How to mess up your Wii controller connection

The first Wii experiences have been predominantly positive: the physical play style and basic sensory technology actually seem to work well. The remaining troubles have been either technical limitations or user errors. I will explain here one of my own from the latter category, so that others with same issue might get help quicker than I did.

Wii manual explains how to connect your controller (“Wiimote”) with the console by pressing the sync button simultaneously both in the remote and in the console. The trick is to press both buttons only once; somewhere I had got an idea that you need to keep those two buttons pressed down until the controller tells it has synced. That is wrong, and a bad idea. I ended up spending one or two hours pressing buttons for minutes without successful synchronization. The Wii console was of course inaccessible for all that time, which was not very happy situation — I was already calling help lines and was ready to send my brand new console back and order a new one.

Laura saved my day by pointing out that both two controllers sync perfectly if I just stop my futile attempts in keeping the sync buttons pressed down, and just press them once. Oh dear.

Another irritation is the lack of S video or component video cable from Wii (coming to Europe some time next year; out of stock in Japan). And I cannot get Dolby Surround sound out into my amplifier, even when both console and game (Zelda) advertise to support surround. But Wii Sports was really enjoyable, even sweaty. And Zelda Twilight Princess has the right kind of magic in it. It actually reminds me from both WoW, Fable and Beyond Good and Evil, which are among my favourites as far as contemporary RPG style adventures are concerned.

Author: frans

Professor of Information Studies and Interactive Media, esp. Digital Culture and Game Studies in the Tampere University, Finland. Occasional photographer and gardener.

72 thoughts on “How to mess up your Wii controller connection”

  1. You’re not alone in your misinterpretation! I read the instructions in that way too – hold the buttons down together till the lights stop flashing! Maybe it was the illustration with the two hands pressing the buttons seemingly at the same time. Fortunately, my Wiimote initially seemed to work just fine without completing the sync – until I used the controller on a friend’s Wii. Then I had to spend a worrying hour or so trying to figure out why it wouldn’t talk to my Wii any more and why syncing wasn’t working!

  2. Timothy – thanks for sharing that (happy I’m not the only one…) Wonder if Nintendo would include this in a Wii FAQ somewhere?

  3. I didn’t have to press anything when I unpacked my Wii. Basically I pressed 1+2 and it automatically found the remote.

    Odd. 😉

  4. Thanks for the tip, did same as you and was about to send the thing back .One more problem i`m having though is, the second controller i bought will sync in,but as soon as i turn off the console,it loses the sync and as to be done again any ideas??

  5. My Wii is still not working. I think that I am just going to use my warranty on this one. It will not work at all. The menu screen is up, but there is no Wiimote signal.

  6. Jay: Hope the warranty system will work for you; it seems that Nintendo has been rather speedy in replacements. Paul: Regarding the need for resyncing after reboot: I am not sure. My Wiimotes will keep their identities (controller 1, 2, etc.) but they need not be resynced each time, it is enough just to press “A” button once after turning on the console. Might be error in the ‘mote?

  7. Hehe, I also spent ages holding them buttons :s
    Controller worked as soon as I got the thing out of the box, but when I switched off for a while and put it back on, I had to re-synch them as the controller just sat and flashed at me.
    This page was the first one to come up on Google, so nice one 😀
    Hopefully I don’t have same problem as frans.

    Also, this is just me getting my Wii after ordering it on the 8th of November lol. Late Xmas or what 😦

  8. Good to know you got it working, JohnS — and my system has been playing fine since those initial troubles. The only major irritation has been the inability to connect Wii to the wifi-router of my (which I have written about elsewhere).

  9. Nice one. Thank goodness for the internet. You page turned up at the top of a search on ‘problems synchronizing wii controller’. Nintendo should definitely change the wording in the instructions as I too crouched painfully in front of the tv for 30 mins trying different variations of pressing the two buttons at the same time.

