Friday, September 15, 2006


All the details for the Wii have come to light and they lay before us, glistening with morning dew. Price is $250, or $249.99 if you want to be entirely correct. Date is November 19th, a scant two days after the PS3 launch. In a move that can only be described as "old school" they are bundling Wii Sports with the game, so out of the box you can bowl, box, golf, play tennis and play baseball. The unit comes with one Wiimote (the standard controller) and a nunchuk FPS joystick thingy. Extra controllers are $40 for the Wiimote and $20 for the nunchuk. A classic NES type controller will cost something like 30 or 40 bucks, I don't remember.

As for the Virtual Console for old Nintendo games, NES games are like 4 or 5 bucks, SNES games are like 6 or 7 bucks and N64 games are 10 bucks. Nintendo points, or whatever they're calling the points, needed to buy games will be sold in stores like Microsoft Points, but at a more mathematically appealing ratio of 1 dollar equals 100 points. In Japan anyways, buying a 5000 point card will score you a NES style controller, so I'm sure they'll do the same thing here. Not sure if the 'Cube controllers will work with the virtual console games or not, but I'm leaning towards them not being compatible as they would be silly to deny themselves an extra source of accessory revenue, high accessory attachment rates being some sort of benchmark for success in this strange world we live in.

Something like 24 titles will be available at launch which includes the new Zelda and 23 other games I could care less about. That's not entirely true. Red Steel looks like it could be good, and I'm more than happy to forego the high polished sheen of the 360 version of Splinter Cell: Double Agent if the Wii version played well and would allow me to throw support to the new box at the same time. I am also willing to give up online co-op through Live on Marvel Alliance for the Wii version as the Wii version supports motion control for the Marvel heroes you pick for your adventuring. Yes, you read that right, motion control. That means that when you select Spidey and want to perform his move where you sling webs, entrap your enemy and fling your enemy into the open claws of a one Wol V. Rine, you do so with a combination of button pressing and arm flinging then quick switch over to Wolvie and make with the stabbing. I guess it says something about me that I will gladly forego contact with other humans so that I can pretend to be a superhero in my basement, but it's something that has been alluded to, if not said directly before. If somehow they could combine this with Guitar Hero 2 so that I could dispatch an enemy by throwing Cap's shield and then rip into the solo in "Sweet Child of Mine" I would pass out from sheer gaming bliss.

The Wii also will come with channels allowing your to surf the web, provided you pay for a browser, check the weather, and other, so far unmentioned things. Whatever. As a rule, I don't pay for browsers and I don't care about the weather, shunning the light of day for the warm, comforting glow of my basement's light bulbs. I'm not opposed to having it available on the box, but it's not something I would spend a lot of time talking about either.

As you can tell, I am very, very excited for this launch. I think Nintendo has done a very good job managing this launch, other than the name change, and are set up to do well with this console, provided a) the motion stuff is more than just a gimmick and b) hardware is available for any and all that want to buy one. I'm a little surprised that the price is north of $200, however the addition of a game certainly helps and I need to keep in mind that it was the slavering media that was pushing the $200 price, not Nintendo itself. I can't be dissappointed when something turns out to be true only in my wildest fantasies. It is my belief that Nintendo had two prices in mind, one where they'd probably take a hit on every console they sold ($200ish) and one where they didn't ($250) and they were simply waiting to see the price of the PS3 to decide which one to go with. The day of the PS3 pricing announcement was probably marked on Nintendo calendars as an annual holiday to celebrate from here until eternity, as it let them to price their console at a price that allows them to be profitable from day one and at the same time be $250 cheaper than the lowest priced PS3.

