A Wii-volution in the making

You can walk through a residence hall on any given day at UW-Eau Claire and see people sitting down, playing video games such as Halo 2 or Final Fantasy XII. However, in the occasional room you’ll see residents who are playing video games, but with one exception – they’re standing up.

Those would be your Wii owners.

Since its Nov. 19 release, the Nintendo Wii has been flying off shelves nationwide, selling 600,000 consoles within a week of its launch, according to a Reuters news release.

So what has made it such an instant success? Why have buyers chosen a product that is anything but a typical console?

One of the biggest answers is something all college students are familiar with -the price tag.

Sophomore Donald Wicklund, a faithful Wii owner, said price had a lot to do with his decision to buy Nintendo’s new console.

“It’s only $250, which is a lot cheaper than the alternatives,” he said.

The Wii is $150 cheaper than Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and $350 cheaper than Sony’s Playstation 3. The PS3’s steep asking price has put Sony’s console last in the sales department. The 360 leads the group of consoles in sales, but has also had an extra year on the market.

So while a lighter hit to the wallet is nice, it won’t matter if the games aren’t any good. Microsoft has games like “Halo” and “Gears of War.” Sony has “Final Fantasy” and “Resistance: Fall of Man.” What does Nintendo counter with?

Here’s a hint – he’s an elf and doesn’t work for Keebler.

“The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess” was released on launch day and has been well-received by fans of Link and the “Zelda” series. Surprisingly absent, however, are a pair of Italian plumbers.

“It’s true that the (Wii) lineup doesn’t match the 360’s,” Wicklund said, “but I think they will once it’s been on the market longer.”

Bottom line: You’re not going to find Halo’s Master Chief or Final Fantasy’s Balthier on the Wii, but the innovative console has plenty of games to keep almost everyone satisfied.

What really has gamers excited is Wii’s interactive games like Wii Sports and Wii Play. The Wii’s “nunchuk” controller involves holding a part of the controller in each hand and is connected to look like a nunchuk.

Its motion sensors allow the user to interact with the games. With Wii Sports, for example, you can hit home runs in the baseball game, go bowling or play a round of golf by simply swinging the controller.

“The games are designed for you to ease into things and get hang of the controller,” Wicklund said. “After an hour or so, it feels natural.”

Every console has its flaws, though. The biggest critics have come from people like sophomore Dillon Probst, who owns an Xbox.

“Microsoft has Xbox Live (their online feature), but the Wii doesn’t even have online play to begin with,” he said. “On top of that, the Wii doesn’t have your typical controller. …it’s very different from an Xbox or a Playstation controller.”

Indeed, some gamers prefer a traditional controller like the 360s. Others feel they don’t need motion-sensor abilities with a controller.

The Xbox 360 and the PS3 both have online play, which is a huge selling point for gamers with hankerings to conquer the world at 2 a.m. Nintendo has said they will introduce online play in the near future, but for now its absence has turned buyers to the other two consoles.

A lesser argument against the Wii has been that the console has the “worst” graphics out of the big three. When played on any television screen, especially an HDTV, the difference can be noticeable. The Wii’s graphics don’t appear as sharp or crisp as its two competitors.

However, Wicklund said lower-quality graphics are not an issue for him.

“You’re basically paying for the extra hardware, and I don’t feel like paying a couple hundred bucks more just for better graphics,” he said. “The Wii is about having fun.”

For cutting-edge graphics and franchise games at a higher price, the 360 and the PS3 are for you. But if you’re looking to minimize costs and maximize fun, Wii’ve found your console.