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The Nintendo Wii is the most inexpensive of the current generation of gaming consoles. It provides motion sensing controllers and 480p graphics. We tested the Wii before its launch day (I'm a game reviewer), and we had our own unit in our home the morning of launch day. Here are our findings.

The Wii is designed around a menu of "channels". There is of course the game-playing channel, where the Wii will play any Wii or GameCube game. Simply load the disc in and go. There is a Mii channel where you set up a profile and avatar to connect to all your game playing. The Photos channel lets you look at photos on your TV. Other channels for news, weather, and online shopping require an interent connection; the news and weather were not actually working at launch time.

The system does NOT have a regular network cable port, which both the PS3 and XBox 360 have. Instead, it works with built in wireless or with a USB network adapter. I am a firm proponent of wireless - less clutter! So I am thrilled that they offer wireless automatically. With the PS3, you have to pay extra for the 60 gig unit to get this built in. The XBox 360 requires extra hardware as well.

It's hard to generalize gameplay on any console - it really depends on what games you buy. That being said, the comes-with-it software of Sports is really quite fun and is about as basic as you can get. You swing at baseballs, lob tennis balls, bowl, box and play golf. A "fitness" mode puts you through a variety of tasks and then calculates your fitness age, sort of like how Brain Age keeps track of your mental age. If you did both every day, you could aim to be as fit mentally and physically as possible!

In a world where video games = couch potato, it really is quite amazing to have a game where it natively expects you to move and be active. You don't lounge back and gain pounds here while playing games. Boxing can be quite strenuous, jabbing, blocking and weaving in real life. Tennis involves quick reflexes and strong arm movements. Bowling might be the most relaxed of the sports, but even there you are standing, moving, swinging. You get your heart going at least a little, and get some exercise. My boyfriend had a sore arm after playing for a number of hours, in a good way, as he would from exercising.

The 480p resolution is certainly not high def 1080p like the other two systems. It's something you accept when you're paying such a low price for the console. But really, it's not that big a deal. I still play the old Zeldas and love them for their gameplay, even though you can't see the pores in Link's face. If they are going for the cartooney characters and environments, 480p is DVD quality and is quite good. If you really, really crave high definition super realism in your games, then the Wii might not be the best choice for you. However, if you're fine with playing games with a more impressionist / cartooney look to them, the 480p can show that quite nicely. For example, there aren't fans in the stands for baseball - there are colored blocks.

Nintendo has always been known as a "Kid's Console" - but I really do think with the Wii that they have become a "Family Console". It's not just kids who will enjoy this. Seniors can have fun bowling without knowing anything "Tricky" about how to use a video game unit. It's very intuitive. Moms can easily play with their kids, each with their own Wii profile. Adults having parties can have fun passing the controllers around. Family groups can share slideshows on the big screen while hanging out and drinking wine. Every person who has come over - from 8 to adult - has instantly understood and enjoyed the Wii, without much explanation at all.

With the price tag being so low, a gaming household that "needs" a higher end system can easily save up their money to get that XBox 360 or PS3 - and still be able to justify to get a Wii for the fun, casual gaming stuff to share with their non-gaming friends.

Well recommended! Since I own all three systems, and am playing all three wirelessly, feel free to contact me if you have any further questions.

================

Update: One year later, and the Wii is still going strong! It's really funny how many people said the Wii would bomb because it wasn't as good as the PS3 or 360 - and here we are a year later and the Wii is still the system that people are really wanting to get. Hospitals are getting Wiis for their patients to play with. Senior centers are getting Wiis for their residents to play games together with. I was just on a cruise ship and they had Wii tournaments going on every day! This is a fantastically fun system that we really enjoy playing with and that literally the whole family can have fun with. There are great games for kids, great games for teenagers, great games for adults. I am really very pleased with how the Wii has held up and the game set available for it.

Update 2: 2 years later! Our Wii is still adored in our household, used just as much as the PS3 and XBox 360. I was just at a bar and they had two Wiis set up for people to play with, and everybody loved them. This really is an "every person's gaming system".

