Nintendo Wii £179.99
22nd Aug 2008 | 09:05
Is the world's most playable console hampered by its hardware shortcomings?
Update: check out our first impressions of the new Nintendo Wii U console here: Hands on: Nintendo Wii U review
For sheer playability, there's no console better than the Wii. Its former codename, Revolution, describes it superbly. The motion sensitive controllers are just that, and with the addition of extra controllers such as the Wii Fit Balance board, Nintendo is managing to take the concept outside the traditional realms of gaming.
If you haven't played on a Wii, you won't quite know what it's like to experience. Not only are the motion sensitive controllers unbelievably responsive and easy-to-use, but it's at its best for family gaming where even grandparents can pick things up pretty quickly in simple games.
Complex games using the additional nunchuck are far more difficult though! And make sure you fork out for rechargeable batteries, also.
There are clever touches, too – pressing the off button on your controller powers down the entire system and the other connected controllers. The controllers pick up movement via a plug-in sensor bar that sits atop or underneath your screen.
Mini characters called Miis are your representation in the games, and you can pick up points as you become more proficient.
You can also play online via the built-in Wi-Fi connection or an optional Ethernet adapter and even save Miis to Wii remotes to play at friends' houses; the whole system really is very well designed.
While the Opera-powered web browser is initially impressive, you'll need to have a pretty rubbish laptop to want to browse the internet this way.
Since the browser uses Flash 7, the video content available is poor even through BBC iPlayer; the BBC actually has to encode its video content especially for the Wii and at a higher bitrate even though it plays in worse quality. The browser is an optional add-on available through the online store, a shame.
Serious gamers need not apply
Nintendo has also taken the step of remembering those who bought the GameCube. All games and even the controllers are supported.
Elsewhere on the hardware, USB slots enable charging of devices and other add-ons while a SD slot enables storage and photo browsing on your TV.
The Wii is also extremely affordable – even if this doesn't extend to the games themselves, you won't find yourself too bored by those games included with the system, especially Wii Sports which is addictive to say the very least.
The IBM-powered Wii was never meant for serious gaming, and if there is any criticism of the system it's in this department. The ATI-powered graphics are far from amazing while the media features of the Xbox 360 aren't even half-matched.
But you'd have to be chief of the snob parade if that makes you dislike the Wii. It's gaming for those that don't usually game. Nintendo is not only safe, the Wii has reinvented what a games console should be.