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Nintendo Wii

Nintendo Wii: £179 (if you can find one)

Nintendo is sitting pretty at the moment. One year after launch it can still sell every Wii console it makes, and barring some disaster demand will only increase in the run-up to Christmas. With over 13 million units sold worldwide, it is already catching up on sales of the Xbox 360, and may well have overtaken it in the few days between me writing this and you reading it.

To see why the Wii is so big, you only have to see one in action at a gathering of family or friends. Put Wii Sports on a big screen, and everyone from six to sixty-six is soon up and having a go, and they're all having a good time. There's something very immediate and intuitive about the best games on the Wii. You don't need to be able to master two sticks, eight buttons and four triggers - if you have a vague idea of how to swing a tennis racket and you're prepared to look a bit foolish, you can have fun.

The combination of this and a low entry price have made the Wii's major failings almost irrelevant. At launch, Nintendo cheerfully admitted that the Wii wasn't a monumental step forward from the technology in the GameCube, and the games released so far have borne this out. The Wii's Hollywood GPU can cope with more sophisticated operations than the GameCube's Flipper, and the Broadway CPU is believed to run 50 per cent faster than the GameCube's Gekko, but we're still essentially talking about 480p visuals with few of the effects we take for granted on the PS3 or 360.

This really isn't a deal-breaker. As anyone who has played Metroid Prime 3: Corruption or Legend of Zelda: The Twilight Princess can tell you, the Wii can still produce some fine looking games, and various Wii developers have dropped the usual obsession with photo-realism in search of clean, cartoon styles that look fantastic on an HDTV screen. And while Dolby ProLogic II audio is a step backward in fidelity from the 5.1 Dolby Digital supported by Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 titles, that's not something that seems to be ruining anyone's experience.

The one fly in the Wii ointment is the quantity of quality games on the system. There are dozens of Wii games out there, but a huge number of them are either ropey ports of PS2 or 360 games with Wii controls shoe-horned in, or sporadically entertaining party games in the Wii Play/Mario Party/Rayman Raving Rabbids vein. Worse, of the nine or ten really good games on Wii, only five or six have enough gameplay to keep you glued to the screen for more than a few hours at a time. The Wii is a great console when you're entertaining the kids or you have a few mates around, but will it be gathering dust the rest of the time?

A few games say ‘no.' Legend of Zelda: The Twilight Princess is one, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (after a shaky start) is another. In a few weeks we'll know for sure whether Super Mario Galaxy can better both - early reports suggest it can. And now that the Wii has built a massive audience, developer support is phenomenal. Expect more great games as next year goes by.

Overall, the Wii is the easiest console to make a judgement on. If you're looking for something to entertain your family and you're happy playing more serious games on a PC (or you already own another console) then go ahead and buy one. Old-school Nintendo fans, meanwhile, should already have voted with their wallets. If, however, you're left un-fussed by Mario and Zelda and you'd rather have a great selection of sports games, racing games and action games, then you're better off with the 360 or PS3 - the Wii will leave you wanting more games with more meat. I still think you're missing out, though.

Click to read the full Nintendo Wii review.

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