The hot new toy has comfortably passed its million sales mark, and looks like being the must-have item in the Christmas shopping madness. There will be some six million units in circulation within the next three months.
For readers who live in Hong Kong, this is bad news. All the kids (and many young adult males) want one, but the only editions available are imported ones from Japan or the United States, and you have to pay a premium for them.
What’s special about it? Click below for all you need to know.
First, what’s with the silly name? How do you say it? And isn’t this just some sort of Playstation-type thing?
It is a Playstation-type game console, yes. But it is aimed at a much wider audience. Because it involves physical action (you use the controller stick as a bat, as a sword, as a racket, as a pistol, as a paintbrush, etc), it has much wider applications than the traditional console game, where you just click buttons with your thumbs and get RSI (horrible pains in your wrist) after a while. The idea is that parents and kids can play it together. It's not just shoot 'em up games: there's stuff for grandparents, people who want to go on diets etc.
The name is pronounced “wee” and is very silly. The original name was Nintendo Revolution and it was a much more logical name, as it really is a bit of a revolution in the game business. On the other hand, the absurdity of the wii name may help it in the long run, since once you learn it, it sticks in the mind. And the US$200 million-plus the company is spending on ads means that people will learn it.
The name is supposed to indicate community (sounds like “we”) and illustrate the two game controllers (each ‘i’ is one of the sticks).
What’s it look like?
It’s tiny. It’s a box which stands on end and is only the size of an extra-fat DVD package -- about 15 cm by 20 cm. You slide the disk into an illuminated slot and you’re ready to go.
A game called Wii Sports comes free with the package, but there are already some 20 titles available. It also can play Gamecube games (but not N64 games).
How much does it cost?
The price is around US$250, or 250 Euros, with each game costing an extra $50. In Hong Kong, it's about HK$4000.
What games are available for it?
The hot US-Asian cartoon series Avatar: The Last Airbender is available, as is a Cars game, and the latest Legend of Zelda, plus a Marvel superheroes game, and some favourites: Tony Hawk’s latest, Call of Duty 3, Need for Speed, and a Spongebob Squarepants game for the little guys.
What do you get in the box?
You will find the console, a device to make it stand vertically, one remote conroller, one attachment called a Nunchuk, a thing called a sensor bar which receives the signals, plus the usual adaptors and cables. You also get a copy of a game called Wii Sports, but not if you have purchased the Japanese edition (which is the one most commonly sold in Hong Kong.) The other problem for readers of this column in Hong Kong is that the only editions available here are 110 volts.
Shall I get this or a Playstation 3?
Playstation games are fabulous. The graphics are great, and the playability is excellent. But somehow it doesn’t have the buzz of the Nintendo Wii. Playstation far outsold its Nintendo rival (the Gamecube) in the last war between the two companies, so the feeling I get is that people in the industry are cheering for the underdog.
Industry gossip says that so much money has been pumped into developing the Playstation 3, that they will lose up to US$240 on every unit sold, while Nintendo is set to make money on the units they sell. But on the other hand, Playstation has by far the biggest number of entrenched fans and the biggest number of games -- and remember, it’s the games that people get hooked on, not the box they are inserted into.
And what about the third player, the Xbox 360? Great graphics too, but it gets the thumbs down from me, for one simple reason. The marketing campaign for it (huge posters in Causeway Bay etc) is based around images from the game Dead or Alive -- computer generated young girls with impossibly thin waists and impossibly large inflated chests -- very tacky indeed, and with a nasty, child-porn sort of feel to it. Sick images pandering to the lowest tastes, in Rupert Murdoch style. Yeeuch. And they wonder why young women die from anorexia.