games/wii.jpgNintendo’s new Wii (pronounced like the word we) gaming system is like no other. While Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation focus on improved graphics and fast-paced action, the Wii focuses on fun.

The Wii’s graphics can’t compare to the graphics of the other new gaming systems, but once you start playing you get so caught up in the games that the graphics don’t matter. You see, when you play with the Wii, you don’t just move your thumbs. The motion sensitive wireless controller will have you out of your chair and moving about. You really get into the game.

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The controller looks like a TV remote which you hold in your hand and move to perform certain functions. So to bowl, you actually go through the motions of throwing the bowling ball. In golf you swing the remote just like is a golf club. In Excite Truck, you turn and twist the remote to steer the truck. The remote comes with a wrist strap and I highly recommend that you tighten it around your wrist when you play to prevent accidental release.

One of the wonderful things about the Wii is that both the games and the way they are played are appealing to adults of all ages. I wouldn’t even consider taking on a twenty-something in a shoot-em-up game that requires finger dexterity. But I’d be happy to take them on in a game of Wii baseball or bowling.

TheWii game console itself is a small (1.75 inches by 6.25 inches by 8.5 inches), sleek white device. The console comes with everything you need to connect the Wii to your television. It has a wireless controller, a motion-sensitive nunchuk (secondary controller used in some games), a sensor bar that is set on top or in front of the television, a cradle (for mounting the console vertically), the power adapter, and a set of composite A/V cables. The Wii Sports package with baseball, bowling, boxing, golf, and tennis, is also included.

Setup is simple. Follow the Quick Start guide to plug everything in. Then turn the TV to the proper input, like Video 2 or Video 3. (This will differ depending on which input you plugged the cables into.) The games come on a CD which is easily inserted into the game unit. If the game doesn’t start, it means that you inserted the CD in the wrong direction, as I did on my first try. Just press the eject button and insert with the CD facing the other direction. Software setup is fairly straightforward, like entering your name and choosing the number of opponents and difficulty of the game.

Wii has wireless network built-in. It can hook up to a secure WEP or WPA encrypted network or to a wired network with an optional adapter.

The Wii’s navigation is done through an interface that Nintendo calls “channels.”  There is a Weather channel, a News Channel and a Message Channel that can be used if the unit is hooked up to your Internet connection. There is also Mii Channel where you can customize your own Miis. These are the cute little roly-poly avatars that are used in many of the games. There is also a Photo Channel which can be used to view and edit photos. You can load up to 1,000 photos through the Wii’s SC card slot and can view them individually or in albums. You can also create a slideshow with music.

There are lots of accessories for the Wii and you may want to purchase a few of them. Although you can play many of the games alone, an extra remote is almost a necessity to really have fun with two players.

Games for the GameCube can also be played on the Wii, but they don’t take advantage of the Wii’s motion sending capabilities. To play them as you are used to, you may want to purchase a classic controller for the Wii.

Then, of course, you will want to buy some games. The Wii already has about 30 games with Zelda, Madden 07, and Call of Duty 3 coming soon. In addition you can buy Wii Point Cards to purchase classic games like Alien Crush, Pinball, Poker, Sim City, and others. Hits from the Sega Genesis and Nintendo 64 systems will also be available. If you remember playing asteroids or other retro games, you’ll love this feature.

This is a game system that will last. As game designers work with the Wii, they will find new and innovative ways to employ the systems motion-controlled interface. So there are sure to be many inventive new games in the future.

Many gamers will find the Wii’s pricing very attractive. The game console with everything you need to set it up and the Sports Package can be purchased for $249. Compared to other game consoles, this is a bargain. At $49, regular games for the Wii are $10 cheaper than those for the PS3 or Xbox.

The Wii system has been wildly popular since its release last month. Although they are in short supply, you may be able to find one before the holidays. If not, consider keeping the Wii on your “must have” list for next year.

The Wii, the games, and the price are sure to appeal to the baby boomers whether they want to play alone or with the younger crowd. If you are into shoot-em up games and hard rock, look at a PS3 or an Xbox. If you want to taste some old-fashioned fun with a hi-tech twist, try the Wii.

 

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