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Nintendo Wii

>> Friday, October 16, 2009

Nintendo Wii's biggest and most obvious appeal is the ability to use its motion sensing controller to play Nintendo Wii specific games. Nintendo Wii's release lineup includes the highly anticipated Legend of Zelda, Twilight Princess and the addictive pack in party game Wii Sports, as well as a variety of more traditional third party titles (many of which have been enhanced to use the Wiimote control). But while you're waiting for some more innovative Wii titles to arrive, there will still be plenty of games to play.

Nintendo Wii is fully backward compatible with the Nintendo GameCube and includes four built-in GameCube controller ports and two GameCube memory card slots for gamers who want to enjoy their last gen games. To play those older games, you'll need at least one GC controller (best choice : the wireless WaveBird) and (if you want to save your progress) a memory card. Truth be told, though, the list of truly great GameCube titles is short and sweet.

If Nintendo Wii and GameCube games aren't enough, Nintendo Wii also features Nintendo's Virtual Console, a library of games from the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), Super NES, Nintendo 64, Sega Genesis, and Turbografix 16 systems. Games can be purchased and downloaded over Nintendo's online Wii Store, where they are stored on Nintendo Wii's system memory or SD card.

Virtual Console game purchases are tied to the Wii's network ID, so you can't pop your Virtual Console games onto an SD card and take them over to play them on a friend's Wii. On the bright side, Nintendo is pledging that already purchased games can be downloaded again free if you accidentally lose or delete your data. Games are purchased with Wii Points, which can be purchased via credit card or gift card (100 Wii Points equals one U.S. dollar) the system is essentially identical to Microsoft's tried and true Xbox Live Marketplace (Sony's fledgling PlayStation store will denominate purchases in real currency, but is functionally the same).

NES games will cost the equivalent of $5 (500 points), Turbografix 16 games $6, Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis games $8, and Nintendo 64 games $10. While Nintendo Wii's controller is very advanced and innovative, its processing power is not. The system uses a more powerful version of the Nintendo GameCube's processor, and it doesn't have nearly as much polygon pushing power as the Xbox 360 or the PlayStation 3.

While Microsoft's and Sony's consoles support high definition outputs of up to 1080p, Nintendo Wii can hit only the GameCube's ceiling of 480p, and even that mode can't be used with the Wii's included composite A/V cables. (Most if not all of the Wii's games will, however, be optimized for wide screen TVs.) Nintendo Wii also lacks advanced surround sound, instead sticking with the GameCube's Dolby Pro-Logic II matrixed surround (based on a stereo signal, not native 5.1). In other words, if you're looking for state of the art eye candy, you're going to want to opt for the PS3 or the Xbox 360 either of which will take a significantly larger chunk of your bank account.

Is the Wii worth picking up? It all depends on what you're looking for. If you've been clamoring for an all purpose next generation multimedia box with blinding HD graphics, Nintendo Wii will be a disappointment. But Nintendo didn't intend to compete in that arena anyway Nintendo Wii is focused squarely on delivering fun and innovative gameplay, leaving Sony and Microsoft to battle it out at the high end.

The Wiimote and its motion sensing, pseudo virtual reality controls are the biggest draws of the console, and its online capabilities, Wii Channels, Virtual Console, and GameCube backward compatibility are just a thick, sweet layer of icing on an already tasty cake. Likewise, Nintendo Wii is the only home console that lets you play games featuring nostalgic Nintendo only franchises such as Mario, Zelda, and Metroid. With a price tag of just $250 far less than those of its competitors and the included Wii Sports disc that provides mindless fun out of the box, Nintendo Wii won't disappoint.

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