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Some Truth to Wii as GameCube 1.5? 519

Newsweek's N'Gai tackles the allegation that the Wii is a glorified GameCube. He specifically looked at recent comments by Microsoft's Robbie Bach saying that 'the video graphics on it aren't very strong; the box itself is kind of underpowered; it doesn't play DVDs; there are a lot of down-line components [that] aren't actually that interesting. ... They don't have the graphics horsepower that even Xbox 1 had. So it makes sort of the comparison set a little bit difficult.' LevelUp spoke with a pair of technical experts at third party publishers and learned that, essentially, Bach's comments about horsepower are accurate. However, "the 'Gamecube 1.5' moniker, while accurate, doesn't mean that gamers won't see graphical improvements on the Wii. 'There are three main differences which will result in graphics improvements. One, the increased memory clock speed, from 162 megahertz to 243 megahertz, means that it is easier to do enough pixels for 480p mode versus 480i. Two, the enhanced memory size of the Wii gives much more room for image-related operations such as anti-aliasing, motion blur, etc. The performance to these memory systems from the graphics chip is also improved. So full-screen effects and increased texture usage seem likely as a result.'"
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Some Truth to Wii as GameCube 1.5?

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  • Re:Who cares? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Volatar ( 1099775 ) on Friday May 11, 2007 @09:40AM (#19081869) Homepage
    The wii's motion sensing capability is so novel, it really makes the graphics not matter.

    Graphics are not the only thing that makes a game console new and improved, there are many more factors.
  • interesting quote (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jimstapleton ( 999106 ) on Friday May 11, 2007 @09:41AM (#19081885) Journal

    Microsoft's Robbie Bach saying that 'the video graphics on it aren't very strong; the box itself is kind of underpowered; it doesn't play DVDs; there are a lot of down-line components [that] aren't actually that interesting. ... They don't have the graphics horsepower that even Xbox 1 had. So it makes sort of the comparison set a little bit difficult.'

    Yep, I'll agree to all but the last sentance. One can easily compare sales and popularity figures.

    Kinda that something that can have all those complaints, which are accurate, with such a lousy marketing campaign (come on, two creepy Japanese guys telling a little girl, "Wii would like to play"? There is so much that is wrong with that), could even get 10% of the market share of the current XBox or PS consoles, and yet it does.

    Says something rather bad about MS and Sony if anything.
  • He specifically looked at recent comments by Microsoft's Robbie Bach

    A competitors review of a product, real informative.

    Though I think the real issue is that the Wii is getting the market share of consumer attention in spite of the superior graphics processing power of the XBox and the PS3, and maybe they should do an article on not the resolution and frame rates but on the human interaction and game play of the consoles.

  • So what? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by AccUser ( 191555 ) <mhg@tao s e . c> on Friday May 11, 2007 @09:49AM (#19081999) Homepage
    OK, so the XBox 360 is state of the art, full of raw processing and graphics rendering power, has a bleeding-edge software DVD player? Guess what? I bought a Wii and it is damn good fun. I enjoy it, my wife enjoy's it, my two boys (6) enjoy it... in fact everyone who has come round to visit has played Wii Sports. And do you know what? No body ever played with my XBox apart from my brother.

    Microsoft wants to drive the market, but the market wants something else. They need to wake up and realise this, and stop dissing everyone else. I guess this is a similar ethos as to where those comments about business not wanting the iPhone originated...

    Microsoft are no longer the piper, and they really need to start thinking about this soon.
  • by datajack ( 17285 ) on Friday May 11, 2007 @09:49AM (#19082001)
    Yes, the Wii architecture is fundamentally the same as the Gamecube architecture, but so what?

    All the way up the PC scale, each improvement is an incremental improvement on what went before. Does anyone complain about that? No.

    Fundamentally, computers all do the same things. As long as you can perform the fundamental turin operations, you can do anything. Yeah, multi-core machines can do these same operations at a greater rate, but there's nothing different that what they are capable of (apart from making programmers worry about race conditions and such like).

