Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Holiday buying guide: the Wii

This is the first of atypicalgamer’s weekly buying guides. Future posts will cover the PS3, Xbox 360, DS and PSP. Note that while I’ve tried to be objective, these posts ultimately represent my own personal opinions. Links take you to, although it’s worth pricing against other online retailers such as and

Holiday buying guide: the Wii

Designed with non-gamers in mind, the Wii is the easiest system for beginners to get the hang of. Available games include dozens of family-friendly titles as well as old Nintendo favourites, many using the motion-detecting remote in conjunction with your TV. The Wii was launched two years ago, in November 2006, round about the same time as the PlayStation 3, a console it deliberately set out not to compete with. It doesn’t look like a piece of high-tech audiovisual equipment and nor does it try and act like one, its non-confrontational design ethic making it accessible to anyone, right down to the Wii remote, which looks like a cross between a standard controller and a fat TV remote. No wonder teenage boys aren’t as impressed by it as their Mums are. Just as revolutionary at launch was the price, exactly half of the PS3. The problem was that they couldn’t manufacture it quickly enough to keep up with demand. Hopefully it won’t be a problem this Christmas, even if the price is now no longer the lowest of the bunch.

Should you buy it?

This console really does have something for everyone, its uncomplicated party-style games supplemented by the latest versions of Nintendo’s top properties such as Mario, plus there’s the Virtual Console. This online store accessed via the Wii offers dozens of 80s and 90s games originally designed for long-dead consoles at pretty reasonable prices, alongside a handful of original Wii Ware games not released on disc.

For serious gamers, it’s more likely to be a second console, especially if they are into online gaming, where it falls far short of its rivals. The Wii just doesn’t do multiplayer FPS games like Halo 3, although that’s not to say it doesn’t offer a few titles aimed at over-15s. The online service should please concerned parents, though, as gaming partners are restricted to those who’ve shared their Friends Codes.

Summary of pros and cons

+ Suitable for all ages of gamers

+ Suitable for inexperienced gamers, including older people

+ Simple to connect to your TV

+ Wireless Internet connection, which allows game downloads, web browsing, online gaming and the BBC’s on demand TV streaming in the UK

+ Store photos

+ Offers many of the same games as the other consoles but with unique ones too

+ Can play games designed for its predecessor, the GameCube console

- Games are not high definition, even if your TV is

- The Wii remote eats batteries

- You can’t use it to play DVDs or Blu-ray discs

- Not set up for serious online gaming

- Fewer games in the higher age-group categories

Ten games to buy

1. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

2. FIFA 09 All-Play

3. Wario Ware: Smooth Moves

4. Okami

5. Mario Kart

6. Super Mario Galaxy

7. Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure

8. Resident Evil 4

9. Animal Crossing: City Folk

10. Wii Fit

Other stuff to consider

At least one extra Wii remote, possibly an extra Nunchuk (the analog stick attachment that comes with the remote).

Rechargeable batteries for the remote.

A GameCube controller and memory card if you plan to play GC games.

A Component Video Cable
to connect to your TV for maximized graphics.

© Kate Berens, 2008

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