E3 07: Nyko

by: John -
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Today's day started with Nyko bright and early and they have a few interesting products in the works and in consideration. Let's start off with a concept for a wireless controller for theXbox 360. Based on the Frontman for the PS2, the Frontman 360 features an interchangeable front plate and stickers. A clear plate lets you print out your own designs to decorate the guitar. Since Microsoft is keeping their wireless technology pretty closed,Nyko devised a scheme around it. First off, a dongle shaped like a foot pedal connects to the USB port of the Xbox 360. Secondly, a wired controller must be plugged in to the dongle. You can use any wired controller such as another third partyXbox 360 controller or even the wired guitar but you can't use the Play and Charge kit to utilize the wireless guitar. For those that don't have a wired controller, this is another additional cost but you can use the guitar that came with Guitar Hero II.Unfortunately , that means another big item will be attached too the dongle so it can be a little messy. The guitar feels a little heavier and a littlemor solid along with a little longer neck. If you used the PS2 Frontman , then this guitar feels about the same including the little thicker strum bar and more tension on the whammy bar. I did have a little trouble activating Star power though as I had to tilt the guitar pretty high to get it to work. It is a prototype so improvements to it are bound to happen. They are aiming for a $80 price point and if there's no mention of a wireless guitar from the folks doing Rock Band or Guitar Hero III for the 360 then this might be a viable alternative. It's not an elegant solution but it is a solution that would enable wireless guitars for theXbox 360.

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The Wii is a party console and Nyko's Party Station for the Wii lets you drink, eat, and keep track of the games won. Four LEDs on the front can be used to count the number of games won for each person or whatever you would like. Pressing a button increments the counter displayed. There are four drink holders that contain a gel. Put these puppies in the freezer and you'll be able to keep cans ice cold for a long time. On the front, there's a fan to help cool off sweaty hands just like at the bowling alleys. On top surrounded by a blue LED light is the chip and dip bowl. You can put in snacks here to munch on while you guys are playing. Four slots, two on each side, can hold controllers when not in use. I asked about making thoserechargeable stations and the Nyko rep said that they are looking to keep this product under $25 so they'll have to do some research into the increase on costs. The other reason is that they don't want to have a power cable coming from the unit and I brought up a point of having the unit run on batteries or an optional power cord. Costs again are the factor so we'll see if they decide to implement any charging functionality when the product goes to market. Another idea I think could work would be to make the base for the controllersinterchangeable so they could release a charging unit for the Party Station as a separate add on. Finally, the front has a nice little drawer to hold your nunchuks, memory cards, or whatever you desire.

I use the Nyko Charge Station a lot and the unit comes with a cool grip and battery combo. Nyko is selling just the battery and grip set on its own in case you would want to outfit more Wii controllers with them. If you don't want the battery, they are also releasing grips in various colors as well.

While the Wii doesn't get too hot, some might do when encased in an entertainment center. Nyko has designed a small Intercooler unit that clips on the back and uses the power cord pass through. I asked why they didn't use the USB and their response was they could get a higher speed on the fan using the pass through. The unit was on display at their booth and it didn't sound too loud when running. In allreality you'd probably use this on a unit that's in an enclosed area or a high heat area so the small sound it produces won't be heard by you.

I'm probably one of the few that gets excited about remotes and the PlayStation 3 remote will finally let me use my Harmony remote with the PlayStation 3. The Nyko remote will let you do that as there's a USB infrared receiver for it. The PS3 buttons are also on the remote so they might be able to used for casual games later on down the road.

The final new product I glanced at was the PlayStation 3 Zero Wireless controller. There's a nice quality of build felt when I picked it up. The nice thing about this set is thatNyko is including the ability to use regular AA batteries as well as the included rechargeable ones. You know that if the PS3 controller's batteries die, and they will, you'll have to send them in for repair.Nyko's solution eliminates that and lets you use any battery of your choice. It's got full Sixaxis controls as evident by my turn in a game on the PS3. While it is a little bit pricier than the first party controller by about $10,Nyko is aiming for the Zero Wireless to be the standard controller for the PlayStation 3. From using it, I think they have a good chance to succeed in that area.
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