Technologizer posts about Nintendo Wii

New Wii Bundle: Same Price, New Game, No Gamecube

By  |  Posted at 11:05 am on Monday, October 17, 2011

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Nintendo’s repackaging the Wii once again for U.S. gamers, with a slighly different design that removes Gamecube support.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because Nintendo introduced a similar model for Europe a couple months ago, saying at the time that it “does not currently have any plans” to bring the console stateside. (But as I noted back then, “no plans” usually means “we have plans that we’re not telling you.” Nailed it!)

Anyway, the new Wii bundle costs $150 and includes New Super Mario Bros. Wii, a vamp on Nintendo’s classic 2D platformer that supports four players on the screen at once. It also includes the soundtrack to Super Mario Galaxy, which is a puzzling addition, but also kind of cool if you like boppy orchestral music. The console’s physical design isn’t much different from it’s predecessor, but it removes the stand that allows you to prop the Wii up vertically.

In the United States, Nintendo will continue to sell its existing Wii model and bundle, which supports Gamecube games and includes Mario Kart Wii and a Wii steering wheel. At least, that’s the story for now. In time, I expect Nintendo to phase out the backwards-compatible Wii. No one’s developed a Gamecube title in four years, and demand for backwards compatibility is surely dropping among whoever hasn’t bought a Wii yet.

Still, I’d urge anyone who’s interested in a Wii to consider the old model, and the treasure trove of great GameCube games it supports. You might want games like Metroid Prime and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker in case the novelty of motion control wears off.



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Slim Wii Not Planned for U.S. (Phew)

By  |  Posted at 1:49 pm on Wednesday, August 17, 2011

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Nintendo plans to launch a slimmer Wii console in Europe that drops compatibility for Gamecube games and accessories, but it’s not coming to the United States — at least for now.

The Wii redesign will arrive this holiday season, bundled with Wii Sports, Wii Party, a Wii Remote Plus controller and a Nunchuk attachment. The console is designed to sit horizontally, and trims away the controller ports and memory card slots that supported Nintendo’s old Gamecube console. Nintendo will discontinue the old console design in Europe.

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Wii Price Drops As Wii Sports Loses Pack-In Status

By  |  Posted at 10:56 pm on Wednesday, May 4, 2011

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The rumors were mostly right. On May 15, Nintendo will cut the price of the Wii from $200 to $150, but it’s not a straightforward price drop.

Instead, Nintendo will replace Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort with Mario Kart Wii as the pack-in game. Nintendo will also throw in one Wii wheel to enhance the kart racing experience. Wii Sports, which had been bundled with the console since the beginning, will join a handful of other games — Animal Crossing: City Folk, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and Mario Super Sluggers — in a “Select” (read: budget) collection for $20 each. Wii Sports Resort will sell on its own for $40.

I’m happy to see the change for entirely selfish reasons. My Wii Sports disc went missing years ago, and it’d be nice to get a boxed copy as a replacement without spending too much money.

But for everyone else, this price cut isn’t necessarily a great deal. If you want Wii Sports and Sports Resort, you’ll pay an extra $60, bringing to total price to $210. Meanwhile, most retailers are selling the current Wii Sports and Sports Resort bundle for $170. If you’ve been eying a Wii but have no interest in Mario Kart, you might consider the current bundle while supplies last.

Or if you’re really patient, you can wait until 2012, when Nintendo will launch its next console.



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Wii Vitality Sensor: Not Dead, Still Vapor

By  |  Posted at 12:32 pm on Tuesday, May 3, 2011

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When Nintendo announced its plans for a next-generation video game console in late April, I wondered if we could unequivocally declare that the Wii Vitality Sensor was vaporware. The answer, according to Nintendo Chief Executive Satoru Iwata, is no.

In a question-and-answer on Nintendo’s website (via Eurogamer), Iwata explains that the Wii Vitality Sensor is very much a work in progress. The problem, he said, is that only 80 percent of test users felt that the sensor naturally detected their biological information. Nintendo doesn’t want to release a product until 99 percent of users feel comfortable. Iwata said “it is difficult to overcome this hurdle,” and wouldn’t commit to a launch date.

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Wii 2 May Debut At E3

By  |  Posted at 3:56 pm on Thursday, April 14, 2011

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Well, this might explain this week’s rumored Wii price cut: Both Game Informer and IGN cite unnamed sources who say Nintendo will reveal a Wii successor at this year’s E3 trade show in June.

Neither story provides much detail. IGN’s Jim Reilly writes that the new Nintendo console is “significantly more powerful” than Sony’s Playstation 3 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360, and will be backwards-compatible with the Wii. Game Informer’s Matthew Kato says he’s heard conflicting reports on whether the console will match its rivals on performance, and can’t confirm backwards compatibility.

