Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Upon Further Wiiview...

We've had our Wii now for about 5 months (not including the month it waited in a box for Christmas to arrive), and I figured it was as good a time as any to take another look at the little white box that could. 6 months is a relatively short time for a console, but not as short as you might think. A gaming consoles average lifespan (by mass market viability, not how long it stays in working order) is about 6 years. If you put the average human at 72 that means that a console "lives" about a year for every month. So the Wii and PS3 are about 6 years old in human years while the XBOX360 is almost 18. So the Wii is still very young, but old enough to show some real development and get a handle on what kind of grown up it will turn out to be.

As shared before in this space, the Wii had an immediate impact on my family and we loved it right away. It was a great way to play as a family and had the added benefit of being "exercise". But after the novelty wears off (and the delusion of the Wii as a weight-loss device), does the Wii hold it's allure? And even more to the point, Do we find ourselves still using it?

Yes and oh my goodness, yes.

6 months later and the Wii is still an amazing little machine that holds our attention and provides hours of fun for the whole family.

Any Questions?

It seems like a fun system, IF I COULD FIND ONE! What's up with the supply problems? Shouldn't Nintendo be ashamed that 6 months later you still can't find a Wii in stores?

Ashamed isn't the word I would use. Thrilled, ecstatic, euphoric, giddy, or "rolling in big piles of money" would probably be more appropriate. The truth is that (and I know this sounds like PR speak) it is a demand problem more than a supply problem. The only mistake that Nintendo made was building something that more people wanted than anyone could have imagined. The numbers back this up. In just 6 months the best estimates are that Nintendo has sold just over 7 million Wiis total. As a matter of reference, there have been just over 3 Million PS3s sold in the same time frame, and almost 11 million 360's with a year's head start. Nintendo's dominance of Sony is pretty widely accepted at this point, but at this rate they will have outsold Microsoft within 4 months and that's with the current "supply issues". If they find a way to get more of these things out the door, we will finally see just how popular this thing really is and I wouldn't be surprised to see them sell 15 million by Christmas. The point is, from all appearances Nintendo is doing everything they can to meet demand, and a little pre-planning can score you a Wii on almost any given weekend.

What's up with the channels? Do you still use the weather, news, Internet, or everybody votes channels?

Not as much. I never check the news channel, and the weather channel only rarely when I'm already on the Wii and I'm thinking about weather for whatever reason. The Internet channel is also a rarity for me, but that may just be because we have a lousy connection at home. However, the "Everybody Votes" channel is strangely addictive. I haven't missed a vote yet, and I am always giddy when I find out the results are in. It's a very strange feeling to care about whether people prefer the color red or blue. Anyhow, the channel system is overall a great set up but needs some additional content.

Is there a way to make sure that super-cool pulsing entry slot blue light stays on?

Yes, just email your console and then don't open the email. And yes, I have done that. And yes, I understand that I am a freak.

Do you find yourself playing more Gamecube games or Wii games? Are the games holding up?

I am definitely playing more Wii stuff, but my kids are still addicted to some of the Gamecube stuff (and virtual console stuff like Zelda). As far as the games holding up, absolutely. The only reason I haven't gone back to Wii Sports or Wario Ware more is because my limited gaming time has been spent in finishing Zelda:Twilight Princess (by the way, one of the most incredible games I've ever played) and in working through Sonic and The Secret Rings (ok concept, not great execution) and just this week starting into Super Paper Mario (addictive, joyous, puzzle solving game-play). People talk about there being a "game drought" right now, but I barely have time to get into the games I do have.

Is the "motion based" control still fresh, or has it been exposed as a gimmick?

A little of both actually. It depends on the game and what the publisher is trying to do. In Sonic it's more gimmick, in Wario Ware it's perfect. Super Paper Mario actually doesn't even use it, because it doesn't need to. Game makers need to remember that the motion control is an option that can be used to make a game more intuitive, not something to be squeezed superfluously into every element.

OK, here's the big one, is it worth $250 and should I get one?

Well, in a free market, it's actually probably worth more like $300 since that's what people are still routinely paying for them on Ebay. But yes, I think $250 is the right price for a Wii especially if you have a family that likes to play together or already have a library of Gamecube games. As popular as the machine is right now, I wouldn't expect a price drop for at least another year, and most likely August of 2008 down to $199. Right now, the only thing that I would like to see drop in price are the controllers. They are $60 if you get both the remote and nun-chuck, so know what you need going in and plan accordingly. The good news is that the basic system includes one full controller and Wii Sports, so you could legitimately leave the store paying less than $300 and have everything you need (including a second remote which you will want to at least play two person baseball and tennis).

Overall, after 6 months, the Wii is still something my family is having a great time with and would highly recommend to anyone who is at all considering it. The only negative is that I likely still have 6 more months before "Super Mario: Galaxy", but I've got plenty to keep me busy until then, including losing about 50 pounds when "Wii Health" releases. Some delusions die hard.

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