My Thoughts on the Wii

UPDATE: It seems like all of you missed the point of my article, and not only that, but fell for Nintendo's marketing hook, line and sinker. It's NOT simply about the graphics, but the added horse power would allow the Wii to do things it currently WON'T be able to do. I'm not talking about having photo-realistic graphics with a thousands of polygons per character so your on-screen avatar kind of looks like an eerie dead human being. I'm talking about the ability to create large expansive worlds with no load times and no 'fades' in between. I'm talking about giving the developers a bit more freedom in what they do. I'm talking about being able to at least run newer technologies like the Unreal Engine 3 as opposed to being stuck with the Unreal Engine 2. (That alone is a big blow, as the UE is pretty popular and includes things such as AI and physics and not just graphics). I'm talking about being able to play a game and not go "hey! this is just like an xbox game!". I'm talking about accurately reflecting physics for every object on screen, so that coke can you see on the table won't just be automatically glue to a table that's magically glued to the floor, but you'd actually be able to move it and knock it about releastically. Especially with the Wii-mote controller, the inability to do such things would be painfully obvious in ways a regular controller won't make it so. You're free to disagree, but it'd be nice if the comments that did so didn't all sound like they're coming from Nintendo's marketing department.

I will come right out and say it: I'm slightly disappointed.

Don't get me wrong. I like the whole idea of the Wii. I like the Wii-mote and think it'll be fun. I mean, I'm a little worried about the fact that I tend to play games when I'm tired and just want to relax, but the sheer fun factor alone looks like it'll counter-act that, and kudos to Nintendo for bundling Wii Sports.

But here's the thing: most reports say that the Wii is a souped up GameCube, with Miyamoto himself saying it's 'basically a GC'. Now for the kicker: a brand new GameCube costs $99. A new Wii: $250.

Remember that Nintendo's still making a profit on the GameCube's current price. At this price, the Wii isn't enough value for the money. Nintendo should have done one of two things: actually souped up the hardware more so it'll at least be able to somewhat compete with next-gen consoles, or priced it at $150. Even if that means taking out Wii Sports, that price would take the Wii from a point where you'd actually have to sit and consider whether it's worth it, to a "oh what the hell, I'll pick it up."

Mind you, the gamer-geek in me wishes Nintendo souped up the console some more. I've been spoiled by the Xbox 360's HD graphics, and going back to a non-widescreen, standard definition game for the PS2 and GameCube can almost be painful at times, and I'm afraid of the Wii being the same. They cite the reasons they did that is because HD penetration is low, which is basically BS. First of all, 10-15% isn't low (especially when they're only providing a wireless connection on the Wii, and the penetration of that is almost as low in homes), HD TV's are getting cheaper, with many new low-end LCD TV's also doubling as computer monitors, and the simple fact that your computer monitor is capable of handling HD resolutions (the 360 already has a VGA cable you can buy to play it on your monitor) makes that excuse even more stupid.

Aside from the non-HD graphics, it really seems that most of the games are basically at GameCube-level graphics. I know most people will say that these are only first-gen games, and that the second-gen games will look better, but they're ignoring the fact that the Wii development tools are merely upgraded GameCube ones, so technically, they're 5-th or 6th-gen games! The lack of horsepower is painfully obvious when comparing games that are also coming to the 360 and PS3, such as Call of Duty 3. Yes, the Wii-mote is going to be more fun and provide more immersion, but good graphics also provide an important level of immersion.

Don't forget that horsepower in a console doesn't also affect graphics, but also things like AI, physics and the ability to handle objects on screen. The Wii-mote is just begging for a game where you can interact with anything and everything with realistic physica, ala Half-Life 2, with the added benefit of each object having it's own set of interactivity with the Wii-mote as opposed to just pointing and clicking with a mouse, but the console is probably too weak to handle a physics engine as intense as the one found in Half-Life 2.

I could go on and on, but I'll just cut this rant short by saying that I don't think the Wii should be competing directly with the 360 and PS3 in terms of graphics and CPU power, as that would put it's price way out of range of the consumer. I only wish that the Wii showed a marked improvement over the GameCube, rather than just a slight incremental one. It would give the developers so much more to play with.

I will make one other point. An extra remote control is $40, and the nunchuck is another $20. Both should be sold for $40!

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Klapaucius says:

Graphics provide an important level of immersion? Well... no. I've never been more immersed in any other game like I was in Wind Waker. Realistic graphics they're not. Or how about Link's Awakening way back on Game Boy? I was totally immersed in that game... (on another note: I was so immersed in Pokemon Ruby that I had a dream using Ruby's graphics.......).
My point is realistic graphics aren't needed for a true gamer to be immersed in the game.

