When it first launched back in 2006, the Nintendo Wii was one of the best video games consoles on the market. It was a truly ground-breaking console that brought motion controls to the masses. It’s popularity stretched from young children all the way up through to grandparents who loved its simple, intuitive controls and fun party game lineup. These days, motion controls have dropped back off the face of the Earth, with the odd exception like virtual reality gaming.
So, how does the Nintendo Wii hold up in the age of ultra high definition gaming? Is it still worth picking up as a family gaming device or is it now just for hardcore retro gaming enthusiasts?
Nintendo Wii review: Games
The Wii boasts a solid library of recognizable games, including classics like New Super Mario Brothers, Mario Kart Wii, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. and Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Alongside the usual Nintendo lineup, you’ll also see some standout third party games like The House of the Dead: Overkill and Dead Space Extraction. The motion controls were poorly suited to many genres though, so most third party game skipped the Wii.
The Wii was 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.
It should be noted that Nintendo closed down the Wii down their Wii servers in 2014, so you won’t be able to play any online multiplayer games on a Nintendo Wii if you pick one up today. Nintendo also closed down the Wii Store in January 2019, so you won’t be able to buy any digital games or even download any existing digital games that you own. If you’re choosing to pick up a Wii today, you’re stuck with an offline games console and game discs.
Nintendo Wii review: Controller
The most notable feature of the Wii was the controller. The Wii Remote, sometimes called the Wiimote, was a handheld controller that offers both motion controls and gamepad functions. The Wii Remote used an optical sensor to track the controller’s function, with newer versions of the controller adding additional motion sensing capabilities with the Wii MotionPlus. This was 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, had an analog stick and two trigger buttons. It was a wired addition that plugged into the Wii Remote and offers additional controls used in tandem with those of the Wii Remote. The Wii Remote could also be paired with a variety of shell-like accessories, like steering wheels, fake athletic implements, and the Wii Zapper.
Nintendo Wii review: Online media
The Wii game console had a built in WiFi adapter, letting it connect wirelessly to the internet, though a wired connection can be used with an additional adapter accessory. While there were a few online features available through the console’s menus – called channels – all of the services available when the console launched have been discontinued over time.
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're out of luck we're afraid.
Nintendo Wii review: Hardware
The Wii was 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 had a slot-loading optical drive, while the back of the system had 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 had been removed in subsequent versions of the Wii. There is also a version of the Wii called the Wii Mini, which was a streamlined version of the console that omitted the now defunct WiFi connectivity and related online features, providing only game play from physical discs. Since that's all you're getting either way these days, there's no functional difference between the Wii models.
Should you buy a Nintendo Wii?
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 Switch, which has a better library of 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.