The successor to the Nintendo GameCube, the Nintendo Wii was officially unveiled at Nintendo's Electronic Entertainment Expo press conference in 2005.
Development for the Wii began in 2001 shortly before the launch of the Nintendo GameCube as Shigeru Miyamoto, came up with a concept focusing primarily on a new form of player interaction. Branching off from the traditional game pad controller from Nintendo's previous consoles, the Wii features a wireless controller, referred to as the Wii Remote, which is used as a handheld pointing device and detects movement in three dimensions. Although the console was unveiled earlier in the year at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, the Wii Remote was not shown until the Tokyo Game Show in September of that year.
The Wii launched in North America on November 19, 2006, December 2, 2006 in Japan and on December 8, 2006 in Europe. Since its launch, the console has sold over 50 million consoles as of March 2009. The Wii has been infamous for its limited availability, and people have complained about how few consoles can be found in stores. According to Nintendo, they are making nearly one million Wii consoles per month, however. The Wii continues Nintendo's tradition of choosing lower specifications of hardware components to be able to gain a profit off the hardware alone. Where their competitors are willing to lose money upfront off the hardware sales and make up for the loss with software and subscription based revenues.
Originally, the console was known as the 'Nintendo Revolution', a code name to explain Nintendo's plans with the console. When it was unveiled, it was dark black, but upon its release it had changed to a white and blue color scheme. The name Wii has had many official explanations.
Nintendo stated that the plural form of Wii is, contrary to popular belief, not "Wiis." Instead, it is "Wii consoles" or "Wii systems." The two i's in Wii are meant to represent two players standing next to each other, or the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. One explanation for the name is as follows:
"Wii sounds like 'we,' which emphasizes that the console is for everyone. Wii can easily be remembered by people around the world, no matter what language they speak. No confusion. No need to abbreviate. Just Wii."
The Wii has been criticized for disrupting the way game publishers have been doing business for years. The ease for game publishers to release games on the platform caused a lot of competition in the Wii market, where normally very popular types of games in other systems would fail to become popular on the Wii. However, the Wii became one of the best selling video game systems ever made, breaking records worldwide, including the best selling video game system in Europe, as well as many of it's games going on to become the best selling videogames of all time.
In December 2011 Nintendo discontinued the launch model of the Wii and released a "Slim" version of the Wii in Europe. No specific reason is given by Nintendo for this re-release. The "Slim" Wii has the same specifications as the launch model with the exception for GameCube support, resulting in no support for GameCube games and the lack of GameCube controller ports and GameCube memory card slots. The console launched in the colors black and white and is bundled with a Wii MotionPlus, Wii Sports and Wii Party. Because of its horizontal orientation and smaller form factor, it is said to fit under TV sets more easily.
U.S. (Virtual Console)
Europe (Virtual Console)
The Wii is the smallest of the seventh generation consoles measuring 44 mm (1.73 in) wide, 157 mm (6.18 in) tall, 215.4 mm (8.48 in) deep, approximately the size of three standard DVD cases stacked together, and weighs in at 2 kg (2.7 lb).
The Wii launch retail package comes at an MSRP of $249.99 USD, and $279.99 CAD which includes the Wii console, one Wii Remote, one Nunchuk attachment, one Sensor Bar, a removable stand for the bar, one external main power adapter, two AA batteries, one composite AV cable with RCA connectors, a SCART adapter in European countries (component video and other types of cables are available separately), operation documentation, a stand to allow the console to be placed vertically, a circular clear stabilizer for the main stand, and, in all regions except Japan and South Korea, a copy of the game Wii Sports.
The Wii is powered by the PowerPC based "Broadway" processor and its graphics processing is powered by the ATI "Hollywood" GPU, 88MB of main memory, a slot-loading disc drive compatible with 8 cm Nintendo GameCube Game Discs and 12 cm Wii Optical Discs, 512 MB built-in NAND flash memory, and an SD Card memory slot.
On May 9th, 2010, a Black version of the Wii will be released for sale in America.
Using a combination of accelerometers and infrared detection built in to sense its position in a 3 dimensional space when pointed at the Wii's sensor bar, Wii Remote is the primary controller for the console. The controller communicates with the console using Bluetooth technology and features rumble vibration and an internal speaker. The Wii Nunchuck unit also features an accelerometer with an added traditional analog stick with two trigger buttons. By using the Wii Remote, users can control the game using physical movements as well as traditional button presses
The body of the Wii Remote measures 148 mm long, 36.2 mm wide, and 30.8 mm thick (5.83 in x 1.43 in x 1.21 in). It interacts wirelessly with the Wii console through a short-range bluetooth radio.
The Wii Remote has a total of 11 input buttons, counting each direction of the directional pad as one input.
