I alluded to my purchase of the Nintendo Wii but I really didn’t talk about the system itself. The Wii is the ultimate party box as far as I’m concerned for those of you that still meet people in person. The innovation of the Wiimote controller gives the system a universal appeal for games in a way I haven’t seen any playstation or Xbox game match.
Gretchen and I spent hours playing Wii sports bowling with her mom over the holidays. This is someone who has no interest in “video games”, but when we packed up our Wii she started asking where she could buy one… just to play bowling. We also had a small Festivus dinner over our house and probably sold two of them to the couples that came over… just from playing Wii sports.
There is a huge amount of potential in the Wii that, when playing some of the other games for the system, you can tell hasn’t been tapped yet. Zelda probably succeeds simply based on the game itself and would work just as well with a standard controller, but none of the other titles we’ve played come close to Wii Sports and Wii Sports feels more like a demo than a real game.
The Xbox 360 seems to have a universal appeal as well. It’s just that the “universal” doesn’t seem to apply to the actual games as much. I’ll never get Gretchen to play Halo 3, but she uses it as a Media Center extender almost daily. When they start adding more content to the Video Marketplace I predict we’ll also be a regular user there as well. The 360 is also a hit at party’s but it’s mostly for the photo slideshow and music streaming from the Media PC.
The Wii also misses out on the mass appeal of home media streaming. I love the picture puzzle game, but I have to put photos onto an SD card to get them onto my Wii… despite the fact the Wii comes with a wireless card!
What else do I miss on the Wii? I can’t play bowling against my friends online and I don’t see hints that Nintendo really cares. The Xbox 360 still takes my vote for best gaming platform if you are flying solo locally and want to play games with real humans online. It’s a strange touch that, with the Wii, you can create your own characters (something I would love to see with Xbox Live) and they can “travel” to other Wii machines via a series of tubes… unfortunately they leave you behind!
So my advice is that you really need both a Wii and a 360. There is just nothing on the Wii that compares to Gears of War (and original Live Arcade titles) and there is nothing on the 360 that compares to Wii Sports.