Wii might get a Wii.
November 16, 2009 9:46 PM   Subscribe

What do I need to know, nowadays, about buying a Wii?

I've seen several other threads on this topic, including this one, but it's almost six months old, and I know these things can change rapidly.

I pretty much hate video games, but my 6.5-year-old son and 50-something husband both love them. Son wants a Wii, a DS, and a Playstation, but that's never gonna happen. I'm thinking the Wii, since it doesn't leave him hunched over just focused on his own thing (DS) or staring at a TV screen moving only his thumbs (Playstation). (Forgive me if I'm being too mean about video games. I just don't get 'em.)

So Santa may be bringing a Wii this holiday. What do I need to know about buying one now? What accessories are must-haves? Are there different console versions? Game suggestions? Do I need to worry about game ratings for the Wii - - any games that are too adult for a kid, or are they all kid-centric?

We're a slightly luddite family -- no cable, no satellite -- but someone did gift us a fancy big TV. I'm thinking that's all you need to hook it to, right?

Please advise this slightly surly, anti-gaming Mama.
posted by BlahLaLa to Shopping (40 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: There's only one version of the Wii out there, so your only problem will be finding the best deal on it.

As far as accessories, you'll want to get an additional controller (Wii Remote) and probably an additional nunchuk attachment. I know people used to buy the game Wii Play because it came with a Wii Remote and only cost $10 more than buying the Remote by itself; don't know if those prices still hold. The other notable accessory is the Wii Motion Plus, which is an attachment that increases the precision of the Wii Remote. The game Wii Sports Resort now comes with two of them, and is a pretty fun game to boot, so you might as well just get that. Some people will probably advise you to get component cables to connect the Wii to your TV, but you don't really need to bother (the Wii comes with composite video cables; component will make it look slightly nicer, but not enough nicer to matter).

As far as other games, depends on what your kid and your husband like. There's a huge load of garbage software out there for the Wii, but there some decent games to be had. As with all Nintendo systems, there are excellent Zelda (The Phantom Hourglass) and Mario (Super Mario Galaxy, New Super Mario Bros Wii) games available. Beyond that, it really depends on the taste of those who will be playing it.

On game ratings, just go by the ESRB rating on the game. Games that are too adult for a kid will be rated as such, and there will be some description of the kind of content in the game that occasioned the rating.
posted by sinfony at 9:56 PM on November 16, 2009

Best answer: The retail price is $200 now and they're available practically anywhere such things are sold. Do not overpay, do not buy a bundle to "save" (see QVC now and anywhere selling the Wii 2 xmas seasons ago). Extra sports accessories (molded plastic with a cut-out to put the wii-mote) are useless, with the possible exception of the wheel. It comes with composite video cables, you can purchase a component cable to get up to 480p (480i without) resolution.

Metacritic.com is good for viewing a lot of ratings for a particular game at once and seeing the top rated games for a system. Follow links on individual review pages to sites like IGN or Gamespot if you want to watch a video review of a game to get a better feel for how it is played and who the appropriate audience is.

Good starter games (for everyone) would be Wii Sports (included), Mario Kart (wheel not necessary), Super Mario Galaxy, a Cooking Mama game or one of the Raving Rabbits games. Beware "shovelware" games that are created to waste your money and make money off of IP content.

Good games for teens and adults are Zelda and Metroid Prime. There is also the virtual console for downloading games onto the Wii from old systems such as the original Nintendo, Nintendo 64, Sega Genesis, etc.

The Wii definitely has adult games as well, such as Manhunt 2, MadWorld (awesome), and a couple of Resident Evil games.
posted by ijoyner at 10:00 PM on November 16, 2009

Best answer: I started that Wii thread in May, and we did get a Wii this summer. Finally hooked it up last month. It was very easy. And we love it! The kids love, and we adults love it as well. It's really fun.

Anyway, nothing really has changed since that thread was posted. Buy the basic Wii (which comes with Wii sports), an extra remote (Wiimote), and you'll be set for the basics. Don't buy a ton of games at first, necessarily. Start with the Wii sports games (which are part of the Wii package), and you'll soon figure out what you like and don't like.

Have fun!
posted by bluedaisy at 10:06 PM on November 16, 2009

Best answer: Buying a Wii 3 years after its debut is a good way to go - huge game library, and $50 price drop from its initial $250 MSRP. Plus, it's dead easy - Nintendo haven't changed their hardware since its release, and there aren't any Xbox 360-style upsells.

Get the $200 console, an extra WiiMote/Nunchuck, and if you've got a TV with component video inputs, spring an extra $20 for the proper cable; it will make a big visual quality difference.

There is a lot of "shovelware" on the Wii; many fast-buck titles with little replay value. Let Metacritic be your guide.

