What's in a Wii

By Mike on 10:50 am

Filed Under:

Back around 2005, Nintendo promised us a "Revolution" in gaming. In fact, Revolution was the code name for a project that they were being tight lipped about. Nintendo had come from a bad round before that. Nintendo had been tops with their first two consoles, the NES and SNES, then fell back to second with the N64 (only selling 1/3 of the units the PS1 did), then it fell to last place with the Gamecube. Seems Nintendo really did need Sega to keep them on their toes, as their decline seemed to begin when their old rival did.

Something changed. Nintendo is now leading the pack, selling 9 million units world wide, a full 100,000 more than the Xbox 360 that was out a full year before it. The once popular Playstation is now in a distant third. (All figures on Wikipedia, from various sources)
When we heard it was being called the Wii, we all balked at it and made potty jokes. However, their was a lot of enthusiasm about the console.
What is the Wii? Well, it's basically a beefed up version of the Gamecube. It's slower and has less memory than the 360 and PS3. It cannot even play DVDs, or output to HD resolutions. The key to the Wii's success is in the controller. Full motion recognition. The game responds as the player moves about.

The Wiimote and Nunchuks work through a motion sensing bar that you place on top of the TV. It's much more high tech than Sony's Sixaxis controller for the PS3 in that it allows for a wide range of motion input, rather than just tilting the controller. You can actually swing the sword in Zelda or box in Wii Sports. Nintendo also has introduced the Wii Zapper, which is basically a souped up Light Gun that takes advantage of the new motion system. What separates the Wii from more advanced consoles is the addition to a new dimension of game play. Back in the 1990s, virtual reality was thought to be the next big thing, now we're finally getting a taste of it in our homes. With obesity rates on the rise, the Wii is one of the first consoles that actually gets people moving. (I'm aware of Dance Dance Revolution for the PS2 but that was really a one off) Such so that Nintendo is planning Wii Fitness, a workout regime for the Wii. It's the kind of stuff that grapples kids and adults alike. This can be contrasted to the rather bland, conventional game play the other consoles use. It can actually be argued that conventional game play has been suffering in recent years in order to improve the audio/visual experience.

So what does this all mean? Well, the Wii's success can directly be attributed to it's new dimension of game play that brings fun back to gaming after years of overly serious titles. That and it's also the cheapest next generation console out there. I don't think Wii is simply a fad as one Sega exec put it. Heck, in 1983, many people thought video games themselves were a fad. They were wrong. The Wii, despite it's lack of graphics power has set the bar a lot higher. Couple that with strong franchises and you've got a winner. I think by the eighth generation of game consoles, we'll see motion control as being the standard.

0 comments for this post