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Wii came and Wii conquered

November 21, 2006|by BRAD SMITH

At midnight Saturday, Nintendo's next-gen console, the Wii, launched in America. Being the geek that I am, I had to be there, which meant standing in line at the local Wal-Mart. I was one of the first people in the world to get my paws on the Wii.

The Wii is an innovative next-gen console with game play largely based on the nifty remote's motion sensor controls. The major advantage of this is to achieve an experience that truly immerses the player in the game. The Wii boasts an astounding size of roughly three DVD cases stacked up on top of each other, which makes me wonder how it can support so much activity. In order to "Bring gaming back to the masses," as the president of Nintendo of America so boldly put it, Nintendo opted to keep things simple with easy controls, innovative games, and accessibility to a wide variety of "channels." The mission is helped by the low price of $250; compared with the Xbox 360's $400 price and the $600 PlayStation 3, that is extremely good.

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The time spent in Wal-Mart to be one of the first to experience the Wii was almost like torture. Except it was rather fun torture. It really shows what the world should look like. People working toward a common goal, agreement within a "community," and the ability to sit and play Mario Kart with complete strangers. It was a beautiful thing. I was seventh in line Saturday, and there were 36 Wiis to be had. From 7:30 a.m. to midnight I waited. And man was I tired. But it was worth it.

"Wii Sports" - a package of simple games based on baseball, golf, boxing amd more - was included in the package. And the game of choice among pretty much every person getting a Wii, "The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess," was also in my bag on the way out.

Once home I hooked up everything, which was surprisingly easy.

The system itself was great. As soon as you turn on the console, you are greeted with a warning: Wear your wrist strap. The strap is attached to the control. It's a good warning too, with the extensive movements made in "Wii Sports" especially, we don't want any broken Wii-motes now do we. The remote is a multifunctional controller with motion-sensor capability. If you're playing baseball, swing it like a bat. For golf, swing it like a club. More on this later.

Skip past the wrist-strap warning and you are shown the Wii main menu. There are places for a series of "channels" - a name for the system functions. Some require an Internet connection. You can use a Wi-Fi connection, a wireless router, the Nintendo Wi-Fi USB connector or an ethernet kit that can be purchased on Nintendo.com or at major electronics stores. Among the given channels are the disc channel, to play Wii games or GameCube games; the Mii channel, to make caricatures of you and your friends and family to play with in such games as "Wii sports"; the photo channel, used to store and edit photos from a digital camera's or cell phone's SD card; the shop channel, used to buy retro games to store on your channel menu and to buy more channels; the forecast channel, to check local and global weather; and the news channel, used to check world news. One important future channel is the Internet channel, which will use the Opera Internet browser. So you can surf the Web straight from your living room TV.

In the message board section you can post and receive messages. Your games also will send you messages. "Wii Sports" might send you a message saying, "You have played for one hour." "Zelda" might send you a message saying, "New updates are available online."

Of course, the system is all about the motion sensor. Included in the box is a sensor bar that goes on top or at the bottom of your TV to detect your motions. (It's not recommended that you put your TV on top of the sensor.) I think that the only problems I had with the motion sensor was in "Wii Sports" golf. When putting, you have to move the Wii-mote slowly to hit it softly, but it has to be hard enough for the motion to register, making a game go a few strokes over where it should have been.

Overall, I am ecstatic about the new Nintendo Wii. An Internet connection is needed to experience all of the system's functions. The Wii console can communicate wirelessly with the Web. Wii also can connect wirelessly with Nintendo DS.

The Wii was well worth the wait. I give the Nintendo Wii 9.99 glowing blue Wii-motes, out of 10.

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