Thursday, August 30, 2007

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Wii Report (1/14/07)

From the pre-blog days, another in a series of posts "From the Archives". In this case, a report on the Nintendo Wii from Jan 14, 2007


We finally got our Nintendo Wii this past week (used off eBay...only a slight premium). Like many gamers, we're now a dual Xbox 360/Wii household. With the weekend finally upon us, we fired it up yesterday.

Not surprisingly, the girls had a great time making up their avatars (called "Mii's" in Wii land). Some games actually use the avatars in the game, which was a thrill for them.

The sports games that came with the unit were a big hit. Our 10 year old had a great time with tennis (you swing the controller like an actual racket), and even has a sour elbow today (!). Our little one enjoyed the bowling game, and everyone had a good time with the boxing game (all these games use the Mii's, which added to the fun).

The Wii Rayman game is also lots of fun. A very large number of minigames, each one using the Wii motion sensing controllers in different and unique ways (ie, spin the controller over your head to spin and then launch a cow as far as you can, move the controllers up and down to run as fast as you can, draw pictures
on the screen, etc.) Clearly Ubisoft used the game as an excuse to explore different control strategies using the new controllers. Like every Rayman game, very high production values and humor content. A definite winner.

I must say that I'm very impressed with the precision and naturalness of the motion sensing controllers. When I first heard what Nintendo was planning for the Wii, I shook my head thinking this was the end of a great company. On the contrary, this is a rebirth, based almost entirely on a new way of interacting
with games. The unit itself is remarkably underpowered by modern standards (basically 2x the power of the old Gamecube). The value is purely in the games and the elegance of the human interaction. I am very excited to see what type of creativity this inspires.

Already, it looks like some interesting things are coming. In particular, the next installment of the SSX series (one of my favorite games) looks like it's really going to take advantage of the new controllers:

(check out the video)

I can't wait to hit the virtual slopes using these controllers.

On the other side, the Wii incarnation of the Godfather game hints at a level of interactivity that is actually frightening for me:

(check out the video)

I've commented to others that I'm actually afraid to see how the next installment of Grand Theft Auto uses the controllers.

One of the nice parts of the Wii is that finally gives me a chance to check out all those Gamecube games that I always wanted to play but never could (this is my first Nintendo console). The Wii is basically a Gamecube with updated parts (cpu, graphics, etc.) so backward compatibility is complete. Have Zelda on the
shelf waiting for time, and I'm also looking forward to Metroid.

However, the Gamecube game that I have been most looking forward to playing is none of the big hitters. For those with a Wii (or thinking about getting one), or those with a Gamecube, you absolutely MUST pick up Donkey Kong Jungle Beat for the Gamecube:

This is a brilliant platformer (running around as Donkey Kong jumping and grabbing bananas), made 10x more so through the use of the bongo controllers for movement. You use the right bongo to move right, left to move left, both at the same time to jump, and clap to "attack" opponents. In terms of sheer fun
factor, this is the most fun we've had with a video game in a LONG time (the girls were besides themselves with laughter, as was dad).

To make decisions even easier, EBGames is liquidating the game and bongo controllers:

For $15, you get the game and 2 bongo controllers. Use the coupon code "SAVER" and get free shipping as well. (Greg, ordered one for you already). Game only uses one controller, but the Donkey Konga rhythm games are quite fun as well (the bongos are used in a rhythm game, with up to 4 players at once).

Have not had a chance to check out the Wii Virtual Console games yet (emulated versions of classic arcade games). I've purchased Super Mario 64 from the Nintendo 64, but have the Classic Controller on order (required to play it).

All in all, the Wii is an outstanding piece of family entertainment, and ideal for those that are looking to get a broader group involved in gaming/each other. I love my Xbox and 360, but these aren't games that you can really enjoy as a family. The Wii really follows through on the promise of "we", and I've very
excited to see where the developers will take things.


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