    People don't complain about the similarity between upgrades in PC processing power for a good reason, you don't have to spend many months training your programmers in how to get started and them watching them spend years before they are capable of fully utilising the system. With a similar architecture as you are already used to, the learning curve and associated costs are much much lower, programmers are more productive and happier.
  • you know (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nomadic ( 141991 ) * <.moc.liamg. .ta. .dlrowcidamon.> on Friday May 11, 2007 @09:49AM (#19082003) Homepage
    Graphical power isn't the only measure of a game system, but you know, it is still important. The fact that developers are already complaining about the limits of the system means that in another year or two, when the novelty of the motion detector has worn off a bit, the wii's popularity will start to slide.
  • by RichMan ( 8097 ) on Friday May 11, 2007 @09:52AM (#19082051)
    Microsoft and Sony find themselves out of the boat in pushing high end rendering machines as game consoles when what people really want is fun games.

    Wii wins with a new way to interact with the machine making it fun and for having the standard Nintendo appeal of social games that involve a group of people vs the solo sniper approach.

    Nintendo has a winner, Sony and Microsoft have dogs, very pretty dogs, but dogs. Of course Sony and Microsoft are going to point out their dogs are pretty. But they are not popular.

    Things learned from this
    1) group games have more mass appeal than solo games
    2) interaction with the game can be fun
    3) game play is more important than graphics
    4) cheaper is better
    5) make a console that is not a loss leader
  • Wii vs Xbox360/PS3 (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2007 @09:57AM (#19082121)
    Would you rather play a first-person shooter game on the Wii, which means less amazing graphics but more precise controls (Wiimote+nunchuck = almost as good as keyboard+mouse) or on the Xbox360/PS3, which means better graphics but useless controls (screw those stupid little analog sticks). It doesn't matter if a game looks better if you can't play it.

    Another detail that a lot of people don't take into account: load times. If you got a lower resolution graphics then it means lower resolution textures which means it loads faster. It doesn't matter if the game looks better if you need to wait 2 minutes between each level. You may be used to long load times but as a Nintendo gamer I hate load times.

    One last detail that hard-core players keep forgetting: the console price. Not everyone can afford to shell more than 400$CAD for a damn GAMING BOX. Not everyone can afford a 800$-2000$CAD+ television either. Not everyone cares about specs over fun. Brag all you want about your PS3 and Xbox 360 connected to your 50" plasma screen, I don't care.

    The Xbox360 and PS3 may be selling, but I'm glad Nintendo is taking over again. Fun is back!

  • An F for Innovation? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anarchysoft ( 1100393 ) <> on Friday May 11, 2007 @09:57AM (#19082123) Homepage
    From the article:

    Our final verdict on the charges leveled at the Wii? While Bach's statement that the Wii is graphically underpowered compared to the first Xbox wasn't quite a bulls-eye, it's so darned close to the mark--technically speaking--that we've got to compliment him on his aim. The question, then, is how much will developers be able to squeeze out of the less-flexible Wii hardware?
    For all the talk about how important graphic power is, it seems like there is a whole class of pundit that doesn't care whether there is anything interesting or innovative in the graphics to begin with. Super Mario Sunshine is a good example of a game that looked wonderful due to utilizing the special qualities of the Game Cube innovatively (notably with water.) The developers that the Wii's supposed lack of power most negatively affects are those that doing a cheap and quick port from one console to another without making it suit the console. With the originality of the Wii's controllers this is exacerbated considerably. Sometimes when gaming companies decry the lack of graphics or CPU power on a machine, it brings to mind amateur musicians blaming their mistakes on their 1000 dollar instruments. Like ASCII art, 4k demos, handheld hacking and more, using a machine's limitations resourcefully can be a powerful test of creativity.
  • DVD? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by chadamir ( 665725 ) on Friday May 11, 2007 @09:59AM (#19082153) Homepage
    Why is dvd playback such a selling point? Does anyone NOT have a dvd player that will buy a wii? A dvd player is 30 dollars!

