The Wii has a strange name. It is also a very different type gaming device. It makes you get up and get physically involved with the game. It is not as powerful as its competitors. The graphics are not as good as those of its competitors. Yet, it has become wildly popular. We decided to investigate what makes this gaming device so appealing.
The Wii comes in an unassuming white and blue box as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 2 shows some of the Wii box contents which include: the Wii console, the console stand, the sensor bar, the Wii remote (also called the WiiMote) a Wii Remote jacket, and the Wii nunchuk. Also included (not shown) is a power cord, an operations manual, and a standard composite cable for hooking the Wii up to the television. The Wii Sports disk, shown in Figure3, is also included and provides a good set of games to get you started on the Wii.
Figure 3: The Wii Sports disk.
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The Wii itself is a white plastic box that measures 15" x 10" x 4 1/2" (38 x 25 x 11 cm) and weighs in at 7.5 pounds (3.4 kg). It comes with a gray plastic stand and when viewed in the stand from the side, it has an unusual angled design, as shown in Figure 4.
Figure 4: The Wii console side view.
The front of the Wii console, shown in Figure 5, has a slot-loading mechanism that accepts Wii full-sized discs as well as the older GameCube mini-discs.
Figure 5: The Wii console front.
On the left side of the front of the Wii you will find the power button and a reset button near the top. Close to the bottom is the eject button. Between these buttons is a door that opens to reveal a sync button. This is used to synchronize the console and the remotes, which is usually only needed to be done once. Under the sync button is an SD card slot. WiiWare and Virtual Console games can be played directly off of the SD card, providing easily accessible extra storage and addition game play capabilities. Figure 6 shows the Wii with the door open.
Figure 6: Behind the Wii door.
All the remaining ports needed to set up the Wii are in the back, as shown in Figure 7. At the top are two USB ports. Below that are the air vents, which should remain unblocked. Under that are the 3 necessary connectors, the sensor bar connector, the AV out connector, and the DC input connector. Hook the DC input to the console and the electric outlet. Hook the AV out connector to the console and the TV. Hook the sensor bar to the console and place it on top of the television. (It comes with a nice long cable.)
Once you insert two AA batteries into the Wii remote, and press the sync button on the console and on the remote to sync the two, you are ready to play with your Wii.
Figure 7: The back of the Wii.
You can play the Wii as is, or you can set it up to access the Internet for added functionality. The Wii’s WiFi connection works with secure WEP and WPA encrypted networks. Network setup was seamless. If you don’t have WiFi, you can purchase an optional adapter that lets you use the USB port to connect to your wired network.
Nintendo calls their online access the WiiConnect24 service. It allows your Wii to be online constantly, even when the device is turned off. With WiiConnect24 you can download system updates, purchase additional game content and access news and weather channels.
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The real uniqueness of the Wii gaming device lies in its wireless remote control. As shown in Figure 8, it looks more like a television remote than a gaming remote. Accelerometers measure the movement of the remote in all directions and at all speeds. So the remote is used in many different ways. When playing tennis, it becomes the racket. In driving games it serves as a steering wheel. In baseball it can be either the bat or the ball depending on whether you are pitching or batting.
The remote also has a force feedback feature that provides a tactile “rumble” effect. As shown in Figure 8, the remote has several buttons as well as a 4-way button. These buttons are used in various ways depending on the game. Figure 9 shows the back of the remote which has another button and the door for the batteries.
Figure 9: The back of the remote.
As shown in Figure 10, the bottom of the remote has an expansion port for use with accessories, like the nunchuck and the Wii Motionplus adapter.
Figure 10: The bottom of the remote.
Figure 11 shows the nunchuck attached to the remote. For games that use it, you hold the remote in one hand and the nunchuck in the other for added functionality.
Figure 11: The nunchuck attached to the remote.
A shown in Figure 12, the nunchuck has an analog thumbst
ick on one side and 2 trigger buttons on the other. It is shaped to fit snugly in your hand and is used for games like boxing.
The Wii system allows for up to four remotes and nunchucks to be used at the same time, but only one of each is included with the console. The others must be purchased separately.
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The Wii comes with Wii Sports, a simple sports game that includes baseball, tennis, golf, bowling, and boxing. You can play these games alone or if you purchase additional remotes, you can play with two to four players at a time, depending on the game.
