Countdown to Wii

I admit that I have been out of touch with the world of video games for awhile now. There have been times that I have thought about getting a video game console, but it seemed like it was going to require too much effort to figure out which console to get and what games are worth paying $50+ for. In the past, it seemed like there wasn’t that much to distinguish one console from another.

However, the next generation of gaming consoles is shaping up differently. The PS3 appears to be the ultra high end, including a Blu-Ray player and HD output. The XBox 360 is the middle of the road, including HD output but no HD-DVD or Blu-Ray capability. These two consoles follow the general pattern of the last few years, which is to do exactly what’s been done since PS1, only with better graphics. The controller hasn’t changed significantly, the games haven’t changed significantly. Really only the graphics have changed.

Nintendo, however, has chosen not to jump on the HD bandwagon and has forged their own path with their new system, dubbed “Wii”. Wii’s motion-sensing controller is a radical departure from the dual analog stick controller that has been the norm for the last 5 or more years. It will enable a player to swing the controller while playing a tennis game, instead of simply pressing a button at the right time. This new approach to the controller promises to be a lot of fun, and by most accounts I’ve read, it works well. Another attractive aspect of the Wii is that a large catalog of old Nintendo games will be available for Wii from an online download service for $4.50-$8.99 apiece. Getting these games for the console will be a marked improvement over the emulator + ROM approach of the last 7 or 8 years, which has suffered from control/timing difficulty. Additionally, new Wii games will be cheaper than PS3 or Xbox 360 games and the Wii itself may cost as little as $200, where the PS3 will cost at least $500 and the Xbox 360 $300.

The big question everyone has been asking is, “When can I get my hands on a Wii?” Nintendo has been frustratingly silent on Wii’s release date, but a recent press release has people speculating that Oct. 2 is the magic date. That would be perfect – just in time for my birthday! If people are right and Oct. 2 is the release date, then we have just 68 days to wait!

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July 2006

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