    As of the end of 2006, over 80% of households have dvd players [] . Do you think the other 20 percent are choosing between a console or dvd player? 3.5 percent of households are below the poverty line p [] . So now we're around 85 percent; factor in old people and I'm sure we're just left with luddites and the margin of error.

    What are they going on about?
  • Re:Who cares? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Benosaurus ( 1100067 ) on Friday May 11, 2007 @10:00AM (#19082163)
    Exactly! I'll admit that the $$$ boxes like PS3 and Xbox 360 have some pretty graphics, PCs are still better. I already have a DVD player, a stereo system and a computer. Why would I want to buy a PS or Xbox? What can they offer that I can't already do?

    On the other hand... the Wii DOES have something to offer, yet its not the graphics powerhouse that its 'competitors' are. Oh and as a little bonus, Wii is cheaper by about 50%.

    Sony and Microsoft have to be really pissed about it. They must be like, buuuuuut.... uh.... our graphics are better. And... uh... our controllers vibrate! Does that count as motion control?
  • Re:Who cares? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Fozzyuw ( 950608 ) on Friday May 11, 2007 @10:01AM (#19082185)

    Microsoft's Robbie Bach saying that 'the video graphics on it aren't very strong;

    hehe, tell me about it! Here I am playing Super Mario Brothers, Super Mario World, The Legend of Zelda, etc. Man, graphics must be REALLY important in selling a video game system or games for it! Oddly, like the GP said...

    Who cares, the thing is fun to play

    'nuff said.


  • Re:Who cares? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Friday May 11, 2007 @10:37AM (#19082791) Homepage
    And you can still plug in your old GC controllers. Although I'm not sure if you can use these controllers for playing Wii games, or if any Wii games require you to use one. I would be a nice option for game publishers who don't want to utilize any motion sensing capabilities. You can get a GC controller for about $20 now, so I think a lot of people would buy one, if they didn't already have one left over from their GC.
  • Re:Who cares? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Endo13 ( 1000782 ) on Friday May 11, 2007 @10:38AM (#19082807)
    What I find really interesting is that almost *every* feature now used on game controllers was first introduced by Nintendo. Their base design for the NES is still used today: D-pad on the left, buttons on the right, start/select in the middle. Then came the SNES adding shoulder buttons and two more buttons on the right in the diamond configuration - which is still pretty much exactly the configuration used by everyone but Nintendo.

    So looking back I guess the Wii controller shouldn't be a surprise - it's exactly what Nintendo has been doing ever since the Famicom's inception: innovation in controller design.

    Also interesting is that the Gamecube was their only system that didn't include anything really new on the controller (analog shoulder buttons was about it) and was also their least-successful system.
  • Re:I'm surprised.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by blunte ( 183182 ) on Friday May 11, 2007 @11:09AM (#19083459)
    Yes, it must be particularly embarrassing to be Microsoft with such a "superior" platform, but yet still be trounced by something so old and technologically unsophisticated.

    Hello Microsoft, I have a clue for you...

    It's worth also noting that playing cards are still very popular, and they're rather low-tech too! Plus, despite being very cheap, I don't think they're sold a loss. Hehe.
  • Re:Who cares? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by prelelat ( 201821 ) on Friday May 11, 2007 @11:32AM (#19083883)
    I can't believe you listed tourchwood and left out dr. who :( I watched 3 episodes and wasn't too impressed, maybe I should give it anouther shot.

