Review by Variaz

"An extreme disappointment."

The Nintendo Wii is Nintendo's fifth major console after the original NES, Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64 and GameCube. Being the least expensive of the current console generation, and after reading reviews of Zelda: Twilight Princess and the much hyped Brawl, the Wii seemed like a fun system, and it's original controls seemed very interesting. So I bought it, and started playing. I had fun for a while with Zelda: Twilight Princess, it was a really fun game. But I've eventually finished it, so I started looking for new games, and got Brawl and Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn. Unfortunately, I didn't really like those two games, so I went looking for new ones......and didn't find any. And it is then that I started regretting my purchase. I realized that the Wii's game selection was very poor, and that the console was years behind on many points. So let's get on with the complete review of the various aspects of the Wii to help you understand why I don't think the Wii is all that great.

HARDWARE: 4/10

To be honest, the Wii really isn't that great on the hardware aspect. The graphics of Wii games are good, but not that much better than the GameCube, and no match for the Xbox360, PS3 or a PC with a powerful graphics card. Of course, it also makes the price lower, and it's gameplay that makes the games good, not graphics. But the problem is that today, games developers are looking to create games that are very immersive with beautiful scenery, visual effects and audio effects. And let's face it, if the focus isn't entirely on the graphics, good graphics can actually improve the gameplay. So the developers will create games with great graphics, only to find out that they can't port it to the Wii. So they will either port it with lower quality, or most likely won't port it at all. So in the end, the lesser hardware has a direct impact on the games available, and it makes it impossible for some games to be ported.

The sound effects could also have been better. While I was playing Zelda: Twilight Princess, and swinging Link's sword, the swinging sound was a rather bad sound coming straight out of the Wiimote controller, as opposed to the speakers. It didn't synchronize well with the rest of the game, and it ended up being quite annoying.

It's also important to note that the Wii doesn't allow you to do much more than just playing Wii or GameCube games. It has some Nintendo online channels and I think it has a web browser(not sure), but it doesn't allow you to play movies or anything else like the PS3 or a PC would.

CONTROLS: 8/10

One of the Wii's main features is the wireless controller, the Wiimote. This is a very interesting feature, and this kind of technology has a lot of potential. While the Wiimote has several buttons like standard controllers, often, all you have to do is move it, shake it or move it in certain directions. In theory, this kind of controller could allow you to get a very immersive and realistic experience, where your character would respond to your exact moves.

Unfortunately, I have yet to hear of any games that brings out the Wiimote's full potential. Some games like Fire Emblem and Brawl do not use the Wiimote's features at all, while others uses it without really taking advantage of it, like Zelda. In Zelda: TP, you shake the Wiimote to swing Link's sword, but it doesn't matter which direction you swing it, the sword's movements are random. Because of that, the Wiimote doesn't become fun, it becomes annoying as it just makes moving the character and attacking more difficult without adding anything to the gameplay.

Still, this issue isn't really the controller's fault, and the only other issue with it is that you're going to have to replace the batteries once in a while. But other than that, it's a very cool controller that has a lot of potential!

GAMES LIBRARY: 2/10

This is where the Wii loses a lot of points. The first-party games are good for the most part, with big titles like Zelda, Mario, Metroid, etc... But it's the third-party support that is extremely bad. You see, for this generation, Nintendo tried to appeal to the "casual" gamers, those who plays simpler games and who doesn't play for as long as a more "hardcore" gamer would. This is a good idea by itself, but the problem is that it went too far. There are way too many "party", "kiddy" or extremely easy and simple games, in fact, it's safe to say that the majority of Wii games falls in those categories.

My definition of a "casual" game is a game that is simple to understand and that you can easily pick up and play. But it doesn't mean it has to be easy or unchallenging. Take a game like Tetris. It's the perfect example of a good casual game. It's simple to understand, easy to play on the lower levels, yet it becomes quite difficult later on and you need good speed and reflexes. So the game is easy to learn, yet can be difficult to master, and thus can appeal to beginners and experienced gamers alike.

But games like those "pet" games, cooking games, "physical" games(Wii fit, dancing games, etc...), party games and such have no lasting appeal, provides little to no challenge, and won't keep gamers interested for very long. Even younger and casual gamers will eventually get tired of these games due the lack of challenge or when they realize that "physical" games do not actually provide the same degree of physical exercise a gym or real life sports would have, and that your real cat or dog is more fun than the virtual one. And this is a problem, because about 90% of the current Wii games fits in one of those categories. And even more serious games often have useless "gimmicks" like having to move the Wiimote or use the Wii's special controller for seemingly no reasons, instead of actually trying to take advantage of it.