I'm running out of space here, but my nintendo.bellaonline.com site has full articles on exactly what you get in this box, and what else you should buy so you have a full system to play with.
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on November 23, 2006
Since the console has been covered in other reviews, this one will be a little more in-depth about the controller, and only the controller. I hope it can convince you, because it certainly enhanced my gaming experience.
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Wow. That's all I had to say after plugging the Wii in at my home on November 19th. After months of waiting, it is finally here, and for once, this game system actually met and possibly exceeded my expectations. Know before continuing that I'm not a Nintendo fanboy, I hated the Gamecube, own a PS2 and will be buying an Xbox 360. Well, after buying this, I don't know if i will be needing that 360.

The biggest thing about the Wii is it's new controller. Instead of the traditional two-handed gamepad with 2-4 buttons and some analog sticks, the Wii's input system is shaped like a TV remote control. It has a couple of buttons on it, but not nearly as many as the average controller. How can you play complex games with such a simple controller? The answer is motion control.

The Wii's controller has accelerometers inside of it, allowing it to sense when you wave, swing, punch, stab, or shake. It can also interact with a sensor bar placed on top of the television to make a pointer for the TV. For example, to select a menu option, you just point at the option with the remote and click the A button. This creates a whole new gaming experience. It's like one of those arcade games at the local mall, but it works better, and no more 25 cents per turn!

The remote is also very comfortable. For games that would need two analog sticks, such as shooters, there is a connectable perephial with an analog stick and two shoulder buttons, which is called the Nunchuk. In a shooting game, this would handle movement and the remote would handle the aiming. It takes a very short amount of time to get used to, but once you do, it is much more comfortable than the normal controller. You can spread your hands out instead of hunched up, holding your hands together.

The Wii Remote is functional, efficient, comfortable, and smart. It is so much better than controllers of the past, and I hope this is a sign of things to come from Nintendo.
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on November 21, 2006
I have owned almost all of the game systems that have come out except for a few of the Nintendo. I just was not a big fan. These days I'm a huge XBOX 360 fan. When I saw the controllers for this new system I though if Nintendo pulls this off it will be huge for them. I decided to give the system ma try and waited in line for 13 hours at Wal-Mart with my 9 year old daughter. She loved the wait and interacting with all the other people waiting for the release. By the time we got it home that night we were both to tried to hook it up that night so it stay in the box till the next morning. The hook up was easy. I spent the money on 3 extra controllers and nunchucks and Trauma center (which I haven't had a chance to play yet) and Zelda. The game that comes with the unit was one of the smartest decisions by a company I have ever seen. This reminds me of pong back in the 70's when everyone at least tried playing the first video games ,because the games are so easy to play that everyone can and will be talked into playing them. I can't wait to get my 76 year old mother year to play some golf and bowling. We had friends over on Sunday to watch the Bears-Jets game. They are not video game fans to say the least and made fun of me for sitting in line for 13 hours. I talked them into trying the system and then had to talk them into getting off the system because the game was starting and they were having too much fun playing a video game. They apologized to me for making fun of me waiting inline for that long.
I knew going into the purchase the unit was small, but it still shocked me how compact it is. It's a nice sleek design that is simple. The main interface on the unit is manageable and ready for many upgrades. It seemed all of the online features were not available yet except for the Nintendo shop. 10 dollars for a Nintendo 64 game is a little steep. They need to take a look at that. The Mii interface was neat and I had to stop my daughter from creating miis for each child in our neighborhood. The only con I had witht he system was the remotes ran on AA batteries. It would have been nice for them to be on a rechargable system. I'll just have to go get a battery recharger.

Will I stop playing and recommending the XBOX 360. NO, because I still believe the 360 is the best on the market at this time (The Wii could change that in time). But I will be spending less time on it because of the Wii. If you are on the ledge about this system get off and go and find one. It is worth it. If you're looking for a system that the entire family can enjoy this is it. You will not be disappointed.

P.S. If you're going to trash the system without playing it goes somewhere else. People come here for opinions on if this is a good buy for them. Not for some flamer that's close-minded and loves only his playstation or XBOX and everything else stinks no matter what.
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on November 29, 2006
By the time I was able to locate and purchase a Wii, I had read various reviews of the new console. Needless to say, the consumer reaction had my expectations set pretty high. I quickly found that the Remote and Wii combo fully lives up to everythig that I have read.

