Thursday, September 14, 2006

More Nintendo News Than You Can Shake A Motion-Sensitive Controller At

Today was the big day that Nintendo fans have been waiting for since E3-- the final launch details have been revealed for the Wii at simultaneous press conferences in New York and Japan (note that all three of those links are distinct, and that the final two are to information on the respective press conferences, not Nathan-style links to general Wikipedia articles on New York and Japan). Some of the news could be better (I was hoping for a better price point), but none of it is awful, and I'm excited to finally know when I'll be able to get my hands on a Wii [insert obvious dick joke here].

To start things off, a wealth of multimedia features have been announced, and I for one could care less. I've gone on record on this very page as stating that I want a game console, not a multimedia centre (I quote: "I don't want my fucking game systems to show movies and let me make phone calls and give me blow jobs-- I want them to PLAY GAMES"), and, Nintendo fanboy-ism aside, I stand by that. So, I probably won't use any of the following bells and whistles, but I guess it's good that they're there if that's your bag. I'd be much happier if they were gone, but at least they don't seem to have inflated the price any.

Basically, the whole system is designed around the concept of Wii Channels, each of which offers different functionality. The first such "Channel", and the only one that might interest me, is the Mii Channel, which will allow user to create custom avatars for themselves using face-sculpting tools that will appear in any game that supports the feature. That is to say, you can make a small cartoon face for yourself, and then put that face on your character in certain games. This avatar will be persistent across all games and will be stored on your controller, which can then be taken to a friend's house and used to include your avatar in games on their Wii.

Next up is a photo-editing suite, which, given that I haven't owned a non-disposable camera in my life, is of absolutely zero interest to me. An SD card (which is what the Wii will use to store game/save data as well) from a camera or mobile phone can be inserted into a slot in the front of the Wii, which will then allow you to edit photos in a variety of standard ways. The Wii will also allow users to organize hundreds of these photos and send them to friends and family over the Web. I think that there already exists these fancy gray boxes called "computers" that allow people to do just that, but whatever.

The Wii will also have its own news and weather Channels, which will presumably just be culled from standard feeds and wire services. I can't fathom why anyone would want such a thing is this day and age, since I'm sure 99% of Wii owners will also be PC and TV owners. It makes even less sense when you consider that yet another Channel will be THE INTERNET, accessed via the Opera web-browser. However, the kicker here is that there will be a separate one-time charge to purchase the browser, although details on this were a little sketchy, and I don't know what that might imply for the other Channels. Presumably this Channeling concept will be expandable, but for the moment the last two channels known to exist are some kind of messaging service, and some kind of calendar function, although there are no details on either of these at present. Finally, the system will, like everything else these days, support DVD playback.

Moving on to actual gaming functionality, details were finally released on the service that I'm most excited about, the Wii Virtual Console. The pricing scheme for these games (a topic that Nathan and I have discussed at length) is EXACTLY as I predicted it would be, at $5 per NES game, $8 per SNES game, and $10 per N64 game. Like the XBox Live Marketplace, these purchases will be abstracted away as silly proprietary money, or "points", with 100 points being worth one US dollar. I hate crap like that, but it seems to be the way that things are headed, and at least they picked a nicer points to dollar ratio than Microsoft, where 100 points is something like $1.25. Roughly thirty Virtual Console games will be available at launch, including unnamed installments from the Donkey Kong, Zelda, and Mario franchises, with a total of 60 arriving by the end of the year. After that, the library will grow by 10 titles a month, which puts XBox Live's growth rate to shame (holding steady at roughly 3-4 games a months right now, but barely any releases for the first eight months after launch).

