Nintendo's Wii video game system (pronounced "we") brings people of all ages and video game experience together to play. This simple yet ground breaking idea is expressed not only though the system's evocative name, which is easily pronounced in a variety of languages, and suggests two players side by side, but also through its innovative list of features and extensive list of playable titles.
A Little Box With Plenty of Power
As with every console, much of the buzz surrounds the specs. The Wii boasts 512 MB of internal flash memory, two USB 2.0 ports, and a slot for SD memory expansion. The systems technological heart -- a processing chip developed with IBM and code-named "Broadway" and a graphics chipset from ATI code-named "Hollywood" -- deliver stunning performance. And instead of a tray, Wii uses a single, self-loading media bay that plays both 12-centimeter optical discs used for the new system, as well as Nintendo GameCube discs.
No bigger than a small traditional remote control, the wireless Wii Remote is a truly multi functional device. The magic of the Wii Remote's design lies within; acellerometers inside the controller measure movement in all directions and at all speeds. In a tennis game, it serves as your racket as you swing away. In driving games it serves as a steering wheel, allowing you to swerve to avoid obstacles or pickup power-ups. In first-person shooters, it acts as a firearm that you can point directly at an on-screen enemy. The controller also has a force feedback "Rumble" feature and an expansion port for use with accessories, such as the Nunchuck, which adds an analog thumbstick and trigger buttons. The system allows for up to four controllers to be linked at a time and utilizes standard Bluetooth wireless technology. For those who prefer the feel of a traditional controller an adapter is available that fits over the Wii's remote.
A Channel for Everyone
More than just a game machine, Wii also provides information and entertainment suitable for every member of the family. Some of the channels available include:
-Mii Channel - Miis are cute little caricatures you create to use as characters in a variety of Wii software. Store Miis on your Wii or load them onto your Wii Remote and take them over to a friends house to use on their Wii.
-Everybody Votes Channel * - The Everybody Votes Channel is packed with national and worldwide polls. Answer interesting questions and have your say. Up to six members of your family can vote. Just choose an answer and check in later to see the results.
-News Channel * - Wii might be great for games, but you can also use it to get updates on the latest news from across the Internet organized into easy-to-browse categories.
-Forecast Channel * - Your Wii can automatically update you on the weather from around the globe.
-Wii Shop Channel * - Download the Opera web browser and access games from classic consoles from the past. All you need is a Wii Points account.
-Virtual Console - Every Virtual Console game you download from the Wii Shop Channel appears in the Wii Menu as a separate Channel ready to select and play any time you like.
-Wii Message Board - Leave or receive messages for other family members on the calendar-based message board or use WiiConnect24 to send messages to people outside your home.
-Internet Channel * - Just download the Opera browser for 500 Wii Points and within minutes, youll be a professional sofa surfer, pointing-and-clicking your way around the web with your Wii Remote.
-Photo Channel - Show off all your digital photos on your TV. Just insert an SD memory card into your Wii and away you go.
-Disc Channel - The Disc Channel is backwards compatible with Nintendo GameCube, so you can play all your new Wii discs, along with all your classic Nintendo GameCube discs too!
The Depth of the Nintendo Game Catalog
Each Wii comes with a game compilation called "Wii Sports," including tennis, golf, baseball and bowling games, that show off the console's intuitive new controller, but Wii also plays games developed specifically for it as well as fan-favorite games from Nintendo's 20-year-old library. Its drive is compatible with GameCube discs, and select Nintendo titles from the original NES of the 1980s all the way through the Nintendo 64 are available for download through the "Virtual Console" for $5 and $10 respectively. To support this backwards compatibility the Wii includes four ports for classic Nintendo GameCube controllers and two slots for Nintendo GameCube Memory Cards. As if that weren't enough, the Virtual Console will also make available a few titles from SNES console contemporaries, Sega Genesis and TurboGrafx 16.
Also, Wii utilizes Nintendo's newly-announced wireless feature, WiiConnect24. This worldwide feature allows players to receive content such as Wii Message Board messages sent from other Wii consoles, Miis, e-mails, updated channel and game content, and notification of software updates even while the console is on standby, keeping the fun going even when you are not online.
* Access to some channels may require your Wii needs to be set up with WiiConnect24.