The Wii is a new adventure for everyone. No matter who picks up the controller and starts playing Wii Sports or whatever takes their fancy, they will be plunged into a whole new world of videogaming and interactive entertainment. In celebration of this rather daunting fact and to try and answer some of your questions and quell some of your concerns we have put together an extensive guide to the Wii system and its major features.
If it isn’t in this guide, then quite simply it isn’t worth knowing...
The Wii Controller
The controller itself is totally motion sensitive. It can sense angle, tilt, direction, speed of movement, rotation...just about everything. The benefit of this is that you move in ‘360 de-gree’ reality, meaning that every move you do in real life can be replicated in Wii games with excellent accuracy. The Wii controller also features a rumble motor for us in games. The controller itself can be expanded on with the port at the bottom (which is where the nunchuk device goes) so there is limitless possibility for further developments. The lights at the bottom show you what player you are so there will never be any confusion as to who is who when playing multiplayer titles.
The motion sensing is all handled by the Wii’s sensor bar. Controller tilts and movements are sensed by an internal tilt sensor and accelerometer. Moving the controller through space and pointing all goes through the sensor bar, a 20cm piece of plastic that can be placed above or below your TV set. This enables all the Wii controllers in the room to in-teract with the Wii and makes all the motion sensing work.
The nunchuk controller is also motion sensitive, but in a far more basic way to the main Wii Remote. It features two shoulder buttons and a main analogue control stick. It connects to the main controller with a wire and also features a rumble motor. Further to this Nintendo have also created a Classic Controller for use with Virtual Console titles. This controller can be used to play some Wii games and all the titles on the Virtual Console. You can also use the GameCube pad to play VC games and the main Wii controller can be used for NES titles as well. Lovely.
But what else can you expect with regards to the Wii controller? A special steering wheel from Ubi Soft will be packed in with Monster 4x4: World Circuit and GT Pro Series. For this, the Wii remote clips into the centre of the wheel allowing you to easily use it for mov-ing about a car. Other potential additions include a gun (which has already been shown off by Nintendo) that would see the Wii controller slotting into the back of a small gun-shaped frame. You can also expect some for of microphone at some point, maybe a camera...who knows. The possibilities are infinite and no doubt Nintendo will be making full use of this aspect of the Wii controller.
The VC is Nintendo’s solution to making money out of their fantastic back catalogue, and what a solution! The system has the potential to contain every single title on every single Nintendo console ever or for that matter any game on any console ever (with some obvi-ous compatibility limitations). So far the announced systems are the N64, the SNES, the NES, the Genesis and the Turbo GFX. UK pricing is estimated to be around £3 for a NES game, £5 for a SNES game and £7 for an N64 game, although UK pricing is yet to be fully confirmed. Game pricing will be in Wii Points, which can be purchased in batches and used for all sorts of Wii items. The games can be stored on an SD memory or the consoles internal flash memory and if you run out of space and have to delete it, you can download it again free of charge as Nintendo will keep a log of what you have purchased from the Virtual Console Store. The European launch titles for the Virtual Console are as follows:
NES: Baseball, Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr., Ice Hockey, Mario Bros., Pinball, Soccer, Solomon's Key (Tecmo), Tennis, The Legend of Zelda, Urban Champion, Wario's Woods.
SNES: Donkey Kong Country, F-Zero, SimCity
N64: Super Mario 64
SEGA MEGA DRIVE: Sonic the Hedgehog, Altered Beast, Golden Axe, Columns, Gunstar Heroes, Ecco the Dolphin, Space Harrier II, Toe Jam & Earl, Ristar, Dr. Robotonik’s Mean Bean Machine
Turbografx (PC Engine): Bonk’s Adventure, Super Star Soldier, Victory Run, Bomber-man’93, Dungeon Explorer
More games will be added at regular intervals by Nintendo and every game is stored on its own channel on the Nintendo Wii main menu. To play a title, simply select it and it boots right up. Your console must be connected to the Internet to use this feature as all games are downloaded from Nintendo’s Online Store.
For the first time ever, Nintendo are making a games console more than just a games console. Out of the box the Wii is already packed with loads of cool little features that are designed to make it a system the whole family can enjoy in their day to day lives. These channels are essentially the Wii’s operating system and ‘Start’ menu. When the Wii starts up you are taken to the main menu screen from where you decide what you want to do. The Wii Channel interface is split up into four pages with twelve boxes on each page, which makes up 48 channels in total. These include the Disk Channel (for Wii and GameCube games), the Photo Channel (where you can import and manipulate images from your camera SD card), the Weather Channel (for checking the weather), the News Channel (take a wild guess) and the Mii Channel.
There is also a message board or an email Inbox of sorts where you can leave notes for other users of your individual Wii console or send out and receive messages via the online service. Nintendo can also send out details of downloads, upgrades and all other fun things to this part of the Wii. A calendar is also integrated into the system to tell you how long you have played each day and what you have played. All very nice and gimmicky. Whilst not much is known about what additional Wii Channels will be added in the future, Nintendo have commented that they have loads more ideas for the future so it is sure to expand at some point.
