Nintendo Wii Review – Casual Gaming Grows Up

The Nintendo Wii

The Nintendo Wii

Remember when you were a kid and you played your first home video game?  It didn’t matter if it was PONG (if you’re really old), WAR on the Atari 2600, or SUPER MARIO BROS. on the NES.  The graphics stunk, the only sound was bleeping, but you didn’t care.  The games were fun.

That’s what the Nintendo Wii is all about.  Nintendo knew it was pointless to keep upping the hardware, trying to compete with Xbox and Playstation in the console wars.  Let those guys worry about rendering engines and mflops.  What matters is if games are fun or not.

You don’t get a Nintendo Wii for the graphics.  Although some of the games are quite pretty, in an almost retro kind of way.  And you can’t do fancy things with your box like watching DVDs or Blu-Rays or storing tons of pictures or hi-def videos.  What you can do is pop in a game and use the motion-sensing controls to have a good time.  That’s what the Wii focuses on — making enjoyable games that are usually meant to be played for short periods of time with groups of people.  And everyone from little kids to senior citizens seems to enjoy swinging the Wiimote (controller) like a tennis racket in WII SPORTS or twisting it this way and that to play minigames in things like WARIOWARE or RAVING RABBIDS.  There are some more “serious” games, but they’re usually versions of Nintendo favorites, like the latest iterations of Zelda and Mario.

And that’s about all you need to know about the Wii.  If you’re looking for deep, immersive games that test your patience (like the FINAL FANTASY games or OBLIVION), you’re barking up the wrong console.  But if you want to spend an hour with GUITAR HERO or try virtual cooking or fishing, the Wii is the console for you.

The other nice thing about the Nintendo Wii is that it has some degree of connectivity through Nintendo’s online service. While not as varied or easy to use as Xbox Live (multiplayer gaming with an online friend is a bit of a pain when it’s even offered, involving exchanging long codes), it does feature several “Channels,” including the ability to share your Mii (a virtual avatar) and to buy classic Nintendo console and arcade games at a decent price (and other old console games as well, like the Sega Genesis and TurboGrafx). This allows you to build up a library of old favorites fairly inexpensively.

What you get: the Nintendo Wii, a Wiimote, a Wiimote nunchuk (a controller add-on), WII SPORTS (a fun, basic game that introduces motion-sensing controls through a variety of mini-games), a sensor bar, cable, and stand.

What you’ll probably need to buy: At least one other Wiimote and one other nunchuk, more games.

Overall Rating: 8/10

Recommendation: Buy it — if you’re into casual games, want something the whole family can play, or are looking to pick up a second (or third) console.  If this is your only console and you’re a hardcore Xbox/Playstation/PC Gamer, you’ll be disappointed.

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