Console peripherals are often not taken seriously enough in regards to comfortable, reliable gaming. In a recent review, I noted how nothing came close to the original NES zapper. In terms of dependability-and durability-this original light gun was the absolute best in gaming fun, but somehow, as the times and technologies changed, that fun was lost to the cracks of bigger, better graphics in thumb-controlled games.
Then came along the Nintendo Wii, whose control scheme seemed to be anchored to the very idea of point-and-shoot. But even with this fantastic revitalization to gaming, the new and improved "zapper" had yet to make an appearance; that is, until the team at Penguin United decided to bestow their Crossfire pistol to the masses.
It seems that someone finally put in the effort to get it right. Though Nintendo came out with its own frames for a gun-like zapper, the idea of building a unit dedicated to Wii gameplay in both design and function just didn’t seem high-priority for the company or to those who would provide control options for the console.
Coming fresh off a "Zapper" review (and a not too pleasant one at that), my first instincts on tackling another third-party peripheral review wasn’t all glory and sunshine, so you can imagine the surprise when my hard-won cynicism was shattered and I found myself at first enjoying the Crossfire and then going on to use it as my primary Wii controller.
Unlike other frames that incorporate the actual Wii remote into its structure, the Crossfire is an independent remote by itself, and has invented an entirely new control setup to go along with its design.
All the buttons of your traditional Wii remote are available here, but the difference is that these buttons are now rearranged around a pistol-styled easy-to-handle frame. This perk is made even better since left-handed gamers will also find the Crossfire accommodating, as the "A" button is featured on both sides of the gun’s stock.
For targeting, you can’t do any better than the Crossfire, and that sentiment doubles when it comes down to saving space. With the Zapper Crossbow, you had the same limitations that Komodo’s Buck Shot encountered, as there is no shoulder rest to counter act the awkward feel of a bulky frame.
As an answer to this problem, the Perfect Shot by Nyko attempted to create a smaller pistol-styled frame for the Wii remote, but ended up encountering the problem of uncomfortable positioning in regards to all buttons save for the trigger.
Crossfire developers must have taken all these troubles into their design, because each problem finds a solution during gameplay, with the "A", 1 & 2 buttons, and the D-pad located within easy thumb reach.
Tested out with several different shooters, I decided to put the Crossfire to the test with Red Steel, just to see how versatile this controller would be on a game that doesn’t focus all its time on shooting, because, as Red Steel players know, the title tosses swordplay into the mix as well. When put to this challenge, the Crossfire provided fantastic results in terms of both careful aiming and movability.
The only thing that I could think to change or add to this model of zapper is a further incorporation of the Wii’s nunchuck into the gun’s handle, allowing for a more all-in-one product for gaming circles. While some gamers might find this addition too cluttered, I tend to think a single unit that could provide the two-handed aim and control factor would be paramount to any FPS experience.
However, don’t think that I’m completely oblivious as to why such a peripheral would be impossible to produce, market, or sell. I’m not. But when we dream big, the outcome is often an interesting prototype or two. But until this ultimate controller surfaces, I’ll be more than happy to accept this latest creation in its place, because, quite honestly, the Crossfire is about as close to a perfect controller for the Wii as you can get.