Nintendo Wii: the wee-little things

As much as we would have loved to devote the entire day to Wii-related goings-on, we also had some other important business to attend to; and besides, there are several blogs out there that are much better at covering gaming minutiae than ourselves. Still, amongst all the hustle and bustle of product announcements, press conferences, and rumor mongering, there were a few tidbits of info that seemed to fall by the wayside, so we thought it was only right to wrap those up into one tidy, bite-size post. Perhaps the biggest "non-news" of the day, so to speak, is that Wii has lost the DVD playback functionality that had been promised in earlier-speced versions of the console -- and the reasoning behind it kind of makes sense, as one less feature supposedly brought down the price of the console, and everyone already has a DVD player to begin with. On a more positive note, we also learned that at least Nintendo-produced discs -- and perhaps third party titles as well -- will be region-free, meaning that if you live in the US but have a hankering for one of those crazy, nonsensical Japanese cooking / weight loss / "thinking" games, all ya gotta do is import. Wanna learn more? Keep on reading...

Another topic we only glossed over was the use of so-called "channels" to partition the Wii's various functions; in no particular order they are: Disc (for playing -- you guessed it -- store-bought titles), Mii (for pimping out your avatar), Photo (for viewing and editing SD-based pics), Forecast (allows you to peep the weather anywhere in the world), News (self-explanatory), Wii shop (where they sell you swag like retro games, the Opera browser, and anything else they think you'll shell out for), Virtual Console (where you get your 8-bit-and-higher gaming on), Internet (duh), and finally, Message Board (a catch-all channel for posting, sending pics and text, and updating / patching games).

So, now that we've gotten most of the loose ends tied up, how's the public reacting to Nintendo's proposed bill of goods?

It's no secret that gamers and non-gamers alike have been looking forward to Wii for some time, so now that most of Nintendo's cards are on the table, what's been the reaction from the public so far? Well obviously the innovative console is getting some major buzz in the mainstream press, and from what we gather, people are pretty excited to strap on that Wiimote and get their game on. So the good news for the big N is that they've definitely captured the public's interest here, and at $250 -- much cheaper than either the Xbox 360 or PS3 -- the system has a good chance of meeting its stated goals of bringing new gamers into the fold as well as bringing back those folks who gave up on videogames once the controllers began to sport 3 directional pads and 50 buttons.

But is the Wii really such a good deal? As one commenter on Joystiq put it, when you factor in the cost of an extra controller ($40), extra nunchuck attachment ($20), a non-bundled game ($50), and the obligatory SD card ($20 to $50), you're looking at a package that costs over $400 -- and over $500 if you want to equip everyone in a four-person family with their own input devices.

Gamers have also been critiquing the cost of Virtual Console titles: are people really willing to spend $5-a-pop for a bunch of low-res games from the 80's (especially when these same games are available for "free" as ROMs at numerous sites online)? Finally, some folks aren't all that wowed at the "value-added" features like web browsing and photo manipulation -- we have computers for that, and they do a lot better job.

In the end, though, the decision of whether or not to pick up a Wii -- or any of the other next-gen consoles, for that matter -- is a highly personal one, and it's foolish to suggest that something which seems overpriced, underpowered, or gimmicky to some will strike others the same way. Our best advice, then, is to take your time, read some reviews, get all the facts down pat, and most importantly of all, don't listen to anything that the fanboys tell you.

Read- DVD playback
Read- Wii channels
Read- Region-free games
Read- US launch
Read- Japanese launch
Read- Launch critiques
Read- Console details
Read- Packaging