Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Opinion: Nintendo Wii

The Nintendo Wii is an interesting counter-choice to the Playstation 3. The Wii should have more plentiful numbers and the price point is rather attractive when put up against the PS3 ($499/$599 vs. $249). The only problem with the Wii is that there may be more question marks surrounding it than the PS3 has. Things to consider:

1. Will there be any heavy support after the initial 6-12 months of release?
Developers are saying they are big behind the Wii because of production costs being less on a game than those on the 360 or PS3. This may be true, but the developers also need to think about what would make a game exciting to the owners of the Wii. With a new way of controlling how you play the game, the developers need to start thinking outside the box and utilizing the full range of motion that the remote supposdely has.

I question whether support is going to be there after a year. I think it is a valid point of worry with the Wii. Yes, Metroid and Mario are coming, but after that what other original or big selling games are there? With Zelda coming out on Sunday that is a big selling point for the Wii, but it also spites those people (like myself) that were waiting for the game on the GameCube. We have to wait almost a month to get our hands on that version unless we picked up a Wii.
2. Will Red Steel end up being a game worth picking up or has nothing changed since the disastrous previews?
I still think Red Steel could end up being another strong release alongside Zelda for the Wii release. Both Nintendo and UbiSoft have been touting the game, but when early previews started coming out it painted a not so rosy picture. Did UbiSoft go back and refine the game and make it all it could be? That's the question.
3. Is the controller a gimmick or a real revolution?
From a conceptual standpoint the controller is revolutionary, but from real world use in games at launch and the future will it actually stand up? Journalists who have played Zelda at the recent event in Redmond sat on both sides of the fence on whether the Wii controls were good for the game or not. What they were pretty unified with was that using the controls would not make your arms tire. The latter is an important factor since logic would dictate that your hands would tire after hours of play, but the previews on 10 hours of play refuted that.

The thing to worry about here also ties into #1. Developers have to think outside the box when creating games for the Wii. In many ways it will be easy to use the new control system, but can they utilize it to its full potential? They are going to decide whether the control system is viewed as a gimmick or a revolutionary idea.
4. Will the idea by many that the Wii is just a GameCube 1.5 hurt the system?
I don't think of the Wii like this, but I get the impression that many do. This could hurt the Wii in the end simply because we (unfortunately) live in a society where graphics are pretty important. The Wii is not going to wow people like the 360 or PS3 might, it just isn't going to happen. The Wii is there for much the same reason as the GameCube, a system where people can have fun playing games with other people. With the Wii they get into the game physically, a vast change from the GameCube. Nintendo still hasn't shed the kiddie image that many people talk about and they plan on having many Mature games on the Wii, but they'd have to do something pretty badass to lose the kiddie label.
5. Is online multiplayer gaming really that important?
Online multiplayer gaming may not be very important to Nintendo again this time around. Yes, there will be online play, but is Nintendo really taking an aggressive stance on it? I don't think they are. Sony, for all they've done wrong, have embraced online play with the PS3 although the success of it can be debated. Microsoft obviously makes Live a key component of their system. Could a repeat of the GameCube happen again where there are very few games that support online play? It is cool we'll have the Virtual Console available via the network, but we certainly can't play those games with other people around the world, can we?
In the end I hope people pick up the Wii, especially if you're in a family environment. The unfortunate part (that is shared with the PS3) is that there is really only one game to pick up for the Wii (Zelda) that is a for sure must buy. Outside of that what do you have? The vast unknown.