Review by GeekyDad

"Almost Endless Potential"

I had been following the Wii system's evolution since its initial announcement as the Revolution. The first time I saw the controller, I didn't get it. Of course, upon reading up on it, I was captivated by the notion of the motion-sensing gameplay possibilities. But as an older gamer, I knew better than to plunk my money down at launch, so we waited…

Thanks Giving 2007: We unveil the Wii as an early Christmas present for the kids. Now, I've had a whole year to research, discuss and digest pretty much everything that's going on with the Wii, so I wasn't wowed when I turned the system on. That said, the interface immediately captured my imagination, and I could feel, first-hand, the full potential of the system as a whole. As I had suspected, the Wii was going to be more than just a gaming console. This was Nintendo's secret weapon to enter the new age of communication. More evidence is still required to prove whether or not I'm right on this estimation, but with Nintendo's recent closing of their NSider forums and the announcement of a new, vastly overhauled online community, it seems evident that we are witnessing the beginning of a new and exclusive online community dedicated to Wii system owners; a community that may become an online nation unto itself.

But I digress…

It's been a full year since the system's launch, and now the stellar apps are beginning to make their way to Wii. Super Mario Galaxy will rule the Christmas holiday alongside its juggernaut mother, the Wii system itself. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption paved the way a bit earlier in the year, and Brawl is coming soon, albeit fashionably late. More than that, though, is the promise of WiiWare.

Now, we do already have WiiWare as part of the Wii Home Shopping channel, but its offerings are sparse, comprised a few lonely apps to spruce up your home navigation. That said, we now know that the gates are being opened to developers to create new games and applications for download. Great, big game productions are nice, but who can afford $50 every month or every couple of weeks. Of course, you'll still want to treat your family to something new and exciting as often as possible, so having the ability to choose from a list of new (and hopefully, in many cases, innovative) titles at a more reasonable price (averaging 1000-1500 Wii points) will be a welcome addition to the console's presentation. The innovation of the Wii remote aside, I think it's this one new feature of the system that will really make the Wii a valuable console to opt for.

Which brings us to the Wii remote. If you're reading this review, chances are you've already read a thousand reviews, each commenting on the benefits of the Wii remote. My own experience with it is a positive one, and I won't go into too much more detail. I would, however, enjoy seeing developers put more time and resources into making games that are more well-rounded. Most games – aside from Nintendo's own publications – either get one aspect right (the controls or gameplay), or neither. But gameplay and overall entertainment are just as important as implementing the Wii controller. It, of course, is not Nintendo's fault if game makers miss the mark and, for their part, Nintendo has created a device that is sensitive enough to read very subtle movement; it's accurate and enjoyable. They've turned novelty into something so much more. The Wii remote is now the true evolution in game / gamer interface.

As for the system hardware, it holds its own against the other two biggies. There's no need to dispute graphical power, but considering what Nintendo was going for and what consumers were expecting, Nintendo has once again hit the mark. Once again, however, third-party game makers seem to be lax in making games that rise to the occasion. We're seeing way too much PS2-quality shovelware on the system, and that's truly disheartening for most Wii owners. Super Mario Galaxy and Metroid Prime 3 have made it clear how high developers can reach, so now it's up to them to raise the bar.

The memory system for the Wii is an interesting set-up. There is some built-in memory, but not much, and those blocks get filled rather quickly. That said, there is an option to use SD cards, and it's doubtful that any of the Virtual Console or WiiWare games will take up more room than what can be easily transferred to an SD card. Chock it up to another compromise needed for making the Wii both innovative from an interface standpoint, as well as price-accessible to consumers.

And on that note, let's talk about value. On launch day (and before and beyond), we were given the comparisons on price: The Wii being about $250, Xbox360 about $400, and the PS3 about $600. Well, that's not entirely accurate. Many folks will attempt to debate this with me, but when all was said and done, we spent about $600 to get started with our Wii system – that's not including any retail games (unless you count WiiPlay, which we purchased for its controller). We're a family of five, and we wanted four remotes and four nunchuks so we could enjoy games like Mario Strikers Charged, Wii Sports and Brawl (when it releases). The Wii comes with one remote and nunchuk; we bought WiiPlay for a controller; then we bought two more controllers and three more nunchuks. You can buy batteries each time, but that's a waste, so we got two charger systems (with four battery packs total). After tax and everything else – minus any retail games – our cost came in at right around $600. Value? Well, that depends…

Now, we wanted a Wii. We didn't buy one because the PS3 was too expensive. We got a Wii because we were all excited about the unique gameplay features of the system, and my wife and I were also interested in the system because of its general content. When you have small children, Nintendo is usually the way to go. But $600 isn't chump change, and it isn't a savings over the other two systems. It's expensive. However, with everything promised for the system, I think we made a good choice. The value, however, will be up to Nintendo to deliver. I've bet on them, now let's see if they come through.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 12/03/07

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

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