Some recommended Wii games:
New Super Mario Bros. Wii (released yesterday, it's a magical ride of side-scrolling goodness)
Super Mario Galaxy
Mario Kart Wii
Wii Sports Resort (with bundled Wii MotionPlus)
Super Smash Brothers Brawl
Williams Pinball (ridiculously awesome)
Rock Band: Beatles
posted by porn in the woods at 10:06 PM on November 16, 2009

Best answer: I think Wii sounds right for your family.

My kids are in the same age range and we've had no trouble finding appropriate games. We don't have any special add-ons (well, we do have a steering wheel that came with a Mario Kart game we were given as a gift, and we have the Wii Fit balance board, but for the majority of our game play, all we need are the regular controllers and sometimes the nunchuck addons (we have two nunchucks).

As a nongamer myself, let me just say: open your mind to Wii, you might be surprised at how much fun it is, because of the nontraditional style of play. It's not just sitting hunched over thumbing at a controller, it can be very silly and active and it is really an ideal introduction to the social aspect of video gaming for a person who has never really been into it. I was really surprised at how much fun it was. I kind of like that the kids can beat me at something.

One game I really like is Cooking Mama; being the house chef it was the first game I ever saw and thought "At this, I will dominate the family". But I've since gone on to be the Wii Fit hula hoop champion of the world, and I've beaten Lego Star Wars. Wii's fun!
posted by padraigin at 10:07 PM on November 16, 2009

Best answer: google "best wii games for kids" and compare it to metacritic scores. this should keep you from a large percentage of shovelware.

personally, i'd get the extra wiimote and nunchuck, wii sports resort with the 2 wii motion plus accessories, and a charging station that you can have the will motion plus attached and still use.

as for games:

wii sports resort (a tremendous amount of fun of all kinds)
lego star wars
boom blox bash party
paper mario and/or the new super mario brothers (probably more for your husband than your child, especially if he likes the old nintendo stuff)
animal crossing

from there it will depend on the personal tastes of your husband and son. remember also if you want a big stack of games but don't want to drop 30-40 bucks per, the will plays all of the gamecube titles.
posted by nadawi at 10:14 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

As far as kid friendliness, there's a ton of kid friendly games, but as the majority of game-playing public is over eighteen, Nintendo occasionally tosses them a bone and lets them do something more Cameron or Kubrick then Disney. Check the bottom left of the box, and if the letter isn't an E, then it GENERALLY isn't suited for children. Note that the ESRB is more conservative then the movie ratings board, so a lot of T rated games should be mostly fine, depending on your personal standards.

The Wii does have a number of shortcomings, but you might not be bothered by any of them. For one, the online infrastructure is pretty adversarial to their target users. Instead of just exchanging a username that lets your husband chat over the internet with all his friends and coworkers, he would have to type in a randomly generated number which is different for most games and, depending on the game, find a different way to communicate while playing. My friends actually started chatting over Xbox Live so they could talk to each other during online smash bros matches before the lag made them give up playing Smash Bros online.

Graphics: If you have a high definition TV, the vast majority of Wii games are going to look sort of ugly. If you already watch standard def TV on it a lot, you won't notice.

Multiplatform games: say you want to get Rock Band at some point. If you buy the Wii version, you can download hundreds of new songs after unlocking everything on the disc, with around ten new songs on the store every week. If you buy a PS3, you can do that PLUS import other rock band games into it, which means you can play a thousand songs without ever having to switch out discs, expand your library for much cheaper, and play setlists that wouldn't otherwise be possible without turning off the console a few times. If you buy the 360 version, you get all of that PLUS Rock Band Network, where a bunch of indie bands release their own songs for the game for cheap. Almost every major game on all three platforms has this sort of tiered release- the wii missing something major in most cases while either the 360 or PS3 gets an exclusive giant extra.

Motion control: all three consoles either have this or are working on it. It's alright, but consensus among most people who play it more then once a month is that it's basically not as cool as you think.

Kids games: all three consoles have hundreds of these. First, PLEASE check that the games you buy your son aren't just cheap knockoffs for profit, and were actually developed with "make a fun game" as a priority. Most movie based games are not this, and doubly so for Wii ports. Nintendo developed games are almost always fine, though. Mario, Zelda, Kirby, Smash Bros, all excellent for kids. The other two consoles have some of the greatest childrens games ever available online, with stuff like Banjo Kazooie. Katamari, Little Big Planet. . . the list goes on.

