When you walk upstairs all of the Miis hanging out in the virtual space move and huddle around the big screen. A video, usually a trailer reel, automatically plays. You can click on the screen to expand it or poke the posters to see other clips.
The Theater Room service is a hub for paid content, but it’s more like a pay-per-view channel than a video store. Wii Points spent on Pokemon episodes are for rental only. Nintendo launched the service last week with lots of family friendly content. Pokemon, Kirby, and Sesame Street (lots of it, in English) are available to watch. The cheapest episodes are 50 Wii Points, so a 30 minute rental runs 50 cents.
Warner Brothers Japan is part of the service, but none of their movies are online. All Warner Brothers brought are trailers for “Gran Torino” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”. Both are free. Actually, the movie selection is extremely limited with old movies such as “Toki wo Kakeru Shojo” a film from 1983 that costs 300 Wii Points ($3) to rent.
The paid content selection has over 100 videos to rent and a few you can watch for free. An episode of Meat or Die, two episodes of Kirby, and J-League soccer matches are some of the things you can watch at no cost. It’s unclear how often Nintendo plans to update this, but things like this make the Theater Room worth checking out… even though it suffers from buffering issues away from Japan.
It will be interesting to see if Nintendo brings a similar service to North America. There’s more competition here since you can purchase videos on an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. Perhaps, Nintendo’s best bet is doing what they are doing in Japan – culling family friendly content and putting sport highlight reels online.