The Wii Wheel is an accessory that came packaged with every copy of Mario Kart Wii, though can also be purchased separately. It is also compatible with some driving games, such as Excitebots: Trick Racing and Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing.
The player's Wii Remote can be placed in the middle of the plastic unit, allowing for arguably easier control in the game in subject. A trigger is placed on the back of the wheel so that the player can easily press the B button, which is heavily used in Mario Kart Wii. There are holes on both sides of the Wii Wheel - one for the wrist strap to come out of and the other for the sensor stationed in the Wii Remote (otherwise it would cover it up).
The Wii Wheel gained high profile publicity due to its heavy involvement in Mario Kart Wii, which subliminally encourages players to use the wheel during gameplay. It is shown in the introducing cutscene where Mario, Luigi and Peach control invisible vehicles using the Wii Wheel.
During online matches, a mark of the Wii Wheel symbol is placed next to the players' and staff ghosts' name if they're using one, and it can turn gold when used extensively. The stats page even keeps a track of the percentage of the player's game time spent using the Wii Wheel.
The packaging of the Mario Kart Wii box is larger than usual so that it can hold the wheel, while an image of it can be seen behind Mario and Luigi whom are both holding the accessory. The blue circle featured on the boxart references early prototypes of the Wii Wheel which featured a circle on the back; Nintendo decided to ditch it due to its costlty development.
The Wii Wheel is also compatible with Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U system, where it serves the same function as it did in the preceding Wii game though it has since taken a backseat, with the succeeding console's GamePad taking the limelight.
Development on the Wii Wheel started sometime in 2006 when game designer Hideki Konno decided to develop a wheel, presumably for the next installment of Mario Kart. It was mentioned after the Wii was finished, in the planning stages of the Wii Zapper.
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Many different (about thirty) different prototypes for the Wii Wheel were made until they concluded with the final product (shown above). The first was a badly made rubber shell that was not intended to be released, but rather was just a starting point. The Wii Remote stuck out quite a bit and the overall design was ugly. According to the designers, creating these prototypes helped them decide how to construct a perfect Wii Wheel - i.e. where to station the Wii Remote, what the shape should be and so forth.
After their first, they visited amusement parks and observed wheels stationed on go-karts, and noticed their unusually square design. They mimicked this, though ultimately thought that a round design would be more appropriate.
The weight also came into consideration, as according to the designers even a 30 gram difference would sometimes be considered too heavy by consumers. Below is a gallery of different prototypes.
- A golden Wii Wheel was offered as an item fans could purchase using their points received through Club Nintendo.
- SpongeBob's Boating Bash is the only Nickelodeon game to use the Wii Wheel.
- In November of 2008 Burger King and Nintendo teamed up to feature Nintendo related toys. One of the toys had Yoshi drive on a kart that could be launched via a toy Wii Wheel .
- Nintendo's second game to be made with the Wii Wheel in mind was Excitebots: Trick Racing. The developers explained that some people preferred the Wii Wheel over the standard control scheme.
- Because it is a shell, the Wheel can be used for any game that uses a similar steering method.