Sep 21 2008

Which Videogame Console? (Part 3)

zorro @ 12:37 am

Nintendo Wii

The Wii, despite having the silliest name in history, continues to defy both critics and the ‘laws’ of console commerce. The Wii shortages remain mystifying into the third year of its lifespan. After being mauled in the previous generation by the Playstation and Playstation 2, Nintendo innovated and proved that the majority of consumers couldn’t care less about HD graphics, media centres and first-person shooters. Motion control, previously seen as a gimmick, was integrated into the console while Nintendo beavered away on a killer-app. Ready for launch, Wii Sports breathed life into a hobby which was growing stagnant and Nintendo began printing money.

The images might be standard definition and low-resolution but the games are great! Nintendo brought all of its development focus to bear and produced the best Mario game so far, along with a superb outing for Zelda, a fan serviced Smash Bros and a solid implementation of Metroid. Alongside the key Nintendo franchises, Capcom turned in one of the best Resident Evil games, superbly adopting the new motion control.

Upcoming Wii Highlights:

Spore, Rock Band / Guitar Hero and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

With the release of Wii Fit and its balance-board peripheral, Nintendo’s recent product line is more suited to a lifestyle magazine than the pages of Nintendo Power. And the innovations and accessibility continue to attract a different (and large) demographic. For a while the Wii was a Nintendo-trick pony with very little third party support but coming soon are Wii-versions of huge franchises such as Rock Band, Call of Duty 5, Spiderman, FIFA, Guitar Hero, Tomb Raider and Need for Speed. Though many of these will be simply graphics-gimped and motion-gimmicked, if you were hardcore enough to care, you’d be playing them on a different console.

Nintendo’s version of online play is different to both Sony and Microsoft’s. There is little to no voice chat and playing with a specific person is complicated by the use of game-specific, twelve digit friend codes. Their online games store, called Virtual Console, lacks the indie vibe of the Playstation Network or Xbox Live Arcade and largely restricts itself to reselling ports of their back catalogue (as well as, among others, Sega’s Master System and Mega Drive games). The combination of Sega and Nintendo’s back catalogue is a powerful draw and 10 million downloads confirms its success.

So, if you have kids and want to play as a family or you love playing party games with friends, then the Wii is great value and looks set for a bright future. It’s not a console that will dominate your free time or your gaming budget but when you do turn it on, you’ll have fun.

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