Nintendo's next-generation console is finally here, bringing significant advances to the gaming world. While it lacks the HD (high-definition) graphics, hard disk and Blu-ray Disc drive that distinguish the upcoming Sony PlayStation 3 (don't expect to see this released in the UK until March 2007), the Wii has a few tricks up its sleeve.

Graphically the console seems to match – if not slightly surpass – the PS2. However, the Wii's standard-definition graphics leave it some way behind the PS3, which recently upgraded its graphics output to an impressive 1,080p HD, and Xbox 360.

But the Wii regains the initiative with its innovative controls. The Wii Remote (or 'Wiimote') fully immerses you in the game with its force-feedback technology and motion sensing. The latter means you must mime the actions while playing a game. Play a golf game, for instance, and you'll need to hold the controller as if it were a golf club.

You can bolt on an additional joystick-style controller called the Nunchuk to expand your options. In boxing titles, you can use the Wiimote as one glove and the Nunchuk as another.

In practice, the control system is wildly addictive, and everyone will want a go. Wii Sports is included with the console, and this demonstrates the genius of the controller. However, you may also wish to invest in a ‘classic' controller for more conventional games, such as fast-paced fighting titles.

Other games available will include Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Super Mario Galaxy and Wario Ware. But Wii isn't just about games. The console also includes Wi-Fi (but not ethernet) and can display photos, although the standard-definition drive can't yet play films – Nintendo and Sonic Solutions are working on that one.

You can browse the web and shop at gaming stores – you can even download (for a fee) classic games from previous consoles, including NES, SNES and Nintendo 64.

Nintendo Wii: Specs

  • PowerPC Broadway CPU
  • ATI graphics
  • 512MB flash memory
  • Wi-Fi 802.11b/g
  • 4x GameCube controller ports
  • 2x GameCube memory card slots
  • SD memory card slot
  • Wii Remote and Nunchuk controller
  • 44x216x157mm
  • PowerPC Broadway CPU
  • ATI graphics
  • 512MB flash memory
  • Wi-Fi 802.11b/g
  • 4x GameCube controller ports
  • 2x GameCube memory card slots
  • SD memory card slot
  • Wii Remote and Nunchuk controller
  • 44x216x157mm

OUR VERDICT

Those looking for HD graphics and Blu-ray capabilities should wait for the PS3. But we think the Nintendo Wii, a fun console with a refreshingly different controller, will have a wide appeal – especially among casual gamers.

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