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Frequently Asked Nintendo Wii Questions

Q: What is the Nintendo Wii?

A: "Wii", pronounced we, is the name for Nintendo's next-generation console. Nintendo followed the name with a mission statement, explaining how the name reflects the company's desire to bring about change in the video gaming industry. With Wii, Nintendo is looking to put forth an emphasis on gameplay and innovation, rather than focusing on expensive technology. Nintendo representatives have said the company's goal is to expand the market by reaching out to hardcore gamers, casual gamers, and even those whom do not consider themselves gamers.

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Q: What does the console look like?

A: The Wii is "the smallest console Nintendo has ever produced," according to Nintendo President Satoru Iwata. The glossy white system measures about 8.5 inches long, 6 inches wide and less than 2 inches thick (roughly the size of 3 DVD cases stacked on top of each other).

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Q: How much does Wii hardware and software cost?

A: Wii costs 249.99 in North America; 25,000 Yen (including tax) in Japan; 179 pounds (or approximately 249 euros) in Europe; and 399 in Australia. No price drops for any territory have been announced since launch.

The current box will include the following:

  • Wii console
  • One Wii Remote with strap
  • One Nunchuk
  • AC adaptor
  • Wii Composite A/V cable
  • Wii console stand
  • Sensor bar
  • Sensor bar stand
  • Two AA batteries
  • Wii Sports game (not included in the Japanese bundle)
New Wii software titles generally retail for 49.99 in North America, although prices can range from 19.99 to 59.99 depending on what the game publisher finds appropriate.

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Q: What do the boxes for Wii software and hardware look like?

A: The following examples for North America, Japan and Europe respectively showcase the look of Wii game boxes:

The Wii hardware box looks like this:

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Q: What are Wii's technical specifications?

A: The following is a run-down of Wii's components, technologies and functionalities.

The Wii console can communicate with the Internet even when the power is turned off. The WiiConnect24 service delivers a new surprise or game update, even if the system is idle. Users can connect wirelessly using IEEE802.11, or with a USB 2.0 LAN adaptor. The Wii console also can communicate wirelessly with Nintendo DS.

The Wii console has 512 megabytes of internal flash memory, two USB 2.0 ports and built-in Wi-Fi capability. A bay for an SD memory card will let players expand the internal flash memory. Design was optimized with state-of-the-art processing technologies that minimize power consumption, keep the console compact and enable the "sleepless" WiiConnect24 mode.

Central Processing Unit: PowerPC CPU (code-named "Broadway"). Made with a 90 nm SOI CMOS process, jointly developed with and manufactured by IBM.

Graphics Processing unit: 243 MHz "Hollywood" GPU built by ATI from the ground-up for Wii. Includes 3MB of texture memory.

RAM: 24MB "main" 1T-SRAM provided by MoSys.

Media: 12cm, dual-layered proprietary discs. Estimated storage capacity is 8.5 gigabytes, six times more than the 1.5GB discs utilized by Nintendo GameCube, Nintendo's previous console.

Other Features: Four ports for classic Nintendo GameCube controllers; two slots for Nintendo GameCube Memory Cards; an AV Multi-output port for component, composite or S-video.

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Q: Can Wii play DVD movies?

A: Although the ability was originally planned, Nintendo of America's Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Communication Perrin Kaplan confirmed in September 2006 that Wii will not allow for DVD playback. Supposedly, the reason for the functionality's removal was to lower costs. Some following reports indicated that Japan would recieve a version of the Wii sometime in 2007 capable of playing DVD movies, but Nintendo has not announced any plans for this new version of the console.

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Q: How does Wii's controller work?

A: The Wii controller - called the Wii Remote by Nintendo and dubbed the 'Wiimote' by fans - has the ability to sense its position in three-dimensional space in relation to the television set. Players will generally hold the controller either vertically (the Wii Remote pointed at the screen like a standard television remote) or horizontally. The sensor bar - which is placed above or below one's television - is only needed when the Wii Remote's pointer ability is employed. The sensor bar is required for the first menu appearing when the console is turned on.

The Wii Remote can connect to several peripherals through a port at the end of the controller. The Nunchuk attachment, used in many Wii games, contains an analog stick, two buttons and an accelerometer - the last feature allowing players to freely move their other hand left and right as another source of control. Other peripherals listed below also utilize the Wii Remote's port.

The Wii Remote also contains a small speaker at the center of the device, allowing players to hear sounds programmed directly into the controller. In the Wii version of Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, for example, players hear the strings of Link's bow being pulled from the controller and, when released, sounds the attack across the room and through the television's speakers. Gamers can lower of the volume of, or completely turn off, the Wii Remote's speaker through the controller settings accessible by pressing the "Home" button.

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Q: What other peripherals connect to the Wii Remote?

