Nintendo Wii games console

Midnight queues and a global launch later, the Nintendo Wii has arrived in the UK. So should you be rushing out to get one? Pocket-lint has been living with the console for the last week to find out.

Small, white and shiny, like Nintendo's other gaming console the Nintendo DS Lite, the Wii isn't about being the biggest on the block.

In our test lab (read living room) compared to the Xbox 360 it's tiny. In fact its even smaller than the Xbox 360 HD DVD drive just launched.

Compared to the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 this is the child of the pack. In an attempt to make it look a little more exciting than just a white box, Nintendo has included a silver stand that allows you to place the unit at a slight angle giving it something artists would probably describe as "modernism, meets cubism with some perfect juxtaposition of the hard lines it creates against the softness of the games within".

The boredom stops there however and rather than provide you with a regular analogue joystick, Nintendo, always looking to innovate, has created two that are used simultaneously; the Wii Remote and a second controller Nintendo is calling the Nunchuk.

The Wii Remote, which resembles a television remote control, is the main controller and both it and the Nunchuk controller include a three-axis motion sensor.

The Wii Remote controller also includes a speaker, rumble feature and expansion port, and can be used as a pointer within 5 meters of the screen. The Wii Remote controller has a power switch, d-pad, A, B, Minus, Home, 1 and 2 buttons. The Nunchuk controller includes an analogue control stick and C and Z buttons.

Strangely both are very comfortable to use and playing both Wii Sports (which comes in the box) and Zelda everybody we showed had no problem getting to grips with them.

As already found in America we too would advise, as Nintendo seems to do at every opportunity, to make sure you keep hold of the remote at all times and those who use moisturiser (you know who you are) may struggle to keep hold of the controller if they get too excited.

As you can imagine the addition of motion sensors brings a hold new sphere of how you interact with the console and so all the launch titles have been specifically designed to use this to its full ability.

When it came to playing Wii Sports, the five mini games ranging from Tennis to Boxing are great fun. Everyone we introduced to the game from a 10-year-old to a 60-year-old enjoyed them and it was funny to see the 60-year-old who probably hadn't seen a tennis court in years bouncing around trying to prefect her serve.

In practice, we found the amount of exercise varies depending on what you are playing. Tennis and Boxing clearly needed more exertion than ten pin bowling.

However playing things like Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess or Trauma Center: Under the Knife it virtually becomes second nature with a slower pace to both of them that won't see you bouncing around the living room with such vigour.

The argument that gaming is for couch potatoes is well and truly over.

The remotes are connected via Bluetooth meaning you'll get a 10 metre radius within which to work, however you must be in visual shooting distance of the sensor that attaches to your television that picks up where you are in the room to relay your actions on to the screen.

It's a clever bit of kit (although supposedly emulated by candles if online reports are to be believed) and doesn't rely on you being strapped to the console via a series of wires.

What is though, attached to the Wii Remote, is a second controller used in some but not all games. We got to use it with Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and in this game it is used for movement while the Remote is used to swashbuckle, fish or do a series of other things.

Again it does take some getting used to and those with poor hand-to-eye coordination aren't going to fair well as you've got to use both hands independently to succeed. The downside is that there is going to be no spare hand for a beer anymore.

Graphics are, it has to be said, disappointing compared to those we've seen on the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. If the Wii was a mobile phone it would be classed more 2.5G rather than 3G, however Nintendo state that it's gameplay rather than graphics that are its main focus.

And on the games we played in more detail beyond our original first look, gameplay certainly does win out. Wii Sports loading time fears we had on our First Look have disappeared and it's a great game for showing what the new console can do. Likely to appeal to kids of all ages (including Grandma) the tennis game is surely to get you breaking a sweat.

Then there is Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, which has already proved popular in the US with a copy of the game being sold with two out of three consoles.

On our first look we were teased with an action packed demo. Come the full game and although it’s a lot slower (read our review) it's one that is going to keep any gamer quiet for some time.

Showing its versatility even further, Excite Truck, another launch title, involves you turning the controller on its side to hold as if it were a handlebar and again makes it incredibly easy to control what is going on in front of you on the screen.

The final game we played was Trauma Center: Under the Knife, which like its DS counterpart is a sort of electronic version of Operation, where using your skill with the Wii Remote you have to perform operations on people within a given time.

Verdict

So having lived with it for a week would we choose this over the other consoles we've played?

It's a tough choice. I think where the Nintendo Wii will perform well is as the second console rather than the first choice.

Having played for a week we certainly won't be giving up Rainbow Six Vegas or Gears of War on the Xbox 360 and we doubt that we are likely to see titles like this on the Wii in the short term.

Likewise while the graphics aren't a disaster, it's clear that gameplay not graphics are the main focus, they aren't that bad.

Likewise, and perhaps reflected in the price, Nintendo hasn't gone for any multimedia hub features, it doesn't even play DVDs - when we pitched this to a few people, that didn't seem to bother them; "I've already got a DVD player" was the usual response.

Nintendo has shown that you don't need to be big, brash and powerful to have a good time. The graphics might not be up to what gamers will be expecting for a next generation of console, but the gameplay and its interactivity will have you jumping around the living room for joy.