Next Gen Console Review: The Good, Bad, and the Ug-Wii

Peter Suciu, a New York-based gaming writer, got his hands on both the Wii and the PS3 and will be posting live from the launch events for CrunchGear this week. Here is his take on the next gen consoles that you crave.

Last May at E3, Sony Computer Entertainment executive Kaz Hirai said that the next round of the console wars wouldn’t start until Sony says so. And that time has arrived, as Sony’s PlayStation 3 is about to arrive at retail – just days before rival Nintendo releases the Wii.

So let’s see if this cockfight is really on – we present a quick look at the Nintendo Wii.

We got both consoles last Friday and after taking the weekend to set-up, load up and play with the consoles, here are a few thoughts on what we loved and hated about Nintendo’s diminutive console.

Kids love Nintendo, even the foul-mouthed ones. Case in point: Eric Cartman couldn’t stand the wait for the Nintendo Wii and froze himself on the Comedy Central’s South Park, but made absolutely no mention of the PS3 – despite being upset last year that he missed out on the PSP. Did he make the right choice this time?

Five things to love about the Nintendo Wii:

1. The $250 price point is reasonable
2. The popular Wii Sports is included with the console
3. The controller does really make for an immersing experience with many of the games
4. The Mii character creation is a lot of fun
5. Zelda is a launch title, and possibly the best game in the series to date

10 things to loathe about the Nintendo Wii:

1. What’s with the 480p maximum resolution? No HDTV support? And why is Wii Sports presented in a 4×3 screen format? Come on, this is almost 2007!
2. No component video cable included so you end up with 480i resolution? Does Nintendo think is 1997?
3. No DVD playback support – we’re hearing a new version might show up next year! That sounds about right for Nintendo.
4. Only one controller comes standard!
5. OK the $250 price point is reasonable, but Nintendo could have done gamers a real service with a $199 console… and still likely made money!
6. Those four Nintendo GameCube controller ports that are tucked away on top suggest that we could see many games that use the innovative controller
7. Oh yeah, that innovative controller is far from precise for many games, and downright annoying a lot of the time.
8. The controller uses line of sight technology – apparently Nintendo does think this is 1997! They haven’t heard of Bluetooth?
9. Where are the multiplayer online options exactly?
10. Nintendo = Mario, but this year there is no Mario at launch!

Verdict: The Nintendo Wii is the logical next step for the company that is renowned for taking baby steps. At this rate we’ll have to freeze ourselves and wake up in the far future to see a system that supports HD resolution. The motion-sensing controller takes a bit to master, and it really does feel like a bit of a novelty device. However, the games are fun, and Nintendo has always said it is all about making good games, not impressing the tweakers.