And now we come to the important details. The Wii will be launching in North America on November 19, two days after the Playstation 3 (followed by Japan two weeks later, and a presumably comparable European launch date to be announced tomorrow). I'm kind of speechless on this one, to tell you the truth-- I was sure that it would be launching at least a week earlier than that. I'd love it if someone explained to me how this makes any sense. I'm pretty sure that Nintendo could have pushed it a week earlier with few problems and beat Sony out of the gate. Surely this isn't them just being cocky? On the plus side, they'll have at least twice as many Wii's available at launch as Sony will PS3's, so hopefully I'll be able to get my hands on one on launch day without difficulty (although I'm probably going to take the morning off and show up bright and early, just to be safe).

The Wii will cost $250 US, which is the maximum price point that Nintendo declared back at E3. I was really hoping that it was going to be $199, but $250 is a still a good price when compared to the 360 and PS3. This $250 will net you, in addition to the console itself (which will only be available in iPod white initially, with other colours to come later), a standard Wii-mote controller with a nunchaku attachment (and possibly a second controller-- still unclear), a wrist-strap, standard cabling, the sensor bar, a small console stand, and one pack-in title: Wii Sports. I was worried that it might get saddled with a shitty pack-in, and I was really hoping for Twilight Princess, but it could have been much worse. I'm not a big sports game fan, but I like them well enough, and I suspect that Wii Sports (which includes baseball, bowling, golf, tennis, and boxing) will be a better introduction to the Wii and showcase of its abilities than the new Zelda would have been (which is presumably why it was chosen).

As for the games, there will be 25 different games immediately available, which is almost unprecedented, with another five games due in December, and plenty more to come early in the new year. Notably, Twilight Princess is confirmed to be available at launch (although the Gamecube version won't be available until a few weeks later), there will be no Mario game at launch, and Metroid Prime 3, previously considered to be a high-profile launch title, has been pushed back until 2007. All first party games will cost $50 ($10 less than PS3 and Xbox games, although still pricier than I was hoping for), and third-party game prices are still up in the air.

So, there you have it. The news wasn't as good as I was expecting in several different respects, but there was none of the back-pedaling and screw jobs that are characterizing all of the PS3 launch news as of late. My enthusiasm is still alive and well, and I'll be doing my damndest to make sure that I have a Wii from day one, in sharp contrast to two days before that, on PS3 launch day, which I'll be ignoring completely, content in the knowledge that I probably won't have to buy one for at least a year, when Final Fantasy XIII is released.

UPDATE: Wii news is still trickling out, and I have a few extra details to bring to everyon's attention...

First off, unlike everyone else, Nintendo has announced that they'll actually be making money on each console sold. Second, apparently, despite the fact that it was announced as a feature months ago, the Wii will not support DVD playback after all, which they claim is a cost-saving decision. I don't think that anyone was going to play DVDs on the thing in the first place, so sounds fine to me. Finally, and this is the big news: the Wii will be REGION FREE, just like the DS. It's about damn time. The important part about this is that I'll be able to play Eyeshield 21 on my Wii now.

15 Comments:

Anonymous Mike said...

Would you seriously buy a PS3 just for Final Fantasy?

Seriously?

Thursday, September 14, 2006 3:56:00 PM  
Blogger Jordan said...

...

...

[small voice]
yes
[/small voice]

Thursday, September 14, 2006 4:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous(New & Improved) said...

Did I read correctly:

"I don't want ...blow jobs-- I want ...to PLAY GAMES"

evolution has just been derailed!

Thursday, September 14, 2006 4:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Aiden said...

Wee? er i mean Wii..

Thursday, September 14, 2006 4:28:00 PM  
Blogger Stefan Robak said...

I would have agreed with anonymous, but...

1) I'm not placing my gentle dick in the cold, jagged, unforgiving jaws of a machine.

2) I'm not sure that I'd want to play on a friends machine with the knowlegde that it might have been used as a sex toy/partner.

Thursday, September 14, 2006 6:08:00 PM  
Anonymous NOS said...

Yeah... that release date is a little odd, but I see the sense it in.

So why I think it would be a bad idea is that you want to have something in the stores for people to buy when they quickly run out of PS3s to sell.

