Date: December 10, 2006
Author(s): Rob Williams
It’s no surprise that the Wii is doing well. It’s sold many, many units and is still in extreme demand. Does this mean the Wii is -all- it’s cracked up to be? I have compiled a small list of areas where the Wii fails and should be improved.
Before anybody jumps to conclusions, no I am not against Nintendo in any way. I grew up with an NES and considered myself to be a Nintendo fanboi up until the Gamecube, which didn’t manage to suck me in like the previous consoles had. That said, despite having a slightly bad taste in my mouth from the Wii, I am not totally zoned away from it. I still respect it for what it is, but it will not garner any of my playtime like my other consoles do.
Before I jump into my rant, I will give a few reasons why I enjoy the console although most everyone knows these reasons personally already. It’s unique… Nintendo like no one else likes to take the untraveled path and it’s worked well for them. It’s very portable and fits anywhere. Dual compatible! How great it was to unhook my Gamecube and actually save space by hooking up the Wii.
WiFi out of the box… which is also one of the downsides as I will get into further into the list. SD Cards to save games to. Like the PS3, this is was a great move. Lots of room to backup your games, at a very affordable price. Finally, my last “killer” reason for getting a Wii is Zelda: Twilight Princess.
All of that aside though, I couldn’t help but get caught up in all the fuss that surrounded the console around the time of launch. It was touted as the coolest console ever, but after first unpacking I was not too impressed. Now to be fair… I wasn’t sold on the uniqueness of the Wii for quite a while, and I still am not totally sold on it. Take into consideration that your gripes may vary from my own. I feel this is a solid list of where the Wii falls short, but could have been better.
Like the other next-gen consoles, the Wii is fully capable of handling online activities whether it be downloading or surfing the web. Or is it? On launch day, I had full intentions to check out what was available online. That was short lived however, as none of the special services were functional, even now, three weeks after launch. This includes the weather, news and even web browser. This lack made it feel like half of the console was missing.
Ok, perhaps I need to learn some patience, so I will just accept the fact that these services are on their way. Except the emulated games of course, because that’s instant revenue for Nintendo. That could not so foolishly be left out.
This is one specific feature I was really looking forward to. There are a few old NES and N64 games that I used to enjoy, but somehow either lost or broke. The fact that downloading a game to the Wii and playing it this way seemed like a great idea. That was until I actually logged onto this poor excuse for a store. I’ll quickly outline a few points as to why I think this store could be better.
All of this aside, I do understand that this service will prove valuable to people without computers (are there still people like this?), so it’s not all bad. I am just not sure who is going to purchase a bunch of games this way… there’s a lack of value.
When I first learned of a “Premium” Xbox 360 console, I found it to be ridiculous. I still find it ridiculous because the Core version lacks so much. What I liked about the Premium console though was the fact that it included a hi-definition cable. I was happy as pie that the console looked great on my HDTV out of the box. Not so for the Wii though. The console includes a horrible composite cable. I am sure that all HDTV owners out there stuck with the same cable can agree… it looks horrible. On older TVs it’s not a problem, 480i is a standard resolution. Running 480i on a 720p/1080p native TV though results in a headache inducing experience (muddy, bleeding colors). Thanks to the shortages though, a cable is not currently possible unless you want to pay $100+ for one online (Edit: eBay). Personally, I am waiting for some third parties to come to the rescue.
I also found it odd that the Wii included Wifi as default, and not a wired NIC. I do indeed run a wireless network, but I prefer to keep the computers near to the router plugged in for the sake of net stability. My router offers poor wireless capabilities. Regardless, it would have been nice to see wired NIC as stock option, not an add-on. Wireless could have been for the “Premium” version of the console, or as an add-on. Although the Wii is not heavy into online gaming, especially at this point, wireless connections for that type of action prove far better thanks to the lower latency. WiFi may not bother most people, but I have friends who have their Routers and Wii on the opposite side of the house. So there’s not going to be much surprise when they experience lag on their consoles when they finally get an online capable game.
Yes, I actually consider the Wii’s killer selling point as one of it’s downfalls. It’s obvious that the Wii is designed for a new level of realism.. a truly immersive experience. That’s fine… but most games for the Wii solely trust that you are a fan of this method of control. In Zelda, you can flick the remote to swing your sword. Does that make the game more realistic? No. It makes you look like an idiot, and is completely needless. I had no problem pushing a B button in previous games to swing my sword. Sitting in a chair waving your hand in the air doesn’t necessarily make the game more fun.
I may be over reacting, yes. At this point of time, the control is cool… everyone loves it. But how long is it going to take before people get bored of having to stand up, or wear out their arms to play a game? At least this gets people excercise… that is one plus. I just cannot personally see it, a year from now, where people are just as enthused to play a game on the Wii because of this type of control.
The Wii is designed to be a “family” console, so I had thought the setup process would be a complete no brainer, but that wasn’t the case. The entire GUI is clunky if you want to do anything but play a game. A friend asked me to send a message to his Wii, but of course I had no idea how to do such a thing. It wasn’t common sense, and I didn’t feel like hauling out a manual from the box I threw in the back of the closet. This stuff -should- be common sense. After finding out that you need a 16 digit code to send messages (odd in itself), it worked fine.
In the end, I just find the entire GUI to be counter-intuitive. In order to choose any option of change menu screens, you -must- use the motion sensor. It would have made sense to allow the D-Pad or even the Nunchuck attachment to surf these menus. I don’t want to have to wave my hand around simply to begin a game or view my storage. One specific area where this bothered me the most though, was setting up the Wireless connection. I had to type in a 63 character password with the remote… huge pain in the ass. It would not have been so bad with the D-Pad. Sure, I could use a lower security setting on the router to gain a smaller password, but that’s not the point, or my plan.
I have to bring this up, but I am not going to truly jump the gun. I picked up Tony Hawk: Downhill Jam and Zelda with the console, without having any intension’s of buying another game afterward. There are just no other launch titles that grab my attention, including some of the more hyped ones.
That leads me to another fact that I am finding out. The majority of games out right now… seem more like tech demos rather than full fledged games. Maybe this is because the publishers know very well that nobody will want to play certain games on this system for a prolonged amount of time. Either way, the games still retail for a standard price, so it would be nice to get what you pay for. TH: Downhill Jam, Excitetruck, Elebits and others all seem more like arcade games ported for the console, instead of being a Wii exclusive. The only full fledged game out right now (to my knowledge) that actually offers deep gameplay is Zelda.
Now that I’ve gotten all that out of my system, I want to reiterate the fact that I am not totally pissed off by the Wii. It’s simply not -half- as impressive as I had hoped it would be. I didn’t touch on the good points of the system in great detail, because that wasn’t the point of this list. Countless other sites have taken the liberty to touch on the great points. I was touching on the things that most people haven’t mentioned.
Take this list as you will. You may disagree, or you may agree. So be it. The Wii is still new, so it’s hard to be really skeptical at this point. I hope to see the console stand alongside the other next-gen consoles for the years to come. Game on.
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