E3 has come and gone, and all three of the major console players have revealed their latest contributions to motion-controlled gaming. Until Microsoft’s “Project Natal,” Nintendo’s Wii MotionPlus, and Sony’s new motion controller become available, however, chances are that the only motion sensitive devices most gamers will have any kind of contact with are the standard Wii remote and PS3 SIXAXIS controller.
But what do you do when either of those controllers starts acting wonky? What can you do when the on-screen cursor bounces around erratically like it just drank 17 pots of coffee? For that matter, what can you do when it lazily drifts to one side of the screen no matter what you do with the controller? Well, thankfully both Nintendo and Sony have developed troubleshooting FAQs to help console owners address those very questions.
Nintendo’s first golden rule of troubleshooting Wii remote issues may seem a bit odd at first: just hit it. Or, more specifically, "without using much force, firmly tap the button side of the remote against the palm of your hand a few times.” Doing so tests the functionality of the controller’s directional sensor. The next few steps are fairly self-explanatory:
• Make sure the Bluetooth sensor on the controller is free of obstructions (dirt, smudges, etc.) • Make sure there are no obstructions between the controller and sensor bar • Make sure you’re within 3-10 feet of the sensor bar • Make sure the batteries in the remote still have a charge
Should these steps fail to resolve the issue – or if the controller does not respond at all – owners should try resetting/re-synching the controller and checking for outside interference. To reset the controller, simply remove the batteries for one full minute before reinserting them. The controller can then be re-synched by pressing the small red button inside the remote’s battery cover, followed by the red “Sync” button under the plastic “flap” on the front of the console itself.
Checking for outside interference, however, is not so easy – signals can be blocked by both infrared heat sources (from direct sunlight and open flames) and radio interference (from cordless phones, wireless mice/keyboards, etc). In general, simply maximizing the distance between the Wii and these sources is enough to resolve such problems.
The PS3’s SIXAXIS controller, on the other hand, has a simplified, two-step troubleshooting process. The first step that Sony recommends is resetting the controller to its original factory settings. This can be done by pressing the reset button located near the L2 button with "a small, unfolded paper-clip or something similar.” After doing so, the controller will need to be re-paired with the console using a USB cable.
This basic process applies to Dualshock 3 controllers as well, but it’s important to remember that not all games support vibration functions. Additionally, owners should verify that the vibration function is enabled on Dualshock 3 controllers before assuming that there’s anything wrong with them – this feature is turned off by default!
Although these troubleshooting steps may be able to resolve a good portion of controller difficulties, remember that they are by no means guaranteed solutions – all electronic devices are subject to eventual failure. If and when that occurs, your best bet is to contact the manufacturer directly for service and support under your factory warranty coverage.