A: Publisher Ubisoft introduced the first retail Wii peripheral in the form of a steering wheel bundled with GT Pro Series and Monster 4x4 World Circuit, as well as sold separately for an MRSP of .99. Since such time, numerous peripherals have been produced that turn the Wii Remote into everything from a frying pan to a golf club. Quality and practicality tend to vary extensively.

At E3 2007, Nintendo announced three official peripherals: the Wii Zapper, the Wii Wheel and the Wii Balance Board. The Wii Zapper will be bundled with an untitled piece of first-party software, as well as sold separately at a still-unstated price, during late 2007. Third-party games such as SEGA's Ghost Squad, Capcom's Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles and EA's Medal of Honor Heroes 2 will fully support the Wii Zapper.

The Wii Balance Board comes bundled with Nintendo's exercise game Wii Fit. The device does not connect to the Wii Remote, but is rather used in conjunction. Players stand on the Wii Balance Board and perform motions that are recognized by the two sensors built into the peripheral.

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Q: Does the Nintendo DS connect to the Wii in any way?

A: Yes. Pokemon Battle Revolution is the first game to allow connectivity between the Nintendo and DS for gameplay purposes. No other Wii games have been announced supporting this functionality.

During E3 2006, Game Designer Shigeru Miyamoto proposed a few ideas such as using the touch screen and microphone input from the DS to effect Wii gameplay. Another possibility, he said, is to be able to download content from your Wii to your DS, edit it, and then upload it back to the console.

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Q: Can I play GameCube games on Wii with the Classic Controller?

A: No. Although the GameCube and Classic Controller work for many Virtual Console titles, and even some Wii games, GameCube software must be played with its native controller. Both wired and wireless GameCube pads will fit in Wii's GameCube controller ports.

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Q: What is WiiConnect24?

A: WiiConnect24 is a service that allows Nintendo and other game publishers to provide downloads to players via the Internet 24/7. Downloadable items could include new levels, costumes, weapons, etc. The News and Weather Channels also use the service to provide their respective updates. Although WiiConnect24 keeps Wii on all day long and designed to use a minimal amount of energy, equivalent to that of a three-watt lightbulb. Players can deactivate WiiConnect24 at any time through Wii's option menu, and should do so if their console seems to be overheating.

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Q: What are all the Wii channels?

A: Wii's interface is divided into a number of separate channels, designed to be similar to television channels. A description of all currently available channels can be found below.

Mii Channel: Fun 3D caricatured portraits of users, or Miis, created in this channel can be used across a variety of Wii software. In addition to storing Miis on the Wii, several Miis can be stored in a user's Wii Remote and taken to a friend's house to play on another Wii console. Each member of the family can have his or her Wii Remote personalized with their own Mii(s).

Photo Channel: This channel allows users to retrieve digital pictures from an SD memory card inserted into the Wii console and display them on their television screen. Users can also manipulate the photos in a variety of fun and creative ways, such as zooming in on details or creating mosaics, puzzles or slide shows. Users can even add an MP3 tune from their SD memory card to their slide shows. It provides a fun and easy outlet for people to edit and show off their digital pictures.

Forecast Channel: Users can access free local weather forecasts after turning on the Wii console. When connected to the Internet, the WiiConnect24 service automatically updates local weather information.

News Channel: Users can access the most up-to-date breaking news from around the world, organized into a variety of topical categories. When connected to the Internet, the WiiConnect24 service automatically updates this free channel.

Wii Shop Channel: This is where users download video game content, including classic video games originally played on the NES, SNES, N64, Sega Genesis and NEC TurboGrafx platforms. Playing Virtual Console games requires first purchasing them with Wii Points. This special currency, with 100 points roughly equivalent to USD, can be obtained through the Wii Shop Channel using a credit card. Alternatively, users can redeem a Wii Points card, available at select retailers in 2000-point denominations. As of June 2007, Wii owners must pay 500 Wii Points to download the Opera browser used for the Internet Channel.

Virtual Console Channel(s): After users download Virtual Console games from the Wii Shop Channel, each game will appear in the Wii Channel Menu as its own Virtual Console Channel. To play the game, users simply select the game's channel. All Wii Shop content can be reobtained freely once paid for, so players who run low on space can delete certain old Virtual Console titles as necessary to make room for new ones.

Internet Channel: Users download the Opera browser with Wii Points. They can then can surf the Internet right from the comfort of their couch. They can do quick research while watching a television program ("What was that actor's name again?"), or book travel plans and shop during commercials. The service is compatible with Macromedia Flash and also runs AJAX software.

Wii Message Board: Users can leave messages for other family members on a calendar-based message board. They also can use WiiConnect24 to send messages to people outside the home, as well. Furthermore, people can trade photos and text messages with cell phone users. The service also allows for incoming messages targeted at software, such as announcing a new map or weapon for a game.

