Wii vs Xbox 360: Gregarious gaming giants lock horns in our Greatest Gadget clash

The Wii and the Xbox 360 have both battled their way to the quarter finals of our Greatest Gadget of the 21st Century tournament. Only one can progress any further though -- which console deserves your vote?

In the last round of our Greatest Gadget of the 21st Century tournament we saw the Wii demolish the PlayStation 3, kicking Sony's console so far into orbit it's currently circling one of Jupiter's more obscure and less friendly moons. But this week the Wii faces an even tougher opponent -- the Xbox 360 -- an unstoppable console fresh from its landslide victory over the Sony S470 Blu-ray player.

Toast of the town Luke Westaway, who championed the Wii in its last bout will once more be taking Nintendo's corner, while Xbox addict and god-king of grammar Nick Hide will be fighting for Microsoft's console. Which one wins is ultimately up to you...

Luke had the first word last time, so we leave it to Nick to kick off:

The Xbox is a high-def honey

NICK: The Xbox launched in 2005 -- that's five years ago, Luke, when you were still collecting Pokémon -- not only a year ahead of your precious little Wii but all in hi-def. 720p baby! This was so ludicrously ahead of its time that only 10 per cent of UK households had a TV that could show it to its full advantage.

LUKE: Oh Nick, so caught up in the heady world of specification and numbers with 'p' after them that you've forgotten the simple joys of pure innovative gaming. Luckily Nintendo didn't forget -- stepping out of the hardware arms race and letting clumsy giants Sony and Microsoft duke it out to see who could russle up the longest spec sheet. The Wii brought something new to the gaming table, and thanks to motion controls it opened up gaming to the massive casual market. It was a shot in the arm the gaming industry needed, pure and simple.

The Wii Remote alone will go down in history as a legendary piece of kit, and future generations will point to it and say, "This, countrymen, this was an iconic and momentous blow against an industry stagnating in its own runny juices."

NICK: What's so innovative about wobbling your arm and your tennis player moving in the opposite direction two seconds later? That's why no one ever used their Wii after Boxing Day. I tell you what's innovative: Kinect. No controller at all, you just flap your hands around like a loon and your baby cheetah does the same. And you can talk to it, like Scotty in Star Trek IV. "Hello, Xbox." That's the future, my friend, not your lame Wii Bowling. There's only one controller ever made that's better than telling your EssBoss what to do, and that's the original 360 controller. Pure beige genius.

It's-a-Wii, Mario

LUKE: I'll give you that the Xbox controller does indeed fit comfortably into one's hand. It's just a shame that once it's there the selection of Xbox games leaves you with nothing to do with it. Think back to your childhood Nick -- remember Mario? Remember Metroid? Donkey Kong? Zelda? All Nintendo exclusive franchises my friend. And the fact remains, if you want to enjoy the most iconic gaming series in the medium's history, you have to go Nintendo. Twilight Princess, Metroid Prime, Mario Galaxy? All worth buying a Wii for. No other console boasts a software lineup that attractive.

NICK: You of all people should know that gaming's not just for kids any more, Luke. Yes, those are all wonderful games, and Nintendo has evolved them beautifully on the Wii, but gaming's about much more than jumping on mushrooms these days. We love shooting things in the face, driving fast cars and beating up prostitutes, and you can't do any of that on the Wii. The 360 has given us bloodier faces, shinier cars and more hookers than ever before. The future of gaming isn't traditional kids' games, or casual games Grandma can join in with -- it's grownup entertainment.

LUKE: Nick, you'll never hear me complaining about games that let you throw civilians out of helicopters, but don't underestimate the importance of casual gaming. The only reason we love those more complicated, hardcore and adult titles is because we grew up with videogames, and enjoyed the slow metamorphosis from simplistic arcade games to open-world slaughter-thons.

Casual games are a gateway drug, and with more people than ever enjoying accessible games, we'll doubtless see an increase in the number of people playing 'proper' titles in years to come. Your Grandma is hooked -- it's only a matter of time before she's chainsawing alien faces.

The Wii offers better multiplayer

LUKE: Moving swiftly on, I want to discuss something else the Wii does better -- multiplayer. The Wii excels at getting the whole family/choir group/drunken colleagues around the same telly playing games together. No other console offers the same multiplayer kicks.

NICK: It's not fun for all the family: it's not fun for me, and I'm the one paying for it. I don't want to cram in front of a screen and smack elbows with Anna from HR or my dear old Auntie Pam. Even if I did, I could use Kinect,or Rock Band, or any of the thousands of downloadable casual games on Xbox Live. No, I want the whole of the TV to myself and still play against 15 of my best friends, and the Xbox lets me do that over the Internet. It's pretty seamless, especially compared to PC gaming, and it's an incredible thing to work as a team on Bad Company, or frag all comers in Halo. Tell me, Luke, have you ever -- ever -- successfully played a game online on the Wii?

LUKE: Well, I did enjoy Mario Kart Wii online. A bit. It disconnected frequently... Alright fine, the Wii might not be great online (though I'd point out that it has iPlayer, something that's long evaded Microsoft) but multiplayer experiences should put you in the same room as your fellow gamers.

Sure fragging kids on the other side of the world is fun, but unless you can actually see the misery in your opponent's eyes it's just not the same. Peeking at your rival's screen in GoldenEye, doing an impromptu victory dance when you grab the baseball bat in Smash Bros: Brawl -- these are magic multiplayer moments, not enduring a tirade of abuse from some headset-wearing, roadkill-collecting weirdo.

The Red Ring of Death is unforgivable

LUKE: Even if listening to screaming gamers over a tinny headset is your idea of a good time, you won't be enjoying it if your console decides to spontaneously melt itself. That's right -- in a survey we conducted we found that an astronomical 60 per cent of gamers had suffered from problems with their Xbox 360s . The fabled Red Ring of Death has entered the gaming lexicon, and cost Microsoft a shocking one billion dollars in total. Epic. Fail.

NICK: My 360 borked and it was deeply annoying. The RRoD was a horrible manufacturing fail, I can't argue with that -- except to say Microsoft did spend all that money to fix it, and it largely seems to have gone away. Tens of millions of people are still playing Xboxes, the games are getting more interesting and impressive, and it continues to appeal to more and more people, without annoying everyone with horrific celebrity adverts. You can't say any of those things about the Wii.

It's up to you 

Which of these confused fellows is right? Your vote will decide in the end, so head on over to the voting page and have your say. Then when you're done with that, feel free to pop on a headset and hurl abuse at Luke and Nick in the comments, or on our Facebook page.

Update 29 November: The Wii snuffed it; the 360 emerged victorious. It went right down to the wire, with just 4 per cent of the vote separating them, but today Luke is crying and Nick is crowing. Onwards, to the semi-finals, where the 360 is in the fight of its life against the telly time-shifting might of Sky+HD.

Tags:
Gaming
About the author

Luke Westaway is a senior editor at CNET and writer/ presenter of Adventures in Tech, a thrilling gadget show produced in our London office. Luke's focus is on keeping you in the loop with a mix of video, features, expert opinion and analysis.

 

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