The Wii Speak is finally available, and now we all have the ability to talk to friends all over the world while playing Wii games with them! Right? That is what is supposed to happen, isn’t it?
The Wii Speak is like any other new accessory in the world of Wii, it has its good points and its bad points. Before you set out to buy a Wii Speak, it is in your best interest to have a detailed understanding of what to expect from the newest Wii toy.
If you purchase the Wii Speak without first understanding what it is truly capable of then you could be setting yourself up for a huge let down. On the other hand, if you have no expectations and just want to play around with the newest Wii toy, then this will also help you understand exactly what it can do and what you can expect.
Set-Up (5 out of 5)
One thing that you cannot take away from Nintendo is that they make the Wii very easy to use, and with new advances being added all the time through the Wii shop they are making things even easier.
The Wii Speak is extraordinarily simple to set up, and the instructions that come with it are very easy to understand. You just plug it in, and then turn on the Wii. The Wii does the rest. The only extra step you need to do is to download the Wii Speak Channel from your Wii shop. This can take some time if you have not updated your Wii shop in a while, so be prepared to wait for this step to be completed.
As a side note, it is always a good idea to check for updates to your internet Wii functions as often as possible. As much fun as the Wii is, it is still very slow with downloading. When you have some spare time and you are not using your Wii, always check for updates to the Wii shop.
Spreken Zie Wii? (2 out of 5)
It will be necessary, while using the Wii Speak, to constantly remind yourself that this is new technology and Nintendo is working on making it better. The main reason to purchase a Wii Speak is to speak with it, and while it performs the speaking function very well it is the lag of the Wii itself that can get irritating.
The internet lag caused by the Wii can make your conversation sound like those interviews you see on the news channels where there is a very long delay from the time a question is asked to when the person actually hears it. You and the party you are speaking to need to condition yourselves to wait for each other’s response before speaking, or you will continually cut each other’s sentences off.
Once you get used to it, talking on the Wii Speak is not too bad. The sound is clear with an impressive range that allows it to pick up sounds from anywhere in the room. But the internet lag is just begging for a more powerful Wii to come and fix it immediately.
Sharing Photos (4 out of 5)
The Wii Speak can seem like a novelty when you are trying to speak with it, but when you see the way you can share photos with it then it suddenly becomes a potentially interesting teleconferencing tool. The Wii accepts standard digital camera storage cards in the front media slot, and with the Wii Speak you can share those pictures with the people you are talking to almost instantly.
The photo sharing function saved the Wii Speak for me. When I was using it to speak to some friends in Missouri, the conversation lag was causing frustration and we were almost ready to give up.
Then one of us discovered the photo sharing option, and we wound up on the Wii Speak for three hours.
Other Neat Tricks (3 out of 5)
To add some spice to the conversation, the Wii Speak allows you to put a few different voice synthesizers into effect for a short period of time and it will also change the screen background.
There are different themes such as a psychedelic theme and a bubble theme. When they are used sporadically throughout a conversation then they are pretty neat. It might be a good idea to have all parties agree on only using the special effects sporadically though as continued use can get annoying.
Game Compatibility (1 out of 5)
The Wii Speak has some neat features of its own, and it can stand alone as a way to stay in touch with friends all over the world. But you can also do that much more efficiently with a computer, a webcam, and a chat website. The purpose of the Wii Speak is to take advantage of the unique functionality of the Wii itself, and allow people to play interactive Wii games over their Wii internet connection and be able to talk to each other at the same time.
Unless you have a telephone nearby when you are playing your interactive internet Wii games, you will not be able to speak to your playing partner.
As of today, the only game that utilizes the Wii Speak during gameplay is Animal Crossing: City Folk. None of the other interactive internet Wii games can use the Wii Speak, and Animal Crossing: City Folk is not fun for hours with the whole family. It is boring. I purchased We Love Golf! to play on the Wii and was disappointed when I discovered that the Wii Speak only worked with one game and We Love Golf! is not that game.
The Final Word (3 out of 5)
The Wii Speak is less than $30, and the newest in Wii toy technology. If you have friends that have a Wii, then the Wii Speak is a neat and inexpensive novelty to have you both buy and just try out. The photo sharing options are nice, and the special effects offer an initial entertainment value that makes things fun for a while.
As a serious tool for interactive internet Wii gamers, the Wii Speak is just not there yet. It lacks compatibility with any of the games that people are really playing over the internet, and the lag due to the slow Wii processor makes for some frustrating moments.
The Wii Speak is inexpensive enough that curiosity seekers will not be totally disappointed, and it also offers some insight into what we can expect with the next generation of Wii technology.