Instead of concentrating strictly on advancing the processing and graphics capabilities of its next game machine, Nintendo's research and development focused on easing accessibility, widening its audience beyond young and "hardcore" gamers, and expanding the scope of games that people make and play. With Wii, Nintendo aimed to innovate instead of simply improve.
This focus on innovation is manifest in the console's two most notable features: its controller and its backward compatibility. The Wii controller is rectangular and slender, similar to a television remote control. It is wireless and, unlike the GameCube's WaveBird, features a built-in vibration function. The wand-like Wii controller senses three-dimensional motion -- up and down, back and forward, side to side -- allowing it to be aimed like laser pointer, wielded like a sword, swung like a baseball bat, cast like a fishing rod, and employed in other intuitive control schemes.
For use with games requiring conventional analog input, a thumbstick accessory, with trigger, can be plugged in the bottom of the Wii controller, to allow more traditional, two-handed manipulation. Without the thumbstick, the controller can also be turned on its side an used like a Nintendo Entertainment System gamepad, with its cross-shaped D-pad beneath the left thumb and two action buttons on the right. This feature is useful for both new and old Nintendo games Wii can run.
Compared to the motion-sensing controller, capacity to play games from earlier systems may seem less "revolutionary," but Wii's...