    So you have an HD-TV thats great, but you have to remember that alot of people don't have HD-TV and if your not playing an XBOX 360 on an HD-TV it levels the playing field a little bit. You also have to stop at some point and start thinking of new ways to advance a console, make it different and stand out from the rest, make it more and more real. Graphics are a big part of this but they arn't the only way to go. Motion sensors are going to be a huge part of gaming in the future, but not all games will translate to it. I think the biggest problem that pluegs a new controller system is that its over used or not used correctly, I think developers will have growing pains with the wiimote and how to use it. I don't know why nintendo didn't update the power of the wii, it may hurt it later on when titles will run on the PS3 and xbox360 but not the wii because it can't render the graphics(but only time will tell).

    If someone says that if they upped the graphics on the Wii it would cost as much as a 360 or PS2 remember this, the wii is one of the few conosoles in recent years to be sold at a profit. If nintendo had sold it to break even or even loose money on the system like other manufatures did it could still sell for about the same with a few small graphics improvements. On that note as well if it is a simular model to the game cube I think you would have to face facts that manufaturing costs wouldn't go down as much as if you created a completely new system.

    In the end out of the 360 and wii(the only two I've played) I much prefer the wii.
  • by Myrcutio ( 1006333 ) on Friday May 11, 2007 @11:36AM (#19083953)
    If i recall, the Nintendo CEO had something to say about that. It was something along the lines of, art and paintings reached the point of photorealism hundreds of years ago, and yet people are still painting, and few of the best paintings of all time are photorealistic. If graphics had any bearing on the enjoyment of a medium, then Claude Monet would have been run out of town, people shouting, "What is this fuzzy crap? Haven't you ever heard of anti-aliasing?!"
  • Re:Who cares? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lucabrasi999 ( 585141 ) on Friday May 11, 2007 @11:50AM (#19084191) Journal
    Most of my TV is in HD these days (from movies, to series (shows like SG-1, Atlantis, Battlestar Galatica, Torchwood)

    Wait a minute, how did you get BSG in HI-Def? I have some hi-def channels, but SciFi is not one of them. AFAIK, it isn't even offered by my system, Dish Network. With my Dish contract coming to an end soon, I intend to start looking around. Any cable/satellite system that offered BSG in Hi-Def would be high on my list of potential suppliers. As it stands now, BattleStar actually looks better on my small TV than it does on my Hi-Def widescreen. Are you getting BSG on another channel besides the SciFi Network (European channels, etc.)?

  • by Mattintosh ( 758112 ) on Friday May 11, 2007 @12:22PM (#19084867)
    Actually, the Wii's graphics are exactly "Xbox 1"-level. So were the Gamecube's graphics. The Wii isn't a step backward from the Gamecube, it's just not a huge leap forward (in terms of graphics).

    As far as raw CPU horsepower, the Wii is no slouch. It easily keeps up with the CPU's in the Xbox 360 and the PS3. Only the asstastic custom Gamecube++ graphics architecture is to blame for it "falling behind" in technical ways to the other two systems. Why? Well, let's just go through the specs.

    PS3 has the "Cell" processor. It's a PPC4xx controller keeping 8 single-pipeline cores (6 integer, 2 FP/Integer) full of properly-scheduled instructions. The cores run at a ridiculously high clock rate, but are capable of only the simplest operations. The controller runs at a moderate clock rate, processing instruction controls in batches. PS3 also has an Nvidia graphics chipset to handle the load of rendering.

    The Xbox360 has a custom 3-core PPC6xx, with each core having 2 pipelines. That's 6 total pipelines in an architecture known for kickass FP performance. All pipelines in all cores run at 3.2 GHz. Xbox360 also has an ATI graphics chipset to handle the load of rendering.

