I finally got my paws on one this weekend, and have spent a hell of a lot of time since then just hangin’ out and playin’ with my Wii.
You might have gathered a while back that I’m a dedicated Nintendo system user. You’d probably be wrong about that, actually; I never owned the original NES. My first actual Nintendo purchase was a Game Boy. I’ve been a happy consumer of handhelds since then, going from the GB to a GB Pocket, Color, GBA, GBA SP and finally a DS Lite.* Never got into PSP and still am not interested even though Sony’s dropped the price by about 50% on the unit.
But I’m not a Nintendo shill; for home consoles I had a Sega with the 32-bit adapter for quite a long time before picking up an N64. That was the last home unit I bought until being persuaded in late ’05 to buy a used Xbox. That eventually became a 360, something I like except in the online areas — at least when I come up against hypercompetitive fifteen-year-olds with far too much time on their hands, shitty attitudes and no comprehension whatsoever of sportsmanlike conduct.
Roughly six months ago I got to play with a Wii for the first time, and since then have been semi-casually looking out for one, but they sell out very, very fast. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time Saturday, and at last fulfilled my not-particularly-urgent desire to get one.
The system sells with a CD containing five mini-games that nicely give you a taste of the possibilities in playing with the interface. It’s responsive and reasonably spatially-aware, though particularly while “pitching” in the baseball game I was sometimes able to complete a “pitch” before the game caught up with my gestures.
The bowling is reasonably realistic, and gives you the ability to aim your shot fairly well; the golf — while it picks your clubs for you automatically — has some nice ball-in-flight scenes and a reasonably pretty course; tennis is … well, tennis; and while I haven’t tried to do it yet I wonder if baseball will let you bunt.
All the games respond to different speeds of use in the controller, which really does recognize three-dimensional gestures including twisting (think of turning the remote in your hand like a screwdriver). The system comes with one remote (it can take up to four), can also play GameCube games, and is internet aware. I’ve already downloaded two free Nintendo “channnels” — Everybody Votes, an informal and more or less inane open-poll type setup; and a pretty capable web browser custom-built for the purpose by Opera.
I haven’t yet tried integrating my DS Lite with the Wii, though supposedly I can, and I didn’t mention the fifth game on the CD yet because it involves use of the auxiliary controller, the “nunchuk” — and because I ended up enjoying it a lot, which surprised me.
You use the nunchuk in your non-dominant hand, holding it and the main Wii controller and using both arms to play the game. Upper-body motions are responded to and you can actually break a sweat playing, which I did before getting a KO on my opponent in the third round.
Yeah, boxing. Not a “sport” of which I approve in the slightest, and yet this turned out to be — for me anyway — the most fun of the five games on the CD included with the Wii. It reminded me, just a little, of the sparring I used to do with opponents in martial arts, with the singular advantage that no one actually gets hit.
Overall the system interface is simple and quite comprehensible. Throughout my experience working with the console and playing the packaged games I was reminded of nothing more than a Mac; everything’s pretty well-designed, everything’s pretty intuitive, and it’s easy to just sit right down and get to work** without having to spend a lot of time learning controls or commands. The Wii does what it needs to do and ignores pretty much everything else. It doesn’t have a hard drive and it doesn’t play DVDs or music CDs, though it can go online and collect news and weather for you, right out of the box, using a free service provided by Nintendo.
The $250 price tag might feel a little steep to a parent who’s tired of the sprogs bleating for Yet Another Electronic Toy, but I have a feeling the dollars might be well spent in this case. The Wii is dynamic, intuitive and — as the title stable expands to include new games designed specifically for its motion-sensitive controller system — I can see it continuing to do well.
And I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that, in six months or a year or so, there will be adapters available for Xbox and PS that let you do something similar to what you can now with a Wii. 3D-aware gestural-responsive game controllers are here to stay, as the continuing sales stats for the Wii demonstrate amply. Try it yourself and see if you agree.
Just don’t be too impatient. That six-month wait was annoying, but the payoff really was worth it, to me at least.
* I waited a couple years after buying my GBA SP before getting the DS Lite. By then I’d realized Nintendo was likely to come up with something that would supercede the original DS, and I was right. I love my big pink thing.
** “Work” in this case being, of course, play.
No related posts.
Related posts brought to you by Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.