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by Evan Burchfield - October 15, 2006, 9:08 pm PDT

A survey of some questions you may have about Wii, in plain language.

The Wii FAQ is managed by Evan Burchfield and Karl Castaneda. If you have any questions to add to the FAQ, please post them in our Talkback Thread, or you can e-mail them directly to us with the subject heading "Wii FAQ."

Q: What is Wii?

A: Wii is the name of Nintendo's new video game console. Nintendo's last system was the GameCube, and the Wii is its successor. It will be released on November 19th for $249.99.

Q: What's the big deal about Wii? Isn't it just another game console?

A: Well yes it is, but there's more to it than that. What you may call the “big deal" about Wii is that it has an entirely new method of control. Instead of using two hands to hold one controller, the Wii will allow you to use a one-handed controller that looks like a television remote control. It is called the Wii Remote.

There is also a two-handed variant, and this will probably be the most common method for controlling games. The left-hand unit has been called the Nunchuk by Nintendo and plugs into the bottom of the Wii Remote.

The “big deal" about Wii is that the right-hand unit, the Wii Remote, can sense motion in all directions: left, right, up, down, even in and out. The controller can therefore be used for many movements including broad sword swings and minute wrist flicks. This is the way the Wii will control video games. Also, the left hand Nunchuk unit senses limited movement like shakes and tilts. This means both hands will use motion sensing for gameplay.

Q: How could you possibly play games with this thing?

A: When the Wii Remote and the Nunchuk are attached, the controller effectively emulates an old-style gamepad. The left hand has a joystick and two buttons while the right hand has a few buttons and a trigger. There aren't as many buttons on the Wii controller as there are on the GameCube controller, but there are still possibilities through movement of both the Wii Remote and the Nunchuk.

The gameplay possibilities for the controller are vast, and some of the announced games offer examples: in Metroid Prime 3, a launch game for Wii, the right hand unit is used for aiming your weapon while the left hand joystick is responsible for moving your character. In Super Mario Galaxy the left hand joystick again moves your character, but the right hand controls a star on-screen, like a mouse cursor. This cursor can interact with various objects in the game. In Wii Sports, a game included with every Wii system purchase, the Wii Remote is held by itself without a Nunchuk; the Remote acts as a tennis racquet, baseball bat, and golf club depending on which sport you want to play. When playing Tennis, you actually have to swing the racquet as you would in real-life. The sensor can pick up forehand and backhand swings as well as overhand serves. When playing Baseball, the Remote senses your aim and speed in hitting a baseball.

There is also the ability to turn the Wii Remote sideways and hold it like a traditional Nintendo pad. The Remote's motion sensing capability can still be used while holding the pad sideways. The video game Excite Truck has you hold the remote this way; you steer your car by tilting the remote left or right.

Q: Is it true the Wii isn't powerful?

A: Yes and no. When compared to other current video game consoles, the Wii does not perform as fast or look as great, nor does it play games in High-Definition. Nintendo has deliberately kept the system affordable because of their corporate philosophy that endless graphical improvement does not necessarily improve the entertainment. Now, that's not to say the Wii is underpowered: it is more powerful than a GameCube in every regard. For some this is a sticking point, but for others it means the system will be inexpensive and unique.

Q: I heard you can play old NES, SNES, and N64 games on Wii – how is this possible?

A: Nintendo is also including a digital bazaar called the Virtual Console, where you'll be able to download Nintendo games from the NES ($5), SNES ($8), and N64 ($10). This will be saved to the internal memory of Wii and will also be stored on Nintendo's server, just in case your Wii's memory gets erased. These games will be playable with a special controller, called the Classic Controller, sold separately:

Q: Will I be able to download games not made by Nintendo, like Metal Gear?

A: While you should be able to play most of Nintendo's games (called first-party games), we're still not sure which third party games (meaning games not developed by Nintendo) you'll be able to download. However, a list of initial third party supporters was posted on Nintendo's Japanese website. This list includes:

-Bandai Namco Games



-Chun Soft

-D4 Enterprise


-HAL Laboratory Inc.








-Net Farm


-Rocket Company





-Takara Tomy


Q: Did I see Sega on that list? How can that be?

A: You sure did! The reason for this is that, in addition to Nintendo consoles, the Virtual Console will support games from the Sega Genesis, TurboGrafx-16, and even the Konami MSX. Keep in mind, however, that the price structure for these consoles has yet to be commented on, although they're likely to be priced similarly to Nintendo consoles from their generation.

Q: Tell me more about Nintendo's online plans.

A: At E3 2006, it was revealed that Nintendo's online service is titled “WiiConnect24." Through this system Wii will always be on and connected to the internet, even when turned off. Wii will be able to alert you of new downloaded content every time you boot it up. You'll also be able to access "channels" where you'll be able to check up on the latest news, weather conditions, organize your photos, and even create your own character (called an avatar) that will be carried from game to game. You will also be able to browse the internet with a downloadable version of Opera that will be free until summer of 2007.

Q: What about playing games online?

A: So far, Nintendo has promised online gameplay but no upcoming American release will use it. (In Japan, Pokemon Battle Revolution will release at system launch with online play, but the game is not coming to American shores until 2007.) Online play has been mentioned in passing for Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and confirmed for Battalion Wars II and Mario Strikers Charged. For the time being, games scheduled to be released this year will not include online play. However, based on Nintendo's history with free online play on the Nintendo DS, we are sure to see first and maybe third party titles utilize Nintendo's unique, cost-effective, somewhat controversial Nintendo Wi-fi Connection service.

Q: When I buy a Wii, what do I get?

A: For $249 you will get one Wii system, the sensor bar, the appropriate cables to connect to your television, a power cord, one Wii Remote, one Nunchuk, and the game Wii Sports. Extra Wii Remotes will cost $40, while extra Nunchuks will cost $20. The Classic Controller will cost $20 as well.

Q: What games are coming at launch?

A: From Nintendo we will see The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Excite Truck, and the packed-in Wii Sports. From UbiSoft: Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII, Far Cry Vengeance, Monster 4X4 World Circuit, Open Season, Rayman Raving Rabbids, Red Steel, and Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent. Atlus will release Trauma Center: Second Opinion. From EA, we'll have Need For Speed Carbon and Madden NFL 07.

For a list of Wii games announced and/or in development, click here.

Q: When is Wii coming to other territories?

A: Japan will get Wii on December 2nd for a price of 25,000 yen. Japanese pricing and other details can be found here. Wii will launch in Australia on December 7th and will cost $399.95. Wii will arrive in Europe one day after Australia, December 8th, and will cost 249 Euros. Canada will get Wii the same day as America, November 19th, but will cost $279.95.

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