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Useful Notes / Wii
aka: Nintendo Wii

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"Wii Would Like to Play."
Tagline, English commercials for the Nintendo Wii
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By the end of the Nintendo GameCube's life (and the beginning of the Nintendo DS's), Nintendo was known for four things:

  1. Being innovative;
  2. Being the "kiddy" console company;
  3. Making their products durable, equal or surpassing that of Nokia;
  4. Holding up the rear in the Console Wars (only for home consoles, mind you. They remained king of handhelds, with the Game Boy Advance still selling strong and the Nintendo DS a good amount ahead of Sony's Playstation Portable).

Many Japanese third-party developers dumped Nintendo for Sony following the Nintendo 64, and many gamers thought Nintendo would concentrate on their handheld dominion or even go third-party like former console makers Sega, Hudson Soft, Atari and SNK. Things were this dire. In the escalating cost of superior graphics in the Console Wars between Sony and Microsoft, it was thought that Nintendo couldn't compete. In response, they created an innovative, family-friendly, durable console. This time though, they would not be dead last. Meet the Nintendo Wii, Nintendo's fifth console released in 2006.

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Nintendo focused on an innovative, motion-based control scheme involving the Wii Remote, or the Fan Nickname "Wiimote," a controller which can best be described as a fusion between an NES controller and a television remote control, that could sense both the button presses and motion-based movements of the person holding it. This lowered the difficulty curve immensely. Usually, a beginning gamer would have to not only to learn how to control their character, but also learn how to control their controller: "'Hold X to perform action?' What's performing an action? What's X? Do I have to hug him? And how do I made him doesn't afraid of anything?" ...Okay, maybe we're exaggerating it a little bit. But maybe we're not. Compare this to the ease of using of a remote control, and you can see why the Wii Remote was such a clever step.

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The Wii also focused on a low price point (approximately US$199 in Japan with no game, and roughly US$249.99 elsewhere when bundled with Wii Sports), countering the escalating price tags on its competitors. They did this by cutting out many features that the other consoles took for granted (DVD and CD playback,note  high-definition support, and built-in ethernet capabilities) that weren't that important to the gaming experience. Nintendo then marketed the console as "for the whole family," and to further this, made it look as sleek as an iPod, with an (initially) white color scheme to boot.

Much to the surprise of the gaming press, doubters, and nay-sayers, It sold well. Ludicrously well. The Wii's crushing marketing victory, Day 1 profitability, and unprecedented sales numbers make it the most successful console of its generation.note  From its launch until late 2008— a period of two years— the Wii was constantly backordered across retailers everywhere, along with everyone and their grandparents (quite literally) getting their hands on one. It worked so well that 4 years later, all hypocrisy broke loose and both Sony and Microsoft came up with copies of the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, namely the Kinect and PlayStation Move, right after having their marketing team call it a useless gimmick meant for "casual gamers".

Plus, it did it all without needing specs that raised the cost of the system (which, following Japan's "Lost Decade" of economic instability, they could not have afforded regardless). Much of the Wii's internals were based off the GameCube,note  an already pretty powerful piece of hardware (for its time), but made even more powerful. It had numerous fundamental differences to the PS3 and 360. The make a good analogy comparing the systems is that the Xbox 360 and PS3 are modern, top-of-the-line supercars, while the Wii is a tuned-up roadster from a decade ago, modified to yield higher horsepower. ex: 

Nintendo's first true foray into internet-based play started on the Wiiex:  and, much like the console itself, were a far cry from the other systems. These included the infamous friend code system that would be phased out in later generations in favor of more traditional usernames. The Wii did have a surprisngly deep online store like its competitors, and a separate Virtual Console store that essentially served as legal emulation. Unfortunately, a true mass storage solution (like, say, an external hard drive) didn't appear until the end of March 2009, and only a limited number of demo versions of the games are available.

Sadly, in the case of third-parties, most developers would either ignore the system entirely, or toss in some quick-and-dirty ports of PlayStation 2 games (coupled with half-baked controls), with more serious efforts coming only after the system's continued popularity established it as a friendly environment. The low development costs compared to its HD cousins allowed for many unusual, financially risky games, often critical darlings but commercial failures. A common debate involving the Wii is whether a real-time strategy game slash life sim where the protagonist is a little boy or a spiritual successor to an equally cult PS2 beat 'em up would have done well on any other system. The lower development costs also meant the system ended up hosting large amounts of shovelware. The newfound audience of casual players didn't know any better, being more susceptible to buying cheaply-made games with motion controls slapped on. However, it would still see third-party successes such as Sonic Colors, LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga (while not an exclusive, it sold the best on the Wii), Monster Hunter 3 (Tri), Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, and most notably, No More Heroes.

