Review by Mageknight

Reviewed: 07/09/07

A great console, but with some drawbacks

Everyone laughed when the Revolution, Nintendo's codename for the console, became Wii. No one thought a name like that would sell, everyone thought it would go the way of the Gamecube, and jokes about the name raged on for a while. Fast forward to launch day, the Wii is a smash hit and several months later, it's STILL selling out quickly. What makes the Wii so great?

For starters, that little remote controller is the main attraction of the Wii. By pointing it at the screen and using the sensor bar that the Wii is bundled with, players can use the remote to point and click for menus or for various things in games. The remote can also be used to rotate and tilt in almost any direction whenever the game calls for it, changing the way you play games. The remote has a big "A" button used for many things, a - and + button for others, a "B" button underneath the remote, the HOME button to return to the main menu, a D-pad, and there's even a Power button to turn on and off the console! The remote also has a speaker in the center that some games use. The quality of the speaker sounds is good, but could be better. The remote is powered by 2 AA batteries, but depending on how long you play and what is attached to the remote (attachments coming up later), you could go through lots of batteries. Nintendo should have made the remote with rechargeable batteries like they did with the Nintendo DS.

As of now, there are two things that attach to the remote. The Nunchuck, a small device that has an analog stick, a "C" and "Z" button, plus limited motion movement like the remote, is used in several games. The Classic Controller, which is similar in design to a SNES controller, is used for some games and almost every Virtual Console game. The Nunchuck attachment feels natural while the Classic Controller can be awkward since the remote is left do dangle.

The Wii comes with several channels, or programs. The Disc Channel is where you access the games placed into the Wii. The Mii Channel allows you to make miniature characters of various styles, which can be shared with friends over the internet and even be used in some Wii games! The Weather Channel and News Channel obviously lets you check the weather and news. The Photo Channel lets you view photos stored on the Wii or SD card, plus you can doodle on them or cut them up and put them back together as a puzzle game. The Wii Shop Channel lets you download Virtual Console games (NES, Sega, N64, etc.) at various prices. What makes it even cooler is while you are downloading a game, Mario or Luigi will go across the screen collecting coins and smashing blocks to show how far the download is. To access the Shop, Weather, and News channels, you must have a DSL or better connection plus a wireless router. You can also purchase an Ethernet adapter if you don't have a wireless router.

What makes the Wii stand out is the kinds of games it has to offer besides the usual Wii games. The Wii can play Gamecube games and accept Gamecube controllers. Since the Wii pretty much has a Gamecube system built right in, there are generally no problems playing the games. Once a Gamecube game is inserted and played, the Wii pretty much becomes a Gamecube, so you have to power down the system to get back into Wii mode. Games you downloaded from the Shop Channel appear on the main menu as their own channels. What makes them simple is that you can back out to the main menu and change to another game anytime you want.

With all this stuff you can store on the Wii, it brings up the issue of memory storage. The Wii can only hold 512MB of data, which is enough for a lot of games and save data, but what do you do when you are running out of space? Nintendo's solution is to use SD cards, memory cards mainly used in digital cameras and other devices. However, the problem is the SD cards can only be used for storage and they cannot have data loaded from them. To top it off, most, if not, all Virtual Console games cannot be stored onto the SD card. This was most likely done to prevent people from giving each other free games. Constantly moving/deleting data from the Wii to and from the SD card is a pain and as of now, there are no plans to make an external memory storage device for the Wii. On the plus side, any Virtual Console games that you downloaded can be redownloaded free of charge.

One feature that makes the Wii stand out is the Wiiconnect24. This feature is used when the Wii is put in standby mode. Although it can make the system a bit warm, it won't do any harm to your system, but you can always shut the feature off if you want to be safe. When the feature is on, any messages you get will cause the Wii's disc slot to glow blue to show you got a new message. Very cool. Of course you have to have the internet running to let this happen. Nintendo had stated in the past that the Wiiconnect24 feature would be used for constant updates and all that, but so far we haven't seen anything like that yet.

As for online games, so far it only has Pokemon Battle Revolution, but more will come. Like the Nintendo DS, the Wii uses Friend Codes, several digits for an ID. It can be a pain to exchange codes with several people. You can also send messages to other people who own a Wii if you have their code and if they have yours. The Wii can also send messages to email addresses as well. The Wii can even accept photos, but they can only be in JPG format.

Graphically, the Wii is good. The Wii obviously cannot stand up to the Xbox360 and the Playstation 3 in graphic power and so far most of the games for the Wii have not shown what the Wii is capable of. However, future games like Super Mario Galaxy and Super Smash Bros. Brawl look great for the Wii and eventually more games will look like those. The Wii can only go as far as 480p in terms of resolution, so the Wii may not look so hot on your HDTV. Keep in mind that the Wii was made for SDTVs in mind. However, the limited graphic power is one of the reasons why the Wii is cheap compared to the competition.

The Wii is a great system, but there are quite a few flaws that have many people concerned. The use of Miis in some games is a cool feature, but so far only a few games used them and the Miis may be ignored for the rest of the Wii's life. Limited internal memory is another issue and not allowing the system to load data from an SD card is also another problem. Regular batteries for the remote can be costly in the long run if you play the system for many hours a day. One problem with the Shop Channel is there is no way for people to try the games before they buy them, forcing people to either take a costly risk in buying games or just passing them up. Games are added to the Shop Channel once a week, but Nintendo does not send messages to indicate what new games are up for sale. The Wii also has 2 USB slots in the back, but so far only the Ethernet adapter uses them. Other than that, the USB slots may be ignored like the PS2's. The Wii's graphics can't compare to Xbox360 and Playstation 3. If you care more for fun games and/or a new way to play games, the Wii is for you. If you want high def graphics, look elsewhere.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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