These games are both fun and addictive. They make you get up in front of the TV and swing, throw, and jab. As shown in Figure 13, you can also purchase an optional sports pack to give the remote more of a bat, racket, or golf club. But even without this extra, the Wii sports games are realistic and satisfying.
Figure 13: Optional sports pack.
The Wii has an abundance of available games. There are many boxed games including those that feature classic Nintendo characters like Mario and Zelda. You can also purchase Wii points to buy online games.
When the Wii menu appears on the screen, you navigate using your Wii remote. There are a series of pages called Wii Channels. Among the Wii default channels are a weather channel, a news channel, a message channel, a photo channel, and a Mii channel. The first four are available only if your Wii is online. The Mii channel is available to everyone. A Mii is a cute little avatar that is used in playing Wii games. In the Mii channel you can customize your Mii to look like yourself, or any character that you can imagine.
The Wii gives you the ability to play online with your friends, but the online community and gaming options are a bit cumbersome, compared to the ease of online playing that is provided by other gaming devices like the Xbox or PS3.
There is also an Internet channel that uses a special version of Opera that is a free download. When surfing with the Wii you can enter URLs with the Wiimote and the Wii’s onscreen keyboard. Web pages render quite well and you can easily zoom in or out for comfortable reading. The Wii can now support a USB keyboard, which makes web browsing even easier. New channels are being constantly added.
The Wii’s Virtual Console is used to provide online content. This features many classic video games that were originally available on systems like Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis. There are currently over 100 games available and new ones are constantly added. You pay for these games in Wii points with each point equivalent to a U.S. penny. You can purchase points from Nintendo online. Nintendo uses a similar system for their DS games and unfortunately, the points are separate. Wii points can only be used for the Wii and separate DS points much be purchased for Nintendo DS games. Buying points and downloading programs is quick and easy.
The graphics in the Wii are simplistic and somewhat stilted compared to the realism and quality of the graphic display offered by the Xbox and the PSP3. However, playing the games is such fun that once you get involved in a game, you will find the graphics believable and fun.
The Wii not only cannot compare to the PS3 or the Xbox 360 in computing power, and it does not have a DVD or Blu-Ray player. This is a significant omission that some users will find unacceptable.
One thing to be aware of with the Wii is that is it location specific. So a Wii game purchased in the U. S. cannot be played on a Wii purchased in Brazil, England, Sweden, etc. We see no need for this to be the case and wish that Nintendo would remove this ridiculous constraint.
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Nintendo Wii main specifications are:
- Main Processor: IBM "Broadway" (PowerPC-based) running at 729 MHz.
- Graphics Processor: AMD/ATI "Hollywood" running at 243 MHz.
- Video Memory: 88 MB total, 24 MB static RAM embedded inside the GPU plus 64 MB DDR3 memory on the motherboard.
- Main Memory: 512 MB flash memory
- Expansion slot: SD card slot
- Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and USB
- USB Ports: 3
- Optical Drive: 12 cm Wii disc and 8 cm GameCube Disc. No support for DVDs or Blu-Ray discs
- Supported Resolution: Up to 480p
- More Information: https://www.nintendo.com
- Averege Price in the US*: USD 200.00
* Researched at Best Buy on the day we published this review.
The Wii provides a fun gaming platform for everyone. While the PS3 and the Xbox 360 are devices that are loved by many avid gamers, the Wii will be loved by the whole family. The scope of the games goes well beyond the shoot’em up games and extends to games that can be enjoyed by everyone. We have seen a four year old having just as much fun on the Wii as her 86 year old great-grandmother.
While the Wii lacks the rich graphics, the media features, and the DVD/Blu-Ray of the Xbox 360 or the PS3, its unique motion-sensitive remotes and play movements provide a different type of gaming experience that is equally rich in a totally different way. At USD 200, it is affordable and will provide hours of fun.
- Fun for the whole family
- Wonderful motion sensitive remotes
- Built-in Wi-Fi
- Compatible with GameCube games
- Retro games available
- Built-in SD slot for storage and photo viewing
- Includes Wii Sports games
- Games are location specific
- Wired Internet requires an adapter
- Online gaming and communities a bit difficult to setup and use
- Additional Wiimote and nunchucks must be purchased separately
- Graphics, sound and display not as advanced as other gaming devices
- Can’t play CDs, DVDs or Blu-Ray discs
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