Playbox Three-Sixt-Wii!

I was fortunate enough to obtain both a PlayStation 3 and an Xbox 360 recently. I’ve owned a Wii since it was launched back in 2006. The Wii was always relegated as a non-contender in the “next-gen” console wars. The Wuu has definitely held its own, however, effectively carving its own niche. Instead of concentrating on graphics and processor technology, they went in a completely different direction, creating a new way to play games with their innovative controller.

I have been a Playstation guy for a while. While I never owned the original Playstation, I did get the Playstation 2 on the day it was released. The PS2 was the clear winner in the previous generation of consoles, handily beating the Nintendo 64 and Dreamcast. Microsoft was late to the game with the original Xbox, which didn’t seem to do very well. The Playstation 3 has been a powerhouse since it was released. It clearly has better graphics then any other system out there, and the processing power of the system is incredible. Games on this thing look incredible, but despite this, I don’t think Sony is doing very well.

The Xbox 360 is a pretty decent machine, despite the red-ring issue they initially had. It doesn’t have the power or graphical prowess of the PS3, but it does have a pretty strong backing. I’m not a hardcore Microsoft hater, but I’m not exactly a fan either. I’ve essentially moved on from Windows and I use either Linux or OS X now. Despite this, I’ve been drawn to the Xbox 360 for some time now. I had avoided purchasing one, but then, I had avoided purchasing a PS3 as well. Since getting both a PS3 and an Xbox 360, however, I’ve noticed that I’m drawn more towards the 360 and I’ve grown curious as to the reasoning behind this. I think I’ve finally identified it.

If you want your platform to do well, you need to build a community around it. Microsoft’s Xbox team has done this, in spades. Marketing is one thing, and there is a massive marketing force behind the 360, but community can really make or break things. The PS3 has a little bit of a community, mostly centering around the PS blog. Nintendo’s community is virtually nonexistent. But the 360 community is just huge and engaging. Major Nelson and his team do an incredible job promoting the 360 while keeping their content entertaining and diverse. The 360 itself encompasses a ton of community building with a stream of new content about new games, videos, and music.

I think Microsoft’s Xbox team has clearly won this round of the console wars. The advent of the Kinect and the Move, round two is clearly on its way. The Kinect seems to be out to an early lead, however, with the Move being mostly ignored as a copy of the Wii motion controllers. Nintendo doesn’t seem to have a play in this latest round, though one could argue they were first to market when they initially launched.

I enjoy playing all three consoles, but the Xbox clearly seems to be winning in my home. Microsoft is doing an incredible job thus far with the Xbox and I’m hoping they continue they way they’re going.


Review – Nintendo Wii

On November 19th, Nintendo released it’s latest console, the Nintendo Wii. Instead of focusing on an evolution in graphical capabilities, Nintendo focused on a revolution in the way we play games. With a unique controller and a new outlook on gameplay, the latest in Nintendo gaming may well be the hit of the season.

After standing out in the cold for a few hours, I drove home with a nice new Wii and a couple of games to check out. Of course, being a Christmas gift, I wasn’t able to check out the console until the night of Christmas Eve, after the kids went to bed.

The time in between allowed me to find another controller and nunchuk. I also picked up a set of component cables after reading that the graphics looked a LOT better with them. Unfortunately, I was only able to find the Psyclone cables, which ran a hefty $60. But, they do seem to be well built, so I’m not too upset.

A total of three games made it home for the holidays, Tony Hawk’s Downhill Jam, Marvel Ultimate Alliance, and The Legend of Zelda : The Twilight Princess. Full reviews of these games will be coming sometime in the near future. All three of these games are excellent, however, which I find quite surprising for a console launch. In addition, the Wii comes with Wii Sports, a collection of sports games for general entertainment. While not as in-depth as some of the more popular third party titles, these games are polished enough to make them a lot of fun.

So what makes this such a great system? After all it’s really just a glorified Gamecube. Well, sort of. The processing power of the Wii is a bit more. The Gamecube clocked in at 485 MHz while the Wii clocks in at 729 MHz. Likewise, the Gamecube GPU ran at 162 MHz and the Wii runs at 243 MHz. There are obviously more differences but I won’t get into them. The real revolution is in the new controllers.

The Wii controller are wireless, using Bluetooth technology to wirelessly connect to the console. At launch, there are three different controllers. The Wii Remote is the primary controller with the Nunchuk and Classic Controller as add-ons. Most launch titles use either the Wii Remote, or the Wii Remote with the Nunchuk attached. The Classic Controller is primarily used for the Virtual Console games which I have yet to try.

The remote contains a number of accelerometers that allow the Wii to determine the speed at which you move the controller. Coupled with the Sensor Bar, the Wii can determine the location of the controller in 3D space, allowing for some interesting gameplay dynamics.

In addition, the Wii allows for online content such as a weather channel, news channel (not yet launched), a web browser (in beta), and an online store. There are likely more channels in production and will be released later in the consoles lifecycle.

Overall we had a blast playing the Wii and have clocked over 20 hours on it since Christmas day. There are still a number of launch titles that look excellent so I’m sure our library of titles will be growing. I highly recommend this system if you can get your hands on it. It is truly a revolution in gaming.