In your case, you'd probably be fine with a wii, a copy of Smash Bros, and a wii fit board.
posted by sandswipe at 10:21 PM on November 16, 2009

Also, avoid any Wii games with "Kidz" in the name, for that is shorthand for cheap, lazy garbage put out by cigar-chomping robber barons trying to pull cash from grandparents and other people likely to make purchasing decisions based on cover art and "funky" titles alone.
posted by porn in the woods at 10:21 PM on November 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Just a couple things to note:

1) The Wii is not as "active" as people make it out to be. All that flailing you see in the commercials is unnecessary, and, in fact, often results in poor results. Nearly all games can be played sitting, staring at the TV, moving only the wrist. So don't think you're doing anybody any physical activity favors.

2) The Wii, unlike all other systems, requires a specific living room geometry in order to work effectively. The TV shouldn't be in front of any windows or lightbulbs, and should be mounted at roughly head-height (when sitting). Most importantly, the playing area should be only about 6 to 8 feet from the TV. Change the geometry too much, and the Wiimote becomes a jittery, useless mess.

3) The motion control is often frustrating. Whereas a button press always does what you expect it to, motion control often does not. This isn't a problem in, say, Wii Tennis, where there's only one or two actions available. But in more complex games, it gets frustrating really, really quickly. I've watched little kids (and adults) throw the Wiimote in frustration after they couldn't get Wolverine to do what they wanted.

4) Nearly all third-party games for the Wii suck. Most of them are pure crapware, designed to trick game-ignorant parents and grandparents into buying unplayable excrement--"Oh, Finding Nemo was a great movie, I bet little Adrian will love this." And when I say "unplayable crap", I don't mean that I, as a mature gamer dislike it; I mean that it is physically, literally unplayable. Like, imagine that they made a movie out of Gravity's Rainbow, but that it consisted entirely of fart jokes and bad claymation.

This last one is the deathblow for the Wii for me (and many people). Since there are only a handful of competently-built games, the actual lasting appeal of the Wii is quite minimal for anybody who wants variety. On the other hand, the latest industry statistics say that Wii owners only buy an average 1.6 games apiece a year--showing that most cretins people are content with WiiSports.

[Basically, I bought the Wii on launch day. And after playing it extensively for a year, buying hundreds of dollars' worth of games, and trying desperately to like it, I hate it. And lots of other gamers do, too. It's primarily non-gamers who find it acceptable.]

If it were my kid, I'd buy him the DS. There are a lot of truly excellent, kid-friendly games on the DS.
posted by Netzapper at 10:52 PM on November 16, 2009 [7 favorites]

I have a 6 year old too and I would recommend the following Wii games:

Lego Star Wars
Wii Sports Resort

Both those games have a co-op element so that father and son can play with each other. In Wii Sports Resort they could play against each other, it also requires the purchase of an additional accessory. The New Super Mario Bros Wii has co-op play, but I don't own it yet.

I actually prefer that my kid play the DS. The game Animal Crossing pretty much gave him the motivation to learn to read, and Pokemon Platinum is really entertaining for a kid his age. I only let him play about 2 hrs a week, but we end up talking about puzzles in the game and it turns out not to be an anti-social activity.
posted by stchang at 10:57 PM on November 16, 2009

I really really really liked the new tiger woods game for the Wii, and I have practically zero interest in golf. Once you get the wii motion plus hooked up you really can basically take a golf swing and it will work well. It is also really annoying to play sitting down, so I find it's one of the only wii games that doesn't involve the board but is truly active.

There is also a new Tony Hawk game coming out that comes with a board you stand on and interact with. The videos sure make it look fun.
posted by cyphill at 11:05 PM on November 16, 2009

Best answer: Well, I just got a Wii three days ago.

- You have to get Mario Kart. Seriously. IMO it's been the best game on all Nintendo's consoles and the Wii is no exception. You don't need the Wii Wheels but they're relatively cheap and MK Wii comes with one anyway, so I'd recommend picking up another.
- I'd also recommend Super Mario Galaxy and the new Super Mario Bros. The Nintendo's-own games in general tend to exceed the quality of the others - it really looks like there's a lot of bargain-bin chaff out there.
- As to the comment about games with "Kidz" in the title, I'd like to extend that to pretty much any game where the title ends with a 'z'. It's basically never a good sign.
- You'll want to make sure you have sufficient clear space to play, especially with games like Wii Sports that require lots of arm-swinging.
- Don't forget about Virtual Console. N64 and Gamecube, etc., had some pretty decent games and if your hubby is the nostalgic type he might like to have a look.
- If you have a good idea of what games you're interested in, you might look for bundle deals that include those games. Often the bundle games are fairly terrible, but the one I just got included Mario Kart and Super Mario Bros for only $30 more than the console cost by itself. Considering those two games retail here for $80 each, it was quite a saving since I'd have bought them both anyway.

