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Christmas Buying Guide: Wii

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Christmas Buying Guide: Wii

While technically not the oldest of the consoles on the market, Wii certainly is the hardware that is feeling its age the most this winter. With the latest Legend of Zelda title just out the door, we thought we'd take a look at why Nintendo's ageing hardware is worth your holiday cash.

System Benefits

Often accused of being a simple upgrade Gamecube with motion controls added to mix, Nintendo Wii does not sport the HD capabilities of its competition.

The Nintendo Wii is a pure gaming device, devoid of DVD playback and other features both Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 pride themselves on. With that said it features built-in motion detection with the sensor bar and the Wii-mote control, as well as several successful peripherals such as the Wii Balance Board and the steering wheel in which you stick your Wii-mote for well, an interesting experience with racing titles.

Nintendo's approach to online support and services has been different from both Microsoft and Sony, but there is no denying the appeal of retro classics on offer at the Virtual Console store. A huge selection of classics and fillers is available for a reasonable price, and as far as original content goes Wiiware has a few gems worthy of checking out even if the selection isn't as qualitative and wide as on PSN and XBLA.

Other channels of note in the Wii menu are WiiConnect24 that allows you constant connection with the Wii users even when your console is on standby, the Internet Channel that simply allows you to browse and the Mii Contest Channel that allow you to check out and share Miis with users around the world. There is also the BBC iPlayer Channel available for free download if you want to check out what public service has to offer on console.

The console launched with standard Wiimotes and nunchucks, but with the introduction of Wii Motion Plus these have gradually been replaced and even if most games work with both set ups, it is highly recommended you go with the more accurate Wii Remote Plus Controller. The rather peculiar set up of attaching controller add ons to the Remote, such as the nunchuck or the Classic controller leaves most Wii owners with a lot of peripherals and plastic lying around. While the Wiimote itself is wireless, there is a wire connecting it with your nunchuck or classic controller.

The Nintendo Wii is not as noisy as the Xbox 360 and looks rather snug standing tilted in its original hardware rendition. The newer model needs to lie down on its side, however, and is not backwards compatible with Gamecube titles.

Pros

Christmas Buying Guide: Wii
You'll only hear her music on Wii...

As with any console manufactured by Nintendo the biggest draw is the wide selection of strong first party titles - and even with the disadvantage of inferior hardware throughout the generation Nintendo have managed to produce some of the strongest offerings as far as software goes.

After maintaining its launch price for what seemed like an eternity Nintendo finally decided to lower the price as sales slowed down and it is now the most affordable of the consoles on the market. There are also several bundles so keep a look out for one that suits your tastes.

The heritage of a Nintendo console and the strength of its handheld counterparts is also a strong point we need to mention. Virtual Console offers a piece of gaming history, and there is also some limited connectivity with the Nintendo DS and specific titles. Something of a glimpse of what Wii U may offer with its touch screen perhaps.

While Nintendo remains distinctly different compared to its competition, and in many ways inferior (online service, lack of HD graphics, aged processor), it still has enough unique appeal with its line up of software and the mixture of plenty of casual software (dance and fitness) along with a strong line up of great entertaining titles for all ages makes it a good first console for a family.

Read on for the cons of the console, must-play titles and the best deals for picking a Nintendo Wii up this winter.

Cons

We touched on it before. The Wii console is not state of the art, and during the last couple of years it has really started to feel left behind.

And even with the lower price point, a fully equipped Wii console with four Wii Remote Plus controllers, nunchucks, classic controllers and perhaps even a Balance Board is a rather hefty proposition. You probably don't need all of it to start with, but as the Wii truly is a console you're meant to play with friends and family, you're likely to end up buying a lot of peripherals in the end.

Another problematic area is third party support. Wii has been getting the short end of the stick throughout the generation, and even if there are examples of great third party games - Epic Mickey, Okami, Zack & Wiki, Rayman Origins to name a few - it remains a problem if you care about getting the best licensed racing titles or sports titles annually. Wii just simply don't match up well here.