"The console is probably too weak"... yes, PROBABLY. But I think not. I think you're over-egging Half Life 2's physics engine. Did you see the Elebits demo? Maybe others demos too... but I'd say the Wii's innards are more than capable of what you speak of.

I don't see much improvement between PS2 and PS3, XBox and Xbox 2... I don't think there is any improvement this next generation. The only thing interesting happening is with the Wii, because Nintendo are being different.

Graphics only really matter to the fair-weather gamer. They'll be buying a PS3 or an XBox2. They probably bought a PSP, haha. The true gamers who already own a DS are waiting for a Wii...

Pascal says:

I agree with Klapaucius.
Of course the Wii is weak in technical terms. But we always knew this. And I personally don't care. It's all about the games! and for Wii it's all about the controller.
Besides I think there is a fair advancement in graphics. Every new screenshot that gets released looks better than previous one. 480p and widescreen - and finally also real Dolby Digital - seem fine to me. In recent interviews it was also said that the Wii is like a better Xbox (or even twice as fast?) and really that's not too bad. You can compare it to a GC because there are no completely new features (like HDR or whatever) but the overall performance should be much better.
250 dollars is not cheap... but here in Europe we'll pay the same in euros! It may not be the production costs which are high but all the research and the development of the new controller. I still agree that it's expensive. But we are finally getting something new here.

Khuffie says:

Klapaucius, true gamers aren't fanboys. I have a 360, GameCube, PS2, DS, and yes even a PSP (though that one's gathering dust). If you haven;t seen any improvements between the Xbox and the 360, then clearly you haven't played a 360 game in high-def.

Pascal: First it's not real Dolby, it's whatever the GameCube had. It is about the games. Being able to do more with the hardware will help the games a little.

Let me be clear: I'm not saying the Wii should compete with the 360 in terms of hardware, but just that it should at least try to compete with the GameCube. Either that, or put it at a much lower pricepoint.

Turless says:

Notice that the issue is not necessarily "realistic" graphics, but rather "good" graphics. That means making the visuals sharper, more detailed, and more expansive, if the developer should choose to make them that way. Graphics shouldn't be ignored because a game should be able to stand on its own without them, because that may conflict with what the developer has in mind for a game. I can't tell you how many people rave about Elder Scrolls IV because it's so "beautiful", and I think that is exactly what you are supposed to feel when playing the game. I don't know about a lower price point, after all, it's WAY less expensive than the PS3, and has all that software included alng with the new technology, but I agree with Khuffie in that It definitely seems as though Nintendo has de-emphasized hardware and graphics CAPABILITIES too much.

Mirren says:

It's a not a matter of Wii being completely underpowered, it's just that very few developers are taking advantage of it. If you've seen the three newest screenshots of Red Steel, you'll understand, they alone completely mangle the argument that Nintendo didn't pay attention to Wii's graphics. Thus far, Wii has good support, but it could get much better, and like the DS, I'm sure companies are a little relucant to just throw all kinds of effort into supporting a risky console. Once Wii starts selling very well (which it probably will), the developers will start doing more with it. Give it a few months, and by Q4 2007, we should start seeing very good things.

Wii's visuals have improved, it's just not in realism. Whereas 360 and PS3 focus on making games like photorealistc, Wii's, are advancing in terms of animation, lighting, colors, textures, edges etc. the basics of imagery, and often what creates the atmopshere of a game. Titles like Project Hammer, Mario Galaxy, Metroid Prime 3, and even Heatseeker have shown that Wii's visuals can be very impressive, and a step above the last generation.

And have you guys seen Heroes? Beautiful game, something that the GC could never do, it's practically a mix of Cel-shaded and regular CGI.

Klapaucius says:

Khuffie, graphics don't matter enough to me to care about 'high-def'', I don't see any improvement between this and next generation. Not really. Nothing like between N64 and Gamecube. Everything is just becoming a little more shinier, a little more circular and round... I actually find it very annoying. The shots of SSB:B of huge crystals of light make me shake my head, as yes it is shiny but really its distracting. This is to me, at least. I say the same about Metroid Prime 3, its shinier but not really better looking. Same with all these new 'high-def' games... they burn your retinas and your brain dies a little, but does it really look all that much "better"? There was a marked difference between PS1/N64 and PS2/Gamecube. The difference is just a matter of degrees now, polishing the graphics to slightly improve them for those who care.

