What is Wii Mini?
- A hardware revision on the original Wii (not Wii U) exclusive to Canada for the 2012 Holiday season
[li]The Wii Mini removes USB support, GameCube support, online play and SD card support from the original Wii console
[li]All Wii Remote and wireless peripherals are supported
[li]The Wii U will retail at $99 CAD (£60 / €75 / 8200 Yen)
Jorge Baoh, DirectorThe gaming community roared today after Nintendo decided to come clean about the Wii Mini console, a revised hardware shell that takes out some of the additional benefits of the original Wii -- GameCube support, USB ports, SD card storage and online/Wi-Fi connectivity.
It's not something that's new to Nintendo or the entertainment market and is something Nintendo itself is known for, but is it the right time? The Wii Mini is currently exclusive to Canada for the upcoming festive period, and whilst it may break new ground with a different target consumer market to the standard Wii and the new Wii U console, the decisions in its functionality have raised some eyebrows.
The audience for Wii Mini is clearly someone who hasn't yet purchased the console or might be intending to buy one as a gift and wouldn't necessarily need more storage via SD cards. However, the option to go online being muted is a bizarre one. Not everyone is an online gamer or streams Internet TV to be fair, but with the Wii Mini perhaps setting the foundations for an eventual migration to the Wii U, the lack of Wi-Fi support is an odd move. Likewise, the same can be said for USB ports. Granted wireless solutions are available for Wii peripherals, but it dents support for karaoke games and singing components in the likes of Guitar Hero, for example.
On the other hand, redesigning the console comes as a positive -- the first revision, which removed GameCube pads, looked near identical to the original Wii. With it looking similar to Wii U aesthetically and in packaging, the revised Wii had the potential to further any confusion between both consoles.
With the Wii Mini having a totally new shape, top loading disc tray and two tone trims, the redesign makes it look suitably different to the Wii U, but again the lack of online play and USB support dampen its appeal somewhat. Timing is an issue as well. Perhaps there wouldn't be as much confusion in the air if Nintendo had, a year or six months on, decided to release a Wii Mini to fill the gaps, but with a brand new console out that shares the same brand name, it could cause a fairly big dent in the Wii U's release in Canada. Why would a parent buy a Wii U when their child could have the arguably cheaper Wii Mini at a cut price?
Adam Riley, Operations DirectorNintendo is renowned for revamping its systems over time, with the most obvious examples being how the Game Boy Advance went from SP to eventually micro, and how the Nintendo DS went from Lite, to DSi and then to the extremely chunky DSi XL. Whilst some may bemoan the hardware revisions, companies in the mobile Industry churn out yearly upgrades without anyone batting an eyelid. In fact, sticking on the gaming side it is extremely apparent that certain yearly updates are nothing more than mere tweaked editions there to squeeze more money out of consumers.
Wii launched back in 2006 and has only seen a handful of coloured models released throughout its glorious reign, with no actual model revisions until last year when Nintendo removed the GameCube controller ports and internal components that permitted the previous console's discs to be played. With Wii U out now, though, Nintendo is clearly looking at how Sony has managed to keep sales of its PlayStation 2 ticking along over the years in the background whilst the PlayStation 3 took off into orbit. Why then should Wii die away? After all, despite selling nearly 100 million units worldwide, there are obviously many households with the potential to pick up a cheap system for family get-togethers. Additionally, there are markets where Wii has either died down quicker than expected or not even launched.
Launching a Wii Mini so close to the Wii U may seem unusual, but if anything the fact that the Wii console looks so similar to that of the Wii U would be the perfect reason to have a smaller unit marketed in a different manner, aiming at a different market sector. Is it wise to release a revision after the new hardware? Well, it has happened before, with a top-loading NES that was moulded into a SNES-like shell after the Super Nintendo had already hit and was selling like hotcakes. It may have only been produced for about six months in total, but it was a cut-price system for gamers eager for something more old school. Then came the streamlined SNES, actually deeded a 'SNES Mini' in some circles, which was advertised as an entry-level gamer's system for those on a budget that were put off by the complexity of the Nintendo 64, SEGA Saturn, and Sony's PlayStation.
The other interesting aspect of the console revisions gone by was how various elements were removed to help the process of making the whole device more compact and cheaper to produce. Dropping SD and USB slots and cutting the internal Internet functionality, as well as making it top-loading, like the PS2 Slim, are all ways of making the Wii as mini as possible and keeping the price down to a pocket friendly number.
Therefore, there is definitely room for the Wii Mini in a world where Nintendo wants to embrace all gamers, young and old, hardcore or newcomer to the scene. At a bargain price, with a wealth of fantastic games on offer, it certainly is a case of 'Why Not?'
What are your opinions on the Nintendo Wii Mini? Should the Japanese game giant release the console in regions other than Canada? Is it a smart or foolish business decision?