Review by Foxarwing42

"As we look forward into 2009, what is it about the Wii that we all loathe and love so much?"

The Wii has been a rather controversial console since it's inception. I remember it like it was yesterday when everyone freaked out when they learned that it was going to be called the Wii (after such a cool name like the Revolution.)

We come to the end of 2008, looking forward to what is up next and as we reflect back, has the Wii accomplished its mission?

Product Quality:

The Wii is a really tiny console. Possibly the smallest console ever, and for sure, the smallest console this generation. Nintendo has been pretty good when it comes to hardware, my N64 still works just fine, and if I still had my Gamecube, I'm sure that would still be working as well. Despite the small size the Wii is actually pretty durable. You usually don't hear too many complaints about the console, like you do about the 360 breaking down, or back in the days of the PS2.

While I have never been through any problems with my console (mind you, I've had mine since launch) I have heard these two problems:
The GPU is fried thanks to WiiConnect24 being on all the time.
Brawl won't play in certain consoles.

I've never run into either problem, and I constantly leave WiiConnect24 on. Nintendo has made a firmware update addressing the problem of WiiConnect24, and has set up a way to send in your Wii to recalibrate the lense in Brawl. Nintendo has very good customer service and they are very prompt at getting consoles repaired.

One of the first things you'll notice is that the Wii has no disc drive. It has a slot-loader, which is much better, and makes for less mistakes. It also has two flaps that open up on the top where you insert your Gamecube controllers and memory cards. The console also has a flap right underneath the slot-loader that opens up to reveal a place for a SD card (up to 2 GB). You can put game saves, and even games on to it, but you can't run games from there (not yet anyway.) But if you don't have an SD card, the Wii has 512 MB internal flash built in, where you can store games and game saves. Unfortunately it gets filled up pretty quick, so get a 2 GB SD card, at least until Nintendo finally releases a hard drive for it.

As I've never run into a problem, I'm going to have to give the console a 10/10 here.

Controller:

As you all probably know by now, the Wii has a very off-beat controller. The Wiimote, which senses motions, done by you. The Wiimote can be attached to a Nunchuck to give you analogue control in games, and the classic controller can control your classic games, and you can even plug in your old Gamecube controller (we'll get back to those in a minute.).

The Wiimote is actually quite sensitive and accurate with it's infrared pointer as well (which is picked up by a sensor bar on top or under your TV), and the motion feels nice in the games that implement it correctly (Wii Sports, Zelda, Mario). The Nunchuck has a really nice analog joystick, and works really well, and feels great for FPS (Metriod Prime 3). The Classic Controller, which is like the PS2 or SNES controller (more the latter) is a great alternative to controlling games that support it, and is a must for the virtual console fanatic, and the Gamecube controller works great as well in games that support it. The fact that the Wii offers 4 different ways to play should seem like Nintendo didn't know what the hell they were getting into, and that they just said "**** it, put 'em all in." However, this isn't the case. The all feel great to hold and work great in the games that use them well. Of course the Wiimote and Nunchuck are the main attraction, and they work really well for a lot of games. Swinging the Wiimote in Zelda feels natural, and I would not go back to traditional controls for that game, or aiming in Metriod is something that not only surpasses Dual Analog game pads, but matches the keyboard and mouse combo. It is truly a sight to behold and experience.

The fact that Wii offers so many ways to play alone gets it a 10/10, but it doesn't hurt that they actually all work well.

Interface:

The Wii is navigated through channels, you just click on what channel you want and click on start and your off in a matter of seconds. There isn't much organization, since your virtual console games and WiiWare games go in the same place, but really, everything has a distingusiable icon or logo, and you can easily organize it yourself, to your liking. While you can't really group anything, it so easy to access anything anyways, you won't care.

The channels that are on the console are: Disc Channel (where you launch Wii or Gamecube games), Mii Channel( Where you can create a virtual avatar or "Mii" which can also be used in games.), Photo Channel(look at photos and listen to music on your SD card.), Wii Shop Channel(Get new channels, games and more.), Weather Channel(Check the weather), News Channel (Check the news.) These all work rather nicely and go well with the Wii.

You can also get an Internet Channel (To surf the web on your TV.), the Wii Speak Channel(chat with your friends using the Wii Speak Mic.), Nintendo Channel(see the latest Nintendo games, with little video clips.) and more. They all work well at what they do.

All in all, I give this simple interface a 10/10.

Graphics:

Ok, here's where a lot of debate rages. The Wii is not as powerful as the PS3 or 360. Some people might even say that the original Xbox is more powerful (which is simply not true at all.)

The truth is, the Wii has some power underneath it's hood. The problem is, most developers come from the PC space, which the 360 and PS3 both have similar architectures. The Wii is actually more similar to the Gamecube, which doesn't really help the argument that the Xbox is more powerful than the Wii. Here's the truth once and for all, developers are being lazy. Super Mario Galaxy is an amazing looking game, and one that could simply not be done on the Xbox. Super Smash Bros Brawl has a lot of detail, and it all runs at 60fps. I don't know how many times I've heard this comment: "You could put Brawl on Gamecube and it would run just fine." Sure, how does 12 fps sound? Melee, while it was a good looking game for it's time, couldn't even handle 4 players without slowdown, while Brawl has many more lighting effects, texture details, advanced physics, and more all running at 60 fps with no slowdown. So yes, the Wii is a supercharged Gamecube, but the emphasis on supercharged.