Twilight Princess of course looks fantastic, but then so does Ocarina of Time still. Both excellent games (I say, hoping TP isn;' fouled up) and neither in 'high-def'.

freeformjazz says:

It seems like you completely missed the point of the Wii. Yes i will agree that the graphics can't possibly match the Ps3 or 360. That isnt the point of a system aptly code named Revolution. The Wii is all about changing the way we play games. Iwata said something to the effect of " we all know that the d-pad and two buttons scheme works pretty well, we decided to go a diffrent route. 360 and Ps3 look all shiny and high powered and they will both probably have some really good games, but niether will have done much to change anything as far as gaming is concerned they will just keep on reusing the d-pad and two buttons while nintendo(small as they are) will have put there necks out there with something innovative.

Hyrule says:

You missed the point by 5.000 miles or so. I'm sorry to say, but it's pretty sad to read an article on the Wii that only nags about graphics. Complete waste of time to both write and read. You should have known better dude.

Blade says:

My take: Graphics do not always a good game make, take a look at Xenosaga II and you see an RPG that really missed the boat in design and output. Nice screenshots if anything.

Also vast worlds don't necessarily mean good games either Star Ocean 3 can testify to was a chore to get anywhere or do anything really.

Also...if there was one thing in the Wii I'd be eager to see is the backwards compatibility of Sega and Turbo Graphix titles...I keep saying this, but it bears repeating, Sega was one of the last great groups of designers out there...the only mistake they made is that they just didn't speak to the right crowd at the right time. Now they have an opportunity to rectify that mistake with Nintendo as their ally, I can only hope things turn out well in that regard.

I really hope that the concept of games BEING games and not simulated movies or worlds you wander endlessly in comes back into consoles again like they used to.

picori_girl says:

graphics do not make the game good or bad. i've played some games with awsome graphics but the game really sucks and i've also played games which don't have the greatest graphics but are loads of fun. if you go on through life judging a game solely on its graphics, then you are one lowsy gamer.

markshell says:

Honestly, I would love to see some better graphics too. As I look at TP screens and all, it doesn't look exciting as it should because of the 6 year old graphics. Sure, when you play it, it might turn out that it's the best Zelda game ever, but the GC graphics annoy me a little.

About the physics etc, I'm not sure it won't be able to do all those things you said, but probably won't. Yeah, it would be nice, but then again, look at DS and PSP. PSP is a lot more beefed up than DS and yet everybody prefer the latter. Sure, they are just portables though.

To sum things up, I think the Wii should be a lot more, but then again so should the 360 and PS3.

Pascal says:

It really depends on how you interpret what Nintendo does.
If their goal was to provoke their competitors by not following their trends they succeeded. Even more so if Wii should be the 'winner' in the end.
If they wanted to make a lot of money by not paying much for new components, they succeeded as well.
If they did want to increase the power of their new console a lot then they failed.
See, you care for technology - like you are talking about the different Unreal Engines. Others don't and will be perfectly happy with Wii sports. I do understand your point but disagree because I believe that it's possible to do great things even without great ressources.
We are at a point where we cannot discuss properly anymore. We'll never know what exactly was going on in Nintendo's head. Noone of us would reject the Wii if it had more power. But as the release is drawing near you will either need to accept it or not. It seems like you did not want to start a discussion but rather let off steam.

Khuffie says:

Points: I wanted to start a discussion, and comments like some of yours do make good discussion points. However, I was disappointed when the vast majority of comments were "But Nintendo says it's not about the graphics, it's about the gameplay!" which 99.99% of the people here haven't even played on the Wii.

The Wii itself is technology, so of course I do care about it! It just seems like a bad idea that developers would be migrating tht he UE3 for the 360 and the PS3, being able to utilize it's new features, and still be stuck with UE2 for the Wii.

I already have a 360, and I'll probably get a PS3 at some point (though that's a 'meh' at this point), but I'm still a Nintendo fan at heart. I'm not rejecting the Wii. I'll be lining up to get it on day one. I just wish it should have been more at this point. If Nintendo really wanted to reach out to the non-gamers, then it should have been priced at $150, or, for the current price, at least bundled a second Wii-mote and nunchuck so people can actually play multiplayer out of the box!

uppy says:

It seems to me that Nintendo has a huge amount of 3rd party support with the Wii and their marketing seems to be working okay judging by some of the replies here, I too am upset that the Wii isnt as powerful as its next gen counterparts, however consider for a minute that the PS2 was the least powerful of this generation and was a run away success, Wii could mirror that this coming generation. As for HD-ready, I hate to say it but this really doesnt bother me at all, I have an X-Box 360 and I have to say that by the time I get a HD TV my 360 will be long since obsolete, put simpley HD-TVs are expensive and not many people own HD ready TV's for that reason.