I bought the Wii at a retail location with Zelda: Twilight Princess. I opened the box and 4 easy steps later, was up and running. Even on my old 27 inch CRT with the factory supplied RCA cables, the Wii menu was crisp and impressive. My Wii remote instantly and accurately displayed a pointer that seemed a little sensitive at first, but quickly became easy to control with only slightly smaller, and slower movements. I created a Mii: a fun little extra with lots of customization available. In seven minutes or so I had created Miis for me and my girlfriend that were actually pretty decent caricatures of ourselves. Torturing myself, I left Zelda in the package and popped in the game that comes with the console, Wii Sports.

The Wii Sports games are very basic. Tennis requires no button pressing at all, and you don't move your Mii character to the ball, the computer does that for you. Despite the limitations, you can control the hardness and directionality of your shot by simply altering your stroke hardness and timing with the Remote. Baseball is also rather simple. It is more like a homerun derby mixed with one-on-one baseball you might play in the backyard with ghost runners and ghost fielders (based on your hit, the batter is declared out or is given a single, double, triple, or homerun, depending on how long it took for the ball to be fielded by the AI controlled fielders). Human players only control pitching and hitting, but the Wii Remote operates flawlessly. I was even able to place my hit like real baseball, hitting it down either line or up the middle. After a few innings I hit my first couple homeruns and moved on to the next game. Bowling is as simple as real-life bowling. You can line up your Mii and put as much or as little hook on the ball as you want by simply twisting the Remote in the corresponding direction. I bowled the best ten frames of my life on my very first round. Golf is a little more difficult. If you swing too hard, you will shank the ball pretty badly, and not in a predictable manner. It doesn't help matters that if a ball lands in the rough, your max shot power is reduced by half and there is no chance of reaching the green in two shots on a par 4. The Mii on-screen does not always match your back stroke accurately. Luckily, the on-screen backstroke doesn't seem to affect how well you hit the ball when you swing forward. Putting and chipping are all touch. If you have shot at least four or five rounds of golf in your life, you can just look at how far away the hole is on the TV and swing accordingly. You can read the greens just by looking at them and adjust your aim to correspond to the slope. The ball responds pretty true-to-life and it is very easy to find yourself overshooting the green or putting way past the hole. This is not a fault with the Wii, however, it is a reflection of the difficulty of the real game of golf. The final game on the Wii Sports disc is boxing. Not quite Fight Night, but still rather fun; Wii sports boxing will warm you up. You can float like a butterfly, though your feet don't control anything on the screen. Your gloves on screen mimic where your hands, equipped with the remote and nunchuck, are in real-life. You can bring your hands to your face and block and then dodge left and right. If you are trying to do a punch other than a jab, it requires a pretty specific motion of either the remote or the nunchuck (just uppercutting the air will not necessarily perform an uppercut on-screen; you have to exagerrate the motion quite a bit to see results), and don't expect to be able to execute lightning-fast combos, at least not until fight night or a new rocky game is released. Overall, the sports games are more teasers than anything else. They show the true potential of the wii remote and nunchuck, especially for sports game applications. I can't wait to see some of the old sports favorites adapted to the new control scheme. The potential is there and Wii Sports hilights this potential while offering replayable games that are still fun and intuitive. My girlfriend, who will only play zelda games, was up jumping around, boxing and nearly falling over returning tennis serves within ten minutes of setting up the console.

Zelda is beautiful so far, but I haven't really acquired enough items to make any firm determinations. I did, however immediately go out and buy Red Steel, which I have to say is great as well. It took a few levels to truly get the aim down and adjust to the sensitivity, even though I am still occasionally forgetting that the remote controls looking and letting the pointer wander off of the screen. The graphics are great and the control is fantastic after a little practice.

Considering the high price tag and extremely limited availability of the other next-generation consoles, I definitely prefer the Wii. Graphics will continue to get better and better until reaching a level of near reality, but what then? Nintendo has taken the first big step in radically changing the way that users interact with the digital world and I glady forfeit some minute details and crispness in the graphics for the brand new control scheme. So long controllers with 15 buttons and counterintuitive, "press this button to do this," memorization-required control schemes and hello pick-it-up and play, get-off-the-couch controls of the future.
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VINE VOICEon June 8, 2007
The true battle of the gaming consoles began months before last Christmas. Beginning about October, and definitely by Black Thursday - the Friday shopping day after Thanksgiving, television, newspapers, and every advertising medium were filled with articles and advertisements for the new gaming consoles coming out just in time to put under the Christmas tree.

