Wii U, consider buying a controller charging station to save money on batteries in the long run. The Nunchuk accessory runs off of the Wii Remote’s battery power.

The Wii U GamePad features a rechargeable battery and an included charging cable that allows users to keep playing as the controller recharges.

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