Have fun!!
posted by lwb at 11:26 PM on November 16, 2009

to counteract netzapper - i'm a "real gamer" and i love the wii. i still play plenty of the xbox, pc, and ps2, but there are some must have franchises that the wii has (paper mario, harvest moon rune factory, mario kart to name a few) and that i think the wii has done really well at. as to the "not very active", my boyfriend and i always notice that we're a little sweaty and our heartrate has been accelerated after an hour on the wii. this is never the case on the other platforms.

also, for a 6 year old there is less than 10 games on the xbox or ps3 that are really good. for a 50 year old there is plenty of fun to be had if you don't try to buy games that came out for the other platforms (except for things like lego star wars) and instead realize that you've bought a different type of console. if you want first person shooters and stellar graphics, the wii isn't for you. if you want a fun, family friendly, thinking outside the box system, the wii is perfect.

i don't find the motion controls to be unplayable, but i also don't buy games that review as unplayable. same for any console, really.
posted by nadawi at 11:52 PM on November 16, 2009

MetaAdvice: If you don't get video games and hate them, maybe you're not the best person to be picking out the system and games and would be better served giving the kid an opportunity to earn money to get whichever system he prefers, or just not stand in the way of your husband picking up the system he and your son prefer. I could always tell when the maternal unit was grudgingly picking something up she didn't like and/or understand, and it generally took away from the gift.

OtherMetaAdvice: We have a PS3 and a Wii. Of the two, the PS3 is the better buy. The Wii has a couple of games that are really, really awesome at the level of "Oh, so that's what a video game was meant to be." When the software is written well for the controllers, it is wonderful. But most games aren't written for the controllers. Most games are either ports of games from the 360 or PS3, but you have to waggle your wrist for something, or are pure shovelware crap. A PS3 won't have the weird controller issues that most non-Nintendo games on the Wii will. And, as others have noted, in practice playing the Wii isn't dancing around and sweating; it's sitting on the couch moving your wrist around. Also, the PS3 plays the blurays and dvds, will now do netflix streaming, and will stream files off of computers in your house if you set up the serving software. Anyway, if you're going to stamp your feet and utterly forbid anyone to bring another system into the house, the PS3 is a better only system.


There's nothing much to know. Don't pay over MSRP.

The only accessories to buy are a second wiimote+nunchuck, or maybe two sets.

I'm not sure what you mean about not having to worry about game ratings on the Wii. Are you asking whether, because it's the Wii, you will automatically find every single game acceptable for your six year old to play? Leaving aside the question of what you find acceptable, of course that won't be the case, and you will have to determine the suitability of any given game yourself. The games will have ESRB ratings in large, clear Roman letters on them, in the lower left hand corner of the case. You want to look in the lower left hand corner and see a large, friendly, clear, Roman letter "E". Do you see a different large, clear, Roman letter? Then don't buy that game for your kid. I'm really not trying to be rude here, but you honestly seem like you're this walking bundle of resentment about getting the thing, in which case... why are you the one doing it?

Game suggestions: Wii Play (also includes extra controller), Zelda, the various Raving Rabbids games. You might not find the Rabbids games acceptable; there's Bugs Bunny level crudity and violence.

Related suggestions: There's lots of awful shovelware crap out there, and some of it probably has titles similar to the titles of good games. Be careful. The Story of Zelgar is not The Legend of Zelda, Blockhead Adventures with a lego-ey looking guy with a glowing sword is not Lego Star Wars, We Play is not Wii Play.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:52 PM on November 16, 2009 [3 favorites]

Mario Kart and the new Super Mario are awesome. And if you get some competition going, Wii Fit is pretty entertaining too (trying to shave that extra .2 seconds off your snowboarding slalom, for ex). You don't need the wheel for the racing game, but I think it helps, especially for a six year old.

I've also played Rockband for Wii and that was pretty good, but you do need to get all the extra equipment for that one.
posted by jacalata at 12:08 AM on November 17, 2009

Best answer: Another answer to counter-act Netzapper here. I've had the Wii since launch, and my children (7 and 10) and I love it. Rarely (read: never) do we find the motion controls unplayable, the "geometry of set up" is not really a headache at all, and it has tons of really great fun unique games. Plus, many of the games for it can be SUPER active.

Some games that haven't yet been mentioned that are fun for children:

MySims games
All the Lego games (Indiana Jones, Batman, Star Wars)
Mario Party games
Punch Out!
Big Brain Academy
Wii Fit Plus
EA Sports Active
Super Paper Mario
posted by visual mechanic at 12:43 AM on November 17, 2009

As a Wii owner, the truth lies somewhere in between. ;)

There are plenty of good games for the Wii, but Boom Blox and sequel are true gems, when the Wiimote cooperates (which is most of the time, but its depth perception isn't great)
posted by wierdo at 3:24 AM on November 17, 2009

One more note about the component cable (used to hook the Wii up to an HDTV with higher screen resolution): If you're going to get one, don't buy the official version from Nintendo (as it costs nearly $30.) You can get a knock-off for about $10 and it will work just as well.

