Wii will clarify you

Very pretty Want Not reader Candi writes:

I have been very good about avoiding video games for my son, but for Christmas this year, I think it might be time for a Wii. I am very Wii-clueless. I have seen frequent postings on your site about good buys here and there but have not paid much attention. Now, I think it might be time – is it possible to get a short informative post about what is new and current in the Wii games – isn’t there a Wii and a Wii 2? Do you get both? Or just the 2? What is a reasonable price on one of the systems and how much comes with one? Which games are the coolest ones to get? My son is 6 and it is just the two of us.

Don’t worry, Candi! If you have not yet been sucked into the Cult of Wii (motto: Just one more game!), we can help you. And it’s probably easier than you think.

Okay: Back when the Wii first came out, and for a few years, the game system itself cost $240, world without end, amen, and it never went on sale ever. Times have changes and the price has become more flexible, thank goodness. So here’s the scoop now:

The original Wii console comes with the Wii itself, a sensor bar for your television, the Wii Sports game, one wiimote, and one nunchuck. It is currently $199 at Amazon, and you might even be able to find it cheaper somewhere else. However, I have no idea why they’re still selling that, because…

… the next generation Wii console is available for the same price, but with a few key differences:
1) The newer Wii comes with a $20 Amazon Video Games credit, which essentially makes it $20 cheaper than the original.
2) It also comes with an included Wii MotionPlus ($15.50 value), an add-on for the remote that supposedly gives you greater control and accuracy.
3) Furthermore, the new version comes with both Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort ($50 value).
4) And—just in case you care—the new Wii comes in either white or black (the original is only offered in white).

So I’d definitely recommend getting the new one, unless you can find a deal on the old one that basically incorporates in all of those additional offsets/savings, which I don’t think you’ll be able to.

That said, what else might you want, once you buy your Wii? I’d definitely recommend getting a second wiimote, even though it’s slightly horrifying that one with the MotionPlus now runs about $45. (Here: comfort yourself with the knowledge that hey, you’re not paying for Sports Resort, so it kind of evens out.) You may want a second nunchuck, as well.

And just to be perfectly clear: You can absolutely enjoy and play the Wii just as it comes, straight out of the box. But for two-player games that require simultaneous play, you’ll want that second controller.

There’s also an original Wii Fit with Balance Board and the updated Wii Fit Plus with Balance Board. I have the original and I use it to work out; while the balance board can be incorporated into some other games, if this is primarily for your 6-year-old I’d say skip this. It’s expensive and good for fitness but not critical for gaming.

As for games, I’m going to hope others will chime in with their favorites (partly because my kids are older than yours), but I can tell you that our favorite game ’round here is Mario Kart, which I think appeals to all ages. My son in particular is also a huge fan of all things Lego, and most (all?) of those are rated E for everyone.

Another game I love is Rayman Raving Rabbids (the original, though there are lots of others, now), and that drops to around $10 on Amazon every so often.

Now, a little bit of buying advice: I don’t anticipate the console dropping in price much (or at all) before the holidays. That $20 back from Amazon makes the console itself a great deal, already. I could be wrong, of course, but that’s my prediction. What we will see amazing Black Friday deals on will likely be games and accessories, so if it was me, I’d probably go ahead and make sure I got the console before they were impossible to find, and then pick up additional items later, as they showed up on special. Older games will see significant price drops closer to the holidays, which is great if you don’t need the latest-greatest-etc. of everything, which you shouldn’t, because your kid is 6 and this is your first Wii.

Readers: What are your favorite Wii games for smallish children?

25 Responses to “Wii will clarify you”

  1. 1
    Jessica October 5, 2010 at 2:27 pm #

    My 5 year old daughter loves the Go Diego game, and it’s fairly easy to learn the movements. Mario Kart is fun, too. The Wii Sports Resort and Wii Play are great, and if you end up with any of the Wii Fit games for yourself, some of the balance and running activities are fun for kids, too.

  2. 2
    Rachel October 5, 2010 at 2:34 pm #

    I second (third?) Mario Kart – we LOVE it as a family. My 6 y.o. son loved the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs game, as well as SuperHero Super Squad. Wii Sports is a ton of fun, too.

    As an aside, we make our son earn video game time. I stayed away from video games for awhile, too, because I didn’t want him to zombie out on them. I acutally have an iPhone app (free!) called iRewardChart that allows him to earn stars and then trade them in for things. He has to trade in 15 stars to get 1 hour of video games, and even then it’s only after his other chores are done. We set a kitchen timer for him. If he wants to play more video games, he has to have a 2-hour break of doing other stuff. (And most of the time, he forgets he wanted to play more because he’s having fun with other toys or crafts or playing outside.)