Overall I'd say that while the Wii is the weaker console. Although certain dedictated companies are really pushing it, Red Steels new graphics simpley wouldn't have been possible on GCN and no one can deny that Sonic and the Secret Rings is looking almost as attractive as SA3 on 360, it seems that its Nintendo themselves who aren't pushing the console to its full capabilities...TP looks just like the GCN version, Mario Galaxy's graphics could have easily been done on Gamecube too as could MP3's. They need to take a leaf out of Ubisofts book and make the games look as good as they possibly can. But to be honest so long as the games play well they could have crappy C64 graphics for all I care.

The Shadow of Link says:

yeah i agree with uppy, but with one of the previous comments on how graphics play a pivitol role in imersion, i have to disagree. while they are initially great to have, once you get into the game, youre in. it doesnt really matter if the guy has a pointy head or square hands, youre having fun

Fire_Storm says:

its pretty clear you are quite misinformed, when he said its basically a gc he meant the architecture like powerpc processor and ati graphics. the power of the wii is better than an xbox 1, this is certainly enough for ai and physics (as hl2 is on xbox) and decent enough graphics also the wii doesnt come with ONLY wireless connection it can also be connected with USB (which most dsl modems have now) it may not be fair for the wii to compete graphically with xbox and ps3 but its also not fair to those to compete with the wii on a gameplay level, the ds isnt as powerful as a psp but it has MASSIVELY and consistantly outsold the psp, the difference in sales is rediculous, thats because the ds is a totally new and fun way to play games whats happening now with the wii is what happened with the ds before it came out, people werent sure if it would work but nintendo showed them. so its your choice, same games with better graphics, or a completely new a revolutionary gaming experience. ill go for with the gameplay
the ds was succesful for the same reason the wii will be succesful because nintendo is about what gaming is

Turless says:

You know, I just thought of something funny. I hear all these comments spouting their "graphics don't matter" pitch, but seriously folks, do you think that graphics have been consistently improving from one generation to another because the developers needed something to do? No. They DO matter, whether you like it or not. Maybe graphics are not as important as Sony and Microsoft want everyone to believe, but no one likes it when a game just looks bad. When people see all the flash and flare that new games have to offer, they get excited buy them. I am NOT saying that graphics outweigh gameplay, not by a long shot, but if you released a game with graphics exactly the same as the original Donkey Kong for the Wii, would you honestly go out and buy it, or would you rather play Mario Galaxy? And even if you would, I doubt most people out there would do the same.

Mirren says:

I don't see why people feel such a need to complain, however, about Wii's graphics; they're NOT bad. There are obvious improvments over the last generation, like in Mario Galaxy, which has normal gameplay that has the quality of Mario Baseball's CGI Intro. Red Steel is arguably Wii's best looking game, and matches up to PS3's and 360's graphics in some aspects. Metroid Prime 3 is showing more detail than the previous titles, same with Project Hammer, that also sports excellent textures. Is every game awesome looking? No, that's for sure, but there are plenty, and mainly the ones that matter, that are using beautiful visuals. Not to mention, the game's on Wii have far superior art styles than those of the PS3 and 360 games.

Every new generation, the consoles have pretty much focused purely around making their graphics more like what's outside our windows or beefing up the console specs. Why should those aspects get all the attention, what's wrong with Nintendo making their system plenty strong, but putting more (and useful) attention to the gameplay, the thing that matters most to our experience? Nintendo has clearly not ignored graphics, Wii games look great, and the console itself is two times stronger than the Gamecube. There shouldn't be any worries about framerates, physics, animation or any of that, the Wii is very capable of hosting demanding games. And last I checked, no one's complained about how the titles run, so there's really no good reason to bash Wii in that logic. God forbid Nintendo do something DIFFERENT.

