Review by rdccdr801

"Nintendo won the console war. Yet, I'm disappointed."

First of all, I love Nintendo. I have owned every single Nintendo system with the exception of the Super Nintendo, which I rented from a video store a few times. I still play my N64 almost every day, and I even had fun times with the less entertaining GameCube. The only Sony or Microsoft system that I own is a PlayStation 2, and I bought it three years after its release date. I don't think even the biggest Nintendo apologists will fault me too much for that, as a PlayStation 2 was practically a necessity in the sixth generation of gaming.

There was an unbelievable amount of hype surrounding the Wii. Everyone talked about how the controller would revolutionize gaming, and how Nintendo was entering the 21st century by implementing online play. Upon hearing this, I wanted... no, NEEDED, to have a Wii. I bought it on its release date and bought Twilight Princess soon after. At first, I was pleased. Twilight Princess featured picturesque graphics and huge, interactive areas. Wii Sports was fun; particularly Wii Bowling, which is more addictive than a heroin drip. The controller seemed to work wonderfully in most of the sports mini games. However, despite the promise, the system began collecting dust faster than I ever imagined. As fun as it was in the beginning, the Wii failed to hold my attention.

I don't know about you, but I think the external look and feel of a game system is important. The Wii looks pretty cool on your shelf. It is very small, light, and sleek. Additionally, the ventilation fan is pretty quiet and probably won't interfere with your gameplay. The first few times you play the Wii, you will enjoy putting in the disk, although it is easy to put the disk in the wrong way. One problem is the base on the bottom. It seems to serve no purpose, not really giving your Wii any extra support. The Wii can easily be set horizontally, if you truly prefer it that way. The sensor is okay looking though, it can fit neatly above or even below your television set. Overall, the system looks good on your entertainment center, which is all you can ask for.

Before I review the graphics, I'll tell you what I think about graphics. To me, graphics are like hitting in baseball. You need to score runs to win the game, but many things are more important - like good pitching, and consistent defense. For all your non-sports fans, I believe that graphics do not make the game system, unless they are a complete abomination. The Wii's graphics pale in comparison to the sleek and hi-tech visuals of the 360 or the PS3. But they are not at all bad. I can't say that I've ever played a game on the Wii and thought.. "Ugh, these graphics are pathetic". Anyone that says that the graphics are the same as GameCube is wrong. The graphics are a huge improvement over GameCube.

I'm no expert on sound, but it seems to be okay on the Wii. One thing I hate is the speaker inside of the controller. While it is a good idea, every sound out of there seems overdone.. perhaps garish. It is just not pleasing to the ears. The sound is probably the worst out of the three game systems, and you will not be able to play your own music while playing games. But if you are a stickler for sound, the Wii is compatible with Dolby II surround sound, which will easily ameliorate the sound's shortcomings.

The controller is a gimmick. Yes, I said it.. a gimmick. Because once you get past the wow factor, you will realize how much the controller detracts from your gaming experience. One problem is the sensor. It seems that if you sit more than five feet away from the Wii, the sensor has trouble picking up the motions of the controller. Unless you are really close to the sensor, prepare to be constantly notified that the "connections with the Wii Remote have been interrupted". I don't know about you, but I don't like sitting a foot away from my TV screen when I play games. With the Wii, gone are the days where a gamer can flop on the couch while playing. The Wii forces you to sit upright in order to hit the sensor, and the controller probably has the best results when you are standing! Additionally, the controller's motion sensitivity isn't implemented in a lot of the games, and threatens to ruin some of the other games. Think about this.. you're playing a shooter, and you're already worried about your health, ammo, and the enemies. Now, you have to worry about the inconsistent sensor not picking up the head shot you just got while in the huge firefight. On top of that, the battery life is abysmal. You can't "trust DuracelI" to keep your Wii remote running for more than one day. You should probably invest in recharageable batteries, lithium batteries, or a third party charger for your Wii remote. I have my fair share of complains about the controls. However, I must admit, the controller adds a new layer of depth in sports and party games. But other than that, it seems to be a hindrance. I will admit that the controller has a lot of potential. But most of the time, you will find yourself wanting to hold a GameCube controller again.

I just don't understand Nintendo's halfbaked decisions sometimes. With the Wii, Nintendo continued to make some headscratching decisions. Every game company (should) want to improve from its last hardware release. One of the big criticisms of the GameCube was the system's lack of internet capabilities. While not every gamer goes online, online gaming is extremely important. It is one of the final frontiers of gaming, and most of the remaining "hardcore" gamers spend the majority of their time playing online games. Solid and fun online play is needed for a system that calls itself "next-gen". Nintendo attempted to address this problem by giving the Wii online capabilities. When you start up the system, there is a Wii Menu with a bunch of channels. If the Wii is connected to the internet, you can set up channels for News, Weather, and a channel for each of your virtual console games (which I will explain more later). It also has a feature called WiiConnect32, which allows gamers to receive messages while the system is on standby. You can even browse the internet on your Wii. But once you get past the hi-tech features, you will start to notice the problems with the Wii's internet. To even get the Wii online, you need WiFi.. which not every gamer will have. If you don't have WiFi, you will have to purchase the hard to find Network Adapter. This is actually a downgrade from the sixth generation of gaming, as the slim PS2 only needs an ethernet cord to access the internet. The other problem is the quality of the online play. Nintendo decided to use friend codes. If you don't know what friend codes are, just know that they are very irritating and very outdated. They completely decimate your chances of an enjoyable online experience. To top it off, most of the games online are laggy, have few options, and don't even have headset capabilities! Nintendo has failed the gamers that wanted a fun online experience with the Wii.

The other mistake that Nintendo made was with the games. There are way too much party and simulation games. There are many titles like Cooking Mama Cook Off and Trauma Center. While these titles are occasionally fun, I am disappointed in Nintendo for their complete lack of variety. Even Nintendo's blockbuster titles failed to satisfy me. Galaxy was fun, but too easy. Twilight Princess was beautiful, but lacked the magic and fun factor of past Zelda games. Brawl was a huge disappointment, as Nintendo compromised the good technical gameplay found in Melee for more features and pointless bells and whistles. Animal Crossing? Ho-hum, the same as the Gamecube version that I played to death. While I haven't played every critically acclaimed title on the Wii (Metroid, for instance), I am shocked at the dearth of enjoyable games. Let's face it: Nintendo managed to make Mario Kart not fun anymore. I know a lot of people will disagree with my assessment of the games, but it is a game company's goal to appeal to every gamer, no matter how picky that they are.

I can't say that Nintendo didn't try. One of the internet features is the aforementioned virtual console, which allows gamers to download old classic games, ranging from NES games, to Sega games, to N64 games. While this is a good feature, I would personally much rather play the old games on the actual game system. It is much better playing Sonic with the classic Genesis controllers than it is playing it on the awkward virtual console controller. It's a nice effort, but not anything you call home about.

Overall, I don't think the Wii was a bad system. But it's certainly not a good system. The Wii is selling like hot cakes, yet it's not what you may expect. Buyer beware, make sure the Wii is what you really want before you invest the money. Maybe buy another system, too, because the Wii won't be getting the use that you expected.

Reviewer's Rating:   2.5 - Playable

Originally Posted: 08/20/08, Updated 07/06/09

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

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