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Plugged In

Five reasons to pass on a Wii

Plugged In

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Was once on top.

The Nintendo Wii has been a staggering success. Its combination of innovative control,accessible games, and inexpensive hardware colossally broadened the video games
market, reaching a new batch of consumers nobody else knew existed.

But its once-proud
sales are sagging, its software releases are fewer and further between, and its
competitors are closing the price gap. While an expected price cut might have
you thinking about finally picking one up, we suggest you reconsider. Here's
why.

-- It's technically dated.

By far the biggest criticism levelled at the Wii is in regards to its limited technical capacity. From day one, the system lagged notably behind the visual bar set by the PS3 and
Xbox 360.

Nearly five years later, it's practically a fossil. Back in 2006, when high-definition TVs were
the domain of home theater nerds and early adopters, it had an easier time
getting away with flat, last-gen visuals, but now that big-screen 1080p sets
are cheap, convenient, and everywhere, it's just looking a bit silly. And the
better the TV, the worse the Wii looks. Set it next to an Xbox 360 -- a machine
that's now only $30 or so more expensive than a Wii -- and it's completely
outclassed.

-- The game supply is running dry.

The end of 2010 -- which saw top-rated Wii games games like Kirby's Epic Yarn and Donkey Kong Country Returns hit charts -- might well have been the system's last hurrah.

2011's release calendar is depressing reading for Wii fans. Standout The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is likely to be another must-have, but outside of that there's little to get excited about. Most of the year's bigger Wii releases will also be coming to the other
consoles, and chances are the Wii version will look worse, play worse, and have
fewer features. Nintendo's development efforts are elsewhere, and despite the
console's massive sales, Wii games -- outside of a few massive hits like Just
Dance and Carnival Games -- have rarely proved big earners for other companies.
In other words, hope you like the games that are already out there, because
unless things turn around in a big way, that's pretty much your lot.

-- It's no longer the motion control leader.

Innovative, accessible, and simple, the Wii's motion controller was the key to much of its
breakout success. For most of the console's life, if you wanted motion control
(and just about everyone except the gaming hardcore did) the Wii was the only
game in town.

But that was then, and this is now. Recent months have seen both Sony and Microsoft bring their own motion control systems to market, and both are far more advanced. Sony's
Move system looks goofy but delivers more accuracy and sensitivity than the
Wii, while Microsoft's high-tech Kinect, a huge hit with punters, does away
with controllers altogether. If it's motion-controlled gaming you're after, the
Wii isn't necessarily your best option.

-- It missed the online boat.

Over the past eight or nine years, we've seen console gaming shift from a solitary pursuit (or one enjoyed with a few friends sitting around the same TV) to an online, social
experience. Whether we're playing Farmville or Fable III, we're never alone:
games are constantly connecting you with your friends no matter what they're
playing.

Except, that is, if they're playing on the Wii.

Why? Much of the problem is down to the Wii's archaic "Friend Code" system -- twelve-digit strings of numbers you need to exchange with your friends in order to play
together. They're different in each game, meaning if you have regular online
gaming buddies you'll need to re-add each others codes for every new game you
tackle. While a few games have found success despite the wonky system --
Capcom's Monster Hunter Tri comes to mind -- most online game experiences on
the Wii pale next to the competition.

A tweaked version of the system debuted with Nintendo's new 3DS handheld, but the Wii is still stuck in the past. Friend Codes have never gained much acceptance with gamers,
have been poorly supported by publishers, and look preposterously clunky next
to Sony and Microsoft's sleek online experiences (when
they're not horribly broken, that is
).

-- Its days are already numbered.

Nintendo is about to kickstart the next console generation by officially
announcing its Wii successor
at a June trade show. Details on the new
machine are still up the air, but a few oft-repeated rumors are gaining
acceptance: it's clear the Wii 2 will be a major hardware step forward over the
Wii, and should at least be on a par with the Xbox 360 and PS3. It'll likely be
backwards-compatible with Wii games, and is said to sport motion-sensitive
controllers with integrated high-definition touchscreens.

In other words, it'll keep the things we loved about the Wii, bring its hardware up to date,
and, we expect, keep its price attractive to the casual consumers who made the
Wii such a hit. Most predictions indicate buyers should expect to see the new
machine sometime around the fall of 2012. If you've held out on buying the Wii
thus far, what's another year?

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