Nintendo Unveils the Wii Mini

With the recent release of the Wii U, Nintendo got that always valuable head start in the next generation of console wars. While the jury is still out on the device from a critical standpoint, the sales figures are already showing that their strategy of releasing a fresh new system for the holiday madness is paying off in a big way, as people are begging, fighting, and in some cases employing good old fashioned bartering to get one.

Surprisingly though, it turns out that the Wii U isn’t Nintendo’s only console release this year. While rumored in small circles for months, they’ve recently, officially unveiled a redesigned, reduced size, and reduced price version of the Nintendo Wii in the Wii Mini.

Priced at a very handy $99, the Wii Mini isn’t exactly the Nintendo Wii you know and love, and that’s not just a comment on the incredibly attractive new design. While you do get an included Wii Remote Plus controller, this is otherwise a pretty bare bones model of the classic console as Nintendo has taken away the Wi-Fi capabilities (though it still may support online play through add-ons via the USB ports) as well as the backwards compatibility feature with the Gamecube (this includes removing the memory card slots and Gamecube controller ports), essentially reducing the system to its barest essentials.

Is this a good buy then? That’s difficult to say, as ideally this is for gamers on a budget, or those that prefer their 360 or PS3 and want the cheapest way to add the famed Nintendo system to their collection. However, considering how easy it is to find an actual Wii system at a reasonable price (in some cases with game bundles) it’s hard to support such a watered down version of a once proud console.

However, if you haven’t had the chance to play such classics as “Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword”, “Super Mario Galaxy 2”, or “Mario Kart Wii”, and refuse to spend any more than that spare Benjamin you’ve got laying around, consider this the golden opportunity to get in on the Wii craze way, way, too late.

What’s Nintendo Going To Do With The Vitality Sensor?

The Wii Vitality Sensor.A recent article at Ars Technica asks the question that’s been probing my mind and checking my pulse for a few weeks. What is Nintendo going to do with the Wii Vitality Sensor?

I’m sure many of you have had the same thought on your minds, but I know I hadn’t really considered Nintendo’s strategy until I read what Ars writer, Ben Kuchera, had to say. The Vitality Sensor is more than just a strange product; it’s a break from Nintendo’s traditional strategy concerning peripherals.

Nintendo has been able to sell just about anything to anyone recently, but mostly for one reason: the killer app. For the Balance Board it was Wii Fit. For the MotionPlus it was Wii Sports Resort. For the Vitality Sensor there is still nothing. No raison d’etre that makes me think, “Yeah, this is going to work.”

There doesn’t seem to be one on the horizon, either. With the other titles I mentioned, the hardware and the software were announced almost simultaneously, giving consumers dreams of a new device and the desire to stand in line just for a shot at the new experience. The Vitality Sensor, on the other hand, has everyone staring at each other, scratching cranium. The potential uses are pedestrian at best and competition for Lunesta at worst.

Miyamoto still wants your trust, though. He’s convinced that what Nintendo will do will be enough to sell the new peripheral. “I don’t have any indication for you [of what we have in the works] other than to say that we have lots of very creative ideas,” he said to the Mercury News. I think it was meant to inspire confidence, to remind the masses of just what Nintendo has done in the past. He seems to have forgotten, though, that the past has been putting Nintendo’s fat wallet right behind its fat mouth, making games that showcase the idea behind the peripheral.

If Nintendo wants my confidence, I expect them to earn it in exactly the way they’ve earned it in the past. Gamers and game manufacturers have an open relationship. There’s nothing that says we have to love everything they do, even if we have a fanboyish history of loving what they’ve done. Show me the creative genius of the Vitality Sensor and I’ll let you know if I believe it. Until then, please Shigeru, stop talking about it.

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