HOWEVER, where it might make sense is to take a bit of wind out of the PS3's sales (pun!). People lining up for PS3s on opening day have a decent chance of being people who will line up for Wiis. Only now, they might rethink plopping 12,000 dollars or whatever the PS3 is going to cost, as that may prevent them from getting the Wii a few days later.

Anyway, the price point makes sense to me. The 199 predictions always seemed a little low to me, despite everyone's insistence otherwise. While the hardware specs may be lower than the other consoles, there is still a lot of delicate doodads in there.

The various weather/news stuff doesn't make a lick of sense to me. You play this thing on a television.

Internet access, while not crucial, could be handy. Being able to access Gamefaqs while playing without getting up, for example. Utterly, utterly, *utterly* stupid and greedy to charge for a web browser though. Might as well sell the cables used to connect the Wii to your TV seperately.

10$ seems sort of reasonable to me for an N64 game, but 5$ is still more than I would pay for an NES game. Key differences being that the N64 is less obsolete, and on a personal level I have next to zero experience with games on the platform.

Thursday, September 14, 2006 7:52:00 PM  
Anonymous NOS said...

That was possibly one of the most typo-ridden and grammatically poor post that I've made in a long time.

Thursday, September 14, 2006 7:54:00 PM  
Blogger Jordan said...

Might as well sell the cables used to connect the Wii to your TV seperately.
There is precedent for that... :-)

Friday, September 15, 2006 9:00:00 AM  
Blogger Jordan said...

UPDATE: Wii news is still trickling out, and I have a few extra details to bring to everyon's attention...

First off, unlike everyone else, Nintendo has announced that they'll actually be making money on each console sold. Second, apparently, despite the fact that it was announced as a feature months ago, the Wii will not support DVD playback after all, which they claim is a cost-saving decision. I don't think that anyone was going to play DVDs on the thing in the first place, so sounds fine to me. Finally, and this is the big news: the Wii will be REGION FREE, just like the DS. It's about damn time. The important part about this is that I'll be able to play Eyeshield 21 on my Wii now.

Friday, September 15, 2006 9:08:00 AM  
Blogger Jordan said...

I've already decided on what I'm buying at launch. November 19th is going to be an expensive day:
-The Wii itself
-The Lengend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
-Trauma Center: Second Opinion
-Marvel: Ultimate Alliance
-2 extra Wii controllers
-2 extra nunchuku attachments
-1 classic controller

Friday, September 15, 2006 9:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

To bring us back to my original statement, if you spend what is looking to about about $550-$650 just to play a final fantasy game, then you are ridiculous.

I could tell you how the game goes by the way. Sort of mysterious person meets an average soldier person and they go on the hunt for crystals or stars or some shit so that they can save the universe from an evil villian who ACTUALLY ends up not being the last boss because the last boss is some horrible fog that does evil things to people... or is a giant tentacle monster.

There will be a chocobo in it, and possible a shitty card game. Due to Square's love of cutscenes, each casting of a Summon will be a 1.5 hour feature length film.

Friday, September 15, 2006 10:46:00 AM  
Blogger Jordan said...

*shrug*

Friday, September 15, 2006 11:16:00 AM  
Blogger Jordan said...

Further note: Although this really won't concern any of my readers personally, the European and Australian launches have been confirmed for shortly after the Japanese launch. Thanks to the PS3 delay, that means that the Wii will be the only new console available this Christmas in those territories, although the 360 is of course around to make sure that they don't entirely walk away with the holiday sales numbers.

Friday, September 15, 2006 12:45:00 PM  
Anonymous NOS said...

Contradicting reports of region DRM:

http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/09/16/1319209&from=rss

Saturday, September 16, 2006 12:28:00 PM  
Blogger Jordan said...

Indeed. The reports I've read have been not entirely conclusive yet, or at least not enough to convince me, but it certainly looks as if the Wii will be region-locked after all. Bullshit. *grumble*

Monday, September 18, 2006 12:55:00 PM  

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