Nintendo Wii Buying Guide

The Wii (pronounced "we") is Nintendo's innovative new console that has turned heads everywhere in the gaming world. Though not as technically advanced as Sony's PlayStation 3 or Microsoft's Xbox 360, this is the one system that has truly changed the way games are played and added a level of immersion never before seen in the ever-evolving video game scene. The package includes the Wii Remote (Nintendo's new take on the controller), the nunchuk peripheral (a joystick with a cord that attaches to the Wii Remote) and a five-in-one game: Wii Sports, which features bowling, boxing, tennis, baseball, and golf. The system has expanded to support peripherals like keyboards which can be used in downloadable software, such as the Opera web browser, and new updates add new functionality all the time. The system also features backward compatibility to Nintendo Gamecube discs (as well as support for Gamecube controllers) and an amazing Virtual Console service that allows for the download of a massive and always-growing catalogue of games from nine legendary game consoles: the original Nintendo Entertainment System, Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, the Sega Master System and Sega Genesis, the NEC TurboGrafx-16 and TurboGrafx-CD, the SNK NeoGeo, and the Commodore 64. Nintendo's online store also features numerous other system applications, many free, and original games designed for the system, as well as games and software that can be exchanged with the Nintendo DS and DSi. For a comparison of the three newest game consoles, see the Video Game Console guide.

What's Up With the Name?

The change to Wii from the system's codename, Revolution, baffled some fans and had industry analysts shaking their heads in disbelief, but the name has quickly grown on the public. The bizarre, new-age spelling is meant to signify Nintendo's out-of-the-box thinking. It's pronounced like the word "we," to signify unification, as Nintendo markets the system both to longtime hardcore gamers and new fans who might not be familiar with the world of gaming. With unorthodox new types of software and games in addition to titles that will please gaming veterans, Nintendo hopes to bring all types of people together into an expanded world of gaming. The Wii continues to be a hot-ticket item, and has well outsold its competitors, the PS3 and Xbox 360, at over 50 million units sold, with demand for the system still very high.

Controller or Remote?

The skinny, unorthodox wireless Wii Remote reacts to a small motion sensors placed above or below the TV, meaning players will swing their arms to throw passes in sports games and wield swords in adventure titles. This motion technology has clearly been a winner for Wii, as it gets constant rave reviews.  Just don't expect that if you are an expert bowler or a tennis pro that you'll necessarily be able to beat your 8-year-old nephew at any of those games.  The simplified button structure is a reaction to the increasingly complicated controllers on other systems. The Wii not only takes things back to basics in terms of button-pressing (remember the old eight-button NES controllers?), but is also a true advance in terms of how people play games. Of course, there's also a more traditional Classic Controller, and Gamecube controllers can be used for conventionally controlled games as well.  The Nintendo DS can also be used as a controller in some games, and other innovative controllers for the Wii, like the Balance Board in Wii Fit, are also produced.

Swiit Wii Deals

Kicking it Old School

Online functionality is a given for all modern systems. The system is Wi-Fi ready straight out of the box, as it has router capability for users that do not have a previous wireless system in use. Gamers will also get to draw from 20 years of video games' past through the Virtual Console service mentioned above. Nintendo's WiiWare service allows the purchase of free or inexpensive brand new titles and applications created specifically for download on the Wii. New software is added to the system constantly, and WiiConnect24 means that the system, even when turned off, is connected to the internet to check for software updates.

Fine Online

The Wii gets online via Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, a service that first began on the Nintendo DS and was beefed up for the Wii. The console connects to the player's home computer wireless network, which is accessible either through a Wi-Fi hub or a USB adapter. Online play is absolutely free for games that support it, and access to Nintendo's online services is also free of charge, so you can browse through the software and downloadable content catalogs without paying a cent. If you see something you'd like to own, you can do so either for free or for a small fee using Nintendo Points. Like the online currencies used with other systems, points can be purchased as retail cards with online codes or using a credit card directly on the system. Every 100 Wii Points cost one dollar.

For the Techies

Wii boasts 512 megabytes of internal flash memory, two USB 2.0 ports and built-in Wi-Fi capability. A bay for an SD memory card lets players expand the internal flash memory. Design was optimized with state-of-the-art processing technologies that minimize power consumption, keep the console compact and enable the WiiConnect24 mode. It's charged by a PowerPC CPU (named "Broadway"). It is made with a 90 nm SOI CMOS process, jointly developed with and manufactured by IBM.  Developed with ATI, the graphics processing unit (named "Hollywood") consists of internal memory of 3 megabytes of embedded graphics memory and 24 megabytes of high speed main memory. It is more powerful than the GameCube's "Flipper" and "Splash" components, though not nearly as powerful as Sony or Microsoft's High-Definition gaming systems. The box includes four ports for classic Nintendo GameCube controllers and two slots for Nintendo GameCube Memory Cards. There's also an AV Multi-output port for component, composite or S-video. The Wii does not offer DVD playback but can display a video signal up to 480p in 16:9 widescreen.

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