However, despite cries of "inferior" graphics and processing power, the Wii continued to sell better or as good as the other systems, depending on whether there was a recent Killer App release, with the Virtual Console being used as a way to offer re-releases of older games as effective stopgaps. Much of the early analysis of the console's inevitable failure comes across as It Will Never Catch On mentality in light of its overall success, and the occasional April Fool's joke about the Wii being highly successful is now Hilarious in Hindsight.

Nintendo was engaged in a constant cat-and-mouse game with hackers over the Wii firmware since launch. Frequent system updates during the Wii's lifetime include patches to close loopholes known to be exploited by hackers, though Nintendo ultimately threw in the towel at the end, especially with Super Smash Bros. Brawl having an unpatchable hacking entry point within its Level Editor. This has led to a proliferation of emulators, applications to load Wii and GameCube games off an external hard drive and game mods developed after the Wii's life that are loaded through the SD card slot such as Project M and Newer Super Mario Bros. Wii. It is also possible to play DVDs on model 1 units (the ones with GameCube support) through unauthorized means, though Nintendo would have us believe it requires a hardware upgrade because movie playback wears out the system's DVD drive so quickly. They're probably not lying — technically, the Wii has very little memory and storage space for buffering, so in order to avert Loads and Loads of Loading, it compensates by spinning the disc really, really fast for prolonged periods of time. This has an unfortunate tendency to shorten the lifespan of the optical drive significantly.

In 2011, Nintendo revised the Wii, releasing the Family Edition (with various colors coming with different pack-in games). While the same size and shape as the original, the GameCube ports were removed as a cost-saving measure, thus removing backward compatibility support and the ability to use GameCube controllers for games like Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Mario Kart Wii and GoldenEye 007.

In 2012, Canada received the Wii Mini in red. It's a cute little console, but to make it smaller (and cheaper), Nintendo cut out its network functionality as well as GameCube backwards compatibility and the SD card slot. This consequently removed practically all entry points for hackers to softmod the Wii Mini, though an exploit within its Bluetooth stack was eventually discovered in 2019.

The Wii was succeeded by the Wii U in 2012, and Nintendo ended Wi-Fi service for the Wii on May 20th, 2014. Though as with any popular Defunct Online Video Game and with the console cracked wide open by that point, the Wi-Fi shutdown hasn't deterred the modders as they have established the Wiimmfi and RiiConnect24 private servers to keep the Wii's Wi-Fi multiplayer and online services respectively open.

It should never be confused with, or thought of as, a Wii-Wii. Trust us, the fans (and Nintendo themselves) surely don't.


Technical Specifications:

Processors
  • CPU: IBM PowerPC 750CXe-based processor codenamed Broadway. Reportedly clocked at 729 MHz. It's a updated version of the GameCube's CPU and it uses Power4 tech when the GameCube's CPU uses Power3. However, the CPUs are in the same family, which explains its backwards compatibility; 64KB of L1 cache and 256KB of L2 cache.note 
  • GPU: ATi-designed GPU codenamed Hollywood reportedly clocked at 243 MHz. Based on the GPU used in the GameCube, it removes many features unused on the GameCube in favor of more polygons and more TEV units.
  • There's also an I/O Controller codenamed Napa that handles communication between the GPU and the system, a DSP + 1T-SRAM chip called Vegas, and another processor called Starlet, which handles the external I/O and WiiConnect24 when the console is asleep.

Storage

  • 24 MB internal 1T-SRAM integrated into graphics package
  • 64 MB external GDDR3 SDRAM
  • 3 MB internal EDRAM to the GPU itself for framebuffer and texture storage.
  • 512 MB of internal Flash Memory.
    • The front has an SD Card slot, which can support up to 32 GB.note  Games purchased in the Wii Shop Channel can be stored and run here.
  • In addition to GameCube discs, the Wii uses a "Nintendo Optical Disc" — essentially standard DVDs with a couple of added features — with the capacity of a 12 cm DVD for its games with capacities up to 8.5 GB. This technically makes the Wii the only Nintendo system to use a non-proprietary format as its main storage medium (though the Wii U's optical discs are very similar to single-layer Blu-Rays). Still, the added features were enough to put the disc format outside the range of DVD Forum specifications, allowing Nintendo to avoid having to pay licensing fees.

