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 Tennis Duo Pack NW for the Nintendo Wii.
What is it?
Thrustmaster’s Tennis Duo Pack NW is a two-pack of tennis racket shaped accessories designed to create a real-world look and feel while playing tennis games on the Nintendo Wii. In the box are two rackets (hence the “Duo”), two pieces to fill in the handles when the Wii remote isn’t being used and a soft foam ball.
While in the process of unboxing the Tennis Duo Pack, it occurred to me that there have been some truly awful “sports equipment” accessories available for the Nintendo Wii. Previous incarnations from various companies (including Nintendo’s own branded items) have in a word been “weak”. Basically, they were nothing more than token attempts to create a sense of using a piece of real equipment without actually designing an accessory that looked, felt or was sized like real equipment. After pulling the contents out of the box, I immediately knew that Thrustmaster had something different and possibly special on their hands with the Tennis Duo Pack NW.
The first thing you notice is that this isn’t some fake-looking product, but an honest to goodness replica of a real tennis racket. While it isn’t to the exact size of a real racket (it is about 70% the size of a real racket) the size and weight of it create the feel of a nice racket in your hand. The rackets are built solidly of plastic, with padding around the outside of the head and red or blue trim to match the Wii player scheme. In addition, there is real string on the inside (again, contributing to the simulation of a real tennis racket) of the racket with the Thrustmaster logo stenciled onto it. The grip is a perfect size for people with any hand size, including adults, the elderly or children. The best feature though is the hole on the bottom of the racket handle. Why you ask? Well, this is the opening that allows for the Wii Motion Plus device to easily fit on the end of the remote while it is in the handle of the racket.
During testing, there were only two issues that I found that could be improved upon. The first involved the Wii remote not being recognized for the on-screen “hand” in the Wii Sports menu’s while the remote is in the racket. The button’s and in-game motion controls worked fantastic, but, for whatever reason, not the hand in the menus. The second issue is with how the remote stays in the racket. After inserting it into the slot in the racket’s handle, the remote pretty much relies on the player’s grip to hold it in place while in use. It does stay put under normal handling, but there isn’t any tabs or clips to hold it in place during extreme play. While this is a minor annoyance, it does fall in line with the design of most Nintendo Wii accessories.
The great thing about the Tennis Duo Pack NW is that is usable as a play toy if you aren’t using it with the Wii. The pack contains two pieces to fill in the handle and complete the grip for each racket as well as a soft foam ball. This allows it serve the dual purpose of an indoor-outdoor toy as well as a gaming accessory.
• Works with Wii Motion Plus
• Replicates look and feel of real tennis racket
• Excellent attention to detail in the design
• Can’t control Wii Sports “hand” in Menu while remote is in racket
After playing quite a few sports games with the Wii remote, I find it is incredibly helpful to use some sort of peripheral that simulates the size, shape and feel of what you are using. In the case of the Tennis Duo Pack NW, the rackets are about as close to the real thing as you currently will find available. Although you will probably need more personal space while using these, it feels more natural than using just the Wii remote on your backswing, serve and forehand while playing a game such as Tennis in Wii Sports.
The Tennis Duo Pack NW by Thrustmaster is one of the best looking and highest-quality made accessories that simulate a piece of sports equipment on the market. The effect on your game play cannot be discounted, as anyone that has played tennis in real life will feel more comfortable with the flow and motions of the game. I was particularly impressed with the attention to detail that Thrustmaster put into the design such as real strings, padding around the racket head, colored trim to match your Wii player and the ability to use it with the Wii or as a standalone product. The clincher is that it is fully compatible with the Wii Motion Plus, which makes this a worthwhile product to have in your household.
Where to Find/Buy
The Thrustmaster Tennis Duo Pack NW can be purchased at Amazon
for an approximate price of $19.99 - $29.99.
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