  3. 3
    Jan October 5, 2010 at 2:36 pm #

    So we got ours free-with-purchase last summer (when I bought an HP laptop at Best Buy — same price as elsewhere online with no Wii) and since I didn’t really intend to get it to begin with, we had lots of fun with it with just Wii Sports for ages. You need more than one controller for some of the games, but we enjoyed Bowling, Golf, and Baseball as a family for monthly before we got anything else. IMHO, you might as well get one game at a time, then get another when it seems like the novelty of the first one is wearing off. But that’s me.

    Here’s what’s we’ve gotten in the 15 or so months since we got the original machine:

    We have Wii Ski and my 4 and 6 year olds really love it (but half the fun is skiing together, so you need the extra Wiimote AND nunchuck … )

    We also have a car-driving game — Sonic Sega All-Stars or some such? that’s popular. Again, if you want to race against each other, you each need a controller.

    My favorite, but not the best for family time, because it’s mostly one person at a time, is Outdoor Challenge. It comes with a mat and even the two-player games only require one controller. This one is fun because there are easy versions of almost everything and it’s the same skills, but they get a little harder as the levels go up. And what’s not to love about a game that includes Whack-A-Mole with your feet!!

    I also would like to point out that the games themselves seem to be semi-seasonal. So Wii Ski was $50 in the winter when we first started looking at it, but in July I picked it up for $17ish.

  4. 4
    sarrajk October 5, 2010 at 2:38 pm #

    My 5 year old is playing Mario Kart, Super Paper Mario (with help), and Lego Starwars a lot. He also like the bowling and other games on Wii sports and sports resort.

  5. 5
    Melissa October 5, 2010 at 2:41 pm #

    We only have Wii Fit, but my 3-year-olds like to play some of the balance games, like Jessica mentioned. I’m excited to read others’ opinions; I was just looking at Just Dance and it seemed like a good game for all ages? I’d like to get a couple more games for all of us.

  6. 6
    Chris October 5, 2010 at 2:43 pm #

    Wii Sports-loved it when it was all we had
    Mario Kart is good
    Mario Party 8-We love this and my then 5 year old could play too.
    Wii Sports Resort-TOTALLY WORTH IT! GET IT AND YOU WON”T REGRET IT!!!!

  7. 7
    meghann October 5, 2010 at 2:53 pm #

    Lego Star Wars is the BOMB. Seriously. That, and Mario Kart, are the only games our entire family can agree on.

  8. 8
    Erika October 5, 2010 at 3:07 pm #

    Lego Star Wars!!

  9. 9
    Lisa October 5, 2010 at 3:08 pm #

    Just as a point of reference price-wise, I finally just bit the bullet and bought the new black Wii at Target which came with the wii-mote, the motion-plus, wii sports and wii resort for $199. I also got the Wii-Fit Plus the same day and it was on sale for $89. I haven’t yet bought any games, the ones it comes with will definitely last a while before anyone gets bored with them.

  10. 10
    Sue V. October 5, 2010 at 3:09 pm #

    I have 4 children (ages 10,8,6 &4). We have had our Wii for a couple years. We have the Wii Fit Balance board as well. The whole family likes to play Wii Fit, but my kids favorite part are the races, and you don’t need the board for that. I enjoy the balance and fitness portions. We have several games, but the most popular by far for all my kids is WarioWare Smooth Moves – they just love it, and I enjoy watching them play. I think there second favorite game is probably Mario Party.
    I was unsure about letting the kids ask Grandma for it for Christmas a couple years ago. I can now say that I am very glad we have it. It’s a fun interactive (get up off your bottom and move) sort of video game system. My kids actually move around even while playing regular games.

  11. 11
    Shanee October 5, 2010 at 3:10 pm #

    I have an 8 yr old and we have Wii Cheer! We love it! Also Disney Sing-it , Mine really loves to sing with it.

  12. 12
    Sue V. October 5, 2010 at 3:11 pm #

    Oh, I forgot to add…Use your video game rental store – that way you can try out games before investing. Then once you find one you like, check your nearest used video game store or (GameStop – they guarantee their used games) and see if they have a used copy you can purchase.

  13. 13
    MamaChristy October 5, 2010 at 3:52 pm #

    ExciteTrucks and ExciteBots (both racing games) are both a hit with my six-year old. Boom Blox Bash Party is also fun and a puzzle game – easy for the little boy, interesting and challenging for adults.

