First, let me preface by saying that I am a huge Wii fan.
It is the first console I have owned in over 10 years. In my gaming career I have owned an Atari 2600, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), Super NES, and the Nintendo 64. Every console that came out thereafter had controllers with about 523 buttons on them (more added with each generation) and this odd joystick that took ages to master unless you could hold your tongue just right. It was about this time that I became a PC-only gamer: If I have to use a controller with loads of buttons, it may as well be my keyboard. And controlling with a mouse is so much easier.
But the Wii is different. For starters, the controller is wireless. That’s standard. It has eight buttons (one of which is a power button, another of which is “home” going to the main Wii menu. Both of which are rarely used.) It also has, of course, the classic control pad that anyone who has ever played a video game console in the past 20 years would recognize. Fortunately, most of the games require the pressing of very few of these buttons, if any at all. Tennis, for example, requires merely the ability to swing the controller like a tennis racket.
One of the greatest aspects about the Wii is that anyone can pick it up and play. My wife and I GAME TOGETHER! Something we never did before. Even better is that I can pack it up, take it to someone’s home, and we can all have a friendly game of bowling after dinner.
The Wii offers Wi-Fi connection ability and with that connection I can check the weather on the Wii Weather Network, check the latest news headlines on a News Channel, and even surf the Internet on a custom-built Opera browser for the Wii (Yes, I use it often).
Here are two reasons that my anger burns with the Wii…
Number one: It has these cool Internet capabilities that it rarely, if ever, takes advantage of as far as its games are concerned. My other friends and I who own Wiis can send messages to one another via the Wii and even transfer Miis (characters you make on the Wii) to one another’s console via the web; all within the Wii. Yet, we can’t play each other in Tennis, Bowling, Golf, or the other games included in the Wii. Sure, some games coming out will have this feature, but Nintendo made the games that come with the system and made the system. The least they can do is to try and keep up with Microsoft and Sony as far as interacting with friends over the Internet goes.
Number two: Its whopping 512 megabytes of storage space. Nah, I guess you’re right… who needs the 20GB to 120GB storage offered by Xbox, anyway?
Well, I DO!
Would it have killed Nintendo to just slap at least a 10 gig hard drive in the Wii? They aren’t that large. A laptop hard drive has the surface size of a credit card and is only as thick as maybe seven credit cards stacked together. Heck, go solid state and offer us three gigs of memory at least! USB pen drives do exist in that size today. Surely Nintendo had access to manufacturers that could have custom made some memory banks for their console.
The real problem with the 512MB memory comes in when you talk about downloadable content (DLC) for games. For example with the Xbox 360, you can download new songs for games like Rock Band or Guitar Hero by purchasing them with points you can buy online. Nintendo just decided that its customers would be happy playing the same songs, over and over and over, and never get tired of playing them. In fact, the announcement of the Wii Rock Band release for late June includes the disappointing news that there will be no DLC for the game – no one in the Wii community was surprised by that; but it still disappoints us.
Well, what about an external hard drive for the Wii to store data? Yeah right. So far, that hopes of this happening are in the rumor stage (If there is something that the Wii needs, rest assured that there is a rumor that it is coming out). No official word yet on an ugly, bulky, external hard drive for the Wii yet.
Well surely, since the Wii is merely a small computer, one could buy a standard USB external hard drive and hook it up to the Wii via the built in USB ports! Not a chance. Been tested and failed. In fact, Wii owners aren’t really even sure what the USB ports are for since they don’t support anything except a USB LAN adapter (In case you don’t have wireless in your home). You can upload photos to your Wii on the Wii photo channel, but don’t bother trying to via a USB pen drive into the USB ports. This fete of magnificence can only be done via an SD memory card slot. Luckily, I happen to have had a seldom-used 32 MB SD card in the house and uploaded a few photos of my son for some guests to see, rather than crowding them around my laptop.
I could have spent this time complaining about the graphics of the Wii; some titles look stunning, while others seem very low-grade. But the game play of the Wii is much more different than any other console; graphics seem secondary during game play. Besides, I’d rather have fun using a controller that I can master in three seconds than watch stunning graphics on an Xbox 360 only to spend the first half hour asking my friend “which button shoots?” or wondering which of the 32 buttons I should have my two thumbs on.
Still, a redesign for the Wii would be nice; one with a larger memory bank, and maybe graphics that are just a hair beefier. And for the love of everything that is sacred and holy, take advantage of the built in Internet connection! You can’t use it as a DVD player (like other consoles) and the absence of a standard headphone jack disappoints me (though I doubt anyone but me would use it, it’s the PC gamer in me.)
There are few things to complain about the Wii really. Most folks who have a Wii have it in addition to other consoles. Gamers love the Wii for its playability but they may buy an Xbox 360 for the game titles and graphics. Being that the Wii is my only console in the house, and I rarely get a chance to play Battlefield 2142 on my PC, I have more time to think of complaints.