Kado says:

I've seen the graphics for Wii and I'm more than satisfied with them. Given Nintendo's style of charatcer design and everything, would a 100% realistic looking Link be ideal? And as for your ideas on full immersion with all items being able to interact with them and stuff... i understand what you are saying, but, you are asking for something that not even PS3 or X-Box 360 has perfected themselves. And based on footage from such games as Metroid Prime 3 and Super Mario Galaxy, the graphics shouldn't be the problem at all becuase 1. i actually found the graphics in MP3 to be extremely well done and believable and 2. these are all the graphics you really need to make a Mario game, becuase its supposed to be simple care-free fun, not, environments brimming with so much detail that you spend hours just fooling with crap. in my opinion, that sort of thing distracts from the game itself becuase you'll always be worrying about something like, "Oh, what if I forget to move so and so (insert obscure object here) and theres some sort of secret or neat cameo the developers put in for you to find... anyway, im done ranting. The public has spoken :-p

markshell says:

I don't agree with the graphics of Super Mario Galaxy being GC-like. I own a lot of games from the Mario series for GC and found the graphics in Mario Galaxy way superior. Yes, it's colourful like every Mario game, but if you take a look closer you'll see everything is smooth, the lighting effects are much more realistic, etc. There is an improvement over GC, it's subtle, but there is one. I'm not a hardcore gamer myself, so I really don't care if it had GC graphics. But I understand that for some people it might be a step backwards.

Link_Dream says:

Honestly, It's not like they're not improving the graphics. Rather than photorealistic stuff, they are paying attention to other details that make a game more realistic.

And yes, I do beleive that graphics matter. I mean, I don't know if I would want TP as much if it had 64 graphics, but one great point has been made. once your playing a game, your in. At that point, it doesn't matter if your playing on a super-nintendo, or an Xbox 360. Your enjoying yourself to much to care.

Haakon says:

I don't believe in such concepts as "true gamer" and "false gamer" I am a gamer if I like to play, a PSP, an Xbox 360, or even an N-gage.

I agree completely with Khuffie, I am not less gamer just because I like beautiful graphics, vast worlds or attention to dettail, if you would tell me that Oblivion would be as immersive with SNES graphic, it would be BS.

You are just a bunch of fanboys who thinks what Nintendo says you to think, you don't care about graphics because Nintendo told you to not care about them, you cared about them with the N64 because Nintendo told you to care.

The difference between the last generation and this is huge, I can tell that because I play my Xbox 360 on my HD PC screen, I have played Oblivion, Lost Planet and a lot of great looking games, I have seen in-game trailers of Mass Effect, Gears of War, Blue Dragon and Lost Oddyssey, I just dream on how wonderful Alan Wake and Banjo-Kazooie will look, believe me, the difference is HUGE.

I don't feel guilty of being so excited about graphics because I am not weak minded and I don't fall in a marketing strategy.

Everybody uses the DS as an example, that's fool, Nintendo have ALWAYS released weaker portable consoles than the competition and won, but everybody know that doesn't apply in home consoles.

PS2 won last war because people of its games, graphic inferiority wasn't detected because it is so small, people sometimes didn't detect diference between PS2, cube or Xbox.

Xbox 360 look that the console that is doing that, came first, have more games at retail and in development, and have top quality next-gen graphics that people will see diference between it and the PS3.

Wii, for me, is and overpriced console, with overpriced accesories, with a very noticeable graphics inferiority, with lack of exclusives aside Mario and Zelda, that will meet its limits very soon, I am not interested, I am buying TP on cube, Gears of War this Christmas, and next year my expectations are about Blue Dragon, Lost Odyssey, Too Human, Alan Wake, Halo 3, Banjo-Kazooie, Bioshock, Project Sylpheed, Lost Planet and Resident Evil 5.

Nintendo is getting too confident selling the Wii at $250, but after the fanboys buy theirs, lets see how if fares, and how much it takes to cost $99.

I am not hasty about getting old technology.

Mirren says:

Too bad it's not like old technology. The Wii Channels and Wiimote are arguably two of the best features for a console yet. The motion-sensing that the Wii can do is absolutely stunning, that's an insane advancement over what's been done in the past.

Lack of exclusives? Hardly. If anything, it's the PS3 and 360 that will have a lack of exclusives, considering so many of the killer aps for them are on both consoles. PS3 has all of six exclusive titles at launch. Wii has over twenty, possibly over thirty.

The pricing on the controllers are steep, for sure, but you already get one when you buy the console, and there really shouldn't be a reason for anyone to buy more than three. The games are cheaper than 360 and PS3 games, the internet's free, virtua console downloads are fair, and unless you have an HDTV, which many don't, you don't need the thirty bucks for the cables. And yes, the memory cards are sixty dollars, but it's 1GB of space, 15 times that of a 64MB 360 card, which costs $40.

If you consider a system that's two times the power of the Gamecube to be old technology, that's a bit odd, but whatever. But the motion sensing that the Wii has is something that no other console has ever done, and probably ever will. This is an advancement in gameplay and what we do, not the graphics that we look at.