- The "A" button is located on top of the controller, and is a transparent plastic button. It is generally used for selecting things on menus.
- The directional pad is Game Boy style and cross-shaped, with four gray lines on top of the pad going out in each direction
- The 1 and 2 buttons are placed vertically near the bottom of the remote, and are used as a pause button in some games. In games where you use the remote horizontally, they are often used as "A and B" buttons.
- The plus and minus buttons, located in the middle of the remote, are usually used to bring up menus.
- The home button is located in between the plus and minus buttons, and brings up a menu that allows you to go to the Wii Menu, reset your console, or edit Wii Remote menus.
- A power button is located in the top left corner of the remote.
- The "B" trigger is located on the back of the Wii Remote, and is generally used to return to previous menus, or to fire weapons in shooters.
(None of the clock frequencies have been officially confirmed by either Nintendo, IBM or ATI.)
- CPU: IBM PowerPC-based "Broadway" processor, made with a 90 nm SOI CMOS process, clocked at 729 MHz
- GPU: ATI "Hollywood" GPU, made with a 90 nm CMOS process, clocked at 243 MHz
- 88 MB main memory (24 MB internal 1T-SRAM integrated into graphics package, 64 MB external GDDR3 SDRAM)
- 3 MB embedded GPU texture memory and framebuffer
Ports and Peripherals
- Four possible Wii Remote controllers, connected via Bluetooth
- Four Nintendo GameCube controller ports (Not on the "Slim" model)
- Two Nintendo GameCube Memory Card slots (Not on the "Slim" model)
- SD memory card slot
- Two USB 2.0 slots
- Sensor Bar port
- Accessory port on Wii Remote (used to connect Nunchuk and other peripherals)
- USB keyboard input, compatible with Wii Shop Channel and Internet Channel (versions 3.0 and 3.1)
- Mitsumi DWM-W004 WiFi 802.11b/g wireless module
- Compatible with USB 2.0 to Ethernet LAN adaptor
- MultiAV output for component, composite, and S-Video
- 512 MB built-in NAND flash memory
- SD card memory (supports SDHC as of System Menu 4.0, up to 32 GB)
- Two Nintendo GameCube Memory Card Slots (for GameCube save states, Not on the "Slim" model)
- Slot-loading disc drive compatible with 8 cm Nintendo GameCube game discs and 12 cm Wii optical discs
- Mask ROM by Macronix
- 480p (PAL/NTSC), 480i (NTSC), or 576i (PAL/SECAM), standard 4:3 and 16:9 anamorphic widescreen
- MultiAV multi-outport port for component, composite, S-Video, RGB SCART, and VGA
- Stereo: Dolby Pro Logic II
- Wii Remote built-in speaker
- 18 watts when on
- 9.6 watts in WiiConnect24 standby mode
- 1.3 watts in regular standby mode
A unique feature of the Wii is the Wii Menu system. It is designed to operate with "channels" on a television. Each square is a "channel" that has a different function. Channels have been added since the six available at launch, and periodical updates are available for the Wii Menu. The Wii Menu is navigated via the Wii Remote, and channels can be moved (with the exception of the Disc Channel) by holding down the A and B buttons and then dragging the channel.
Wii Menu Updates
GDC 2009 Nintendo revealed the "complete storage solution for the Wii." This storage solution is included in the new Wii Menu 4.0, which features an SD card icon in the bottom left, next to the Wii circle. Clicking on the icon brings you to the SD card menu, where up to 20 screens are fillable. Games can be downloaded to and launched directly from an SD or SDHC card without going through the Wii System Memory menus. The 4.0 update also enabled SD cards above the 2 GB capacity.
Main Wii Channels
- Disc Channel - The default channel that is used to play games. When a disc is loaded in (either Wii or GameCube), the two discs spin around, eventually stop, and then one falls down as if it is being loaded in a slot. Then, the game's splash screen appears, and the player has the option to either play the game or return to the Wii Menu screen.
- Mii Channel - Another default channel, the Mii Channel is used to design custom avatars known as Miis. Players can customize many aspects of their virtual avatar. The Mii interactivity is one of the frequently advertised parts of the Wii.
- Photo Channel - Players can upload pictures and videos through use of an SD card or from received messages on the Wii message board, and then use various effects to alter the image. Sound files .MP3, .AAC, and .M4A are also compatible with the channel, so the user can play a slideshow accompanied by music. The Photo Channel's icon in the Wii Menu can be customized with a picture.
