Inert Detritus The Internet's dust bunnies

20 November 2006 @ 11am

Nintendo Wii: First Impressions

After months of wait­ing, one out­ra­geous name change, and tons of pre-orders that I inten­tion­al­ly ignored, Sat­ur­day night was the start of my jour­ney to acquire a Wii.

My broth­er and I packed up the neces­si­ties and drove to the near­by Tar­get, which, accord­ing to the Wii Find­er, would have 120 Wiis on launch day. At 10 PM, we arrived, set up chairs and blan­kets, and signed the list to be the 33rd per­son to get a Wii from Tar­get. The night came and went, and we pulled up the car and slept in it to stay warm. As 6 AM rolled around, the less hard­core began arriv­ing: the dads get­ting one for their child, the soc­cer moms with oblig­a­tory Star­bucks in hand. (Note to all: on launch day, those two indi­vid­u­als pose the most threat to your safe­ty: they will do any­thing to make sure their “lit­tle dar­lings” get one.)

8 AM came, and the man­ag­er stepped out, con­firmed that he had 120 Wiis, and began hand­ing out num­bers and the list of acces­sories they had in stock. The line moved into the elec­tron­ics sec­tion, and, quite sub­dued, wait­ed patient­ly as they took two num­bers at a time to get the con­sole and the games.

For acces­sories, I bought a sec­ond Wiimote and nunchuck, and a Clas­sic Con­troller. I bought these games: Red Steel, Zel­da: Twi­light Princess (who did­n’t?), and Super Mon­key Ball XVIII: Return of the Rot­ten Bananas (SMB: Banana Blitz, actu­al­ly, but hey.)

First up, though: Wii Sports. I had guessed that this would be fun, but I under­es­ti­mat­ed how this would kill off full-fea­ture games. The ten­nis, golf, and bowl­ing are all great. Box­ing and base­ball aren’t quite what I want­ed, but they’re still fun if you’re a fan of either sport.

The con­trols for ten­nis are spot-on: the Wii moves your char­ac­ters for you, and you sim­ply swing the Wiimote like a ten­nis rack­et for a fore­hand or back­hand. If you twist it as you swing, it puts spin on the ball, and the speed of the wrist snap deter­mines the speed and angle of the ball.

Golf­ing is a bit more art than sci­ence on the Wii. You swing the remote like a golf club to con­trol the pow­er. Aim­ing is much like Mario Golf of years before: up/down on the D‑pad to switch clubs (the club selec­tion is much more lim­it­ed in this than reg­u­lar golf games: you only have a dri­ver, an iron, prob­a­bly a 5–6 iron, a wedge, and a put­ter), and left/right to aim the ball. It’s got pow­er guides on the aim­ing line to help you decide how hard to swing. The swing­ing action is not as easy to mas­ter as ten­nis, how­ev­er. You swing like a golf club, but it seems like the wrist rota­tion at the bot­tom most­ly dic­tates how much pow­er the swing gets. I have to take a few prac­tice swings before each hit to try and dial in the exact motion.

My friend and I used to bowl a lot in high school, and you can imag­ine our hap­pi­ness when we played the Wii ver­sion. It’s as close as a vir­tu­al bowl­ing sim­u­la­tion will ever get to real life, I believe. You line up direc­tion and angle with the D‑pad. You then hold the remote point­ing towards the ceil­ing, and hold down the B but­ton (the one under the remote). You quick­ly swing your arm back, just like bowl­ing in real life, and then swing the remote for­ward and release the but­ton near the bot­tom to throw it. If you mist­ime the but­ton release, it’ll yell at you and show you throw­ing the ball into the crowd. To put spin on the ball, you give the remote a twist with your wrist as you release. With­in a cou­ple games, my friend and I were throw­ing 200 point games and pick­ing up spares with ease.

I spent a cou­ple hours of intro­duc­ing the rest of the fam­i­ly to these games. My mom and sis­ter both had a blast play­ing ten­nis and bowl­ing, and my broth­er and I played a fair amount of golf and base­ball. My sis­ter is some­what videogame aware: she was a big SNES junkie when we had Super Mario Bros. + All-Stars, and played Super Mario Bros. 3 until she beat it. She took to the motion-sens­ing games with no trou­ble at all. My mom was less eas­i­ly taught, but the nat­ur­al actions for ten­nis meant that after a few test swings, she did well, beat­ing me in two games.