  10. Man, thank you so much, I already thought my Wii was broken or something… I have never had any issue with the wiimotes until I connected my Wii to the net yesterday

    About an hour ago, I was surfing the channels and it has thrown a communication error at me. Fine, I thought to myself, let’s try that again. However, at the moment I got back to the menu my Wii decided it doesn’t like the controler anymore, and not even my second one.

    After I tried the obvious things, like turning the Wii off and on again, unplugging the power, and begging it to work like it always did, I tried to synch the two like it says in the manual, on the Nintendo tech support page (pretty crappy one let me tell you) and anywhere else in all the FAQs etc. Only now that I found this page I can finally rest. You really made my evening 😉

  11. Aha, your tip saved my day. Just need a simple, quick click to do the job. Oh dear , after one hour frustration.

  12. Great how this note still seems be of help. I wonder how Nintendo did not foresee this issue while usability-testing the Wii setup and manuals?

  13. When i go into RedSteel and try to play in multi player mode, the game does not see my second ‘mote.

    The second ‘mote connects and plays fine in Wii Sports.

    Is anyone else having this problem?

  14. Jeebus! I’ve been putting off playing mine for several weeks now, simply cuz I didn’t want to deal with trying to get the wiimote to sync up!

    I’m trying this out tonight! Thanks!

  15. Sweet!! Thanks for the help I was having people to play and could not get the darn thing to work you saved the day

  16. I want to thank you for saving my marriage. and also all the payments I would have had to make to my then ex-wife. We boought the bloody thing for my daughter with her own savings. And geuss what it played for just two minutes when I decided to sync the second wiimote. And then all hell broke loose. I was blamed for breaking BS machine. And I thought my marriage was over. My daughter started to look at me funny as to say look what you went and done. I sat hours holding the blessed sync buttons and nothing happend. On the tech site from Wii nobody home called the helpdesk but they were closed for the weekend. And the thought to suffer the whole weekend untill monday was just not done. You really saved the day. don’t these guys and girls at Wii know that most people are off on the weekend and play a lot. It would be handy to be open for the weekend. Even if it was just to save my marriage or counceling or something like that. Anyhow I naming my second child after you “GODSEND”. Have a nice one.
    Thanks a million.
    PS Nintendo should offer you a job and a good paying one too

  17. Rinaldo: wow, you were really on a tight spot there! 🙂 Lets keep on posting this kind of tips then, as it actually seems that we are each others best support line in many cases.

  18. I love you! I spent hours searching forums and reseting and unplugging and everything I could find to try. Nothing worked until i read this. I was going to say that the manual is a bit unclear, but I guess its not. It does say press, not press and hold. I guess I should try to read a bit more carefully in future. Anyway, many thanks! A blessing on you and your house!!

  19. So many thanks for this – my son has saved for months for one of these so when we failed to synch the second remote and the first one stopped working as well, he was not happy. Found your tip first try on Google (Nintendo site no help). Result: one very happy boy, who has spent the evening beating us at tennis! Your tip has definitely saved our day! Also nice to know that we were not the only ones who missed this. He sends ‘thanks’ too.

  20. Thanks, was losing hope and now hopefully my second controller will sync again. 😉

  21. My little bro bought mario party 8 but we can’t get any of the other remotes to synch. Any advice?

  22. OMG!!!! Bless you for this information. I have tried EVERYTHING you could possible think of. Unplug for two hours,take out batteries, put batteries back, do a backflip…you freaking name it…I DID IT… Just press once… why can’t they say that!!!! I don’t know who you are, but you’re my hero, at least for today…

  23. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!
    We’d just bought Mario Party 8, and could not get the remotes to sync — just endlessly flashing. Completely stumped, as had never happened in previous games. I also did the take batteries out, unplug console, hold sync buttons, etc., Kids went to bed tearful as they not only didn’t play the game, they thought it was broken.
    Well, your blog saved the day — 3 minutes later all 4 remotes easily and beautifully synced.
    Thanks again — you taking the time to post your experience really made a difference here.