With the Wii also comes the Virtual Console, an online service where you can pay to download classic NES, SNES and N64 games. While this is a good thing by itself, when I search for Wii games on this site, too often do I find a NES or SNES game. And while the classics are definitely fun, this isn't the reason why I bought a Wii. I bought a Wii for a next-gen gaming experience, not to play the same games I played 15 years ago.

And finally, the problem of the ports. Out of the few games that aren't in the "casual" or "party" genre, many of these games are actually ports of PS2 games. Many Wii gamers have praised Baroque and Okami for being fine RPGs for the console, but the problem is that these games also exists on the PS2. And since the PS2 is much less expensive than the Wii, you might as well just buy a PS2 if you're interested in those games.

Overall, I'm sorry to say this, but the Wii has a really poor games selection at the moment. While there may be a few gems(mostly first-party games), most of the games will not appeal to most peoples. Some of the more novelty games like Wii Fit or the dancing gamers will probably keep you entertained for a short while, but you will get tired of it pretty quickly when you realize that it's just not like the real thing.

ONLINE: 1/10

One word: primitive. You heard me, I am extremely disappointed in Nintendo on the online aspect of the console. It seems to me like they are living 10 years in the past. Nintendo uses a "friends code" system, where each Wii users have a four digits code, and they have to register the numbers of the peoples they wish to play with. This is extremely bad, because it makes it very painful to find someone to play with quickly. For me, this has completely ruined the online gameplay of some games like Super Smash Brothers Brawl. I like to compare it to what I was doing 10 years ago. I remember calling my friends over the phone, and asking for their IP addresses, so we could play online. It wasn't very practical, but it worked fine for the time.

The friends codes are exactly the same thing. Except that 10 years later, online play has evolved, with online chat rooms, server lists, etc... In a game like Brawl, I was never able to play due to not being able to find anyone quickly enough. Also, the game had an option to automatically find online games. However, it never worked. I tried it many times, over many days, at different times, and not once did I ever get it to work. So in addition to using an outdated codes system, it's also laggy and unreliable, and definitly doesn't provide any good online experience.

PRICING: 4/10

Out of the three current consoles, the Wii is often praised as being the least expensive, with a 250$ base price. This sounds good...until you realize that it might not be as cheap as you think. The 250$ price tag is for a basic, vanilla system. This means the basic wiimote, and the Wii Sports game. With just this, you cannot play GameCube games, nor can you play the Virtual Console games. So in order to benefit from all the Wii's features, consider that you'll have get the following:

- A GameCube controller. (about 20$)
- A "classic" controller for Virtual Console games. (another 20$)
- Batteries for the Wiimote. (if you play a lot, this could become a significant cost. Based on my experience, batteries will only last you about two or three days if you play about 8 to 10 hours per days.)
- A PC to use as a router if you want online play(the console doesn't handle all by itself. A PC is more expensive than the console itself.), as well as either a USB Wireless adapter or a network adapter(both of which are about 20-30$).

And let's not forget that the average price for a Wii game is 50$, which is quite expensive, especially considering the low quality of the games currently available for the Wii. And the virtual console games are about 10$ each, which is very expensive for such dated games.

So in the end, the 250$ price isn't really that. They advertise the console as cheap, yet makes up for it by giving a high price to games that, for the most part, did not cost much to produce. Add to that the cost for the extra controllers if you want GC and VC games and the batteries replacement cost, and you're getting much closer to the price of a PS3(which is about 450$). And after all that, it's still a gaming-only console, unlike the PS3 which can also play movies and other stuff.

FINAL RATING: 3/10 (not an average)

Unfortunately, I cannot recommend the Wii for anyone at the moment. Hardcore gamers will not find much interesting games, while casual gamers will get tired of most games pretty quickly. The lesser hardware also limits the porting of the more recent games, and many big games developers have shuned the Wii for this reason, and shows no signs of reconsidering their thoughts. The online play is flawed and outdated compared to what you have on modern online games, and finally, the seemingly low price is actually much higher than you probably thought.


Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 06/06/08

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


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