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Wii: then and now


"People change. Hairstyles change. Interest rates fluctuate." When Hillary Flammond uttered those words in Top Secret, she clearly hadn't experienced the gaming industry -- a marvelous, often magical place where things change very quickly indeed. As today's cataclysmic explosion of Wii news demonstrates, things can change for better or for worse. Yesterday's truth may become today's obsolete press release. So, what has (and hasn't) changed for Nintendo between then and now?

Then: The Wii could play DVDs via an unspecified and entirely nebulous dongle. The original console description reads: "Two Disc Formats, One Slot: Instead of a tray, a single, innovative, self-loading media bay will play both 12-centimeter optical discs used for the new system as well as Nintendo GameCube discs. Owners will have the option of equipping a small, self-contained attachment to play movies and other DVD content."
Now: Inserting a DVD into the system will likely produce a polite error message indicating a complete inability to play DVDs. Nintendo's Perrin Kaplan explains DVD playback was removed "in order to deliver the machine at a cheaper cost and because most people today already own DVD players." On the plus side, this reduces the amount of times we'll have to type a dubious word like "dongle."

In January 2006, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata tells Japanese newspapers that the Wii should launch in the US by Thanksgiving. "As for North America, we need to release it by Thanksgiving, or otherwise we won't receive support from the retail industry."
Now: Launching on Nov. 19, Nintendo makes it with a few days to spare. Show some gratitude, will ya?

Then: Scott Hedrick, Executive VP of Opera for Devices, confirms that the Wii version of the browser "will not be sold as a seperate item." He also explains that software will come loaded on the system.
Now: The Opera browser is no longer built-in and no longer free -- it will be sold as a seperate item through the Wii's internet channel for an unknown number of Wii Points. [Update: Only if you haven't downloaded it by June 2007. Phew!]

Then: At E3 2006, a whole host of new features are revealed for The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Though the Wii version boasts a different control scheme, it will be released on the same day as the Gamecube adventure.
Now: The Wii's Twilight Princess is still on track for launch, whereas the Gamecube (reminder: the platform the game was originally developed for) is forced to wait until December 11th. Sure, that makes sense. Not implementing a widescreen mode must be trickier than we were previously lead to believe.

Then: Speaking at a news conference in Osaka, a Nintendo senior managing director makes it apparent that the Wii would launch in America for no more than $250. That particular statement would go on to fuel a ludicrous amount of speculation.
Now: Well, he wasn't lying. The Wii launch price comes in at $249.99, a full cent below the upper limit of truth.

Then: In March 2006, Satoru Iwata tells CNN all about the USB ports on the Wii and how "practically any storage method can be used" in lieu of SD cards and the 512MB of internal storage.
Now: Perrin Kaplan empties her Magnum into that idea, telling Wired News' Joel Johnson that only flash storage will be supported. Iwata's suggestion becomes relegated to something Nintendo "could" explore in the future. This "future" place we keep hearing about sounds fantastic.

Then: Retro Studios assures IGN that Metroid Prime 3: Corruption will attend the inevitably debaucherous Wii launch party.
Now: A quick glance at the confirmed launch party list reveals that Metroid Prime 3 has not been invited. It's been delayed until 2007, and no amount of pleasantly worded paragraphs can hide our resulting bitterness.

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