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Oh Snap!
"For the sake of science, I've decided to sacrifice my Wii wrist straps and put them to the test."
Oh Snap!

Nintendo has avoided console hardware problems in the past. While PlayStation owners are quite familiar with disc read errors, and Xbox 360 owners are well acquainted with the red light of death, Nintendo is known for sturdy hardware that suffers from few problems, even at launch. I've personally dropped my GameCube onto a tile floor from about three feet (I was actually using the handle, but I'm a little clumsy). Aside from the resulting chip in the casing just above the ATI logo, the Cube survived.

But this time, we are getting reports that there is one minor problem with Wii hardware -- it's too realistic. Just because the remote becomes a bowling ball, doesn't mean it should actually be thrown at the TV. A few overly involved players, however, are apparently doing just that, and they say the wrist strap just isn't strong enough.

So, for the sake of science, I've decided to sacrifice my Wii wrist straps and put them to the test.

The parameters of my tests:

  • I am right handed, and at all times held the remote in my right hand.
  • The remotes I used were ready to play, with the strap connected as packaged and batteries loaded inside.
  • My remotes are all from the system's launch. One of course came with the system, the rest I purchased on launch day. They use the original straps.
  • The only adjustment I made was to ensure that any potentially catastrophic movements were directed at something soft -- namely my couch -- to prevent damaging the actual remote. I don't have an extra $40 just lying around.

Test 1: Unbiased Normal Play
In the course of my Wii Sports experiences, before hearing of such wrist strap problems, I have accidentally let the remote fly from my grasp on a few occasions. It has always happened while playing tennis, as I tend to stand up and get a little more involved than is necessary. This has transpired three times, and each time, the wrist strap has kept the remote from soaring through the air.

In fact, when it first happened, my worry was not a breaking wrist strap. I thought that I may forget to tighten the sliding buckle or that it would slowly fall down, leaving a wide gap and only being secured in my mind. Still, the strap remained attached to both the remote and my wrist, and I was able to quickly regain control and be ready for my next swing. Also, despite going for quite a rapid spin, the remote continued to function normally, showing no ill effects.

And my strap is still intact.

Test 2: Detached strength
If that little 1.5 inch strap is the problem then it must not be strong enough. Therefore, I decided to remove the strap from the remote and see how much weight it could support. I do not possess a professional weight testing lab in my apartment, so I improvised, hanging the strap from my banana holder hook, dangling it over my counter, and hanging various items from it.


The lightweight DS proved no problem. I needed to go bigger.


My GameCube posed no threat.


My camera bag became a cradle for heavier items, like this knife block.


15 pounds of books


25 pounds of books


25 pounds of books and a knife block.


25 pounds of books and 100 fl oz of Mountain Fresh laundry detergent.


As I attempted to add a 2.5 gallon jug filled with water to the stack, by banana hook apparatus flipped over the counter, hitting me in the nose.


It was apparent that my testing center was inadequate, and the detached strength tests concluded.

Test 3: Intentional Mayhem
To give it a little more oomph, I intentionally let go of the remote a few times. First, I simulated playing motions -- a few forehands, a couple of backhands, three jabs and some Red Steel sword slashes. With each swing, I put more and more strength into the throw. I tried pulling back as the strap became taut and gave it different twists and turns. I put as much stress on the cord as I am capable while actually holding the remote in a playing position.

Nothing! So, for my final act, I went old school. With one hand on the remote and the other on the strap, and I gave it a heave. I reached that point where I was pulling so hard I began to shake, and then, finally, progress -- I heard a click, and then a snap.

After hours of testing, one final violent tug of amazing strength did, in fact, snap the strap where it attaches to the remote.


In my scientific opinion, breaking wrist straps must be limited to those using the remote far, far beyond even the most wildly extreme playing condition, or those actually trying to break them. Reports of broken TV screens and ceiling fans are likely due to people not even using the wrist strap, which is their own fault.

As for me, my experiment has left me with one less wrist strap than I have remotes, this editorial and a sore nose. All in the interest of science, I suppose. If I've learned anything, it's that my remote is much more fun when it's used to play games.

Staff Avatar Dave Magliano
Staff Profile | Email
"Tiger uppercut!!"

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