  24. Carolyn, I love hearing a comment like that, glad that I can help. But it continues to surprise me how many times this wiimote sync error comes up in the different forums, yet there seems not to be official help page available. Googling for “wiimote sync problem” tells much.

  25. I tried pushing the buttons both on the wiimote and the wii but it is still just continues to flash and im not holding them down and im gonna break the thing pretty soon does anyone have any idea what else i could possibly do?

  26. Aaron — sorry, I do not know how to help. I would contact Nintendo and ask for a replacement if I were you.

  27. My wiimotes are not syncronising!! arghhh its annoying, i turn my wii on, press the button on the back of my wiimote and press the one on the wii, the wiimote flashes but the light never goes into the first player square. i hold it for ages but nothing happens

  28. Many thanks. My wife has had her Wii sport for a month with noproblems but when my son bought a second remote for this the problems started when we tried to synchronise it as we then lost the synch for the original remote. Four of read and re-read the instructions trying over and over again to synchronise both the old and new remotes but got nowhere. Before taking the new remote back to the shop I tried to google the problem and this was the first site I tried and hey presto on just pressing and releasing the two buttons the remote synchronised straight away. Once again many thanks.

  29. Andrew: please do not hold the button, just press it quickly and then release it. — Warren, great to hear that you got the help this way.

  30. Many thanks, after weeks of despair and no reply from nintendo i can finally play with my nintendo wii. surely this should be brought to the attention of nintendo and instructions should be made clearer.

  31. I’ve been trying “just pressing” it for the past two hours. One wiimote connects, then the 2nd one just drops after about 3 seconds of connection. Doesn’t matter which wiimote I connect first, the second one always drops the connection 😦

  32. frans, you saved me. I was about to return my Wii to Nintendo. Your tip worked right away after I was struggling over 90 mins.

    Thank you, Thank you.

  33. Freedummy: that sounds like some kind of hardware trouble; maybe you should take it to back to Nintendo?

    matt, katie, zellum: glad to hear it worked and that you are back in game again! 🙂

  34. I’d just like to add my thanks for your Wii remote synching tip too. We’ve just had a right old job trying to synch a second controller up to our Wii, and interpreted the instructions much like others here as holding down the synch buttons until it works. Luckily, I found your advice just before me and missus started coming to blows on this! Our Wii is now happily multi-player. Hurrah!

    Thanks again.

  35. OMG, Thank You, Thank You, so much, How stupid do we feel ? We moved to Ireland from UK 5 weeks ago and brought our wii with us and it was fine until our 5 year old did something one day so the 2nd wii mote no longer synched without unsyncing the 1st. we ended up posting our mote back to my sister in uk to return and exchange it for us. Today while waiting for our replacement to arrive we bought a 3rd mote and guess what … yup it wouldn’t synch without unsynching the 1st …… we have had a very grumpy day and were just about to throw the thing out the window when I discovered your page …. 10secs later …wii motes 1 and 3 are synched perfectly !! …. have stupid do we feel now ? pity we didn’t discover you before mailing one overseas *sigh*

  36. The Smiffs: wow, sounds you really had some trouble with this one, glad it finally worked out ok. BigSilly: great playing, to both of you!

  37. I am having a seperate problem. We bought one of the charging stations and everytime we go back to play. the remotes need to be sync’ed again. Any suggestions

  38. Whoa… Lotsa ppl have probs. But mine is different. I have 4 motes, only 1 of em keeps shutting down from time to time. In the middle of gaming it just shuts down. after i press A it wakes up and makes a sound. Then it works fine. But at some point it just shuts down again. I have fresh batteries. Does the distance shut down a remote ? Or should i sync all my motes again ?

  39. ShotguN: I have not heard of that kind of problem before. I’d think that one wiimote must have some kind of connection problem and would take it back to Nintendo.

