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Flake
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Review: Nintendo Wii Mini

by Flake Tue Jan 21, 2014 1:21 pm

Having recently purchased a Nintendo 3DSXL, I decided to sell my launch model 3DS to a friend. I gave him a really good deal. Probably too good. At the end of the trade I had just enough money in my pocket to get something I've been thinking about for a while: A Nintendo Wii Mini.

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My verdict: This thing is what Wii collectors want to own as we move forward.

However, two years ago I wouldn't have been so impressed by this thing. It's all about timing.

The Wii mini is completely stripped of all the features that set the Wii apart from the Gamecube when it launched in the mid-2000's. The disc drive is a top loader and there is no out of the box (or any other kind, really) of internet connectivity. It is a small, compact box of sturdy red plastic bereft of any thing fancy or awe inspiring. Two years ago, I'd have turned my nose up at this thing. I think I might have read an article about it about that time and done that exactly.

In 2014, this thing is exactly what a retro gamer like myself wants. I love the Wii - so much that I have burnt out two disc drives since 2006. This thing is built like a brick and has excised all the parts of the original Wii model that were so prone to breaking. It doesn't have the ill-conceived WiiConnect24 setting that claimed the video cards of so many Wii owners who didn't think to disable it. It doesn't have the front loading cradle that wears out much too fast. There aren't any distracting blue imbedded LEDs. No cluttered menu full of bloat ware that was never supported and could never be removed. This machine is built for playing Wii games and that is it.

There are a couple of cons: There is less noise suppression for the disc drive than the original model Wii so you'll hear the laser moving about spooling data. Not a big deal if you're used to playing a Dreamcast or early model Playstation 2 - but enough that it's noticeable compared to say a WiiU or PS3. There is no SD card slot so players who like to upload homebrew or store their "back ups" on an external drive will be out of luck. That's not a con for me but I know many Racketfolk prefer that option.

Edit: As pointed out to me after my initial review, the Nintendo Wii Mini does not support component out. While I have always felt that the difference between Wii games over AV cables versus component cables is negligible, this could be a sticking point for some prospective buyers.

I suppose the lack of Internet could be a con but as I said, this is a review of the machine in January 2014 - if your concern about Nintendo's support for the Wii's online infrastructure going forward is the deciding factor on whether or not you purchase a Wii, then you've got a completely different set of priorities than the rest of the world.

One of the rarely spoken facts about our hobby is the need to occasionally purchase redundant hardware to ensure that we can continue to play our favorite old games for decades to come. I think that for any Wii enthusiasts looking to proactively protect their access to what I feel was the best software library of the last generation, this is a great way to do it.
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CavZee
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Re: Review: Nintendo Wii Mini

by CavZee Tue Jan 21, 2014 1:26 pm

Component cables don't work with it though, right? That seems like a rather large negative.
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Flake
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Re: Review: Nintendo Wii Mini

by Flake Tue Jan 21, 2014 1:31 pm

CavZee wrote:Component cables don't work with it though, right? That seems like a rather large negative.


I actually think component cables might work. I have somehow lost mine and had to order replacements - but comparing the ports on the back of the Wii Mini with the original Wii, the only thing missing is the second USB port.

I'll update my review to reflect if there is a lack of component support once I get a chance to test it.
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Re: Review: Nintendo Wii Mini

by CavZee Tue Jan 21, 2014 1:34 pm

Flake wrote:
CavZee wrote:Component cables don't work with it though, right? That seems like a rather large negative.


I actually think component cables might work. I have somehow lost mine and had to order replacements - but comparing the ports on the back of the Wii Mini with the original Wii, the only thing missing is the second USB port.

I'll update my review to reflect if there is a lack of component support once I get a chance to test it.

Pretty sure I remember reading that they in fact, won't work. I might be wrong though.
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ninjainspandex
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Re: Review: Nintendo Wii Mini

by ninjainspandex Tue Jan 21, 2014 1:35 pm

CavZee wrote:Component cables don't work with it though, right? That seems like a rather large negative.

It's rather bizarre, I'm sure they could of made the wii mini HDMI compatible like the Wii U. I wonder if its a difficult mod to restore the component functionality of the Wii mini?
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Re: Review: Nintendo Wii Mini

by casterofdreams Tue Jan 21, 2014 2:26 pm

Ultimately I chose to get a WiiU despite my "eff next gen" nonsense I had awhile back (I justified the purchase because it doesn't "feel" next gen, I.e. always connected, mandatory installs, the one box to rule them all crap).

Back on topic I wanted a Wii mini but it doesn't have component out. I read a few reviews and confirmed it first hand at a friends house who bought out to replace an old Wii model. It would have been no problem for me since I used to have a Wii connected to a CRT TV. I now have a flat panel HD TV and SD signals don't look so good and if I recall it would be stuck at the 4:3 ratio rather than 16:9.

I appreciate the review by the way. I see now who this system would be perfect for. At the $99 price point it ain't bad at all.
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Re: Review: Nintendo Wii Mini

by Flake Tue Jan 21, 2014 2:47 pm

casterofdreams wrote:Ultimately I chose to get a WiiU despite my "eff next gen" nonsense I had awhile back (I justified the purchase because it doesn't "feel" next gen, I.e. always connected, mandatory installs, the one box to rule them all crap).

Back on topic I wanted a Wii mini but it doesn't have component out. I read a few reviews and confirmed it first hand at a friends house who bought out to replace an old Wii model. It would have been no problem for me since I used to have a Wii connected to a CRT TV. I now have a flat panel HD TV and SD signals don't look so good and if I recall it would be stuck at the 4:3 ratio rather than 16:9.

I appreciate the review by the way. I see now who this system would be perfect for. At the $99 price point it ain't bad at all.


I got the WiiU largely for the same reason. My only gripe is that many Wii games when played on the WiiU (especially 3rd party titles) make that WiiU laser move back and forth like a busboy in during lunch rush. Wearing out my launch WiiU on inefficiently coded Wii software seemed like a waste, hench the Wii Mini purchase.

The price point is definitely at that sweet spot, especially with Mario Kart Wii currently bundled.
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Re: Review: Nintendo Wii Mini

by Frag Mortuus Tue Jan 21, 2014 3:49 pm

I may have to check this out. Also, the fact that you brought up needed redundant hardware to ensure we can play our game library for decades is actually something that has popped into my head lately. I'm definitely going to purchase extra systems (new if possible) as the prices of the (current/last gen) starts to fall. I would love to have at least one of each system I own brand new waiting in the box for my current one to fail. Some people may think that's a waste, but I like the peace of mind of knowing I will be able to play my games if I want.
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Re: Review: Nintendo Wii Mini

by alienjesus Tue Jan 21, 2014 3:55 pm

Yeah, no component cable support kills this for me.

That said, I feel that the no online and no SD support is a negative too personally. Sure, maybe you won't want access to Wiiware, Virtual Console or the online functions of certain games, but there are still other benefits for retro collectors - not least of which is the ability to softmod your wii using the SD card, apply patches like Fatal Frame 4's, or allow imported game discs to be played on your Wii console.
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Re: Review: Nintendo Wii Mini

by sevin0seven Tue Jan 21, 2014 4:08 pm

..maybe an s-video would work? i have a spare s-video for the Wii.
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