In many ways, Nintendo’s newest game console is a bit of a retro affair. While Sony and Microsoft have made huge leaps in graphical power with the PS3 and Xbox 360 Nintendo admits that the Wii (priced at$250) will only be a small improvement in graphics from the previous GameCube. It will also not support online multiplayer out of the box on its launch day on Sunday, Nov 19, at least here in the US. It will not support the resolutions for HDTV sets. Finally it will allow people to download classic Nintendo, Sega and Hudson games that will be pure ports and not enhanced like those made for Xbox Live Arcade.
Yet the Nintendo Wii is doing something that Sony and Microsoft are not doing; putting most of its eggs in one basket; namely its Wiimote controller. The controller looks much like a TV style remote and has motion sensing features. Unlike the PS3 controller, the Wiimote is designed to do a lot more. You can throw it with a motion in a football game to throw the ball on screen. You can use it as a gun to shoot people in an FPS. You can even move it like a fishing rod to catch fish in a game. The big question is whether the public will thing this is a “revolution” in game consoles or just a gimmick. In addition to the Wiimote, Nintendo will add a free-game, Wii Sports, to every console. This series of arcade versions of tennis, baseball, boxing, and other sports will likely give people a chance to get used to how the Wiimote works before going into the more sophisticated titles. The console will also support free Wifi connections. While there won’t be any multiplayer online games to check out at launch, it will have a free Web browser along with “channels” for news and weather updated.
Nintendo has not yet stated official numbers for the US launch of the Wii but it’s likely that there will be over 1 million consoles for sale on Nov. 19. That may seem like a lot but it’s not and the Wii will likely be an instant sell-out on that day. As with the PS3 call or visit your favorite local retailer to find out if they will sell the Wii on launch day and when you should start lining up for it.