The gaming console picked to attract the most attention immediately was the PlayStation 3. It touted the Blu-ray player that was part of the standard equipment, and that Blu-ray player was supposed to be the feature that crushed all other game consoles. Unfortunately, the PlayStation 3 - like its predecessor and the original Xbox and Xbox 360 - was underproduced. Supposedly the problem was in the blue diode chip that enabled the Blu-ray player to work. As a result, there were simply not enough PlayStation 3 units produced to fill every Christmas stocking.

The Xbox 360 came out the Christmas before. It, too, was underproduced and ended up inspiring a whole new generation of campers that took up the sport outside Walmart, Costco's, and other electronic outlet stores around the United States. The price tag of the PlayStation 3 was exorbitant, as was that of the 360 when it first broke.

But the same time Nintendo released its new game system called simply Wii. At $250.00 per unit, buying a Wii seemed like a no-brainer, except that people were getting wooed in by the wowser graphics offered by the PlayStation 3. But the lack of PlayStation 3 units caused a run on the Wii at Christmas that has taken months to level off.

I had been looking for a Wii since before Christmas and finally scored one at a Best Buy in May. My eighteen-year-old and I had been diligently calling the local retail stores trying to nail one down. We even called in favors from some of his friends who worked at those places to find out about incoming shipments. The problem was, those incoming units generally disappeared as soon as they hit the floor. No one would hold one back. And you couldn't buy one over the Internet. Not even from Amazon.

We got up bright and early on a Sunday morning and hauled butt down to the local Best Buy to grab a unit seconds after it was put out. My wife thought we were crazy. My son and I thought we were mission to rescue the Holy Grail. My nine-year-old came with us. It was his first time for such foolishness and he had a blast. After we got the unit, we hit the game shelves. Everybody got something.

Of course, Dad got the bill.

At home, we hooked the unit up to the 42-inch television in the living room and proceeded to play. The games were broken out and passed around. Then we chose up lots to see who got to play first. Everybody got to play for a little while. Even when we weren't playing our games, we all sat around watching everyone else play their game. Of course, we made comments on the player's form. Unfriendly comments that beggared gross retribution when our own time came to play.

Admittedly, I felt like an idiot waving the controller around. If someone had been looking through the window, I feel certain that the onlooker would have believed he was tuned into Discovery Channel and was watching a presentation involving tribal rituals and the sacrifice of small animals. There's just no way to look cool while playing a Wii.

The controller is incredibly easy to use. All the new games made for the Wii are already coded to respond to the wireless controller's motions. Button use is even at a minimum so you don't get the sore thumbs you normally get with console systems. Whatever the programming is that allows the motion sensitivity to work with the games is amazing. In addition to the primary wireless controller, there's also another wireless controller that plugs into it called the nunchuk. Using different configurations of these two devices allows for many permutations of movements.

Since we got the Wii right at the end of school, we had time to play on the weekends and often used it as a stress reliever in the evenings. For the first time a long time, we were all gathered around the television and a gaming console. Over the years we've played board games and card games, but there is nothing like playing video games together or providing moral support during a hard-fought campaign. Every victory is celebrated together, and every defeat is never alone.

The Wii package we got came with a collection of sports games. The collection includes boxing, golf, bowling, tennis, and baseball. We had more fun, and more laughs, playing those games together than we did playing our individual games with support.

I fault the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 for not making more family-oriented games. They just don't bring families together the way Nintendo games always have. Of course, I have to give it up to the graphics that are available on those two games systems. Nothing short of a PC matches up to them.

