December 14, 2006
Wii are having so much fun
Where have I been? Have I simply been stewing about the awful selections on the Sirius Christmas station? No! Wii have been playing with our Nintendo Wii!
Wii managed to get a Wii almost two weeks ago, all thanks to AEJ. She’d had her eye on the Wii for months before its release, reading about it regularly on sites like Engadget and Gizmodo. She pretty easily convinced me that wii needed one.
The trick, as you know if you watch TV or spend any time on Ebay, is that the Wii is hard to find. The PlayStation3 was supposed to be a hot item this Christmas, but Sony managed to manufacture less than 200,000 units for sale in the US, and those were gone almost immediately, so there’s little point to even desiring one as it’s an exercise in futility. Plus, the reviews for the PS3 have been awful, and the thing — if you only paid retail and not what it’s fetching on Ebay — cost $600. The Wii has gotten universally glowing reviews, and is, as I learned, pretty readily available if you do some research in advance, and are willing to wait in line outside of a Circuit City for an hour. Oh, and instead of costing $600, the Wii is $249.
Roughly two weeks ago, AEJ read that a bunch of stores, particularly Circuit City locations, were holding Wii units for release on Sunday, December 3. Wii live near a Circuit City (although wii refer to it somewhat affectionately as Ghetto City, due to its lack of upkeep and somewhat skeevy location), and wii got up bright and early that Sunday morning to check out the scene. Wii were late getting out the door, not leaving our place until 10am — the opening time of the store. There was a half-marathon taking place in our neighborhood, and it meant that most streets were closed, so by the time wii’d navigated our way to Circuit City — a drive that would normally take less than 5 minutes — it was 10:15. And there was a line outside of the store.
I wasn’t optimistic. There were probably 25 people in front of us, and wii learned that roughly 30 people before them had already received Wii (is the plural of Wii “Wii?”). Both of us had to admit that the whole experience of waiting in line outside of a store early on a Sunday morning (well, early for us), talking to the people who were also waiting, most of whom had been to several other stores that morning and left Wii-less, it was a lot of fun, and made the whole experience feel like… I don’t know, an experience. People were incredibly friendly, and just got happier as the likelihood of success increased. There were ups and downs for the crowd as Circuit City employees came out of the store and reported vastly different “facts” about how many Wii they had left, ranging from 9 — when there were easily 20 people in front of us — to 30, when it suddenly seemed that we (no, I’m not going to spell “we” as “wii” the entire entry) might be the first people in line not to get one.
Well, I’ve already revealed that we got one. We bought the system, an extra controller, and three games: Madden NFL ’07, Rayman Raving Rabbids, and, of course, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. The system also comes with an instant classic, Wii Sports.
The first thing you do, besides setting up your connection to the Internets, is design a Mii. This is a virtual you — what your character will look like as you play various games that implement this feature (like Wii Sports). Here, for example, is Mii in the Wii Sports bowling game. Behind me, cheering me on, you’ll see (from left to right), Melissa, our imaginary friend Cranky Sue, and AEJ.
Making a Mii is awfully fun. So much so that we’ve probably spent a few hours making Miis other than ourselves. In addition to AEJ and I, we made Melissa (above), Cranky Sue, Jonathan Newman, our cat Loki, and a virtual Stephen Colbert (click to see the YouTube video of Colbert playing a Wii on his show a few weeks back). Here’s Newman. The resemblance is striking, really.
And here, left to right, are AEJ, me, Loki, Melissa, and Newman.
So, how do you play the Wii? The concept behind the whole system is in the controllers. Whereas the PS3 is all about the graphics capabilities, the Wii is about using one (or two, for some games) controllers that are motion sensitive and are able to tell where they are in 3D space. If you hold the wiimote in your hand — it looks and feels like a small remote control — and rotate your wrist in any direction, the system can tell. You can point it at the screen, grab things, move them around, throw them — pretty much anything. There aren’t that many buttons on the wiimote itself. In the games designed specifically for the Wii, you’ll control a lot by just moving your arms and hands — not so much your fingers.
Specifically, here’s how you control some of the games. Let’s start with Wii Sports — consisting of Boxing, Bowling, Tennis, Golf, and Baseball. In bowling, you hold the remote in your hand, lower your arm to your side (you basically need to stand up to play this), hold the trigger button to indicate that you’re holding the bowling ball, and bend your elbow to raise the ball up to your chest. Your Mii will walk towards the bowling lane, and as it does, you lower your arm, pull it back behind you, then pull it forward and release the trigger to let go of the ball. It’s just like real bowling, except that the wiimote weighs less than a half-pound. Oh, and because I can bowl a 213 in Wii Bowling, but I’ve never bested an 85 in real bowling.
What about golf? Same idea. Stand with your side to the screen, pull your arm back, and swing forward — just like you would with a golf club. Boxing? This one is physically exhausting. You’ll need the second controller in your other hand — the Wii nunchuk.
How do you box? Just like you would if you were stupid enough to box in real life. Stand (or I suppose you could sit and play this one) and, well, swing your fists. You can also pull your hands in front of your face to block, and move your entire body left and right to dodge swings. You won’t believe the workout you’ll get from this one. Check out this YouTube video of some girl playing it. She’s not exaggerating. This is, I’m sure, the first video game system that will keep people fit.
Tennis is almost as difficult, at least physically. Ever get tennis elbow? You’ll get it on the Wii. AEJ was totally sore the day after we got the Wii. She said — and I believe she has coined this brilliant term — she had an injuwii.
The differences be
tween standard Madden NFL and Wii Madden is, again, in the control. To hike the ball, rather than pushing “X” like you would on the PlayStation, you just make a hiking motion with your hand. To pass, make a passing motion while holding down the button for the corresponding intended receiver. To stiff-arm, you simply stiff arm. Yeah, just throwing your right hand towards the right will stiff arm to the right. Running is done with the nunchuck joystick. If it all sounds a little confusing, it’s not once you start playing. Even if you’ve mastered the original Madden series and its controls, you’ll adjust to the Wii’s infinitely more intuitive control within minutes.
And then there’s Zelda, which is, in all of my 20+ years of gaming experience, the best video game I’ve ever played. I don’t even know what to say about it, except that it’s kind of like the original Myst, but with live control and in 3D. AEJ and I are about 10 hours into the game so far, and according to what we’ve read, we’re at least 30 hours from finishing it. The puzzles are difficult without being irritating, the graphics are beautiful, and the game is completely absorbing. The other night, we started it up because AEJ just wanted to check the map for something, and we didn’t turn it off for more than three hours. (We play Zelda as a team. I’m pretty good at the battles and executing the moves required, and AEJ figures out all of the puzzles.)
I can’t say enough about how fun this system is. People who have previously had no real love for video games — AEJ is just one example — are addicted to this thing because of its intuitive and fun method of control. (Here’s a story about that phenomenon, and here’s a fantastic link to photos of unexpected folk enjoying the Wii.) Wii Sports is a fantastic party game. Zelda is smart and engrossing.
Wii love our Wii. You need one. Then you can make your own Mii and your Mii can be friends with our Miis, and we can all cheer for each other while we bowl. Won’t that rule?! And if this story is to believed, retailers are releasing a whole batch of Wii this Sunday.
Get in line now.