The most innovative part of the Wii Channel system is the Mii Channel. Miis are little ava-tars that you can create to represent yourself. They act a bit like interactive profiles and best of all you can use them in Wii titles! You can chose your Mii character to play in all the Wii Sports games and if you have friends added to your Wii they will become members of the crowd in Wii Play or Wii Sports. They are rather basic looking and have a tendency to look nothing like you, but the whole system is sure to be a major hit in an age when every-one is obsessed with creating virtual versions of themselves or playing about on MySpace. The Nintendo answer to this is innovative and damn good fun.
Nintendo have been very secretive about the Wii hardware specifications, but that hasn’t stopped the information getting out. For those of you with strange obsessions with num-bers that make no sense, enjoy:
- IBM 729 MHz PowerPC CPU ("Broadway")
- ATI 242 MHz Graphics Processor ("Hollywood")
- 91 MB of on-board memory
- 512 MB built-in flash memory
- 2USB 2.0 ports
- A proprietary output for video and audio
- 4 Gamecube controller ports and 2 Gamecube memory card ports
- Slot loading optical drive compatible with standard DVD and GameCube sized discs
- SD memory card slot(s)
- WiFi by Broadcom, with 802.11b & 802.11g support
Basically, the Wii is very lacking in the oomph department compared to the XBOX 360 and PS3, but it is more than capable of displaying excellent graphics, albeit not in HD. Wii games are stored on DVD sized disks that simply slide into the glowing slot on the front of the Wii, GameCube disks also go here. The Wii has four GameCube controller ports, two GameCube memory card ports and can run up to four Wii controllers at any one time. In terms of size, the console is absolutely tiny: 44mm wide, 157mm tall and 215.4mm deep (without the stand) which is about the size of three DVD cases. The stand is 55.4mm wide, 44mm tall and 225.6mm deep and when the Wii is placed in it the console settles into a rather cool jaunty angle. You can also house it vertically if you really want to. Game saves can be saved on the internal 512MB flash memory or on SD cards that can be slotted into the system easily.
In terms of online play, Nintendo are holding back on that for the moment. The first online titles will come out in 2007, but you can still take your system online from day one. The Wii can connect to the Internet wirelessly with built in 802.11b/802.11g Wi-Fi capabilities by using a wireless router to create a wireless network. You can also use a LAN adaptor (sold separately) which plugs into one of the Wii’s USB ports. With this inserted you can run an Ethernet cable from your Wii and take your system online. The whole service is totally free aside from the purchase of things like Virtual Console games.
The system also have full web-browsing capabilities thanks to a deal with Opera. The Op-era Wii Browser can be bough online in the Wii Shopping Channel and is rumored to be free for purchase during the first six months. Browsing will always be free on the Wii. One final aspect of the Wii’s online system is the WiiConnect24 feature. The system is ‘on’ all time (so long as you don’t rip out the plug) and can download new content and update it-self constantly with no noise and hardly any power consumption. This means that whilst you sleep the system will be able to download new characters, maps, levels and exciting extra content, so when you wake up you’ll have loads of new stuff to look over. In theory. The aim is to make the Wii a new experience each day and to keep people coming bac for more. Just like everything else on the Wii, this service is free of charge.
The Games and Launch
So we’ve covered everything about the system, but what about the games that you will be able to play on it from launch? In Europe the Wii is launching with the following titles:
• Wii Sports Bundle (Including the Wii console and Wii Sports - Tennis, Golf, Boxing, Baseball and Bowling)
• The Legend of Zelda : Twilight Princess
• Wii Play (including Wii Remote)
• Call of Duty 3 (Activision)
• Marvel: Ultimate Alliance (Activision)
• Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam(Activision)
• Madden NFL 07 (EA)
• Need For Speed Carbon (EA)
• Happy Feet (Midway Games)
• Rampage: Total Destruction (Midway Games)
• Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz (Sega)
• Gottlieb Pinball Classics (System 3)
• Super Fruit Fall (System 3)
• Disney/ Pixar Cars (THQ)
• Barnyard (THQ)
• Spongebob Squarepants: Creature from the Krusty Krab (THQ)
• Blazing Angels Squadrons of WW II (Ubisoft)
• Far Cry Vengeance (Ubisoft)
• GT Pro Series (Ubisoft)
• Monster 4x4 World Circuit (Ubisoft)
• Open Season (Ubisoft)
• Rayman Raving Rabbids (Ubisoft)
• Red Steel (Ubisoft)
• Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Double Agent (Ubisoft)
Games are prices at an RRP of £39.99 but some are selling for £34.99 at a number of out-lets. The Wii console itself is £179.99 (including Wii Sports) and launches in Europe on December 8th 2006. In the box you will be getting a Wii console, a Wii remote, a nunchuk attachment, a stand, a sensor bar, TV cables and power cables, a start-up disk and a sen-sor bar with a sensor bar stand along with the bundled copy of Wii Sports. Extra controllers are available for the following prices: £30 for a Wii remote, £14.99 for a nunchuk attach-ment and £14.99 for a classic controller.