See this Amazon search for some options.
posted by Ike_Arumba at 4:25 AM on November 17, 2009

These recs are more for you and your husband than your kid:

Do you like to work out? The only Wii workout game I've found worth buying is Gold's Gym Cardio Workout. Sure, it's not made by nintendo, it hardly uses the balance board (and you can play it without it), and it costs twenty bucks, but you'll actually work up a sweat and even feel sore sometimes. I really only use wiifit as a scale.

A Wii classic controller is also a decent investment if anyone in your family can be persuaded to play classic games. Most of the games in the downloadable library are pretty awesome, and available for $5 each.

Also, consider that you can use PlayOn to stream internet television on your wii, which is awesome if, like me, you don't have cable. All you need is a wireless internet network.

I've found that the wii is a great household console, in that it's useful for far more than just video games. That being said, I like the games that I've played on it (Beatles Rock band and Bully, which despite being set at a school is not appropriate for kids).
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:11 AM on November 17, 2009

Best answer: Also a "real" gamer and I also really enjoy the Wii. I think there's enough breadth in the game library that it's definitely a system that can mature with your kid, but even the "casual" games that get ragged on by other "hardcore" gamers are very engaging, especially if you're trying to limit yourself to a couple hours or less of gaming at a stretch or in a day.

The Wii does not do true HD - you can buy component cables for it, but it'll only output 480p, so don't bother buying a big fancy television for it. If you're doing split-screen multiplayer on it (on Mario Kart, for example), a larger TV does have some advantages, but you're not going to see any graphics improvement by buying an HDTV.

One other thing that's really good about the Wii - you have access to almost the entire Nintendo and Sega back catalogs. You can buy the games for the original systems - Super Mario Brothers, Sonic the Hedgehog, etc. - online from the Wii. These are all generally pretty kid-friendly. If you buy a lot of them you may want to consider purchasing a "classic" controller, rather than using the candy-bar shaped Remote.

One very important detail - just like anything else, be involved in what your kid is doing on the Wii. Just because you don't "get" games does not mean that it's a wise idea to let him run loose in Game Stop and come back wanting to buy Grand Theft Auto. Way too many adults do this and then blame the games industry for corrupting their precious little snowflakes. If a game is rated "M", it's a fair bet that a six-year-old is not the target audience. Take a role in moderating his game usage, please.
posted by backseatpilot at 6:00 AM on November 17, 2009

I have to agree with Xenophobe. You don't like video games. You have stated this. You should not be choosing the console for your household. Let me repeat this. You should not be choosing the console for your household. Forgive me for a minute as I go into a small tirade.

You are rather ignorant of the video game field, perhaps most importantly the rating system. If your husband knows what he is talking about, you should let him choose. If your husband and son are going to be the two playing and enjoying the games this should be seen as bonding time for them. Count yourself out and never, ever force yourself to play a game, it will only ruin it for them. Sorry if this comes across as harsh, but it's intended to be. I'm not angry with Nintendo for attempting to widen the margin of who can play games, I AM angry with them for intentionally retarding their system.

Your son is 6.5. The Wii will entertain him for, at most, 6 months and then will grow old and the library of games will only falter. The Wii is/will not age well. It was behind the curve when it launched. As your son grows older the Xbox and PS3 will age much more gracefully. Consider, for a moment, how the Playstation 2 continually outsold it's replacement, the PS3 for nearly a year after it's successor launched. It's been going strong on 11 years now. As others have contended, you usually get better results from using small motions in-game rather than getting up and dancing around, this gets old quickly.

ASIDE from games, the Wii marketplace is shoddy and it lacks the ability to play even DVDs much less Bluray discs that would actually take advantage of your TV (PS3 only.)

It is nice that you are trying to be open about letting your family enjoy video games, but (I'm going to use some gender stereotypes here, sorry,) would you want your husband to pick out a range for you to cook on? Even better, would you let your 6 year-old pick out a car for you to drive? Would your husband want you to decide what PC graphics card, motherboard, CPU, and power supply are best? I'm grateful to Nintendo for opening the market to younger and older audiences. I'm hateful that they chose to do so with a shoddy system. I'm even happier that Microsoft and Sony (now that Nintendo has sold them on the idea,) are taking it in stride and taking steps to make their consoles more family-friendly and media center oriented.

