December 14, 2012, 8:30 AM —
As promised, Nintendo's Wii Mini has gone on sale in Canada and the Digital Foundry team over at Eurogamer have taken one for a spin. The news is not good.
You only need to read the first paragraph of the review to find this damning quote:
Unfortunately, behind the attractive price-point we find a hardware proposition that reeks of the kind of spite and mean-spiritedness that Ebeneezer Scrooge would be proud of. This is a savagely compromised version of the original hardware that we can only recommend to the least discerning of gamers.
I'll actually go so far as to say that even the price point isn't that attractive. It costs $99 Canadian but comes with no pack-in game. Presumably you'd want something to play on your new game console and by the time you add the $40-$50 cost of a relatively new title you're right up to what you'd spend on a regular Wii bundled with a game.
Here's a list of what the Wii Mini doesn't include:
No Gamecube support. I guess at this point the Gamecube is old enough that this omission can be excused.
No network support. The Wii Mini has no internal WiFi support and Digital Foundry found that even if you try to use a USB adapter, including Nintendo's wired USB Ethernet adapter, the system won't connect. The Network Settings part of the OS have been removed as well.
No network means no downloaded games, online multiplayer, or media streaming. This is the one device in your living room that will never support Netflix.
No SD card support. This is probably not a huge con given that other missing elements render an SD card to be of little use anyway (downloaded Nintendo games are bound to the console they're downloaded on, so you couldn't use an SD card as a way of getting digital games onto the Wii Mini).
No component cable support. No 480P support. The Wii isn't an HD console which has always been one of its drawbacks, but at least you could get a component video cable for it and squeeze a 480P image from it. No more. The Wii Mini is limited to ancient composite cables.
So what are the good points? Well they found that it draws a little less power than the Wii, which I guess is good news. That's about it.
Heck as this image (provided by Eurogamer) shows, it isn't even that much smaller than the Wii.
The only possible reason I can find to suggest buying a Wii Mini over a conventional Wii is if you're a paranoid parent who wants to buy a cheap game console that has no possible way of getting online.
Bottom line, this device will wind up sitting next to the Virtual Boy in Nintendo's hall of shame.
Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.