Review by ASCW

"You Pay For What You Get - Update: Things Are About To Change"

The Wii's been out for little over a year and I think that it's time to strike its flaws as hard as possible... When I first got the console and played Wii Sports for the first time, I loved it. After some days, I discovered that the games had tacked-on controls that didn't mimic my moves vert closely. I immediately believed (like other billion people) that developers were still not sure on how to program for this new controller...but it's been a year and despite the fact that there are some EXCELLENT games (such as Zelda, Metroid Prime and Mario Galaxy), most of them just use the motion sensors a little bit: The only thing that relies in motion in Zelda is shaking your controller in an unrealistic way to perform a heroic sword move that only a ninja could do in real life. Metroid Prime makes a fairly good use of the controls but only an equivalent of 3 minutes of gameplay use them. The same that applies to Zelda applies to Galaxy. Instead, these games make a really d*** good use of the pointer in a original way. But I'm fed up of using the pointer... I want some kind of revolutionary gameplay. Of course, I tried out several games in the last few months that promised excellent motion only controls. Not only they suck, but they make the game so unplayable that I had to use the alternative classic controls with my GameCube controllers...

On the other hand, the cost of all kind of things is low... I only had to buy a second controller and eventually some games other than the Wii itself...which is inexpensive...at the expense of dated, economic technology in the graphics, sound and motion departments...hence the tagline "You Simply Pay For What You Get." The specs of the console are decent but the lazy programmers (often, not always) just port their PS2 games...resulting in a lackluster library. Nintendo games are excellent, though. The online is OK but the multiplayer is designed for kids... The online modes are lackluster and very limited and in a way feel like if you were playing against the computer…but with lag. Another aspect that hints me that it's designed for newcomers is that there are no terms such as CTF, King of the Hill, matchmaking, among others, mainly because a small child or a rookie would not understand such “difficult words.” Instead, Nintendo limits itself to offer “connecting to the internet, looking for a foe, playing against him, see the results…” and that's all. There is some more customization when playing against friends but this is still very limited compared to the PS3's and Xbox's online services. Regarding other online stuff, I can say that the News and Weather Channels are quite good, but only since you don't have to access the software and wait for it to load just to know if it's cold or hot –because of an update, the weather and news appear in the main menu icons of the Channels. The Wii Shop Channel is useless if you don't have any spare money (like me), as you have to pay for everything but the Metroid Preview stuff, the update for the Photo Channel (I will talk about it in a moment) and (sadly, just until last June –that means that you HAVE TO pay…) the Internet Channel (I think I'm forgetting some stuff, but it's OK…). The Virtual Console games are varied but (mostly) not improved since their last release. These games are expensive: a NES game costs five bucks (it isn't too much, at least for Americans –yes, it's a lot in my country), which is a lot for an 8-bit game that you can beat within a few hours…or within five minutes if you are a pro (and that you can probably play in an emulator, those free downloads in the web). The same applies to the rest: up to 10 dollars for a N64 game that you can find for two or three in the bargain bin at your local store, and I'm talking about the cartridge, the REAL DEAL that plays in a REAL console. On the plus side…well, there's a small improvement: games look sharper due to higher resolutions. And the best feature is the…Internet Channel. It froze a lot at first (it still freezes, but less often –though this unlikely event happened the first time I tried the final version with the Search function…), lacked features, keyboard support and was slow…but it is so much better nowadays. You can use an USB keyboard, browse the web well and check lots of stuff from your couch. It will never replace a computer, though.

Then comes the least useful (but certainly entertaining) stuff. The Photo Channel, which is nice to quickly take a look at a pic you've just taken, seems to be very limited IF you are using an HDTV because the Wii can only output up to 480p. That means that pictures of several megapixels in size will result in a blurry image of a few hundred pixels in your TV. Luckily, you won't notice this in the ordinary sets (such as mine).
Now, moving onto the worst Channels of the system, we can find the Everybody Votes Channel: just participate in unimportant polls and see what the rest of the country thinks about the question –making this the best for small children. The Mii channel, probably the best known, is fun and, despite being somewhat useless, does work as a game in some way. Finally comes the Check Mii Out Channel, in which you have to design Miis according to what Nintendo says: very good for kids as well. Then comes the Wii Message Board, which for some reason isn't a channel. I don't use it, so it lands in the least useful category. The emails in computers are better, more customizable, can receive files, and have more privacy. Another problem (probably inexistent with the “contacts” function) is that the “email” assigned to you comes in this format: ************@wii.com. That is way too long to memorize, and it must be shared among the household.

