Review by ww3676

"An honest opinion of the Wii..."

The Nintendo Wii is a highly anticipated system, that unfortunately does not perform as one might expect, nor does it keep up with the other current generation consoles in several way, which will be examined below.

PRICE

The system is $250, well below the price points for the $400 Xbox 360 and the $600 Playstation 2. At least part of the reason this system is such a runaway sales success is likely due to it's much lower price than it's competitors.

At this price, it is only $50 more than the original NES system that was released 20 years ago. However, with this low price point, Nintendo did had to cut many features, which I will explain about in in the following paragraphs.

DESIGN

The system seems sturdy, and also quite slick from a design standpoint (although this is certainly subjective). Plus, the Wii remote and nunchuk attachment are of a robust design as well. The controller is well balanced and every part of the system is made of a high quality plastic (at least the same, if not marginally better than the 360 or PS3.

GRAPHICS

Upon loading up the system for the first time, and trying out Zelda, the premier game for the Wii, I could analyze the graphical capabilities of the system. Now, Nintendo has went on record saying that they did not want to get in a graphical war with the other two competing. I did go into the experience knowing it would not be a 360 or a PS3.

The low (for this system generation) polygon count, lower texture resolution, and older style particle effects made the Wii looking like it has the exact same graphics of the Gamecube. In theory, the Wii has better graphics than the Gamecube, albeit only by a small margin, but with the software available to me, one would be hard pressed to see any improvement from the Gamecube to the Wii in terms of graphics.

Be advised that for $250, based on Nintendo's own claims and personal observation of both systems, you are not getting graphics near the quality of the 360 or the PS3. Also, the Wii only displays in 480p, where as the other consoles display in Hi-def formats.

Maybe the graphics will improve in time, as the system is in its infancy, but be prepared to see last-console-generation visuals for at least the immediate future.

SOUND

The Wii's sound capabilities are perhaps not a strong point, but they are certainly not a weak point either. Having listened to the Wii through a 5.1 stereo system, I can say that it is on par with an Xbox 360, although it is certainly no 7.1 channel PS3 like setup. I do consider it marginally better than the original Xbox, and definitely better than the Gamecube, so Nintendo has moved significantly forward with the sound quality with this generation.

Another thing to note is the sound on the Wii remote itself. There is a very tiny speaker on the remote which broadcasts little sound effects from time to time. Most reviews for the Wii claim that it delivers poor quality sound, what with the speakers diminutive size. I found it to be fairly decent , it replicated the sounds it was supposed to with relative accuracy and clarity. For a less than 1 inch diameter speaker, it performs admirably, and is a novel innovation.

HARDWARE

For starters, you (almost) have to use a memory card, as there is no hard drive on the system. This means no custom soundtracks to games, no downloading a hoard of virtual console games, games will load slower, when browsing the internet it will run slower, you can't save replays from games, etc.

The system does have 512M of internal memory, but with some Virtual Console games coming in at 270 blocks of memory, it cannot hold the same amount of data as the 360 and PS3, which both have hard drives.

The Nintendo Wii cannot play DVD movies either as it does not have any kind of a DVD drive, although it is backwards compatible with original Gamecube games. Also, let's not forget about the Wii channels. I did not have much chance to delve into the various channels, so I can't give a full opinion on them. But they are a unique idea for consoles, and an overall nice addition.

Lastly, at this moment, the Nintendo Wii seems to be of a higher quality in terms of lack of defects compared to what the 360 had at launch. Less Nintendo Wii's are reported as being defective than the launch 360 (by a wide margin), or the PS3 (which to its credit is experiencing less problems than the PS2 did at launch).

VIRTUAL CONSOLE

For one, some may argue it is overpriced for what you get. I forget the exact pricing scheme (something like $5 for NES, $8 for SNES and $10 for N64 games), is too thought of at times as too high for some games. For instance, Nintendo is charging $5 for Pinball, a game with universally poor reviews. There are much more highly rated games in the Virtual Console lineup however. Super Mario World is considered a phenomenal and highly rated game, but many people question if it is worth paying $8 to play it again (it has been re-released previously).

Unlike with the Xbox 360 (and possibly PS3 someday), the games you download (if they are two player), can not be played online. As of this writing, and as far as has been reported there are no plans to allow online play with virtual console games).

ONLINE

At this time there are no online games available for the Nintendo Wii, and there is reason to question whether there will be any significant online gaming for the Wii. I base this assumption on past Nintendo consolse, and statements made by Nintendo themselves.

Looking back two console generations, the N64 was supposed to go online, albeit in limited capacity, when the 64DD attachment was released. That fell through (in the US, and was only purchased in Japan on a limited basis Japan).

The Gamecube was supposed to offer some online gaming functionality, they even released a broadband and a dial up network adapter, but the only game that ended up using it was Phantasy Star Online.

Nintendo representatives have even said in various interviews that online games aren't profitable, as it costs money to run game servers, and to support a game past it's release. All of this history can be implied to mean that Nintendo does not have as firm an online scheme for the Wii as the other two major consoles do.

The first online game planned for the Wii is the new Pokemon game. This is not like either the 360 or the PS3, which both have many online offerings and have had many since their systems launched, plus the Wii's online strategy is not as firm, nor as user friendly as other consoles either. The friend code system is not conducive to just picking up and playing with a random person, and is designed more for child internet safety in mind.

CONTROLLER

Now here is the heart of this console, and what is the bulk of the Nintendo Wii's current hype. However, at the moment the technology is not as revolutionary as it might seem.

Using Wii sports tennis as an example; when you go to swing the tennis racket, the motion you physically perform and the motion your character does, are incongruent. In real life, when one makes a strike at the ball, the racket is pitched at an angle. It's never a completely perfect horizontal motion, it will always have a slight pitch or angle to it.

The in game character though just does a generic horizontal swat at the ball. All the subtlety of the actual racket movements are lost. The same applies to serving. No matter what actual motion you do, no matter how much or how little force, angle on the remote you give, your character does the same generic serve every time. There is little actual variation, although there is some depending on the particular motion. Although in Wii tennis's defense, do realize that this free game is pretty much just a tech demo.

With the sophistication of the Wii remotes technology, this lack of transferring real motions into on screen motions is not a reflection on the Wii remote itself. The situation should change as programmers learn more about how to make games specific to the Wii. Your playing motions should become more realistic in-game motions eventually, but for the moment right now, this is how it legitimately operates.

OVERALL 5/10

Compared to the Gamecube, this system has slightly better graphics, a unique control scheme, and several features new to a Nintendo console. The Wii remote is the key feature of this console, and it's something people may or may not like, but certainly does not provide realistically accurate movements, at least not yet.

But, in this writers opinion, the programming expertise to truly make the Wii remote innovative, is just not here yet. Plus, the fact that you are paying $250 for a system that has the technical capabilities of something Nintendo made 5 years ago, makes it not quite the value that I anticipated it to be.


Reviewer's Score: 5/10 | Originally Posted: 03/05/07


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