Nintendo's unique console, Wii, pronounced "we," is not targeted at the so-called hardcore gamer market but at people who've never played a game or were turned off to games as they became too complex.
Nintendo is betting that the barrier to entry is the intimidating controllers that are common to video game consoles and games that are virtually impossible to pick up and play, unless you've been playing games your whole life.
In what could be seen as a direct frontal assault on nongamers, Nintendo has developed an intuitive new, motion sensitive wireless controller that's in the shape of a TV remote control and responds to players' movements.
Play a match of tennis with the included Wii Sports game, and simply swing the controller as though it were the racket's handle. For many, it'll likely be the first time they get their parents or even grandparents to pick up and play a video game.
It's amazing how the Wii brings a room to life; once people see the controllers in action, it's hard to remain seated and uninterested.
Of course, with a next-generation video game console you're not just getting a new machine. Like its competitors, the Wii features an Internet connection and download store where you can find Nintendo's archive of classic games like Super Mario Bros. or hook up with other players.
Though the graphics on the Wii are not nearly as impressive as those of the 360 and PS3, it's significantly cheaper and easier to find than the PlayStation 3 and again, offers a totally different experience than the 360.
The Wii retails for $250 and comes with Wii Sports, a collection sports games that show off the console's unique controllers and featuring golf, tennis, baseball, boxing and bowling.
Bottom Line: Simply put, the Wii is fun -- really fun. It's not what you traditionally think of when you think of video games. It's a parents' dream in that it gets kids off the couch and may even induce sweating. But it's also a gamer's dream due to its fun gameplay and the possibilities for the future. A great first or second choice for any age.
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Nintendo tried to fight fire with rocks when the company answered Sony's PS2 and Microsoft's Xbox with Game Cube. The rather unimpressive and underperforming machine had a few big hits but was not the answer Nintendo was looking for.
As with Microsoft and the Xbox, Nintendo is all but abandoning the Game Cube. Though some of the machine's games can be played on the Wii, they require a special controller and there are no plans to continue releasing games for the device.
Save your money for a Wii if you're a Nintendo loyalist or buying for one, but considering the wealth of options for shoppers who are in the market for a new gaming machine -- next generation or not -- this shouldn't even be on your list.
Bottom Line: Like Microsoft's Xbox, the Game Cube has been abandoned in lieu of the company's newer system, Wii. Considering how cheap Wii is at $250, better to save your money for that or consider a Nintendo DS Lite.
PlayStation Portable (PSP)
It's not much of an exaggeration to call Sony's attempt at a handheld video game console a handheld PlayStation 2. The device delivers a beautiful picture on its 4.3-inch widescreen LCD display, whether playing games or watching movies or TV shows.