If you watch any television at all, you've seen the ads for new generation consoles. There's the X-Box 360,Â Playstation 3, and Nintendo Wii - all vying for your holiday dollars. The prime focus for the Wii's advertising campaign seems to be a family-friendly approach. Advertisements show a family sitting together on a couch, or a group of older men getting together and bowling. Gaming for the non-traditional gamer.
Â When we considered what game system to purchase for our family, a lot of factors came in to play. Cost, first of all. The wii, at $250 dollars, is the clear price leader in this generation's systems. There's also a unique dynamic with the Wii - instead of just sitting and passively playing by mashing buttons, you physically involved in the game. Wireless remotes allow you the freedom to get up and move. The remote is sensitve to your movements - when you play games, your motions emulate what goes on in the game. If you are bowling, you really make a bowling motion with the remote. You can even hook and spin your ball.Â Playing the tenis game, you hold the controller like a racket. A realistic thwack sounds when you hit the ball.Â
My entire family loves the Wii. Some of them have never picked up a game controller in their lives, yet they eagerly play games on this console. At our recent Thanksgiving gathering, people of all ages enjoyed the Wii - my mother (age 78), my older brothers (both in their fifties), myself, Aus,Â and our cousins (ages ranging from mid twenties to late thirties), and my three teenage children. We were all able to play together - and everyone could keep up without frustration. The games put us all on a pretty equal footing for the most part - though we all discovered fairly quickly that my mom is quite the accomplished bowler.Â The smiles on everyone's faces were priceless - it was the best family gathering we'd had in years.
Â In addition to the games, the Wii also downloads news from the internet. Everyone loves spinning the globe, and viewing where stories come from. This is great for those who have a poor grasp of geography - when you open a new story, it shows you where in the world it is taking place.Â The forecast channel works in a similar fashion - you can view the weather in your hometown, then see weather all over the world on the globe.
Â Another great function of the Wii is the Mii channel.Â You can create a three-dimensional avatar that looks like you, and then you can use it in the games. You can also enter contests for making Miis in another channel. In the Everybody Votes channel, you can all answer poll questions and predict how the rest of your region (or even the world in world polls) will answer.Â The channel keeps track of your accuracy, and measures your distance from the popular opinion.
In the photo channel, you can upload pictures from your camera card and draw on them, or make them into a jigsaw puzzle. The kids had a lot of fun with this one - taking pictures and then taking them apart and seeing how long it took them to reassemble them. They also get a kick out of how in draw mode the erase button sends a rocket ship across the screen.
The shopping channel lets you download games and additional channels for your wii. We purchased the internet channel for 500 wii points (five dollars), which allows you to use the Opera web browser. The Wii also supports a USB keyboard if you want to use the internet thataway. Some sites on the web have flash games that support the Wii remote, so you can play games on the internet through your Wii. You can also view things like youtube videos - it's nice to be able to watch your favorite music videos on TV again.Â
You can also use the shopping channel to download some of your favorite oldschool games - they have games from NES, SNES, N64, Sega, and even obscure systems like the NeoGeo that you can download and play on your wii. Though you pay in 'Wii points' , the dollar amounts you wind up spending range from five bucks for old NES games to about ten dollars for the N64.
Wii is also compatible with GameCube, so you can play your old Game Cube games on it. Furthermore, since the GameCube is now a previous generation system, you can pick up a lot of great games for it at rock bottom prices.
If you have friends with Wiis, you can send them messages and become Wii friends. Some games even allow you to play with your friends across the country -or even the world!
Â An upcoming game that I'm looking forward to is Wii Fit. This game will help you exercise with the Wii! A special board with a built-in scale will keep track of your weight and BMI, and the game will include activities such as yoga, aerobics, and soccer.
If you're looking for a new game system, I highly recommend the Wii. For the value, the family friendly dynamics, and the versatility and uniqueness of play - the Wii has my vote for best system of this generation's consoles.Â