After play­ing Wii Sports for much longer than I would have thought, I real­ized that I still had three more games to try out. First was Super Mon­key Ball, and it’s pletho­ra of minigames. Unlike pre­vi­ous SMB I/II, all the minigames are unlocked out of the box, and right­ful­ly so: if I had to earn some of these with sin­gle play­er game­play, I’d be mad. There are 50 games avail­able, includ­ing some of the clas­sic Mon­key Sports, Mon­key Flight, and the like (I’ll post a com­plete list in a bit). I had a ton of trou­ble with the sin­gle play­er lev­els. I had got­ten quite good at the joy­stick con­trol on the Game­Cube, and my Wii remote was­n’t lev­el when the game “zeroed” itself, so a lev­el at “neu­tral” had my remote tilt­ed back a bit.

I lat­er went through all the Super Mon­key Ball screens with the con­troller flat on my table. It still has flat as default­ing to a bit of for­ward roll, so it must be delib­er­ate. I’ve got­ten used to it, and I’m with Erik on this one: the game was wait­ing for this con­troller to be invented.

After my ini­tial frus­tra­tion with Super Mon­key Ball was over­come, I moved on to Red Steel. This was a game I bought on faith alone: the impres­sions online sound­ed respectable, and there weren’t enough neg­a­tive reviews or odd descrip­tions to real­ly con­vince me to avoid it. I’m quite glad I got it. First, the con­trol scheme. The nunchunk joy­stick con­trols straf­ing and run­ning of your char­ac­ter. The Wiimote is point­ed at the screen, rep­re­sent­ed by a dot, and this shows where your char­ac­ter is aim­ing. To turn, you point the remote to the far left or right edge of the screen, and the char­ac­ter turns. Aim­ing is not too dif­fi­cult, but aim­ing on the move is one thing I’m still work­ing on. The sword­play sec­tions are exact­ly what I expect­ed. A flick of the Wiimote in cer­tain direc­tions per­forms a cor­re­spond­ing sword slash, and the nunchunk con­trols a par­ry­ing action to defend your­self. The shoot­er part of the con­trol scheme takes a few min­utes to work out, and will prob­a­bly take anoth­er few hours of play­time for me to adapt to it, but I think it’ll be worth it in the end.

Final­ly, after a cou­ple hours of yakuza slaugh­ter­ing and gen­er­al vio­lence, I moved on to Zel­da: Twi­light Princess. The game looks great, and is cer­tain­ly in line with my expec­ta­tions for a cheap­er sys­tem that I bought for “the game­play, not the graph­ics”. They’re high qual­i­ty, and the Wii can do a lot of things that they nev­er tried on the Game­cube, either for lack of desire or lack of hardware.

The con­trols are dif­fer­ent. The nunchunk joy­stick con­trols Link, as you would guess, but instead of a but­ton for his sword, you sim­ply flick the Wiimote around. The spin attack is done with a back-and-forth on the nunchuck, fol­lowed by a reg­u­lar sword slash. The items all sit on the D‑pad and B but­ton of the Wiimote, and you hit the direc­tion on the D‑pad of the item to move it to the B but­ton, then hit B to use it. Slight­ly dif­fer­ent than old games. Z‑targeting works as always, but I haven’t fig­ured out how to “get info” on char­ac­ters like we used to with that fairy thing in Oca­ri­na and in Wind Wak­er. When you use the sling­shot, you aim on-screen with the Wiimote. Fish­ing is about what you’d expect: cast with a flick for­ward, let it sit, and when you think a fish is bit­ing, yank up and keep yank­ing to “reel it in”. The man­u­al says, lat­er on, you’ll use the nunchuck like a crank, reel­ing the fish in.

I rent­ed Call of Duty 3 from Block­buster to try it out. The con­trols are very sim­i­lar to Red Steel, with one impor­tant tweak. The “point­ing box” for Red Steel is large. The “point­ing box” is any­place on screen where your char­ac­ter will aim his weapon instead of turn­ing to look at. In Call of Duty, the box is 4 pix­els in the mid­dle of the screen. I liked the Call of Duty set­up bet­ter, as it made rotat­ing the char­ac­ter a much more easy thing to do. How­ev­er, the lack of any real “point­ing box” meant that your char­ac­ter is con­stant­ly turn­ing or drift­ing in some direc­tion. I’ve heard that Metroid Prime 3 will be some­where in between: a small “point­ing box”, and Samus will rotate if you point out­side that. Sounds like MP3 will have the ide­al con­trol scheme.