But the bottom line is while the 360 and the PlayStation 3 look beautiful, they just don't put families together the way the Wii does. Not only is the price tag significantly cheaper, but if you're a family that loves to play games together, the Wii is the best way to go because there are more multi-player games that are age-friendly from parent to child.
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on November 19, 2006
Just picked this up during the midnight launch at Wal-mart, so far it's 3:45AM PST and I have to say that I'm totally impressed by Nintendo's latest effort though at first the new control may feel foreign after not more than just a few minutes it feels natural incredibly fun and after a little bit you'll never feel like going back to a regular controller again. I asked my cousin who was w/ me during the launch if he'd get a Wii and he said "no", but that all changed as we hooked it up and started playing Wii sports. All of a sudden it went from "no" to "what games are there" etc. Try this and I guarauntee(*sp) that you will be impressed by this revolutionary new system that places gameplay above nice shiny eye candy which unless you've been living under a rock should know by now that that's not what the Wii's all about. I just also wanted to add that I'm not just some Nintendo fanboy trying to butter this system up as I also own a 360 and also plan on owning a PS3 when the right games come out for it, pure and simple I am a gamer and don't care for one particular system over another as long as it has the games to back it up. For those that are skeptical stop doubting this is the real deal and at a price ($250) that can't be beat by any of Nintendo's competitors this is something that will entertain the entire family regardless of age, gender etc. For about $350 I picked up an extra controller set(wii remote and nunchaku)and a copy of Zelda (try getting anywhere near that much w/ any other system). I'll admit that when Nintendo had finally shared its strategy to the world a while back I was skeptical as well until I saw the videos for it and knew from than on that Nintendo was truly onto something great. Another cool note is that if you have a Gamecube controller lying around you can actually use that for playing the library of old school games that come from the Wii shop (which can be purchased w/ Wii points)instead having to go out and buy the new Wii retro controller (nice touch) some old school games can also simply be played w/ the remote. Also unlike the almighty Microsoft point the Wii points are on equal terms w/ the dollar so 100 Wii points equals $1 etc. You can purchase those online in the Wii shop by 1000 point increments(I believe) up to 5000 points. Prices for NES games are 500 points 800 points for Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo games and 1000 points for N64 games. Right now though the library is fairly limited offering no more than a few titles (no more than 5)for each console. The bottomline though is don't miss out on this revolutionary product it is definately worth at least a try before you dismiss it as a clever gimmick and is truly one of the best systems to come out in years(IMO) and a breath of fresh air to the staleness which are controllers.

Additional features include Wi-fi for wireless connection, 4 Gamecube control ports, 2 USB ports, 2 Gamecube memory card slots and extra slots for SD flash cards (doesn't accept anything else like Memorysticks) so you can view your pictures on the Wii for instance.
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on November 25, 2006
Right when I picked up the controller and began playing this game, I immediately started having fun. The only game I've played on it so far is Wii Sports, and I can't stop! I've had friends over and we play all of the games. Even golf (a sport I suck at) was fun for me! It's really a game for all ages. My 5 year old nephew has played everything and is actually doing better than most of the adults. He has also tried racing games and even my mom has bought a game for herself (that's an accomplishment since she's definitely not the video game type).

My only problems are with the controller. In golf, when you try to lightly tap the ball into the hole, it doesn't work. It just doesn't seem to pick up the movement until you move your hand backwards. That's also a problem (inverting the motion of the controller). Even if you start with your hand positioned exactly as the character's, it can invert the motion, or not even pick it up.

Also with boxing, it really can't seem to pick up the motion very well at all. We figured out the main problem is that we are punching too quickly, but even when slowing down, the controller doesn't always pick up the motion. Also, when trying to block, holding your hands completely together doesn't put your character's arms together. We realized that the only way for the characters to block is by crossing our arms. Nothing is in the way when this happens either, so it's pretty frustrating.

And in bowling, the ball will curve to the left, even when someone is holding their arm completely straight, or even try curving their hand towards the right.

Besides all those minor problems, the Wii really is fun. Everyone has really gotten into the game and made their own characters. (Which is also a fun process).
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on November 23, 2006
Ok, you've seen the advertisements. You've looked at the Xbox 360 and the PS3. Now, you are wondering how the least expensive next gen game console compares to its more expensive competition. Nintendo's Wii not only performs well, it exceeded all of my expectations as far as being a fun game machine.

The Wii is actually a lot smaller than I expected...much smaller than the PS3 or the Xbox 360, and I might add, a lot lighter too. How powerful can such a little game machine be? The answer to this question can be described by what happened on the first day of playing with the Wii...everyone in my household wanted to play with it. This is saying quite a bit as the other members in my family don't play games. I started out with the included game disk called Wii Sports and tried out the bowling game. After a few minutes of play, everyone wanted to try it. Next came the tennis game, the golf game, and boxing game. To put it mildly, the Wii was a hit at my house.

