Nintendo Wii

Nintendo's latest all-singing, all-dancing games console just might coax the full six stars out of our eager reviewer... even if the name does sound like slang for going to the toilet

The Wii has been around for a while now and has been a huge success, selling over 9.27 million units worldwide. It may not be a mega powerful next gen console like the 360 or PS3 but it's running rings around them when it comes to sales. Now, I haven't touched a Nintendo product since my SNES was unplugged for the final time about 11 years ago. But this isn't because I don't like them - it's just that I had more important things to do. So I was more than a little keen when I got the chance to get my hands on their latest hot product.

First impressions
The first thing that struck me about this device was actually the packaging the Wii came in. It's obvious from the outset that real thought was put into the way the product initially presents itself to its new owner. Inside the box are two drawers holding the various components within their own little sections - this is design at the highest level, equal to that of Apple, who do very good packaging as a rule.

Enough of the box, onto the console. Once the plastic coverings have been removed you see the Wii for what it is - simple. The console itself looks a bit like an optical (CD) drive that's been taken out of a computer, in that its body is white plastic, which seems to be in vogue with consumer product design at the moment. On its own though, looks wise the Wii is no stunner.

That said, when the console is placed in the upright position held firmly in place by the supplied grey stand, it does take on another persona and begins to look more impressive. While this is the preferred position, it may not be to everybody's taste and Nintendo have allowed for this by providing the Wii with rubber feet on two sides of the machine, offering a solution for everybody.

The controllers are, however, the real reason for the Wii's success. The ability to control the on screen actions by hand movement has created massive interest in this console, as well as providing a marketing gimmick that no advertising agency could go wrong with. The absolutely insanely great aspect of this is that it works, it really works. A slight tilt of the remote is instantly recognised, as are more powerful swings, making game play more interactive than any other console I've used to date.

Ports of call
GameCube users out  have not been forgotten either. The top of the console is dedicated to you. There's a removable cover under which lie four controller ports, saving them from the loft or eBay. This is also handy if you're migrating from the GC to the Wii, as all your old games are supported and you're bound to be more comfortable with them than the new Wii Remote. The next little hatch we come across contains two Nintendo memory card slots; these are needed for GameCube game saves.

The front of the unit has all the usual suspects: power, reset, eject and of course the drive bay itself. The one added extra is an SD card slot located under a small flap; this provides you with the ability to increase the available 512MB of memory for game saves and for putting your photos on to the system.

Round the back we have two USB 2.0 ports. Apart from an optional network adapter, these are not really for day to day use as yet, but are an indicator of accessories such as keyboards, mice and such like in the future. Below these are the power, Sensor Bar and the AV ports.

Setup
Setup is simple, with easy to follow instructions. After a few minutes of undoing lots of plastic and crawling behind the telly to access the scart socket I was ready to start waving my hands around like a crazy person. While there can't be any confusion over what cable goes where - each one is a different shape and can only go where they're supposed to - it is actually worth reading the instruction manual. Jumping straight in will get you 99% of the way there, but other pieces of the setup puzzle such as syncing controllers and Internet access may need a little more care.

Now you're all plugged in, it's time to switch on. What greets you is the initial Wii setup screens, giving you choices of system language, parental controls, time and date and all the usual setup stuff...You can come back and change these later on if necessary, as nothing's written in stone.

Once done, you're taken to the Wii dashboard; a collection of channels. The first port of call should be the Mii channel, as this is where you get to create a virtual representation of yourself. It's not limited to a single Mii either, so if more than one person uses the console each can have their very own Mii. While this is a little bit of innocent fun in itself, there is a serious reason behind having a Mii as they act as user accounts accessed by games played and, without them it's very unlikely you'll be able to save any game progress.

Also resident on the dashboard is the Photo channel, a simple photo viewer which grabs images from bluetooth mobile phones and of course from any inserted SD card. The News and Forecast channels are useful for quick updates on current events and weather, as is the Wii shop channel where downloadable content such as virtual console games - as well as new channels - can be obtained. At the top left is a channel space dedicated to the game disks content, which is where we go next...

Game on
Each Wii comes with a game included in the pack, in our case Wii Sports. Wii Sports acts as a training ground to get you completely to grips with the workings of the console and various handling techniques utilised by the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, so this is defiantly the best place to start. That said, the Sports disk is actually quite fun, providing five games consisting of: Tennis, Baseball, Golf, Ten pin Bowling and Boxing. You play as your Mii and the better you do the higher your score rating goes up which also effects the level of difficulty laid against you by the Wii. Great thing is, not only is it fun it's also good for you. Without knowing it you give your body a workout, an extra incentive for the coach potatoes out there.

Verdict: 
The Wii is the coming together of years of research (initially conceived after the GameCube release), innovation and good solid well thought out design. Not only does it do everything it's supposed to, it has the possibility to grow in the future. While the ability to play DVD's would have been great, it was never designed to do this - so I can't hold that against it. The Wii's a gaming machine but also much more than that. It's a user experience that will stand the test of time and be looked back at fondly by the generation of gamers that are starting, or in my case kick-starting, their relationship with Nintendo. It's this and the £179.99 price that has made the Wii Best4Reviews' first six star rated product.