Disc Channel: This channel allows users to play either Wii game discs or any of the entire library of Nintendo GameCube discs.

Everybody Votes Channel: Are dogs better than cats? What's the best Valentine's Day gift? Users can vote on the answers to these questions and more with this channel, which can be downloaded for free from the Wii Shop Channel. In addition to voting in various polls, users can be also make predictions as to their outcomes, as well as see how their responses compare with Wii owners around the world once the polls expire. Furthermore, users can suggest questions for future polls. Up to six Miis can be registered and used in the Everybody Votes Channel.

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Q: What is the Wii's "Virtual Console" feature?

A: The term "Virtual Console" first surfaced during E3 2005 and was used as a buzzword by Nintendo representatives to describe the backwards compatibility of their console. Since then, the term "Virtual Console" has become the term for Nintendo's classic gaming download service. Users can download titles from the NES, SNES, N64, SEGA Genesis, TurboGrafx-16/PC-Engine, and eventually, MSX and NEO GEO systems. Both first- and third-party games from each retro system appear on Virtual Console. Each title costs a certain number of Wii Points, which are generally standardized across each system (500 Wii Points for NES games, 800 for SNES, 1000 for N64, etc.)

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Q: Is the Wii backwards compatible?

A: Yes. The Wii is able to play all titles from the Nintendo GameCube library. On the left side of the Wii console are ports for GameCube controllers and memory cards. In addition, all GameCube peripherals, such as the drums used in Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat, will maintain their functionality when played on Wii, with the exception of the GameBoy Player. In tandem with the Virtual Console service, the potential exists for every console game made by Nintendo to be played on the Wii.

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Q: Will I be able to play other gamers online through Wii?

A: Yes. Software titles such as Pokemon Battle Revolution and Mario Strikers Charged offer competitive online play, with more Wii games expected to incorporate online gameplay as time goes on.

In order to play with friends online, users will need to trade a 12-digit Friend Code, which differs with each software title. Competitive online games will also generally include random matchmaking, but please note that Wii's region-lock may restrict challenges to defined world areas (the Americas, Europe, Japan, etc.)

Players will need a router providing a wireless Internet connection in order to connect with Wii's integrated Wi-Fi signal. Users can alternatively link their Wii and PC together using an Ethernet Adaptor, or utilize the Nintendo Wi-Fi USB Adaptor, which connects to one's PC and acts a wireless access point for Wii.

Players seeking online-enabled titles should look for the blue Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection icon located in the top-left corner of Wii game boxes (as it is seen below).


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Q: Does Wii feature a hard drive or other on-board storage?

A: The Nintendo Wii uses 512 MB of on-board flash memory. Players can increase the amount of usable storage space by employing non-proprietary SD cards. As for why the company opted to not use a hard drive for Wii, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata stated back in June 2005 that he believes kids as young as five years old will use the the console and could damage a built-in hard disk. Additionally, Iwata pointed out that longevity, reliability and cost were factors in Nintendo's decision to utilize flash for Wii.

However, Nintendo of America's Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Communications Perrin Kaplan admitted in a September 2006 interview that the company might conceivably create Wii-compatible USB hard drives, but no plans are in place. Users cannot connect a personal harddrive to their console for storage purposes.

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Q: I'm an indie developer and want to engage in Wii development. How much do development kits cost and how can I get one?

A: Nintendo Wii developments kits are said to cost around 2000 USD - hundreds, if not thousands of dollars cheaper than any other console SDK presently in use. Finalized development kits were made widely available in June 2006 to interested parties. For more information about licensing and development on a Wii SDK, please visit www.warioworld.com.

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Q: How many people can play with at once offline?

A: Up to four controllers can be used at one time when playing offline.

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Q: What is WiiWare?

A: WiiWare is a download service, separate from Virtual Console, on which large and small developers can sell new and original content. WiiWare titles will generally be smaller and cheaper than retail projects. Users will purchase these games through the Wii Shop Channel using Wii Points, although Nintendo has not yet specified price paramaters. The service is expected to begin in early 2008.

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Q: I own a North American version of the Wii. Can I play games from other parts of the world?

A: No. Each Wii console has region-locked security components that prevent players from importing games. Region-locked coding was once a standard, but has since been removed with other next-generation consoles. Nintendo's portable console released prior to the Wii, known as the Nintendo DS, is not region locked. Advocates of region-locked consoles attest to a better surveying of regional interests and global decisions.

While Wii's region lock has no bearing on one's ability to exchange messages or Miis with friends across the globe, it may impact the online component of certain games.

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The Wiire will periodically update this FAQ as more information becomes available, so keep an eye on these pages as well as our news updates.