If you must get a Wii, fine, but you are making the wrong choice. Those who say otherwise are 1) disillusioned, or 2) in the same place you are +6 months and don't know any better because they have no experience in the field. I'm sorry, but it's the truth. Have you noticed that this is an issue that strikes me deeply? Assuming you trust your husband, let him and your son go out together and decide what is best for them. After all, they're the two who will be enjoying it the most. Please don't ruin this for them.
posted by InsanePenguin at 6:02 AM on November 17, 2009

Best answer: I'll second Mario Kart as worlds of fun, especially since you can go online and race others. My code is 1333-0673-9662 if anyone wants to add me just drop me a note with your code.

What's nice about a games like Mario Galaxy and Paper Mario is that an adult and a six/seven year old can play them together - the adult can navigate some of the trickier stuff, but both can talk about which way to explore, puzzles, problem-solving, etc. This can apply to Zelda as well if the kid is not spooked by slightly scarier imagery.

As a gamer, I feel there are a lot of Wii titles for a wide range of people to enjoy. Most have been mentioned here and you can check reviews, etc. to avoid the truly horrible "shovelware" games alluded to above. If you are not sure about buying a game, you can usually rent it from a video or game store to try it out first.

If your husband is a casual gamer, he will especially appreciate the ability to download games from previous game consoles, so he can enjoy his old favorites.

The Wii Fit was mentioned in passing - it comes with some interesting games but I wouldn't rush out and buy one. However, it definitely kicks up the activity level up a bit and my kid loves doing a lot of the games and yoga with it (and works up a sweat).
posted by mikepop at 6:12 AM on November 17, 2009

I meant to add.

There are some phenomenal games on the Wii. Like, 10. That is pathetic. My point is mostly that if you bring a Wii into your household it'll just be another gimmicky toy. That's the big problem with the Wii and the way Nintendo markets it. Like someone above me said, the average is 1.6 games bought for the Wii PER YEAR. This is a combination of people thinking of it as a throwaway system (not untrue,) and the derth of decent games. Microsoft and Sony are supporting their consoles as a media center for the living room that happen to play amazing games. In fact, the PS3 is widely regarded as the BEST Bluray player, hands-down. The Wii is that neato looking boardgame you bought and played 6 times then forgot about. Okay for a $50 boardgame, decidedly not so for a system that will easily cost you over six times that amount. Assuming you buy games for it.
posted by InsanePenguin at 6:13 AM on November 17, 2009

On non-preview, InsanePenguin has a point about getting your husband's input as well if you weren't already doing so.

But, I'll disagree with him that a Wii will only entertain your 6.5 year old for 6 months. We got it at launch and my kid (8.5 now) still loves it and there are still plenty of games out there we'd both like to try.

Before the Wii we played mostly on an old N 64 console - she was happy with that too and honestly I'm sure would still be happy with it if we had stuck with that and found new games for it. She loved Ocarina of Time especially.

Where you'll start to run into issues, I'll guess, is when the kid turns about 10 - then your son might want to be playing games his friends are playing on other console that won't be available for the Wii. However, that gives you a few years with the Wii and that is typical for most game systems. At that point you can then decide to get the new Nintendo Whatever or the Playstation 5 or whatever will be out at that point.
posted by mikepop at 6:24 AM on November 17, 2009

But, I'll disagree with him that a Wii will only entertain your 6.5 year old for 6 months. We got it at launch and my kid (8.5 now) still loves it and there are still plenty of games out there we'd both like to try.

Also disagree--part of this is due to the availability of classic, kid friendly games, which really really stand the test of time. Games from the SuperNintendo era, particularly, have an almost infinitely high replay value; I've had friends who grew up playing Donkey Kong Country, Super Mario World, and the final fantasy games come over just to play those (however, I'd reiterate that they're really only playable with a classic controller). Because of Nintendo's almost ridiculous stringent censorship of the time, these will be universally kid friendly, too.

If your husband is a serious gamer, like mine, I'd bet my druthers that he plays on his PC, anyway.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:42 AM on November 17, 2009

any games that are too adult for a kid, or are they all kid-centric?

My son is just a bit older than yours, and we haven't found that many games for him. He hates tension of any kind, so Lego Star Wars is too scary. So far he likes Sports, Sports Resort, and (if someone's with him) Boom Blox. We thought Endless Ocean would be good, but it's more frustrating than fun.

We haven't had to set up our living room in any particular way to accommodate the Wii.

Me, I love Lego Star Wars. Mr Corpse and I have been working our way through it together bam bam bam! Take that! Ahhh, after a frustrating day there's nothing like being Princess Leah and beating up Chewbacca. My daughter is younger than my son but not as sensitive, and she loves to watch us play it.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:30 AM on November 17, 2009

Just a data point: my kids are 7 and 5. We've had a Wii for a little under a year, I believe. They very seldom play with it. Most games seem to lose their luster after a week or two of moderately avid play. With colder weather coming, perhaps they'll play a little more. The 5-year-old is reasonably well-coordinated but still struggles with some of the (admittedly very moderate) physical demands of using the controllers.