Must-Play Titles

Christmas Buying Guide: Wii
The Super Mario Galaxy games ranks among the best games of this generation.
Christmas Buying Guide: WiiChristmas Buying Guide: Wii
Twlight Princess and Metroid Prime Trilogy are worth looking into.

With five years on the market, and easily the biggest numbers of releases out of the three consoles, you have to tread carefully and pick out the worthwhile games when getting a Wii.

As always with a Nintendo console, first party is a safe bet. The two Super Mario Galaxy titles are arguably among the best games of the generation, and provide us a reminder why platform games once ruled the entire video game landscape.

For the more adventurous gamers there are two well executed Zelda titles - The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (it has nothing to do with sparkling vampires, promise!) and the recently released The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.

For the action hungry there is Metroid Prime Trilogy - which includes the two Gamecube titles in the series as well as Wii release Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. A great collection and a must for fans of Samus Aran.

Rounding out the first party must haves we find Super Smash Bros. Brawl and recent RPG Xenoblade Chronicles. For more casual fun you might want to check out Mario Kart Wii and Punch-Out!!

What else is there? Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition is the best version of a game you owe it to yourself to have played. Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure is a fun adventure. There is great rock to be had with Rock Band 3. And games such as Bit Trip Flux, Eledees, Mad World and Little King's Story also deserve a second look.

Oh, and if you're into co-operative platforming you cannot go wrong with New Super Mario Bros. Wii and Rayman Origins.

Peripherals

Christmas Buying Guide: Wii
There are a lot of plastic peripherals for the Nintendo Wii. Such as the Zapper.

An area where the Wii really excels is peripherals. In fact, the entire console has been designed with peripherals in mind. The Wiimote snaps in handily to things such as Guitar Hero guitars and plastic steering wheels. Even the Wiimote got its own peripheral when the Wii Motion Plus launched.

The main story may very well be the Wii Balance Board, a smart yet simple solution that opened up opportunities for meaningful fitness exercises with the console. It's robust in its design, and even if the Wii Fit craze has lost some steam - it still serves as a great argument for kids who want to convince their mom getting a console is a great idea.

Nintendo have been pitching other crazy ideas - such as the Wii Vitality Sensor - and perhaps we will be getting more peripherals for the Wii, but the likely scenario is that these will be saved up for Wii U.

Buying a Wii: the deals

There is a new model of the Nintendo Wii. One that doesn't play Gamecube titles (if this is a problem for you, don't get it!), and that cannot stand up. Other than that there is really no significant difference.

There are a few official bundles of the console, but strangely enough there isn't one featuring the new Legend of Zelda title.

The main bundles available now are the Wii Sports Resorts bundle and the Mario Kart Wii bundle. There is also a bundle featuring Mario & Sonic at the 2012 London Olympic Games that sports a blue Wii and countless unofficial bundles.

We'd recommend getting the black Mario Kart Wii bundle, purely for aesthetic reasons and Mario Kart Wii is also a game you're sure to enjoy, both on your own and with friends.

While it carries a price tag of £160 in some places (HMV, Gamestation) it can be found much cheaper (£115) at Tesco, and Amazon.

As far as the other bundles go we found the Mario & Sonic bundle for a mere £110 at Amazon and the Wii Sports Resorts bundle for the same price at the very same Amazon. You can probably find similar deals at your local GAME or equivalent as well, but be aware some unofficial bundles (we're looking at you Skyward Sword bundle) may actually be more expensive than getting a cheap bundle and picking up the game separate.

And as you'd expect you can find plenty of used Wii's both at retail and at online auction sites where you can pick up a complete used console for around £50 or thereabouts. If you're not too picky about which games you're getting there are lots of deals with several games included as well.

Conclusion

Getting the Nintendo Wii towards the tail end of its lifespan may not sound like a very tempting proposition, but there is a lot of fun to be had with the console - and there are a lot of extremely good games that can only be experienced on the platform. Holding out for Wii U, set to launch next year, is of course the wisest option as it promises backward compatibility which will allow you to sample some of the best games for Wii once you pick up the new console. Then again, if you're looking to enjoy some plumber fun this Christmas - Wii is finally at a price point where it comes across as a good value proposition.

Click here to read our PlayStation 3 Christmas Buyer's Guide.



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