|Ease of Use|
Until now, Wii shooter fans have only had two choices in control – either a standard Wii remote or a snap-on accessory like the Zapper. Penguin Unlimited’s Crossfire Pistol introduces a third option – a gun peripheral with built-in Wii remote functionality. Solid build quality and dual A buttons make the unit comfortable regardless of left or right handedness, but awkward placement of the plus and minus buttons mar its usage.
The first thing Crossfire users will notice is the unit’s weight; it’s heavier than one would expect. Whether intentional or not, it adds a tactile feel not often encountered in such a device. The end result is a product that, appropriately, handles more like a game controller than a toy. In addition, the overall durability of the gun is high due to a thick outer casing.
Unlike older Wii light guns, the Crossfire does not require a supplementary Wii Remote, as all controls are built in to the unit itself. As a whole, controls are conveniently located with the B button on the trigger, A buttons on both sides, and a D-pad located at the rear. In contrast to the Zapper, this gun is fully compatible with most Wii titles regardless of type or genre. Although the packaging claims compatibility with all Wii software, this is not the case. Due to the placement and design of the accessory port, this device is not compatible with the motion plus accessory, rendering any game that requires its use incompatible.
To test this product properly, two shooters (House of the Dead: Overkill, and The Conduit) were used, each of which identified as fully compatible with the gun. Performance in the former was spot-on, with the Crossfire’s responsive trigger lending itself flawlessly to HotD’s simplistic point-and-shoot gameplay. Unfortunately, The Conduit did not fare as well. Although navigation was acceptable and shooting felt as natural as expected, there is a fundamental design flaw. As any Conduit player will attest, the Wii Remote’s minus and plus buttons are essential to survival in the game.
The placement of these buttons expose the Crossfire’s weakness. The minus and plus buttons are located on the barrel of the gun, two inches away from the trigger. This forces the player to either use their other hand to access these two buttons (and thus temporarily lose nunchuck control) or take his/her finger off the trigger. This makes control in titles that utilize minus and plus significantly more cumbersome than a traditional Wii Remote, adding an unnecessary learning curve to an otherwise user friendly device.
Save for the odd placement on those buttons, the Crossfire functions exactly as a gun-shaped Wii Remote should. The same functionality is there, including rumble and an integrated speaker. Any differences in battery life between the Crossfire and a Wii Remote are negligible. That said, this gun is difficult to recommend. It functions best as a Wii Remote replacement for on-rails shooters like House of the Dead: Overkill and Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles. While it offers an integrated control solution, negating the need to insert a remote, it’s awkward to use in non-shooter games. Fans of rail shooters may appreciate the inclusion of dual A buttons, as it gives the device ambidextrous compatibility. Since the Crossfire is, by design, limited to the Wii Remote’s button configuration, there is no auto-fire button.
At $40, the Crossfire pistol is little more than a gun shaped controller. At best, it’s a novelty for gamers who would prefer a light gun for on-rails shooters; at worst, it’s an unremarkable niche peripheral. For the small cross section of gamers who play rail shooters regularly, this gun is a capable alternative to the Zapper; everyone else should pass.