Somehow, Nintendo has decided to not buckle under the pressure of trying to produce a new game machine on steroids that will cost you almost a month's house mortgage payment. What they have elected to do is to provide a game machine that has good graphics, fun game play, and a game console that will not just cater to hard core game people, but will offer everyone else, a game machine that is entertaining, fun to use, and non-threatening. And even if you happen to be a hard core gamer, the Wii should offer you excellent game play too.

The Wii is the surprise of the year. If you are looking for an affordable and fun game console that the whole family can enjoy, try out the Wii, because it really is for "we."
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on November 20, 2006
I've had my Wii for 24 hours now, and my first impressions are that this system is going to revolutionize video gaming. There are a few things that make the Wii worth buying more so than the XBox 360 or Playstation 3:

-Better value - $[...], comes with a game and a built-in "memory card"
-Better controllers - The Wii remote and nunchuck are a bit pricey, but they are by far the most comfortable, accurate, and intuitive controllers I've ever used.
-Potential for on-line services - The virtual console games are a bit pricey right now, but the potential for Wii channels to grow into something awesome is definitely there. The Wii is the first console I know of that shipped with a built-in set of on-line services, several of which were active the day of release

Now, for the review:
The Wii hardware is small, sleek, stylish, and attractive. It doesn't feel cheap or flimsy, but compact and durable.

The operating system of the Wii is intuitive, clean, and moves pretty quickly. The wireless configuration is easy for anyone familiar with wireless networking. I had it connected to my secured wireless router in just a few minutes.

I can't say enough about how cool the Wii remote is as a controller. Not only is it innovative, and provides whole new ways to think about controlling video games like Wii Sports, it's also a much more comfortable controller to use for traditional games like Zelda. Being able to sit with your shoulders spread and your arms at your sides is a new freedom of movement that I never knew I needed while playing a video game.

Wii sports is also more fun than I expected. Although the interface and games are simple, they are also entertaining. The tennis and golf games borrow a bit of their look and feel from Mario Tennis and Mario Golf, both pretty solid "fun-sports" titles. The bowling game is also particularly fun, especially when played with a friend.

Overall, I don't miss having the enhanced graphics of the PS3 or XBox 360 even a little bit. The games I've played are fun and engaging, the new controller is going to change the world, and the on-line "Wii Channels" show a lot of promise.

I'm really happy I bought this system, and if Nintendo keeps delivering at this level of quality, I don't think I'm going to need any other game systems any time soon.

~Chris
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on December 6, 2006
Which one? Playstation 3? Xbox 360? Nintendo Wii????....

This is an extremely hard question that has no definate answer. Out of the three new-generation systems which one will you purchase? First of all let me say that it really comes down to your personal preferences. What kind of game do u like? Things like that. Welllll...

The main reasons that i would choose the Wii out of the other two are these as follows.

1. I'm not allowed to play mature games. For the many kids out there who are not allowed, i would personally think that the ps3 and the 360 may not be the best choice. Pretty much all the games worth playing on them so far are rated M. Yes, there are a few sports game, but that alone, I believe, is not worth the 400 dollars you will have to dish out.

2. Price: $250, this alone is a good reason. It is much cheaper than the Xbox 360 Premium Edition (the only edition worth getting). And as you guessed it completely and utterly destroys the PS3 price.

3. Backwards Compatibility: Any Nintedo fans out there will love this. You can download games on to the wii from Nintendo systems dating all the way back to the NES. NES SNES N64 and Gamecube titles will all be available.

4. Controllers: The next generation motion sensoring device we know as a controller. This is really something you have to try to understand. It is so simple that 4 year olds could play it. Buty yet it has enough features especially with the Nunchuck to challenge the experienced gamer. This is the biggest reason the Wii wins in my opinion. Playing=Believing

Okay, now your wondering,"There has to be something wrong!" Well your right. Although very few and minor, here are the flaws

Graphics: Although the graphics are awe-inspiring at 480p, they are not even close in my opinion to the graphics of the PS3 and the Xbox 360 at 1080i. But don't let this bother you as it used to me. Believe me after you play the Wii at your local game store, the last thing in your mind will be graphics. You will be to happy with gameplay.

Closing comments:

Do yourself a favor kids and get the Wii. You will not be dissapointed. And i used to be a doubter too. Untillll i played it. So, happy gaming until then. I hope my review has been helpful.

Peace out
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