How the Wii Works

Nintendo Wii console and controller. See more
Photo courtesy Nintendo of America, Inc.

Imagine that you're one of the major video game console manufacturers in the world. Everyone in the industry is selling approximately the same thing -- a console containing the processor along with a two-handed game controller. If you're months behind the release of your two main competitors and your previous-generation console is in last place, what are you going to do to stand out?

One way to create a splash would be to totally blow out the amount of processor and graphics firepower. The problem is that both the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 have already staked out the high ground here. They have bleeding-edge multicore chips that take a lot of money and time to develop.

So Nintendo took a different and far riskier path. Initially, it chose the codename "Revolution" for its new game console. Then, the "Revolution" gave way to a full-scale world war. At least that's what we thought when we saw the new name, "Wii," which sort of triggers a mental image of WWII. But that's not what the name is meant to represent at all. In fact, according to the folks at Nintendo, the code name "Revolution" indicated the direction of where Nintendo was headed with the new console. The company chose to call its new console the "Wii." Nintendo has also expressed that the pronunciation of Wii, which is like the English word "we," tells you who this console is for -- all of us, everyone! There are other implied or attached meanings in the new name -- one important one goes with related WiFi releases to be used with Nintendo's wireless gaming service, "Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection."

­Naming aside, the company set a big goal -- to dramatically improve the interface for video games. With this strategy, Nintendo built an amazing amount of hype around its innovative controller for the Wii.

In this article, we'll take a close look at Nintendo's new console and interface. We'll also learn what makes the Wii so incredibly different from other next-generation consoles.