David Yun: (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2008-02-12 13:09:11
Nintendo Wii - Rank D, YFKM Award
[Updated April 28, 2009; The opening phrase of significant updates are denoted in blue font.]
For gamers, the Nintendo Wii is largely a disappointment. The "revolutionary" motion controls are finicky, and don't provide the precise one-for-one movement that Nintendo implied. You can play many Wii games by gesticulating randomly. It's sort of like button mashing except you're waggling your arm around like the first Neanderthal dimly trying to figure out how to masturbate. The Wii has been accused, with reason, of being little more than "two GameCubes taped together", and it can be difficult to accept the Wii's inferior audiovisual capabilities after spending time with the hi-definition glory of the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. It has built in Wi-Fi (oddly no Ethernet port), but taking the Wii online is an arduous chore, as you have to input 16-digit "friend codes" for each game you want to play with a buddy. That earns a Direman Press YFKM (You're Fucking Kidding Me) award. Storage is also an issue, as the internal Flash memory is an infinitesimal 512 MB. (Nintendo just released an update that allows you to launch programs directly from SD cards, greatly relieving this issue.) Worst of all is the sheer deluge of truly awful Wii games. There are only a small handful of Wii titles worth your time and money, with even fewer promising games currently in development.
Nevertheless, the Nintendo Wii does have certain merits. At $250, it is the most affordable of the current game consoles. It's small and stable, so you can tuck it away in an entertainment cabinet without worrying about it overheating. While there are only a few Wii games worth playing, those few (invariably first party Nintendo products) are amazing. Super Mario Galaxy in particular, is one of the best games of this millennium. The Wii is also fully backward compatible with the entire GameCube library, and offers downloadable classics through its Virtual Console feature. These downloadable games are generally overpriced, but it is a terrific way to revisit perfectly emulated NES, SNES, N64, Genesis, TurboGrafx and Neo-Geo games of yore. (This is where you're likely to run into the issue of storage limitations.) Along the way, Nintendo also added a category of downloads called WiiWare, a service for new downloadable games akin to Xbox Live Arcade or the PlayStation Network.
I can't deny that the Nintendo Wii has made an astounding impact on the industry. It has outsold the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 combined, and made videogamers out of housewives and retirees. Whenever I have friends over that would never otherwise touch a videogame, I win them over with Wii titles like Wii Sports or WarioWare. Nevertheless, the Nintendo Wii isn't so much a platform as it is a trendy toy, like Tickle Me Elmo. Nintendo is keeping the bubble afloat by developing "games" like Wii Fit to keep the soccer moms buying the system, but for us hardcore videogamers, we don't have much to look forward to after Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
I didn't feel the need to significantly update the text of this console evaluation. The Wii is still selling like hotcakes, and gamers still don't have much to enjoy on it. I did lower the grade of the Wii down to a Rank D, because while the other platforms have been steadily progressing in amount of quality content, the trickle of playable product for the Wii has not kept pace. Smash Bros. was in fact, the last truly significant release (over a year ago!) for the Wii.