I'm sure that the pricing info and the Sony launch number information (400k units for the US at launch) also played into the Nintendo launch date. The PS3 will come out, immediately sell out as the hardcore gamers flock to stores and buy them, leaving store shelves a barren gaming wasteland. Just think back to November of last year when you tried to get a 360. Then, two days later, in comes the Wii, filling store shelves in time for Black Friday at a price that is half of a a PS3 and 150 less than a non-crippled 360. Now, this is assuming that Nintendo will have plenty of units on hand to sell, but seeing how there's nothing inherently next gen about it (unlike the PS3) and they're used to making consoles from non-off-the-shelf parts (unlike with the 360) I would be very, very surprised if they didn't have the Wii everywhere come Black Friday. Nintendo would have to be brimming with unadulterated stupidity to not see this holiday season as nothing but a massive opportunity to sell consoles and react with the right numbers. Sony seems to believe that people will buy their console regardless of the price, whenever folks can get their hands on it, and to a certain degree they're right. The Wii, on the other hand, is trying to get casual gamers, and non-gamers involved, and you can't do that if the only way you can get a Wii is to import it from Japan. If Nintendo can get themselves listed as one of the hot toys of the season and millions of people watch Matt Lauer and Meredith whoever play Wii Tennis on the Today show, they can, in the words of Fiddy, "sit back and watch the money pile up".

Personally I am thrilled with the addition of bowling to Wii Sports as I love a good bowling game, and that, coupled with golf and tennis all in one game will keep me playing forever. Zelda has looked good from day one and the inclusion of motion control for sword swinging only makes it better. I'll buy Red Steel if it ends up being good, however if reviews don't paint it as an enjoyable experience, I won't be bothered too much except to feel a pang of regret for the developers as from what I've read, they seem to have taken the user experience into account throughout the development cycle and made changes as necessary, which seems somewhat out of touch with how games are made these days. Trauma Center I already played, or lived through I should say, and I'd rather not do so again, partly because it was an incredible frustrating experience at times, and partly because it brings back memories of playing my DS at 3 in the morning in Russia due to insomnia fueled by a combination of jet lag and pre-child-meeting jitters.

Now that we have a launch date and price we have enacted a game buying moritorium in the household. Yes, that's right, no new games until the Wii launch. I have Splinter Cell for the 360 preordered and will make a decision as to what to do with that money when the time comes, but other than that, all game buying money will be put towards preordering the Wii. This also means that GRAW and Dead Rising will become casualties of the trade in war as they give up their souls so that I might have more money for my preorder. I figure all told, the launch day price will be about 340 as I'll be buying Zelda and another Wiimote for the wife. That's not factoring in the price of component cables, but seeing how I don't know that price, ignorance truly is bliss. I'm a little perturbed at the price of the controllers, as 60 bucks seems like a lot for a Wiimote + nunchuk combo, however I'm thinking that Nintendo is expecting most casual gamers to only need the Wiimote which is priced similar to first party controllers for other consoles. Add to this price tag the cost of Guitar Hero 2 when it comes out, and possibly Gears of War and you have one very expensive November. Most likely I'll skip Gears of War at launch as I'll have too much to do between shredding mad tracks and picking up spares, but at the same time, I don't want my 360 to feel left out. I also like CliffyB and his rakish wit.

The moritorium will be difficult as we approach the late October, early November time frame, however we must keep our eyes on the prize, or at least keep tabs on the prize, perhaps through some sort of prize monitoring system or prize nanny. Between Oblivion, Burnout, poker and Guitar Hero on the big screen front, Metroid, Tetris and Star Fox on the small screen front, not only will I have enough to keep me occupied, but every completed game is more cash towards the launch price. I have been happily avoiding all gaming for some time now as I get caught up on Battlestar Galactica, so I can also supplement game time with TV time as events warrant. Hopefully I'll actually get one at launch this time. I will head to the Stop of Game this afternoon to inquire about preordering and take the appropriate action. As a joke, I could also ask about preordering the PS3, however I would rather not be beaten about the head and neck with a copy of Game Informer, so I'll probably skip it.

When I started thinking about this post, I was going to address the folks on teh Intraweb whose job is to hate everything in existence and provide a rebuttal for their concerns, but then I realized that I don't give a flying fuck whether or not they buy a Wii, as if they don't there will be more out there for people who want to buy one and, by extension, like having fun. Most of their arguments are marinated in stupidity anyways, and handling said opinions, if only to turn them over to get a full understanding, would place their foul stench upon me and I prefer to stay my usual, sweet smelling self. So far, I am very impressed with how Nintendo has handled this launch and like to think this will continue until I see something that convinces me otherwise, rather than assume this is all some sort of fluke and failure looms on the horizon. I'll leave those dire predictions to others as they seem better suited to the task, what with their proven record of hating everything ever. I'll be over here, patiently waiting until November if you need me.

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