Nintendo's Wii video game system (pronounced "we") is designed to attract people, regardless of their age or video game experience, to sit down and play together--whether they're in the same room or on different sides of the globe. The system's name reflects this simple idea. It's easily pronounced in a variety of languages, and the distinctive spelling suggests two players side by side. The two Wii features Nintendo thinks will create new levels of gaming community are built-in Wi-Fi access, supported by a new online gaming service, and Wii's intuitive, wireless, motion-sensitive game controller.
As with every new console release, much of the buzz surrounds the specs. The system boasts 512 MB of internal flash memory, two USB 2.0 ports, and a slot for SD memory expansion. Wii's technological heart -- a processing chip developed with IBM and code-named "Broadway" and a graphics chipset from ATI code-named "Hollywood" -- are said to deliver stunning performance. Instead of a tray, Wii uses a single, self-loading media bay that will play both 12-centimeter optical discs used for the new system, as well as Nintendo GameCube discs.
The real revolution in this system, though, is its controller, called the Wii Remote. Shaped like a TV remote, it's been designed to be easily used by beginners and pros alike. Sensors determine the Wii Remote's position is in 3-D space, which means that racing-game steering and a tennis swing, for example, are done through movements of your hand rather than by just your thumbs. What's more, a tiny speaker built into the Wii Remote promises some interactive surround sound experiences. The controller also has a force feedback "Rumble" feature and an expansion port for use with accessories, such as the Nunchuck, which adds an analog thumbstick and trigger buttons. An adapter that fits over the Wii's remote will be available for those who prefer the feel of a traditional controller. The Wii Remote communicates via the Bluetooth wireless standard. Up to four remotes can connect to Wii.