Both journalists agree that the console will support high definition gaming, and that Nintendo is showing off the console to publishers in preparation for a 2012 launch, although IGN also says there will be a “pre-announcement” this month.

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Wii Price Cut Rumor: And So It Begins

By  |  Posted at 9:36 am on Wednesday, April 13, 2011

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Engadget’s Sean Hollister just re-kindled a great video game tradition: the pre-E3 price cut rumor.

A “trusted source” tells the blog that on May 15, Nintendo will drop the Wii’s price from $200 to $150. A May price cut would actually preempt E3, which starts on June 7, but could also set the stage for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 price cuts during the trade show.

It’s been more than a year and a half since any console maker reduced prices. Nintendo cut the Wii’s price from $250 to $200 in September 2009, just after Sony slashed prices on the PS3 from $400 to $300. Microsoft cut the mid-range Xbox 360′s price to $300 in September 2008, and has only redesigned the hardware and boosted specs since then.

The console market could use a boost, too. Although revenue was up in February, the industry shrunk in 2010 according to NPD. The Wii in particular has seen its dominance challenged in the United States by the Xbox 360.

But so far, the rumor mill has been fairly quiet. Michael Pachter, the oft-quoted analyst for Wedbush Morgan, said in March that he expects an Xbox 360 price cut at E3, with the Wii and PS3 to follow, but that’s just speculation. Juicy rumors have been in short supply. With E3 less than two months away, expect that to change.



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We Dare: The Brilliance of Horrible Marketing

By  |  Posted at 3:18 pm on Thursday, February 24, 2011

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I don’t know if my Twitter feed is a good indicator of something going viral, but right now it’s lit up with people talking about We Dare, a Wii and Playstation Move party game that Ubisoft describes as “fun and flirty” and “sometimes kinky.”

A trailer for the game lives up to the creepy concept: Two guys and two girls huddle in front of the TV and play a bunch of mini-games with a sexual bent. In one instance, two partners gnaw at the base of a dangling controller to mimic waterless bobbing for apples. In another, one of the girls bends over her partner’s lap for a spanking, Wii Remote tucked into the backside of her skirts. All the while, the actors giggle with convincing awkwardness. (The trailer is embedded after the jump to protect the innocent.)

But here’s the rub: We Dare was announced a month ago, and the Internet barely noticed. Ubisoft’s disaster of a trailer has brought far more attention to the game than the concept itself.

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Yep, Kinect is the New Wii, Pitfalls and All

By  |  Posted at 8:24 am on Tuesday, November 30, 2010

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If there was any doubt that Kinect is a smash-hit, Microsoft erased it with official sales figures: In 25 days, the company sold 2.5 million units. As ReadWriteWeb notes, Kinect is being adopted faster than the iPad.

In essence, Kinect has become the new Wii, the hot gaming toy on top of many holiday wishlists. If Microsoft can keep it up, Kinect could keep the Xbox 360 alive for at least another couple of years.

But following the arc of the Wii is as dangerous as it is lucrative. Indeed, the news of Kinect’s soaring sales pairs nicely with Ben Fritz’s look at the declining Wii in the Los Angeles Times. He notes that stereotypical non-gamers — the same folks Microsoft is targeting — eventually lost interest in the Wii and didn’t buy enough software, and now monthly hardware sales are behind the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. Major publishers eventually soured on the console as well. Now that Microsoft has proven that people want Kinect, its challenge is to keep those customers around.

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Turns out Nintendo’s Wii is also dropping the disc from Netflix streaming, starting today. Sony simply made its announcement first for the Playstation 3.

Posted by Jared at 8:15 am

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Solid proof that Nintendo underestimates the value of Internet connectivity: Instead of issuing a patch for a game-stopping bug in Metroid: Other M for the Wii, the company is instructing players to send in their SD cards — with game save files enclosed — for repair by snail mail.

Posted by Jared at 6:22 pm

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NBA Jam for Xbox 360 and PS3 Includes a Dilemma

By  |  Posted at 3:22 pm on Wednesday, August 4, 2010

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When I tried NBA Jam at E3, it seemed like a faithful remake of Midway’s classic two-on-two arcade basketball game from the mid 1990s, but the Wii’s limited processing power makes online play unlikely when the game arrives in October.

The announcement of NBA Jam for Xbox 360 and PS3, with their elegant systems for multiplayer, seems like great news, except it comes with a couple of serious catches.