    The Wii has an off-the-shelf (read: cheap, well-documented) PPC750CX, underclocked to 730MHz (give or take). The lowest stock clock speed of this chip is 900MHz. The PPC750 has better integer performance (by a long shot) than the PPC600-series (at the expense of some of that blazing FP performance). It has FP, which is more than can be said for the PPC400-series (and all but two of the specialized cores in the PS3). The PPC750CX does not have a SIMD. (The PPC750FX does, though, and it's a pin-compatible drop-in replacement for the CX, should Nintendo feel the need to make a Wii 2.0 in a couple of years.) This chip easily meets the capabilities of the other two CPU's. Unfortunately, the Wii is saddled with a barely-upgraded ATI/ArtX custom GPU from the Gamecube. Sure, they added programmable shaders (not "unified"!!!) and bumped the clock rate, but it's still basically the same poorly-documented, asstastic, made-by-a-black-sheep-team-imported-from-a-defunct -company Gamecube GPU. Thus the graphics are still ass. It can't take the same rendering load of the shiny, new Nvidia and ATI chipsets in the other two systems. But for everything other than graphics, the Wii can more than hold its own.

    Given the ability Nintendo has to upgrade the Wii hardware into something great (with minimal hassle), and the fact that they seem to be "winning us all back" right now with excellent gameplay as their focus, I would be worried too if I were MS or Sony.
  • Re:Who cares? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by seaturnip ( 1068078 ) on Friday May 11, 2007 @12:23PM (#19084899)
    Gameplay is action-reaction. The output you get on your screen is every bit as important as the input you feed into it.
  • 480p/480i... what? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kreyg ( 103130 ) <> on Friday May 11, 2007 @12:42PM (#19085265) Homepage

    means that it is easier to do enough pixels for 480p mode versus 480i

    OK... unless you can 100% guarantee you game will run over 60fps all of the time, you will get nasty interlacing artifacts unless you have a full 640x480 display buffer available at all times. From that standpoint, 480p and 480i are exactly the same as far as the number of pixels they need to render. 480p games were available on every single console last generation too...

  • Re:I don't know. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2007 @01:31PM (#19086477)
    While the Wii has more total RAM than the Xbox 1, it isn't as flexible. In fact, most developers cursed to high heaven when they found out that the Wii had the same 24MB of main memory that the Gamecube has. That was the single biggest pain in the butt in making cross platform titles on the GC. You really had to work to make your game fit into 24MB. Now the Cube had an additional 8MB of ARAM (auxillary RAM), but you basically treated it as a really fast swap space (like a hard drive). You could really only load it with assets that you didn't need direct access to per frame but wanted to swap into main memory within a frame or two. Developers maninly used it for sounds and sometimes animations so most people thought ARAM meant audio RAM. When Nintendo did their die shrink of the GC chipset to make the Wii (that's why it's 100% BC with the cube), they kept the 24MB limit but expanded ARAM to 64MB. Most developers thought they would increase main memory to 48MB (like the GC dev kits had) but I guess that was either too expensive or caused BC problems. So that's why lots of XBox 1 games look better than their Wii counterparts (like Far Cry, Prince of Persia, Splinter Cell, etc.). It's really tough taking a game designed to run in 32MB (or 64) and squeeze it into 24 MB with a 64MB of swap space. 24MB plus 64MB of swap still means that at any one moment the whole of the active game universe must be represented in 24MB.
    I applaud Nintendo for saving their GC business by essentially relaunching it. The Wii started life as a funky new controller (a la the bongos) but they realized the Cube was pretty much dead and an accessory to a dead console would flop. They needed a new console for the public to even consider looking at their new controller. Old chipset + new manufacturing process + slim design + new controller = Wii. So Gamecube 1.5 isn't really accurate unless you count the Wii-mote as 0.5.
  • Re:Who cares? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Cederic ( 9623 ) on Friday May 11, 2007 @01:32PM (#19086505) Journal

    Oblivion is indeed very pretty - shame they forgot about the gameplay.

    Gameplay is king. Graphics are fantastic, and can aid gameplay, but come second in importance.

    See also : Angband/Nethack.

  • if (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jameseyjamesey ( 949408 ) on Friday May 11, 2007 @03:12PM (#19088319) Homepage
    If the wii games had the graphics of the 8-bit NES, Id still love it

Love may laugh at locksmiths, but he has a profound respect for money bags. -- Sidney Paternoster, "The Folly of the Wise"