As of November 2011, the Nintendo Wii will be 5 years old. That's a long time in game years; in fact, it's nearly a console generation. To no great surprise, then, Nintendo has already announced the Wii's successor, the Wii U, with a likely release date of 2012. Until then, the Wii still survives, but as a lame duck console. That doesn't mean it should be overlooked. Nintendo's latest Wii console bundle--the fourth since the Wii's debut--is the lowest price ever, at $150, although the components in the bundle since last year's $200 have changed.
Gone is Wii Sports, the perennial Wii console pack-in. Gone, too, is Wii Sports Resort. Instead, the new Mario Kart bundle includes a Wii Remote Plus, nunchuck, a copy of Mario Kart Wii, and a Wii Steering Wheel plastic accessory. Mario Kart's a fun casual racer, but Nintendo has taken its most popular motion-control game, Wii Sports, out of the equation, forcing people to buy it separately. It doesn't make much sense, especially considering the game's 5 years old. Those interested in multiplayer games will also have to buy an extra Wii Remote Plus and nunchuck, $40 and $20, respectively.
Europe has announced an even less expensive redesigned Wii bundle, but the $150 Mario Kart version remains the least expensive Wii console in the U.S. We'd love to see this system drop down to $99, but that's just wishful thinking for now. That said, it can be found for under $135 at such major retailers as Wal-Mart and Amazon.
The answer, as usual, is, "It depends." We used to love the Wii for its clean, futuristic design and motion-control family games, but its thunder has since been stolen by motion-control solutions like the Kinect and PlayStation Move, and by family-friendly gaming devices like the iPad. The Wii was an aging, fading star last fall, and today it's a console that's feeling decidedly last-gen: it still isn't HD, and its appeal beyond budget family entertainment and nostalgic gaming is dwindling fast.
That doesn't mean there aren't a ton of excellent, first-party Mario, Zelda, and Metroid games worth buying, and some interesting bargain-bin exclusives never seen on any other console that would be fun for grown-ups and families alike. The Wii was the cheapest gaming console before, and it remains the cheapest now. But, other than the impending release of Zelda: Skyward Sword, the best days of the Wii are decidedly behind it.
At this stage in its life cycle, the Wii is more of a gaming novelty than a console to invest in. Our advice: consider the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 first, which currently are available for as low as $249 and $199, respectively. Buy the Wii only if you're looking for a kid-friendly gaming console with a solid library of older, affordable games. Just be prepared to invest $70 to $100 if you need extra controllers and some must-have titles (such as Wii Sports).
With that caveat established, read our full review of the Nintendo Wii Mario Kart bundle.
What do you think? Is the Wii worth $150 today? Would you recommend it to a friend? Sound off in the comments below.