Graphics

  • Like the GameCube, the Wii could only output standard definition resolutions. It supported all resolution modes in interlaced or progressive scan and in 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratios.
  • Color Palette: 32 bit (16.7 million colors)
  • Polygon Count: 500 million max, 410 million in game (384 million max used in retail games like with Metroid: Other M).
  • Shaders: 24 TEV unitsnote 
  • Output: Your options were composite, S-video, and component. The Wii notibly lacked an HDMI port unlike its competitors, the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, which became a point of contention during the console's life cycle. This was the first Nintendo console with no support for RF Coaxial. The Wii introduced a different AV plug from its predecesors, so SNES/N64/GCN cables were not compatible.

Sound

  • An ARM11 based chip running at 121.5 MHz.
  • 128 24 bit ADPCM channels, 8 speakers (4 for the Dolby Pro Logic 2 set up and 4 for each Wii Remote).

Add-Ons and Expansions

  • The Wii could support up to 16 controllers.
  • Wii component cables are much easier to come across than their GameCube counterparts thanks to component video having become much more accessible these days, and the fact that the Multi AV port outputs standard analog video means that third-party component cables from companies like Nyko are not only possible, but also widely available (the GameCube's component cables plugged into the Digital AV port and thus required a proprietary DAC chip). Because of this, Wii-through-component serves as a much more affordable method for playing GameCube games in 480p, with the only caveat being the lack of Game Boy Player support and a slightly fuzzier picture (though the difference is trivial at worst and isn't too noticeable without a side-by-side comparison).
  • Has 802.11b/g wireless LAN support.
  • There are four GameCube controller ports and two memory card ports for backwards compatibility with GameCube games, as well as some Wii games that gave the option of more traditional control schemes. (Removed from the Wii Family Edition and subsequent releases.)
  • There's two USB ports in the back. The only thing to use them officially is a USB to Ethernet adapter, Wii Speak, and keyboards.
  • The Wii remote supports a number of add-on accessories, such as the Nunchuck and the Classic Controller.


Games/Series that appeared on this console:

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The Wii provides examples of:

  • Digital Avatar: Miis. Players can make a Mii in the Mii Channel, then use it in Wii Sports and other supported games. Nintendo later brought Miis to the 3DS, Wii U and Switch. Microsoft and Sony played Follow the Leader with their own avatar tools, though Sony would quickly abandon them.
  • Follow the Leader: The Wii's runaway success caused the development of things the Playstation Move and the Xbox Kinect. Neither saw much success, though the PlayStation Move controllers would gain new life in the following generation thanks to virtual reality becoming a viable gaming market, while Microsoft would repurpose the Kinect outside of gaming as part of various mixed reality projects such as HoloLens.
  • He Knows About Timed Hits: The cat in the Photo Channel explains how to use the B button to scroll, but has no idea where to find this B button. (It's on the back of the Wii remote.)
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Most of the adverts for the Wii showed players standing up while using the console, to help emphasize the active nature of using the motion controls. While this would become the defining image of the system in gaming culture (for better or worse), most of the games for the console — even the ones that utilized motion controls — didn't necessitate standing up to play them. In reality, you can easily use the motion controls in the vast majority of the system's library with just simple wrist and arm movements; especially after the Wii Motion Plus was introduced to make motion controls even more accurate. Outside Wii Sports, Wii Fit, and Just Dance, you'll rarely find a game that actually requires you to stand up while playing it.
  • Save Scumming: Unlike later Nintendo consoles, the Wii's Virtual Console feature uses Suspend Saves as opposed to proper save states in order to prevent this trope.
  • Shout-Out: In the Photo Channel, the Doodle feature makes two references to the SNES game Mario Paint. First, the "Undo all" button summons a rocket to erase all the doodles. The rocket looks and sounds different, but functions exactly like the rocket eraser in Mario Paint. Second, if one holds Down on the Control Pad and hits the eraser, it does undo or redo with the sound of Undodog from Mario Paint.
  • Suspend Save: Virtual Console can suspend some games. It can suspend SNES games, but not N64 games. This feature is less useful than the save states in other emulators - including later Nintendo consoles - because it prevents Save Scumming.
  • Trope Codifier: Popularized motion controls as a core control method in the video game industry; future gaming systems would incorporate gyroscopic sensors into their standard controllers, while the rise of virtual reality during the following decade would see those devices gain similar control setups to the Wii Remote and Nunchuk.

 
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Wii Would Like To Play

In North America, ad company Leo Burnett created a series of award-winning commercials for the Nintendo Wii featuring two Japanese businessmen traveling the United States and asking people to play Wii games with them using the now-iconic "Wii Would Like To Play" tagline. This particular ad promotes Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

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