Tuesday, November 28, 2006

My Not So Wee Wii Review...whee!

Having the Nintendo Wii for almost two weeks, I think I am safely in the "cooling off" period, and can write a even handed review of the system. Almost all of the reviews I've seen were immediate impression, glowing reviews. I agree with some, and disagree with others.

I was lucky enough to be able to pre-order a Nintendo Wii, one of the benefits of working in the ghetto (there were still pre-orders available by the end of that day!).

The Brilliant

I knew I wanted a Wii when all the original details came out. The price was low, it came with a game, and it was about game play not graphics. This I had to respect. At $250, you really can't get a better deal on a system. And this is the first time in a long time that in box came everything one needed to get started, built in memory, a controller and a game! I also got Zelda, but more on that in a little bit. It was even backwards compatible so I could still use all my GameCube games and controllers. Backwards compatibility means little to me on PS or Xbox, because those games are about graphics... who wants to play Madden 05 when you have Madden 07? But the GameCube games I own were always just about having fun, so I think they hold on to their playing appeal even years later.

The Wiimote is another "Why hasn't anyone thought of this sooner?" invention. It's just like using a mouse on your TV. For things like using an on screen keyboard, and perusing menus, this feels so natural and quick. Although used incorrectly, the sniper-like aim you need can be frustrating.

The Good

Games are not just about graphics on this system, they are about having fun. One of my favorite games for GameCube was Wario Ware. It featured a minigame that involves four people just jumping rope on a 2-bit display of stick figures jumping rope. I tell you that simple game has caused more joy at house parties then anything Halo2 has ever done. The Wii continues this tradition. With Wii Sports, when you box in the ring, you actually box. You stand up and roll the ball in bowling. When you are warming up with a baseball bat, the bat follows all your movements. Unfortunately, Wii Sports is more of a demo then anything real. For example in baseball, you don't actually run the bases, you either just bat, or pitch. So the games are fun, but really I'm excited to see a "full" version of any of these mini games to really enjoy it.

The online store that allows you to buy classic games is also awesome. You can download and play N64, NES, SNES and even Sega Genesis and TurboGraphix 16 games! The selection is paltry now, but there are more then enough classics to get you started. The prices seem fair to me, $5 for NES games, and $8+ for others. As soon as Dr. Mario comes out, they will make their first sale to me.

The Bad

Ok, so I said I don't care about graphics. That's true. But the Wii looks pretty horrendous on an HDTV. I'm not asking for mind blowing PS3 graphics, but at least support HDTV out of the box! Supposedly with separate component cables you can get up to 480p, but I don't think that will fix many of the fundamental graphical challenges the system has. Wii Sports looks ok, as I think most cartoony ones will. But the "realistic" look that Zelda has looks frankly terrible on my HDTV. Its still a great game, but I do notice the graphics, unlike WindWaker which looked beautiful like playing a cartoon.

The Ugly

The worst part of the Wii by far is the online experience. First, it doesn't come with half the things originally promised at launch, no weather until late December, no news until January, and the Opera web browser is MIA for an unknown amount of time.

While getting it on the Internet was painless (wireless connection built in), using the Internet was so-so. It got on right away to download patches and things, yet it couldn't access the online store because of some unknown error (provided some big error code). After hours of searching the Internet and messing with settings, it turns out the problem was one of my DNS servers was a little slow, and once that was fixed I could get to the store.

Unlike on Xbox Live, where you have a simple gamer tag to provide a friend (mine is ry0ohki btw), the Wii has a not so easy to remember 16 digit number! (email me for mine) I have another friend with a Wii, and we've tried adding each other... first he added me... then I added him... we still aren't connected, but if we do get connected it should be cool. Supposedly you can have the little "Mii" avatars travel from one Wii to the other, even when the system is off (it maintains a low power mode where it stays online, and can download stuff and talk to Nintendo... cool but scary too).


Overall I'm pretty happy with it. It will be interesting to see the games that come out to make use of the technology. I have to give Nintendo credit for truely creating an "entertainment system" instead of just another pimped out console with bad ass graphics. I don't think it's fair to even compare it to 360 or PS3 anymore, as this is such a deviation, its doubtful we will see many cross platform games that reach Wii too, due to media and hardware limitations. I think a lot of the online accounts of non gamers gravitating to the system are a little over hyped. My wife (who isn't a gamer), enjoys the system, but I still havn't seen her turn it on when I'm not there. On the whole I'd give the Wii a 8/10.


At 10:39 PM, Anonymous Gavin Bowman said...

I hate you ;)... still another 12 days until the UK release.

Definitely go out and get the Component cables if you have an HDTV. I had the same problem with my original Xbox, it was unplayable and gave me a headache with the basic composite cable. Just getting 480p through component cables made a massive difference.

At 11:31 AM, Blogger Phil said...

I'll have to give that a try... the thing is that I only have 2 component jacks on my TV, the cable uses one, and the Xbox is using the other... guess I'll have to downgrade the xbox to RCA.

At 1:48 PM, Anonymous Gavin Bowman said...

It's probably worth checking out component switching boxes (that's what I'm planning on doing), they're pretty easy to get hold of... or you could put one of the consoles through a VGA box if you have a spare VGA input on the TV.

http://play-asia.com is a decent place to start looking at what's available, but you should be able to find the simpler stuff closer to home, or on eBay.

At 12:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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