Maybe my kids are abnormal or idiosyncratic, but they'd rather play a $.99 skee-ball game on my iPod Touch than play any game on the Wii.
posted by cheapskatebay at 7:32 AM on November 17, 2009

i found the best accessory to be the charger we found at Target for $20.

posted by radioamy at 7:48 AM on November 17, 2009

Is your husband a "gamer" or does he just "love video games"? There is a difference.

Anyone who is saying that your husband won't enjoy the Wii if he's a real gamer may be correct...but if he's a real gamer I would imagine that he already has the 360 or PS3 of his dreams, or would be pushing you for one.

My boyfriend and I both "love video games" but are not "gamers" and we really enjoy the Wii. From watching my boyfriend play it incessantly (twice over), I'd recommend the Godfather game - but keep it away from your son because it's very violent.
posted by radioamy at 7:52 AM on November 17, 2009

Those who say otherwise are 1) disillusioned, or 2) in the same place you are +6 months and don't know any better because they have no experience in the field.

Oh gosh, I'm so sorry that I didn't preface my comment with the fact that I'm disillusioned.

My house had a wii since launch and now that I'm living somewhere else and I only have an xbox 360, I want a wii again...bad.

There are a bunch of good things about wii's that this guy is just entirely willing the write off, probably because he doesn't know any better. I find sports games more fun on the wii. I find classic games MUCH more fun on the wii. Zelda, Mario Galaxy these were classic the second the came out. I can think of probably 2 dozen titles off the top of my head that I would prefer to play on a wii, and that I would play/did play regularly. The downloadable content is top notch (although the pay system, like apparently all console pay systems, is stupidly set-up) and has a great variety of classic games. Just wait until they start throwing N64 games on there.

The multiplayer aspect is also great. I can't think of a single family appropriate multiplayer game on the ps3 and the xbox360 that was actually fun to play. There aren't any.

(Oh, and anyone who purports to be an "expert" in the field of gaming and then goes on to make huge assumptions on what YOUR family wants and expects is probably really only an expert in being an ass)
posted by cyphill at 7:56 AM on November 17, 2009 [4 favorites]

We got a Wii last christmas, bought two games at the time (Mario Kart and Lego Star Wars) and my six year old (now nearly seven) loves it and has not only shown no interest in other games, he's totally ignored the one additional game I bought. So I suppose I contribute to that 1.6 games per year average that other folks sneer at.

Lego Star Wars won't work for every kid, and it's possible that by the time he's ten or eleven he'll tire of the thing, but it certainly has shown no sign of running out of steam so far.
posted by lex mercatoria at 8:10 AM on November 17, 2009

Those who say otherwise are 1) disillusioned, or 2) in the same place you are +6 months and don't know any better because they have no experience in the field.

I meant to add that I don't consider myself disillusioned (or delusional). As for experience, I've been playing videogames for longer than InsanePenguin has been alive (get off my 8-bit lawn) and more recently worked for SEGA. So consider this assurance from the field that considering a Wii is ok.
posted by mikepop at 8:13 AM on November 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

I think the Wii is a good choice for you, based mostly on the large downloadable library of awesome classic games + Gamecube backwards compatibility. (There may actually be more great downloadable and/or Gamecube games than Wii-specific titles, but that doesn't change which system you buy to play them.) You will need to buy some external memory cards (the Wii takes the same SD cards you may already use in your digital camera) because the Wii hasn't got much built-in storage space. Ditto the advice above to get a good charger, because you will TEAR through batteries with any wireless controller. There is also some good Wii Ware stuff available.

The waggling is SUPER fun for some games (Mario Kart, Wii Sports) and super annoying for others. For that reason I strongly suggest picking up either some Classic Controllers or some old Gamecube controllers. (Consensus is that for some games, the Gamecube controller is hands-down the best choice.)

That said, I share the concerns of some of the posters above - if you hate video games and your husband loves them, why isn't he picking the system? I'm not going to try to sell you on how great a hobby gaming is (feel free to memail me if you want my 5-part argument on How Gaming Is Good For You And Also Awesome), but from a purely practical point of view, this seems problematic. Imagine your question was about another hobby: "I hate knitting, I think it's pointless and just makes you hunch over your stupid twiddly little needles all day, but my mom loves it and that's all she wants for Christmas, so I'm going to try to pick out some knitting crap that seems the least annoying to give her."
posted by oblique red at 8:23 AM on November 17, 2009

1) I didn't proclaim to be an expert.

2) cyphill, try Viva Pinata. Fucking. Awesome.

3) mikepop, age is irrelevant. Just means your game playing was spread out over a greater period of time. My girlfriend is 8 years older than me and knows squat about current gen consoles (but she IS learning.) Occupation is equally irrelevant. Making games doesn't make you any more qualified to judge them, really.