First, the only way you can get NBA Jam for Xbox 360 or PS3 is with a free download when you purchase NBA Elite 11, EA’s more traditional basketball game.  That’s not such a bad deal, because you’d get two games for the price of one, but with that offer comes another gotcha: The downloadable version of NBA Jam is not the full game. Only the Wii version has the “Remix Tour” mode and “boss battles” against basketball legends such as Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. These features reportedly add another 20 hours to the game.

EA has put gamers in an tough position, where they’re deciding not just what console they’d rather play on, but which features are more important. While I agree with EA Creative Director Trey Smith playing NBA Jam against someone in the same room is part of the classic experience, playing against someone across the country is part of modern gaming.

I’m guessing this bizarre feature split was the only way EA could get NBA Jam on all three consoles, after announcing it as a Wii exclusive in January. For Nintendo, it’s a guarantee that not all buyers will jump ship to the version with multiplayer, but for gamers, it’s a lose-lose.



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Nintendo and Heart Association Team Up, Fall Short

By  |  Posted at 7:17 pm on Monday, May 17, 2010

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The American Heart Association just gave Nintendo an encouraging slap on the rear by endorsing the Wii and a couple of games.

It’s a great development for Nintendo. The AHA will stick a stamp of approval on two of Nintendo’s in-house titles, Wii Sports Resort and Wii Fit Plus, along with the console itself. The association will also showcase the Wii at “Find a Start! Heart Walk” events around the country. You can’t buy marketing like that (Update: Actually, you can. ABC News reports that Nintendo paid $1.5 million for a three-year endorsement).

The AHA’s gains from the partnership are more ambiguous. Exposure? The appearance of being on the cutting edge of fitness? Neither motivation would trouble me if the association were doing more than just declaring Nintendo to be its star player.

If I were an executive at Electronic Arts, I’d be livid. Last year, the publisher released EA Sports Active, a game specifically designed for exercise, unlike Nintendo’s fun-oriented Wii Sports Resort and Wii Fit Plus. Beyond EA, there are plenty of other third-party games with an eye towards fitness, such as The Biggest Loser, Jillian Michaels Fitness Ultimatum and Just Dance. Where’s the AHA stamp of approval for those titles? For that matter, should the AHA still pledge allegiance to Nintendo when Microsoft and Sony release their own motion controllers?

The AHA could be doing so much more with the active play concept. It could rate individual games based on the difficulty of their workouts. It could give advice on how to make the most of each exercise game. Heck, if the group really had some ambition, it could create an online metagame for people to share and track their progress through multiple AHA-approved titles.

As it stands, the partnership between Nintendo and the AHA is a gimmick whose value barely exceeds the bullet points on the back of game boxes. Once the Wii Fit Plus gets stowed away in a dusty corner, with no endorsed products to replace it, the stamp of approval is meaningless.



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Rock of the Dead: More of This, Please!

By  |  Posted at 6:09 pm on Thursday, February 11, 2010

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If Activision or Harmonix never released another Guitar Hero or Rock Band, I’d be satisfied with the existing plastic instruments and gobs of downloadable songs. But there’s still potential in music games, as shown by the upcoming Rock of the Dead.

IGN ran a preview of the Wii game, a cross between the zombie shooter House of the Dead, the keyboard skill-builder Typing of the Dead and Guitar Hero. Each zombie gets its own sequence of notes to play on your guitar controller, and you must enter the sequences correctly to destroy your foes.

As a concept, Rock of the Dead rules, but I’m not as enthused after watching a video of the action. This would be so much better if each note produced a crunchy guitar riff, instead of a dull thwacking sound against a bland backing soundtrack. Nonetheless, there’s a lot of potential in using music game instruments for games that aren’t explicitly about karaoke.

Rock of the Dead isn’t the first one to try. A new game called Fret Nice mimics the platforming style of Super Mario Bros., but with the option to use a guitar controller. Sadly, critics said the experiment didn’t work, and the game is better off with a standard controller. The problem is that Fret Nice tried to map a new control scheme onto a genre that’s already too familiar. In a sense, Rock of the Dead is doing the same thing, even though on-rail shooting games aren’t as universal of a genre.

Still, imagine if a music-themed adventure game like Brutal Legend incorporated the guitar controller, or maybe there are ways to experiment with music games that don’t involve popular songs or straight-up performance (for instance, Rez). There’s fertile ground here, and I’m glad Rock of the Dead developer Epicenter is playing with it, because the music game genre, left alone, is stagnant.



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Wii’s Old Supply Problems Are New Again

By  |  Posted at 6:00 pm on Wednesday, February 10, 2010

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It’s 2007 all over again, with Nintendo’s Wii in short supply at retail shops and online stores.

Shipments are coming in, but they’re selling out fast, Joystiq reports. Nintendo hasn’t gone into specifics on why it can’t meet demand for the Wii, but the company said “replenishing Wii inventories will be a challenge” in the short-term.

