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Development on the Wii Wheel started sometime in 2006 when game designer Hideki Konno decided to develop a wheel, presumably for the next installment of Mario Kart. It was mentioned after the Wii was finished, in the planning stages of the Wii Zapper.
Many different (about thirty) different prototypes for the Wii Wheel were made until they concluded with the final product (shown above). The first was a badly made rubber shell that was not intended to be released, but rather was just a starting point. The Wii Remote stuck out quite a bit and the overall design was ugly. According to the designers, creating these prototypes helped them decide how to construct a perfect Wii Wheel - i.e. where to station the Wii Remote, what the shape should be and so forth.
After their first, they visited amusement parks and observed wheels stationed on go-karts, and noticed their unusually square design. They mimicked this, though ultimately thought that a round design would be more appropriate.
The weight also came into consideration, as according to the designers even a 30 gram difference would sometimes be considered too heavy by consumers. Below is a gallery of different prototypes.
Mario Kart Wii
In Mario Kart Wii, the Wii Wheel is heavily involved. In the introduction, you'll see Mario, Luigi and Peach controlling invisible vehicles using the Wii Wheel. Online, an image of a Wii Wheel will be placed next to the players' name if they're using one, and if they use it extensively, it'll turn gold. The same goes for the staff ghosts. On the stats page, you'll be able to see what percentage of the time you use the Wii Wheel. The packaging of the Mario Kart Wii box is larger than usual so that it can hold the wheel, while an image of it can be seen behind Mario and Luigi (who are also holding the accessory).
The blue circle featured on the boxart references early prototypes of the Wii Wheel which featured a circle on the back; Nintendo decided to ditch it due to its costlty development.
The actual box for Mario Kart Wii is normal. The box can be recycled once the package has been opened.
- A golden Wii Wheel was offered as an item fans could purchase using their points received through Club Nintendo.
- In November of 2008 Burger King and Nintendo teamed up to feature Nintendo related toys. One of the toys had Yoshi drive on a kart that could be launched via a toy Wii Wheel .
- Nintendo's second game to be made with the Wii Wheel in mind was Excitebots: Trick Racing. The developers explained that some people preferred the Wii Wheel over the standard control scheme.
- Because it is a shell, the Wheel can be used for any game that uses a similar steering method.