The lack of Wii Mini online functionality is bad enough, but it gets worse. Where the original Wii offered 480p video over a component connection, the Wii Mini is only able to use a composite lead - in fact, Nintendo states in the instructions that the console will only work with the bundled cable. A system released by a major hardware manufacturer in 2012 with nothing but a composite connection sounds like a particularly bad joke to us, but unfortunately Nintendo is deadly serious in this case.
The Wii Mini offers a fuzzy, ill-defined picture with depressingly washed-out colours, and looks laughable when placed alongside HD machines like the PS3 and Xbox 360. The impact isn’t quite as dramatic if you’re playing on a small portable TV, but on anything larger than 32 inches and the image quality is abysmal - so bad in fact that it gets in the way of your enjoyment.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, Nintendo has also omitted the SD Card slot on the Wii Mini, which means you can’t port over your existing save games and Miis from your old Wii.
The Wii Mini is compatible with all existing Wii software, but support for GameCube titles has been withdrawn. The Wii is home to over a thousand different games worldwide, and showcases some of the best franchises in gaming. New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Metroid Prime Trilogy, Wii Sports, Donkey Kong Country Returns, Super Mario Galaxy 2, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and Super Smash Bros. Brawl are all fantastic pieces of software, and deserve to be experienced at least once.
If you’re new to the whole Wii concept, it’s easy to see why this could present an intriguing prospect. You just need to remember that you won’t be able to fully experience games which boast certain online functions, such as multiplayer over the internet.
It’s worth noting that this version of the Wii Mini will only play North American games - it features a region lockout system which prevents the use of European and Japanese software. If you’re planning on importing the console from Canada to the UK, bear in mind that you won’t be able to use your existing PAL (European) games on it. On the positive side, if you already own a UK Wii you won’t need to buy an additional power supply as the Wii Mini takes a 12V input - the same that is supplied by the original Wii PSU.
We’re not entirely sure what Nintendo was thinking when the Wii Mini was given the greenlight. Granted, the low price point (it retails for $99 in Canada, which is about £60) and kiddie-friendly design suggest that it’s aimed at the younger end of the market, but after six years of sales, surely most pre-teens have access to a Wii by now? And if they don’t then it’s highly likely that an older sibling will be upgrading to the Wii U shortly, thereby bestowing hand-me-down status on their older system.
Given the lack of online, terrible picture quality and almost unchanged case dimensions, the Wii Mini is most definitely one to miss. You can pick up a second-hand Wii for much less than £60 these days, and do a lot more with it to boot. Time will tell if Nintendo decides to release this crippled system outside of North America, but even if it does, we suggest you give it a wide berth and focus your attention either on the original model or, if your pockets are bursting with cash, the brand-new Wii U.