TellTale Dev: iPhone more powerful than Wii? (Infendo: Not Exactly)

apple-iphone-3gWe all know that the Wii is the least powerful of today’s current generation home consoles, but TellTale developer “Yare” stated on company forums that Nintendo’s flagship console is less powerful than even the iPhone:

Frame rate issues will probably get sorted out eventually, but keep in mind that the Wii is just not a powerful console. An iPhone is much more powerful than a Wii, even.

The comment came in response to a forum discussion regarding new WiiWare Monkey Island series and it’s PC counterpart, Yare explained the texture quality and frame-rate differences away by pointing to the Wii’s hardware limitations – less ram, and the 40 megabyte limit on WiiWare.  It’s a bold claim, and Yare is only sort-of right – as he says himself, it comes down to RAM.

The extra RAM is really what makes the difference. Of the Wii’s 88 MB of RAM, a not insignificant chunk of that is always being used by the OS and is unavailable to developers. The Wii’s RAM is also split into two separate banks, each of which has different read/write metrics and you can’t really spill from one to another if you need to.

451px-wii_wiimotea-225x300To compare, the new iPhone 3GS has 256MB of RAM, and even the previous models had 128, still besting the Wii.  Although memory makes a huge difference, it’s not the end-all-be-all of more powerful.  The Wii boasts a faster processor (With it’s “Broadway” clocking in at about 729MHZ vs. the 3GS’ 600MHZ,) and a more powerful graphics processor, (243MHZ vs. 200MHZ)  Although the “bigger number” game is hardly a precise way to measure the overall power of a computer system, phone, or video-game console, it’s arguable from different perspectives that Yare is both right and wrong – the Wii’s RAM limitations certainly makes some multi-platform games difficult to port to the Wii, and does effect performance and frame-rate on games such as Monkey Island.  On the other hand, it’s doubtful the iphone could run something like Super Mario Galaxy – and it iphone games have framerate/slowdown problems of their own.

Is the iPhone really more powerful than the Wii? Maybe from a certain perspective, but not in any absolute terms – from a software standpoint the Wii remains the obvious victor from a gaming perspective.  Could the Wii benefit from more RAM – absolutely, after all – the N64 did, but to consider it an inferior gaming platform to the iPhone for this reason alone would be foolish and inaccurate.