When the Nintendo Wii was first released in late 2006, it was a revolutionary piece of technology, combining a polished gaming experience with groundbreaking motion control. The mix of fun, intuitive interaction and the broad accessibility of Nintendo’s iconic games made for a gaming system that appealed to a much broader audience than the average gaming system. Ten years on, the Nintendo Wii may not be as revolutionary, but the wide appeal hasn’t changed. Nintendo has moved on to a newer system, but if you want an affordable gaming console, the Nintendo Wii is still a great choice.
The Wii boasts a solid library of recognizable games, including classics like Super Mario Brothers, Mario Kart Wii and Super Smash Bros. Brawl. The Wii is often bundled with Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort, which let you enjoy games like bowling and tennis using the Wii Remote. With a few key accessories, you can also enjoy games like Wii Fit and Zumba or one of dozens of Karaoke sing-along games.
Nintendo also pulls from a deep library of classic games, with favorites from the classic Nintendo Entertainment System, the Sega Genesis and the Super NES. These games are available for download and played through an official emulator called Virtual Console. With more than 1,700 games released for the Wii and support for more than 600 other games through the Virtual Console, there’s a wealth of great games to enjoy. However, if you’re trying to decide between the older Wii and the newer Nintendo Wii U, it’s worth noting that the new console offers support for all Wii games and accessories, including all Virtual Console games.
The most notable feature of the Wii is the controller. The Wii Remote, sometimes called the Wiimote, is a handheld controller that offers both motion controls and gamepad functions. The Wii Remote uses an optical sensor to track the controller’s function, with newer versions of the controller adding additional motion sensing capabilities with the Wii MotionPlus, a second sensor package that was either attached to the bottom of the controller or simply built into the device, called the Wii Remote Plus.
A second included controller, called the Nunchuck, has an analog stick and two trigger buttons. It is a wired addition that plugs into the Wii Remote and offers additional controls used in tandem with those of the Wii Remote. The Wii Remote can also be paired with a variety of shell-like accessories, like steering wheels, fake athletic implements and the Wii Zapper.
The Wii game console has a built in Wi-Fi adapter, letting it connect wirelessly to the internet, though a wired connection can be used with an additional adapter accessory. While there are a few online features available through the console’s menus – called channels – several of the services available when the console launched have been discontinued over time. Two remaining essential features include the Wii Shop Channel and Netflix.
Older games from previous Nintendo systems for use with the Virtual Console can be purchased and downloaded through the Wii Shop Channel. A web browser called Internet Channel, optimized for use with the Wii Remote, is also available. Several other channels were available at launch, but over the last decade several of these have been discontinued.
Despite having an optical drive, the Wii only supports proprietary game discs, with no movie playback. If you want to enjoy movies or shows through the Wii, you need to stream through a service like Netflix or YouTube, which are both available as channels on the Wii Menu.
The Wii is much smaller than most gaming consoles, measuring a compact 6.2 x 1.7 x 8.5 inches (HWD) when oriented vertically with the included stand. The front of the system has a slot-loading optical drive, while the back of the system has two USB 2.0 ports, a proprietary AV port, a connection for the Wii Sensor Bar and a power connector.
Older Wii systems also featured a covered selection of ports that supported a variety of devices from the older Nintendo GameCube, but this has been removed in subsequent versions of the Wii. The version of the Wii currently made and sold by Nintendo is a variant called the Wii Mini, which is a streamlined version of the console that omits the Wi-Fi connectivity and related online features, providing only game play from physical discs.
The Nintendo Wii was a revolution in gaming when it first came out, but unlike other older systems, it hasn’t necessarily aged well. The best aspects of the Wii are all available with the newer Nintendo Wii U, which supports all of the same games, controllers and accessories, with a host of additional features. However, if you’re looking to save a buck, a new or refurbished Wii can be found for much, much less than other game systems, and the wide assortment of games promises plenty of entertainment.