Hooked Up - Thrustmaster T-Freestyle NW


posted 12/28/2010 by Dan Keener
other articles by Dan Keener
Welcome to Hooked Up, the Gaming Nexus series that puts the spotlight on gaming related products that impact the Video Game experience. This week we take a look at Thrustmaster’s T-Freestyle NW for the Nintendo Wii.

What is it?
Thrustmaster’s T-Freestyle NW is an add-on to your Nintendo Wii Fit Balance Board that provides a realistic snowboard/skateboard feel. It easily attaches to the top of any Wii Fit Board and is held in place by locking clamps.

I received my first look at the Thrustmaster T-Freestyle NW on the 2010 CES show floor and was very impressed with it in the brief amount of time I had with it. Once I was able to get one to review, I came to respect what exactly this board accessory can provide to gamers. I haven’t had too much experience with “board” games on the Wii (namely games that emulate a skateboard or snowboard) but when I had, I found the Wii Fit Balance Board (and the bundled board controllers) to be an adequate way to play at best. While they provide some aspects of what you expect when riding a board, they simply aren’t shaped or balanced properly or designed to give that ultimate control that boarders expect.

Enter the T-Freestyle NW, which instantly felt like I was using a real board once I strapped it onto my Wii Fit Balance Board. This isn’t by accident, as the T-Freestyle is made of maple, the same wood that goes into many real boards. Hooking it up was actually quite easy, as the T-Freestyle NW uses two clamps to lock the board to the bottom of the Wii Fit Balance Board. Not only does this lock it securely to the balance board, but it also allows a certain amount of “play” or flexibility, that helps create a more realistic boarding experience.

During my testing, I was very impressed with the board and how well it responded to my movements. About the only bad thing that I found is that the paint job maybe could have had some sort of add in to give it a bit more grip, as playing is socks or when the board had moisture (i.e. sweat) seemed to make it a bit slicker than it should have. I also had a couple of dings get in the board from my kids, which probably wouldn’t happen under normal use, but it isn’t surprising as maple plywood used in the construction isn’t that hard, and it also gives it character. Other than that, the board performed flawlessly and for the price, is a steal for something that will work with any game that emulates a board.

Gaming Impact
Just to provide full disclosure, I suck at games that require balance and use of the Wii Fit Board as a snow or skateboard. As a kid, I had a skateboard and used it a lot, but rarely was on it for more than 10 or so seconds before I lost my balance. Having said that, I truly believe the Thrustmaster T-Freestyle NW allowed me to be a better gamer after I installed it. I felt like my control was much better than the big surface area that the Wii Fit board provides and I was able to actually use my toes and heels to help control the board like you would normally. As a result, games I had played previously with just the Wii Fir Board, I scored an average of 25-30% higher when using the T-Freestyle.

-Provides an experience akin to a real snowboard/skateboard
-Provides great control in game
-Made with maple plywood and flexes like real board
-Simple design and easy hook up

-Could use a bit more grip on the board surface
-Can get “dings” easily in the surface

The Skinny
The Thrustmaster T-Freestyle NW is probably the best “board” accessory that I have come across yet for gamers. It provides a natural feel and realistic response when using it in any Wii game that emulate snowboard or skateboard play. For those that crave the best control possible while playing board games on the Wii, this is a must buy.

Where to Find/Buy
The Thrustmaster T-Freestyle NW can be found at the official website or purchased online at many retailers for an approximate price of $21.99 - $29.99.

If you have a gaming related product or accessory that you would like to see featured in Hooked Up, please contact the Author regarding inclusion.

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.