My conclusion is that Nintendo's aim to sell the Wii to people of all ages and interests (a wide demographic) resulted in removing ordinary features to make things less complex for non-gamers. It's the best choice for a console if it's the first one you ever buy: it's cheap, simple to use, revolutionary, original, and will ultimately make you love games. If you want to take a step forward in gaming, if you really want to jump to the next level, the Wii is just worth a few hours of your time to see what it is about…and you shouldn't buy it just to use it a few times… My recommendation is to go to a store trial/demo and try it out SEVERAL TIMES… Who knows, maybe if you're either a newbie or an expert gamer, you might like it –some people thing that the controller is excellent. Just don't tempt yourself because of the first experience with this new controller.

Now the scores:

Hardware
-------------
Outer Design: 9/10
Slots and Ports: 7/10
Disk Drive: 9/10
Graphic Capabilities: 6/10
Sound Capabilities: 7/10
Controller Capabilities: 7/10
Value (price/performance relationship): 9/10

Software
------------
Features: 6/10
Fun Factor: 7/10

Game Library
------------------
Fun Factor: 7/10
Developers' use of Graphic Capabilities: 5/10
Developers' use of Sound Capabilities: 8/10
Developers' use of Controller Capabilities: 5/10
General Gameplay of Games: 7/10

UPDATE!!!!!

Well, I have considered changing some of my points mentioned in the original review. Since December 2007 (when this was written) many things have changed: more games, channels and updates have come out, and many new features have been announced. The game library has improved, and the gameplay has expanded as well.

Basically, games such as Super Smash Bros. Brawl and the to-be-released The Condult, are two games that have impacted me recently. These games are examples I like to use to get an idea of the present and future of the Wii. The online play in Brawl became really addictive. The local multiplayer, and even the single player modes, were just as solid, and have formed (in my oppinion) the most entertaining Wii game.

The Condult is going to be released in early 2009. By the time we will have the new WiiSpeak mic, the Wii MotionPlus add-on and, with this particular game, a 16-player multiplayer experience with graphics that are close to those of the 360 and the PS3. This game, I belive, will be a technological achievement. It simply will be amazing. The control will be more precise and the connectivity will improve. I think that, around this time, the overall quality of Wii games will improve. They will have more precise controls, better graphics, more online features with better, faster servers and an overall satisfaction that had never been mastered before on the WIi.

The software updates have been secondary. There are Wiiware titles (most of which are a bit expensive in my opinion), the new Nintendo Channel and, along with that, more options to connect our DS to the Wii. I hope I am not forgetting anything. In any case, I can update it later.

The recently announced DSi will also connect to the Wii in new ways. Syncing with the Photo Channel, for instance, will arrive along with this new DS system (for your information, it is NOT a replacement for the DS Lite - both will sell along).

To sum up, the Wii has improved. The new add-ons and peripherials will come at a cost. And, to tell the truth, I dislike to pay for add-ons but I will be getting the new improvements without any doubt. This tiny platform will continue to expand, grow and improve.

I should update the scores:

Hardware
-------------
Outer Design: 9/10
Slots and Ports: 7/10
Disk Drive: 9/10
Graphic Capabilities: 7/10
Sound Capabilities: 7/10
Controller Capabilities: 8/10
Value (price/performance relationship): 9/10

Software
------------
Features: 8/10
Fun Factor: 8/10

Game Library
------------------
Fun Factor: 8/10
Developers' use of Graphic Capabilities: 8/10
Developers' use of Sound Capabilities: 9/10
Developers' use of Controller Capabilities: 8/10
General Gameplay of Games: 8/10

I hope that my point has been made. Thank you.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 12/29/07, Updated 10/20/08

Game Release: Wii Hardware (US, 11/19/06)


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