Review by briantw

"And To Think That I Was A Skeptic"

Having owned the Wii for over a week now, I think I can finally accurately judge most of its merits. When Nintendo unveiled the system a while back, I was definitely skeptical. Sure, it looked innovative and all, but the announcement that the system would not sport high-definition graphics and the recent removal of DVD capabilities left me wondering just what the heck Nintendo was thinking. Granted, I don't have an HDTV, but at the same time, I know that a lot of people might not purchase the system solely because they do.

Still, as a long-time Nintendo fan (although not a fanboy...I owned all three systems last generation), I decided to go ahead and wait six hours in line on launch day to pick up a shiny new Wii. At first, I wasn't overly blown away by the system. Yeah, Zelda was great, but then again, Zelda is always great and it probably will be just as great on the GameCube. I played Wii Sports for a bit, but since the Wii is currently in my bedroom until I finish Zelda, there wasn't a whole lot of intense sporting action going on. So basically, I liked the system, but I didn't love it.

Fortunately, I decided to bring the system home with me for Thanksgiving. It was then that I realized the true genius of the system. The first time I broke out Wii Sports with other people, it was amazing. And surprisingly enough, it didn't seem to get any less amazing with time. It just kept on being fun. A few friends and I stayed up until almost four in the morning playing Wii Bowling almost exclusively, constantly trying to figure out the proper way to curve the ball and best the other players. There was a rivalry there that I haven't seen since the days of GoldenEye, and I think it largely had to do with the fact that you actually feel like you're bowling. Sure, you don't feel the weight of the ball, but you crack open a six pack and you might as well be at the local lanes.

Quite simply, the Wii was made for parties. Almost every mutliplayer game out works wonders with a group, and the controls for most are so spot on and simple that you can't help but become hopelessly addicted, which brings me to the first major section of my review:

This is where the Wii differentiates itself from its competitors, and this is where it has its greatest success, at least for most games. Quite simply, you've never gamed like this before. So many things are now possible that never were before, and in most games the Wiimote adds a huge immersion factor. Whether you're swinging a bat, throwing a dart, or just aiming a gun, it all feels so natural that you wonder why it took us seven generations to get here.

Sadly, this is where the Wii had to suffer to keep its price low. You won't be seeing the likes of Gears of War or Final Fantasy XIII on the Wii, and you'll probably be lucky to see graphics that look that much better than the original XBox's best-looking games. It's an unfortunate fact. That said, the graphics still look good in the more polished games, and even those are not representative of the system's power, so it's nice to know that our games will still look all right if not amazing.

Granted, it's not entirely Nintendo's fault if third parties don't develop for the Wii, but at the same time it is their job to convince those companies that developing for them is a good idea. So far, Nintendo has done a pretty good job, with a wide variety of first, second, and third party games padding out their launch. It's much more impressive than the GameCube launch, and it's good to see that Nintendo has garnered developer interest in their machine this time around. With a launch line-up that includes just about every genre but RPG and includes established franchises like Zelda, Super Monkey Ball, Rayman, and Call of Duty alongside new ones like Red Steel and Wii Sports, most buyers should find something that suits their fancy.

Right now, Nintendo's online service is a disappointment. It's slow and lacks any features but a console update and the Virtual Console, which will be touched on in the next section. Nintendo really dropped the ball by not having any online games at launch, and it's even more disappointing to not even know when to expect the first one. They got the DS online, so why are we still waiting for the Wii? Both the 360 and the PS3 had numerous online games for their launch, and it's a big blow to Nintendo to lack a feature that made the Wii Call of Duty 3 almost worthless. Also, I understand that a lot of people are bogging down the servers right now, but it should not take multiple hours just to log on to the Virtual Console shop page as it often does right now. It is also incredibly annoying to find out that there is no way to break a connection attempt besides turning the system off and back on. Why in God's name is my Home button disabled during a connection attempt? That makes absolutely no sense.

Right now, this feature is almost worthless. Last night, I let the system attempt to connect to the shop page for over three hours and it didn't get there. Finally, I was forced to shut off my system. I want to buy a few Virtual Console games, but Nintendo is making it frustratingly difficult to do so. Still, it's hard to deny the awesome potential that the service is packing, and once Nintendo gets its cards in order I can see some great things coming our way. Right now, though, all we've got is a few good games alongside a bunch of mediocre ones, and since it's almost impossible to get a good connection at any normal hour of the day, I had to dock a few points. The Virtual Console is an idea that's great in theory but still needs some work in the execution.

This is where the future of the Wii is uncertain. The sytem definitely has an amazing roster of upcoming titles, but after most if not all of them are released in the coming year, what comes next? Sure, we've got Metroid, Mario, a Final Fantasy title, and a few others on the way, but what other innovative titles like Wii Sports do we have to look forward to? There is so much that can be done with the system, and I only hope that Nintendo takes advantage of this vast potential as they seem to be doing in the coming year.

The Wii is definitely a system worth owning despite its flaws. When you look at the great assortment of launch games coupled with the amazing upcoming line-up, it's almost a no-brainer.

For now, forget about the flaws and pick up the system for the positives.


Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 11/27/06

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