After a bit of struggle, a few failures, and a lot of waiting, I found myself yesterday morning standing in a store with a Wii in my hand. I've been reading about the system and looking forward to the innovate controller for months, so I was happy that I became one of the lucky few to score one. Now, it's not a video recorder by any means, but they are going to end up in a lot of home theater setups this xmas, so I figured I might as well post a review here.
The packaging and setup are top-notch, right up there with buying a new iPod. The instructions are pretty simple and most of the behavior of menus is intuitive. Unfortunately, the device only ships with RCA cables for hookup, with component video cables going to stores in a few weeks. It tops out at 480p, but that's ok because most games aren't photorealistic, where HD could really shine.
I'm a casual gamer in that the only current system I have is the DS lite, and that's mostly for playing tetris on plane flights or before I go to bed. I have an old xbox I use more for movie streaming than games but I used to spend hours on playstation 1 and 2s before I got rid of them years ago. The Wii is obviously light-hearted fun and has games and an aesthetic to match. It isn't aimed at hardcore gamers (the xbox360 and ps3 have you covered), but more towards casual and non-gamers.
I bought a few games for it but so far I've had the most fun with the sports game that came with the system. Playing tennis, boxing, and golfing using a virtual controller is a blast. My wife, who rarely plays games loved boxing. Even though the sports games have an obvious unfinished look (characters don't have legs or arms), the games use the motion-sensing remote in the most interesting ways. I can't wait until proper golf, boxing, and other sports titles come out.
Among the other games, the motion controller isn't used as extensively for play. Excite Truck is a lot of fun, mixing semi-realistic looks with simple gameplay that even kids could control by tilting left and right, forwards and back. The Tony Hawk title is similar, using the controller to steer and go faster, along with a lot of button combos to do tricks. I also bought Zelda, but I've barely scratched the surface of it.
One cool aspect of the Wii is that it ships with built in WiFi. Once on my network it downloaded updates and I could buy old school nintendo games from its online store. I tried it out by picking up Donkey Kong and Mario Brothers (NES) and it worked great, with each game about $5. Games downloaded in just a minute or so and are playable indefinitely.
Another thing I'm looking forward to is the multiplayer aspects of the Wii. Extra controllers are in short supply now, but I'll pick up a few extras when they're easily available. As much fun a Wii game can be, four people in your living room driving cars, hitting tennis rackets, or fighting with swords is infinitely more enjoyable. Nintendo's Gamecube was famous for multiplayer abilities so I suspect once I get more controllers and more games get released, it'll be a fun thing for parties.
Overall, I'm happy with it and can see it being interesting long after the newness wears off. It's fairly cheap ($250) compared with most game systems and is great for kids and casual gamers. That games that shipped on launch day are enough to blow minds and I'm looking forward to all the games that will use the motion controller in the future. While the xbox360 and ps3 have much more realistic games and audio/visual capabilities, the Wii is just plain fun.