I have a ques­tion to all those Wii own­ers out there: how long is the light sur­round­ing the disc slot on nor­mal­ly? Mine flash­es on briefly when I turn it on. It does­n’t come on when I put a disc in, and it’s nev­er on when there’s no disc in the sys­tem. I just set up the email­ing with my Wii, and this is the first time I’ve ever seen it glow (it’s puls­ing slow­ly because I’ve got an email from myself), but as soon as I turn it on, the light goes out. I guess my ques­tion is this: is any­one’s on when the unit is on with no disc in? I get the impres­sion it’s sup­posed to be. (Side­note: I am run­ning the lat­est “update”, what­ev­er that is. Firmware update, I assume?)

All in all, the Wii is won­der­ful. Zel­da is promis­ing, Red Steel is bet­ter than I ever expect­ed, and Super Mon­key Ball is enjoy­able, although a bit easy. Wii Sports alone is enough to keep some­one occu­pied who is play­ing it casu­al­ly. I per­son­al­ly believe the con­troller capa­bil­i­ties will enable games peo­ple haven’t even dreamed of yet: there’s so many things you can do with more infor­ma­tion about motion and position.

As for a friend code: mine is 0141–4176-1669–5221. If you add me, leave a com­ment with yours so we can swap Miis.


Posted by
Ben Bleything
21 November 2006 @ 3pm

regard­ing the light, appar­ent­ly Nin­ten­do decid­ed that we would­n’t want it on while play­ing, so they dis­abled that. Rumor was that it would be on while wait­ing for a disc, but pop­ping into the disc chan­nel with noth­ing insert­ed only made mine briefly flash and then stay off.

It does come on when you’ve got wait­ing mes­sages. That’s the only thing I’ve fig­ured out. Too bad, though.

Posted by
26 November 2006 @ 3am

Added ya…

6678 3626 7310 2625

Posted by
Christopher Bowns
26 November 2006 @ 10am

Added you back. Thanks!

I’ve updat­ed it with sec­tions about golf, bowl­ing, and Call of Duty 3.

Posted by
26 November 2006 @ 11am

email me with your wii friend code when u add me

so i will add u is sim­ple my wii friend code is “1341–3323-9302–1434” and my nick is ” eliezer ”

email me thanks!

Posted by
27 November 2006 @ 12am

I added you.

heres mine: 8699 2612 8685 4558

Posted by
Joachim Bengtsson
8 December 2006 @ 6pm

Nice review :) Kind of regret that I did­n’t get Red Steel…

Any­how, for some Mii parad­ing, my friend code is 7127 0320 0245 3442 (and I’m

Posted by
Christopher Bowns
8 December 2006 @ 7pm

Red Steel is a fun game, but the con­trols are dri­ving me insane. It’s so “loose”: while Call of Duty has your char­ac­ter phys­i­cal­ly rotat­ing if you point any­where but dead cen­ter, Red Steel makes you go to near­ly the edge of the screen before they start turn­ing. Once your char­ac­ter starts turn­ing, it’s at a break­neck pace, mak­ing it even worse. Game design­ers doing that con­trol set­up should take notes from both those games.

Posted by
9 December 2006 @ 2pm


6750 8975 2364 2156

Posted by
11 December 2006 @ 1am

please add my WII # to you WII# AND THEN E‑MAIL so i can put you on my WII my # is 3907–5914-5852–0661 my e‑mail

Posted by
14 December 2006 @ 9pm

add my e‑mail then we will exchange mii #

Posted by
3 January 2007 @ 6pm

when­ev­er i try to reg­is­ter my wii on the part where you can write down address­es and do mem­os it says my wii cant be reg­is­tered. how do i do it?

Posted by
22 February 2007 @ 1am

mine is 0251–3242-1924–0160 email me ur @ plz and thank u

Posted by
7 April 2007 @ 1pm

added ya 9640 9600 1447 8311

Posted by
4 August 2007 @ 4pm

Added you also

Mine is 4901–1941-5874–7183

Posted by
28 November 2007 @ 11am

Hi. Good design, who make it?