- Wii Shop Channel - The Wii Shop Channel is a channel that allows users to purchase games. It is divided into three categories: Virtual Console, WiiWare, and Wii Channels. Games can be purchased on the Virtual Console that have been released in previous generations, from a variety of consoles. WiiWare consists of small-budget games that have been released by amateur developers wanting to get a name, or sometimes larger companies releasing games not big enough for a retail release. Wii Points must be purchased to buy any games on this channel, which can be bought in increments of 1000 ($10.00 USD) on the channel itself, or in various retail stores (Nintendo Points).
- Forecast Channel - Users navigate a large 3D world to find weather forecasts for their area. By merely clicking on the channel, however, users can see a quick forecast if WiiConnect24 is on. Some games use the information from the Forecast Channel to change the in-game weather (such as Madden NFL 07 and NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams).
- News Channel - The News Channel allows users to view headlines from various current events. The news articles are from the Associated Press, and are available in a variety of languages. The news headlines are available in many different categories, and they are automatically updated as news comes in.
- Internet Channel - The Internet Channel is a browser for the Wii based on the Opera browser. Originally, it was free, but it is now available for a one time payment of 500 Wii Points ($5.00 USD), although users who downloaded it for free do not have to pay. The browser has USB keyboard compatibility and supports many of the same standards as the Opera browser available for computers.
- Everybody Votes Channel - The Everybody Votes Channel is a channel where users vote in a variety of opinion polls. All questions are created by Nintendo, based off of submitted user questions. You can track your stats, such as your "distance from popular opinion", and good you are at predicting the popular answer. A map showing how ones specific country votes is also available to users.
- Check Mii Out Channel - The Check Mii Out Channel allows users to upload and download others' Miis and share them to users around the world. There are also themed contests designed by Nintendo, where each user can submit a Mii and vote on their favorites from all the entries.
- Nintendo Channel - The Nintendo Channel is essentially a preview of upcoming and recently released Wii and Nintendo DS games. There are a variety of trailers to watch and browse, including videos of core gameplay and promotional videos. Nintendo DS game demos can be downloaded via this channel as well, turning your Wii into something similar to a DS-download station.
There also have been a few channels made available only in Japan: Television Friend Channel (Terebi no Tomo Channel), Digicam Print Channel, Fortune Telling Channel (Kyou to Ashita no Uranai Lucky Channel), and Wii no Ma (see below). Some games add a channel when the game is booted up for the first time, and a few channels are made available by using the DS connectivity feature. One retired channel, the Metroid Prime 3 Preview Channel, was made available temporarily, but now previews are distributed through the Nintendo Channel.
A channel that gives horoscopes.
There is also a TV Guide Channel released in Japan where it very intuitively shows the different times for TV programming by using well organized charts. It even allows you to actually use the Wii remote as a TV remote, changing channels and increasing volume.
- Wii no Ma Channel (video download service)
Nintendo has given an official notice about its upcoming video download service. The new Video service will be called Wii no Ma Channel. This channel will be free in spring but only for Japan. This channel is a joint project between Nintendo and Dentsu. This channel does not have a certain group or genre it is trying to provide. This channel will offer paid and free video content. The free content will be paid by advertisers. Nintendo is also thought of sending this channel overseas but have said the timing is not right.
Spring 2009 Nintendo will introduce a new Wii channel called "Food Delivery Channel" only for Japan. It allows you to order food using the Demae-can.com online food ordering service. The food that can be ordered are pizza, sushi, Chinese food, Japanese food, Western food, curry, etc. When you select a food a song that matches the food's mood will play on the Channel. If you can decide what to eat there is a roulette mode that picks your meal at random. The quickest delivery order will arrive is 30 minutes.
Wii Fit allows the Wii Fit Channel to be installed. This channel lets users view and compare their results, as well as their progress in the game, without requiring the game disc.
Mario Kart Wii allows the Mario Kart Channel to be installed. This channel allows players to see their best Time Trial scores for each track and compare with other players' results. Players can also manage their friends list and see if any of them are online. Players can also check their tournament standings. All without requiring the game disc.
Users that have bought the Wii Speak peripheral will be able to download the Wii Speak Channel through the Wii Shop Channel via a download-ticket that comes with the microphone. In the Wii Speak Channel, users can join one of four rooms (no limit to how many people in each room) to chat with others online, with each person represented by their Mii, which lip-syncs to their words. Also, users can send audio message to others via the Wii Message Board. Photo sharing is also available in each room.
- Before the Wii was announced, a fan created a fake trailer showcasing the "Nintendo ON", a fake videogame system. It's realistic portrayal caused many gamers, as well as industry insiders, to think it was the real deal.
- Wii was originally going to launch with an ethernet port in the back, but later switched to Wi-Fi to minimize space.
- The idea for "Mii" dates back to Nintendo's Famicon Disk System, where users could create avatars for themselves in games.
- WiiWare was actually ready for launch since the console's release in America, but was held back for lack of support.