  40. Yep ya were right. I took it back to store and they happily gave me another. It worked right away.

  41. Patricio: if rebooting (removing batteries, doing resync) does not help, I suspect you have a faulty Wiimote and need to get a replacement.

  42. my first controller isint working at all evan with fresh batteries and i got it 2 days ago, any ideas

  43. weezy: I’d suggest you also negotiate about a replacement controller. Also, the issue might be with the Wii console itself, but as long as you cannot check whether it works with another wiimote, you cannot know for sure.

  44. I cannot make my second wii-mote the first mote. Or I can but when I start Wii-sports the hand disappears and I cannot press A + B at the same time – the connection is gone. That means if my first wii-mote breaks I won’t be able to use my second wii-mote to anything. Anyone else got that problem?

  45. Soren, sorry, not heard about that exact worry before. You might need to consult your Nintendo rep on this one.

  46. hey I got a problem with my wii mote. Just happen recently. Anyway, whenever I enter a new channel or exit from a game, for some reason the wii mote loses sync and I’m forced to re-sync the remote again. I’ve tried everything. The remote works fine, it just loses sync everytime I enter and exit a channel. Does anyone know what’s going on?

  47. Andrew: that behaviour sounds plain odd. Don’t know — maybe it could be failure either in the Wii unit itself, or in the hardware or software of the remote. JCI: you need to give more details to get help. Maybe you need to go back to the store?

  48. I am unable to get my second wiimote to connect when playing Geometry Wars Galaxies or Zak and Wiki. Wii Sports and Wii play have screens to go in an enable the remote but not these two games. Anyone got this to work?

  49. My Wii controllers are not working. All the buttons work but I can’t swing it or anything it wont move. But A button works with the trigger


    I’ve been grieving over my Wii for ages… considering buying a new one. I even bought a new sensor bar (£13 is SUCH a rip!) and I finally managed to get it working.

  51. I try to use my wiimote when playing other games that has multiple players, but they won’t work. I can use the original and the extra one that I had bought when I play the wii sports but can’t with no other games. If anybody knows what is going on please let me know.

  52. Hi, I’m having the same problem as Andrew mentions above. Sync’d remote until I exit or enter a game/channel/page then it loses it again. Tried new batteries, the sync reset but to no avail. I’ve had my Wii 24 hours and I’ve yet to play anything!

  53. My friend had the same trouble and she just turned off the wii and turned it back on and the controllers started working.

  54. Thankyou!You have just saved me launching my console out the window!!!!

  55. Well, unfortunately, this has happened the same to me. I fixed it thankfully, with your directions…. but, it seems now that my Wii does not want to turn on, and stay on. I think my fan inside has busted, and now it automatically shuts off because it can’t cool down. It stays on for about 15-30 minutes, then shuts off on me, leaving me sitting there thinking, “Oh, what NOW?!”. I’ve “googled” other sites trying to find information on it. The only way to fix this problem is to buy a small fan to sit next to it to shoot cool air into it, or use the warranty. Unfortunately, AGAIN, I do not have a warranty for it. I won it in a contest….

  56. Coaxke that sucks man. Ive been starting to have shutdown probs myself too but my consol wont want to shutdown from remote command. It just shuts down to off state, not ready state anymore. Its been workin for a 1,5 years properly and now this…

  57. this might sound stupid but I fixed my problem with the cooling down: I put two little Ice Pak things that you would use for your lunch or something right under the Wii in a plastic bag, covered in a thin towel, and now it works fine. Its able to stay cool. My Wii will work fine for about 5-6 hours on just that.

    Shotgun, is your Wii status light on the front of it changed colors to Yellow after pressing down the power on the Wiimote? or is it turning off to where no light is showing?

    The Yellow stands for a standby-like state, where your Wii will get News, Weather, Messages and other updates while off. If its Red, no updates or anything is available to the Wii until the next power on.

  58. We are generally not retarded, but we can’t make the Wiimotes sync for anything, even your great advice. It worked until we connected to the internet and now nothing will make the damn things work. Help!

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