According to Sterne Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia, 47 percent of GameStops had the Wii in stock last month, IndustryGamers reported, so you might have to call around to get one. Supplies are a bit scarcer at other retailers; Bhatia said 28 percent of channels had the Wii in stock last month.

Why are Wii shortages happening again? One GameStop employee told Joystiq that it’s a regular occurrence after the holidays, and that supplies should pick up in mid-February, but that doesn’t jive with Nintendo’s remarks about short-term supply challenges.

Back in the early days of the Wii, a popular conspiracy theory held that Nintendo was intentionally holding back supply to stir up buzz. I never really believed that, and it certainly doesn’t seem likely now. However, a variation on that theory, from GameStop chief operating officer Dan DeMatteo, seems plausible: In March 2007, he said Nintendo was holding back supply because the company already met its yearly sales goals.

A similar motive could be at work here. Despite a 23 percent drop in profits last quarter, Nintendo does seem on track to meet its sales forecasts for the year ending March 31, so the company may not be in a rush to boost production.

Again, only Nintendo knows for sure what’s going on here. As a consumer, it seems silly that a company would make it harder to buy its product, but that’s business for you.



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The Wii is Back, Baby!

By  |  Posted at 5:59 am on Friday, January 15, 2010

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Sales figures can be kind of drab to talk about, but wow, the Wii absolutely crushed in December 2009.

According to The NPD Group (via Wired), Nintendo moved 3.81 million Wii consoles in North America last month. That’s 1.66 million more units than December 2008, and the record for most consoles sold in a single month. No surprise, then, that the games industry had a record month overall, besting December 2008 by 4 percent.

When you compare those sales with the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3, which by any other standard had a good month, it’s just embarrassing. The Wii sold almost three times as many units last month as either of the other two consoles.

Nintendo had just as bountiful a month on the software side. The top-selling games of December were New Super Mario Bros. Wii (2.82 million), followed by Wii Fit Plus (2.41 million), followed by Wii Sports Resort (1.79 million). Only then came the blockbuster Modern Warfare 2 for the Xbox 360 and PS3, selling 1.63 million and 1.12 million units, respectively. A couple months ago, EEDAR analyst Jesse Divnich predicted that the new Mario game’s lifetime sales would eventually surpass those of Modern Warfare 2. He’s on track to be dead-on.

A couple other things to note:

-To date, Wii Sports Resort has sold over 4.5 million units. That means there are at least that many homes with an accuracy-boosting Wii MotionPlus attachment, and probably more when you consider other pack-in games such as Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10. That bodes well for more titles that support the peripheral down the road, especially when the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 introduce their own motion control devices this year.

-Third-party Wii titles are nowhere to be found in the top 10, as has been the case since The Beatles: Rock Band debuted in September. That’s got to be frustrating for publishers, and could be a problem for gamers if third-party support wanes — provided they ever get tired of Mario, Zelda and the sight of their own Mii characters.



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Wii Gets Netflix. What’s Next?

By  |  Posted at 4:31 pm on Wednesday, January 13, 2010

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My heartfelt congratulations to those who have a Wii in their living room, and nothing else that connects to the Internet. With nary an Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Roku box, connected HDTV or Blu-ray player, these poor souls will finally be able to watch Netflix’s streaming movie catalog from the television, starting this spring. Sure, it’s hobbled by the Wii’s 480p playback, and makes you insert a disc beforehand akin to the Playstation 3, but it’s better than nothing.

Drawbacks aside, I refuse to believe that this is it for the Wii. There must be more in store on the multimedia front, because a selection of old and B movies isn’t going to cut it. Netflix streaming is incomplete when it’s not supported by on-demand video or some other kind of catalog.

That’s why Roku is no longer just a Netflix player, and why Nintendo’s console competitors offer so much more as well. You can buy and rent movies and TV shows through Xbox Live and the Playstation Network. Xbox Live Gold subscribers can listen to endless music playlists with Last.fm. And of course, the Xbox 360 and PS3 play DVDs and Blu-ray discs, respectively.

The Wii’s addition of Netflix makes the console seem lopsided. It’s no longer strictly a gaming device, but a box of entertainment (I know, the Wii has news and weather channels, but that’s just information). And that entertainment section has to grow.

My prediction? The Wii’s video channel, which debuted in Japan last year, is not too far off. It has Hollywood movies. It has pay-per-view content from Warner and Disney, among others. It should be ready to roll by now. Dream scenario: Those Netflix discs will arrive along with a console update bearing a video store and some more Web channels, but maybe those poor Wii owners will pick up a more capable set-top box by then.



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