While developers are taking their time realizing that, the Wii has seen some very stylized games, such as No More Heroes, Elebits, Boom Blox, and Zack and Wiki. These developers went above and beyond using the control scheme and really stylizing their games to look striking and creative. Looking into 2009, it looks like things will be improving, with games such as The Conduit, Monster Rancher 3, and Madworld which are all visually striking and really detailed.

So what is my final score for the graphics? I'm going to have to give these a 9/10, because despite the hardware limits, some developers are going above and beyond, but the console still won't look as good as the 360 or PS3.

Sound:

The Wii falters here. The only way to get surround sound out of your games is to have Dolby Pro-Logic 2 running on your receiver, while the other two consoles have Dolby Digital and DTS for games. The Pro-Logic codec is great, and it works well with games like Mario Galaxy, Zelda, and RE4, but it's still inferior to what's available now.

Despite being completely last gen, it still sounds great for the games that use it so I decided to give this area a 8/10.

Online:

Another flaw in Nintendo's console. The online, needs A LOT of work. You need friend codes for almost every game, and until the Wii Speak came out, there was almost no way to chat with anyone, and now that it is out, games that were released before it haven't been patched to be able to work with it. But it does work and it's easy to connect...oh and it's free. Still Nintendo needs a lot of work here, and I'm probably being a little too easy with the score but I'm going to give this area a 6/10.

Games:

What it all comes down too for any console. Beyond the HD graphics, new sound codecs, and innovative controls, if there is nothing to play, than the console is nothing but a paperweight.

Luckily, this console has quite the library. Along with the usual retail Wii games, you can pick up your old Gamecube games (you'll need a Gamecube controller as well, oh and pick up a memory card, you can't save to the internal flash.) and there are some great gems like Super Mario Sunshine, Zelda: Wind Waker, Rogue Squadron 2 and 3, the Resident Evil series (although skip 4 and just get it on the Wii.), and many more, and they're all still pretty easy to find at local game stores and online.

Maybe you want to play a generation further back than the Gamecube, like the N64, or maybe the SNES, or maybe even further back into the era of the NES. While you can't really insert your old games into the slot-loading disk drive, you can do the next best thing. Download them. No, I'm not talking about illegal ROMs, I'm talking about the Wii's Virtual Console. You can download games from the N64, SNES, TG-16, Sega Genesis and Master System, Neo-Geo and the NES for pretty low prices, ranging from 5 to 10. Games that didn't even make to America show up here!

But maybe your not into going into the past, maybe you want something fresh and new. Look no further than WiiWare, which houses some great new game ideas for download, like World of Goo and Lost Winds. While a lot of the games aren't that great, there's definitely something for everyone here.

But lets get real, you didn't buy the Wii for it's Virtual Console, or WiiWare, or even because you really, really wanted to play Gamecube games. You bought it for the new and exciting line-up that Nintendo and other parties are going to provide. So far, it has been pretty good, there was an excellent Zelda at launch, with an amazing shooter called Metriod Prime 3, and possibly the game that has captured everyones imagination Super Mario Galaxy, and a couple of months later, everyone's time was captured beating the snot out of their friends in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and outracing them in Mario Kart Wii, online and off. There's also been plenty of original IPs that have caputred audiences, or at least have created a cult following such as No More Heroes, Zack and Wiki, Boom Blox, Elebits, Wii Sports, and so many more. However rounding out 2008, we didn't have all that much. Sure, we got Animal Crossing and the one-two punch of Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero: World Tour, but it was pretty empty this holiday. Luckily, that looks to be changing next year, with games such as The Conduit, Madworld, House of the Dead: Overkill, Dragon Quest X and so many many more. But let's be clear about one thing. The Wii is aimed at casual audiences, so many more casual games will come out for it compared to PS3 and 360. However, judging by next year, it looks like Wii could really come out with games that will make PS3 and 360 fans jealous.

I'm not deaf though, I hear the complaints about the majority of the game library. PS2 had a lot of shovelware too, but no one complained then. You just have to look for the games you want to play on Wii.

So, final score on the Wii's games. 10/10. Why? Because the console is going through growing pains, and developers will experiment way more than deliver what you see on the 360 and PS3 already.

So all in all, I gave the console a 10/10, despite a few short comings. All consoles have their flaws, and the Wii is no different, and the reason I still reward it a 10/10 despite the flaws is because the Wii still has amazing potential, despite already showing off so much. 2009 looks to be a great year for the Wii with Wii Motion Plus which finally give true 1:1 control, to the already accurate Wiimote, and plenty of games that really show the potential of what the Wii could truly be. You don't need HD graphics (although they are nice, I know, I have a PS3.) to truly have a console that can appeal to everyone and really make everyone say wow.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 12/26/08

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


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