You know the old joke about the Dad putting a bike together the night before Xmas, only to discover that he has parts left over? It’s funny — providing that you’re not the Dad in question — but not surprising, because the folks who do the assembly manuals tend to either be 1)too close to the product or 2)have no idea what it actually does.
Where this all comes into play is when you man up and get one of those put-together gaming console seats that resembles (to some degree) an racing car. Most of us probably wish the amount of effort is no more than just blowing up an inflatable model with an air compressor (go to CTA Digital for a Dora the Explorer or Spongebob Squarepants for that), but since that’s not possible, folks tend to avoid these assembly chairs like the plague.
So what’s the solution for a gamer? Start with the basics — which means get yourself a racing chair for a Nintendo Wii. Because it’s just an accessory, although big, it matches the ease and family-friendly attitude that the Wii is famous for. So that’s why UPS just dropped off this 1/4th the size of a refrigerator box. And which is labeled on the side, “Playseat Rookie [for Wii]” — a driving simulator seat. The box says it’s compatible with the Nintendo Wii, but the real skinny is the seat is compatible with all consoles, from the PS3 and XBox 360 to my old retro-reworked Atari 2600. It’s just a seat, after, after all. The trick is that the included steering wheel is designed for Wii use (provided by Playseat America and Dreamgear branded).
Now force of habit has me bringing over toolbox #1 (the basic model), putting on work gloves and an elastic back brace for nominal protection. Something tells me that the back brace is only going to be needed to get the actual box out of the shipping box (trust me, picking up any heavy object without support gives your lower back the opportunity to “let slip the dogs of war” on your spine.
Yep, I’m right about that — and right about needing basic tools. You’re assembling a basic seat assembly that just needs insertion of parts into each other, along with screws, nuts and washers.
I start by attaching rods to the seat’s back and then inserting it into the corresponding holes in the seat. Washers and wing-nuts takes care of the rest (if you want to get fancy, you can tighten the wing-nuts using a pliers).
The next two steps should be done one after the other so as to not get confused: you first are attaching a platform to a base and then connecting the base to one end of an angled column — the other end going into a socket at the front bottom of the seat. An Allen wrench is the tool of choice for these guys.
All this takes maybe 15 minutes (a half hour if you REALLY take your time). The final assemblage is to put together to parts to form a small red-colored steering wheel, which will sit on the platform. That this assembly is easy is mirrored by the instructions given for it: none. Note the suction cups on the bottom to help keep it steady.
Now that the Playseat Rookie [for Wii] is assembled, I can see that it will hold an adult as easily as a child: provided the adult isn’t “extra” dimensionally. The molded plastic seat itself can be used with a steering wheel and pedal assembly of your choice. Of course, using the Playseat Rookie [for Wii] with a PS3 or Xbox 360 necessitates a more sophisticated steering wheel, but it does provide the basic requirement of having a seat to hold the back of your lap. And allow for room for foot pedals too. Plus the sturdy plastic is easily cleaned and lightweight enough for moving around. And it’s really worth noting that the plastic isn’t thin or cheesy — it’s well constructed and dense enough to take more than a normal amount of abuse.
I should also point out that velcro pads are included for aiding in holding game controllers close to hand. Now as regards that steering wheel — the wheel can be held up if desired, as a WiMote goes inside it for use with racing games on the Wii (duh).
Bottom line: For a plastic-composed assembly, the Playseat Rookie [for Wii] is actually a pretty competent “ride.” The retail of $249 is offset by a heavily discounted street price of under $100. Sure it’s well heeled for the Wii and kids, but you can also think of it as starting in the “mail room” of a big corporation. Get used to what it does and you can always move up. But for now, sit.
- Assembly directions straightforward
- Metal parts for greater durability than just using plastic
- Some adults may have trouble being seated due to cramped space
Marshal Rosenthal is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and journalist specializing in technology, consumer electronics and pop culture.