What is it:
Nintendo's next-gen video game console
Why we chose it:
As we continue to see excitement about the Nintendo Wii grow, it is hard to remember the sentiment many had for the console leading up to its launch. After a very lackluster performance with the Gamecube, rumors and predictions were rampant that Nintendo would follow Sega's steps and turn to a software-only company, or at least that it would continue to slump around in third place in the new generation.
To top it all off, in May, when Nintendo put the word "Wii" over the favorable Revolution codename, a level of frenzy and outrage exploded like nothing we've ever seen in response to a simple product name. No one could forget those "colorful" interpretations that people took with regard to the various homonyms associated with the pronunciation of the Wii. Virtually everyone was saying that Nintendo just kept shooting itself in the foot.
However, Nintendo surprised all of us when we actually got some hands-on time with the console. After taking the first steps in many gaming evolutions, like the NES + keypad and 3D platform on the N64, Nintendo took another huge risk by shaking up the most basic fundamental game play mechanics that we've become used to over the past couple decades, and like some previous endeavors for Nintendo, this one seems to have already begun to pay off.
The technical specs on paper look like its not even fit to compete against the PS3 and the Xbox 360, and those who haven't yet gotten a chance to run the Wii for a test drive, may still feel intimidated by the movement-intensive controls or think that it won't work. That's what we originally thought, but after we actually got to see how it works, how easy it is to learn the controls, and how very addictive it is, we knew Nintendo had done something right. In spite of the fact that the graphics could be considered pathetic compared to the PS3/Xbox 360. Therefore, Nintendo just needs to get consumers to really feel what it's like, which is why in-store kiosks become more important for the Wii than virtually any other console in the past.
The PS3, on the other hand, has yet to really prove itself as a mover or a shaker, mainly because of its extremely limited supply. The PS3 really is just an extension of the PS2, while the Wii opened up an entirely new way to play. No one really feels the same way about Sony's new console. There are some advantages, but nothing of cataclysmic size. For example, the Blu-ray disc feature gives the PS3 new potential for HD resolution and the large hard drive opens up the possibility for storage of many diskless games. Both of these could prove to be major shifts in video game architecture, but we won't really know if the PS3 proves its mark in the video game world until next year.
What it means to you:
There's usually been no question that new gaming consoles are targeted exclusively at people who have defined themselves as gamers. However, the Wii is trying to hit the non-gamer crowd as well. Whether or not you've ever played video games, Nintendo is going to try to appeal to you, and they're going to do their best to turn you into a gamer with loyalty exclusively to the Wii and future Nintendo consoles.
Predictions for 2007:
Nintendo knows that it needs to bring in new customers with the Wii. The carryovers from the Gamecube simply won't be enough to put the Wii on the map. From what we can see, though, Nintendo is well on its way to achieving this goal. So, as long as Nintendo doesn't get bogged down by manslaughter lawsuits from users flailing around the Wii controller, it is actually going to be a key competitor as it takes on Sony and Microsoft in the hotly contended new round of the console wars.