  14. 14
    Anna October 5, 2010 at 4:00 pm #

    We have ISpy (just like the books!) for the Wii. I think I might have even bought it because you linked to a deal on it. Imagine that.
    My 4yo loves it. My 6 and 8yos fight for a turn. It can be very challenging, which is sometimes good, sometimes not.
    We also have Mario Kart, Wii Play and don’t forget that you can use Game Cube games, too! Just remember to buy a remote for it.

  15. 15
    Jennifer October 5, 2010 at 4:14 pm #

    My 5 year old daughter loves Just Dance, and we play it with just the stock wiimote–everyone else just dances without. It’s hysterical!

  16. 16
    Mary Fran October 5, 2010 at 4:28 pm #

    Mine are 10, 7 and 5. I just ponied up the cash for two additional wiimotes and nunchucks as we have several 4 person games and it was getting a little too snarky waiting for turns. Our favorites are Wii Winter Sports, Just Dance, Ultimate Band (no instruments needed), and the Lego games. I do prefer the games that get them up and moving versus the Lego ones where they lay on the couch. We just got Wipeout today for my youngest’s birthday, we’ll see how that is. They do bicker when they play, so we limit it to the weekend only. And right after we got it, it went away for almost 9 months until they could handle it.

  17. 17
    Lori_S October 5, 2010 at 7:35 pm #

    My 11 year old and I enjoy Carnival, Family Feud and wii sports. I don’t allow the shoot up games (Halo type); not that I think she can’t tell play from real life or that she will go on a shooting spree when she’s 16 and no one cares or understands or loves her but I just don’t like the violence. Some of her fav’s is Lego Indiana Jones and Cooking Mama Cook-Off. For exercise she enjoys Walk It Out and Just Dance which is different than Dance Dance Revolution because you don’t need a mat.

  18. 18
    Jennefer October 5, 2010 at 8:38 pm #

    I have bought a lot of games. Out of all of them, my son likes a cheap-o generic one that I got for very cheap at Kohl’s. It is one of those that has 101 games on it. My son has special needs and doesn’t really stick to one thing. With this game, he can have his pick from all kinds of things to do. Another game he really likes is chicken shoot. We got this as a gift and after a very good week at school, I let him play it. It is very easy and quite silly. It isn’t a gorey game. He thinks it is hilarious when the chickens throw eggs at him and they splatter on the screen. He also likes M&M racing. Both of those are also very cheap.

    I definately suggest getting a second wiimote. I got an extra last Thanksgiving for about 1/2 price. Another thing my son loves are the accessories for the wiimote. They have steering wheels, fishing poles, rackets, just about anything. You don’t need them, but they do make the games more fun for my son. I got a 30 piece set for about $30. I bought the Wii Fit (again last Thanksgiving for 1/2 price) and we have never used it. If I could go back, I probably would not have purchased it. That is my opinion though.

  19. 19
    Frank October 6, 2010 at 8:40 am #

    Dont forget that you have the option for Instant Netflix now on the Wii… you need the $9 plan at minimum… and they will send you a disc to put into your Wii to make it work. The controls take a little getting used to, but its another excuse…

  20. 20
    Kim October 6, 2010 at 9:54 am #

    Mario Kart is a hit with my 4-year-old AND my 38-year-old boy-disguised-as-husband.

    I love the Rayman Raving Rabbids… they just make me laugh. The second one works with the balance board, and watching someone sit on it and play a game with their rear end is pretty funny.

    Mario Party is great for groups– quick, short little games that are fun to watch other people do.

  21. 21
    Lisa October 6, 2010 at 10:17 am #

    Also, I have Netflix but I will be switching to Blockbuster online because they now include all video games with their monthly rental plans. That way you can try most games before you buy them.

  22. 22
    Mandy October 6, 2010 at 11:36 am #

    I have 5 and 6 year old boys. Mario Kart is a fave as well as anything sonic and/or mario. If he’s into speed, compitition and unlocking things (special characters, bikes etc) go for the racing games, if he’s musicly inclined, and you are okay with family friendly versions of pop songs, Boogie, Just Dance and Ultimate band are great, if he’s a thinker who likes to work on long projects, Animal Crossing and Big Brain Acadamy are fun,

    Okay, I just realised we have too many games…(of course that won’t stop me from having a wii-tastic Christmas, lol)

  23. 23
    Laurel October 6, 2010 at 3:00 pm #

    Check your local library, we borrow games all the time, good to try before you buy.

  24. 24
    Elizabeth October 7, 2010 at 3:17 pm #

    this info is really helpful, just curious, how many remotes can you connect to the wii?

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    […] wasn’t it just last week when I was talking about the Wii and talking about how you kids today have it so easy, because back when I got my Wii it was $240 […]