4) Do your research. I presented my argument; namely the Wii has a smaller percentage of highly rated games than either the Xbox 360 or PS3. Look it up.

5) In a family that isn't video game centric, a 360 or PS3 have many other uses such as media streaming, Netflix integration, Bluray/DVD player. The Wii has a higher chance of being a wasted several hundred dollars. I only touch my Wii (no pun intended) for the few weeks after a great game comes out. It has no other use.

Like Alton Brown, I enjoy multi taskers. The Wii, simply, isn't.
posted by InsanePenguin at 9:26 AM on November 17, 2009

5) In a family that isn't video game centric, a 360 or PS3 have many other uses such as media streaming, Netflix integration, Bluray/DVD player. The Wii has a higher chance of being a wasted several hundred dollars. I only touch my Wii (no pun intended) for the few weeks after a great game comes out. It has no other use.

Seems very odd to me that you're insisting on this since, as I said upthread, I use my Wii for media streaming and Netflix integration through Playon, not to mention internet surfing and as a work out machine. No, you can't use it as a DVD or bluray player, but that doesn't mean that it's a system incapable of multiple uses.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:45 AM on November 17, 2009

I wasn't arguing where age and/or occupation put someone on the "qualified to judge" scale, but was just illustrating that someone with "experience in the field" thinks it is ok for her to consider the Wii as a valid option. I think a lot of good points have been raised and I am sure she will consider them as to how they fit into her own situation.
posted by mikepop at 9:50 AM on November 17, 2009

1) I didn't proclaim to be an expert.

True enough, but you did say:

If you must get a Wii, fine, but you are making the wrong choice. Those who say otherwise are 1) disillusioned, or 2) in the same place you are +6 months and don't know any better because they have no experience in the field.

Whereas in other parts of your post you pointed out some good/helpful information and share your opinion, you end it by saying that if she ultimately choose the Wii she is wrong, anyone who says otherwise is also wrong, possibly because they are not experienced enough.

Maybe you meant that last bit to read more like that in your opinion she would be wrong instead of presenting it as a foregone conclusion and dismissing any other contributions to the thread that don't agree with you, but that's not how it really reads.
posted by mikepop at 10:07 AM on November 17, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks to all for the good advice. There are many best answers.

I get what some of you are saying about the contradiction in me, a non-gamer, picking out a game console for my family. My husband is also not really a gamer, just a guy who will gravitate to an arcade if he sees one, or enjoys finding an online game to play on our computer. My son, like so many kids, likes anything electronic . I guess for me what it boils down to is parenting: the adults in the family make the decisions about what products will live in our household, and on this case my husband has no particular preference between the various gaming systems, and I am attracted to the physical activity associated with the Wii, even if it is not as much as presented in commercials, as many of you have pointed out.

But these answers are very, very helpful, so thanks to everyone.
posted by BlahLaLa at 10:47 AM on November 17, 2009

Those who say otherwise are 1) disillusioned, or 2) in the same place you are +6 months and don't know any better because they have no experience in the field.

get over yourself. your precious little snowflake of an opinion doesn't encapsulate the entire breadth of what gamers think.

sure, age doesn't automatically = experience, but for background, i started my videogame life with a commodore, then an atari 2600, NES, sega genesis, gameboy, gamegear, SNES, N64, ps1, ps2, DS, xbox, xbox 360, and now a wii. my household has about 1000 console games (we're sort of packrat/collectors of the genre) up until the ps1 i lived in a house with a parent who HATES videogames and if we could have found a console that he was even remotely supportive of we would have been ECSTATIC.

as i said before, there are plenty of good games for the wii as long as you understand what it is and don't try to make it what it's not. don't care about online multiplayer, FPS, ultra-realism, or HD? the wii is a perfectly acceptable console.

also, your suggestion of viva pinata is laughable. even if the kid was willing to put in the hour or two of tedium until the game actually starts, he's going to get about 1/10 of the experience because even though it's wrapped in a kid friendly package, it's really not made for 6 year olds. looking at our 31 xbox 360 titles, i see 2 that are kid friendly, katamari (better on the ps2) and lego star wars (doesn't lose anything on the Wii).
posted by nadawi at 12:37 PM on November 17, 2009

I think the Wii is a good choice for you, based mostly on the large downloadable library of awesome classic games + Gamecube backwards compatibility.

If you go the Gamecube-compatibility route (which is fair, 'cause there are lots of excellent 'Cube games), you'll need to buy a Gamecube controller and a Gamecube memory card. None of the Wii accessories, including the classic controller or the internal memory, will work for Gamecube games.
posted by Netzapper at 3:44 PM on November 17, 2009

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