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A Wii Adventure

05/27/07

  11:05:07 pm, by Nimble   , 1321 words  
Categories: Distractions

A Wii Adventure

Right at the end of the day at work on Friday, visiting the QA department netted me some "inside information" on where to get a Wii. One of them had been watching forums on occasion to see where and when Wiis show up, and Westbook Mall got a shipment of them in. There were 8 left around noon (I think), and they asked me if I'd be interested in tagging along to go get one.

Well... yes...

Nintendo Wiis are still quite a difficult commodity to get up here. Your chances of getting them online are next to nothing, it would seem. Finding where they show up in "meatspace" is a better bet sometimes, but shipments seem very rare and they go quickly. One person managed to get their Wii by going through their rewards from Air Miles instead - and I was considering that.

I was cornered by someone berating me out of the blue for seemingly not following The Only Way To Generate Primary Keys, but managed to escape. Into the back seat, I folded myself, and off we went to the mall. A hurried stroll into the store, into the electronics department.

There were three of us, and three Wiis left.

*laugh* It really felt like I was getting away with something anyhow, moreso when I found out how many people I knew who had been salivating over Wiis but unable to obtain one.

The gal behind the counter was worried about selling them to us, since we came in as a group and maybe we were just fronting and scalping them. Her manager was nowhere to be found, and we were perhaps enthusiastic enough, so we got the Wiis regardless.

I bought the Wii Play package with the extra controller in it, because I wanted my wife and I and/or guests to be able to play head to head, and Wii Play has a few multiplayer games in it.

Wii Play is almost more a training game than anything else, designed to help you use the controller in various ways, though the games are not bad. The target shooting is fun with two players, and you get bonus points for shooting targets with your opponents' avatar on them. The billiards (9-ball) is pretty nicely put together, and we played a couple of rounds of it. Interesting controller use in billiards: you hold down the button, pull the controller back, and then heave it forward.

The controllers, besides the sensitivity to movement and rotation, have some vibration to them, which also helps you feel whether you are pointing at a button. They also have little speakers on them, which the mini-tank game shows off quite well.

We have not played with Wii Sports yet, but it was watching Dena and a coworker of hers play Wii Sports Tennis (it comes with five games, including tennis, bowling and golf) and swing the controller for serves and backhands.

The background music of the Wii system is a little disturbing, in that it seems shades of slightly futuristic muzak - mellow electronic oddness. The currently-inserted game appears in the upper-left-hand spot in the "channel" list. Next to that is the Mii creator, which lets you create little avatars that resemble you (or don't).

The Wii has wireless access built in. If you have your wireless network secured, you will need to enter the network key on the Wii itself. It was not too much of a problem getting the Wii hooked up to the network once I realized that it required the first hexadecimal key, not the passphrase, that I had set up on my network. It detected our network (make sure yours broadcasts its identifier).

Internet access initially lets you use the online store, the "weather channel" and the "news channel". The weather channel is actually pretty neat. You enter your time, date and location, and you can get a UV index, current conditions, and a 1-day or 5-day forecast. You can also get a globe view and run around the globe to select an area for weather forecasts.

The news channel is not bad, albeit not terribly configurable. Basically, it's headlines in various topics that you can zoom in on to get the short article.

One of the first things you might want to do with internet access, though, is go off and get a browser. You go into the "online store" for this, and it is marked as the Internet Channel, and costs you no Wii points (it's about 2000 points for $25 to get other things in the store, I think) to download. It takes a little bit to download it, and you will be treated to a semi-annoying Mario progress bar (it actually does measure progress, albeit roughly, as each 1/3 done makes Mario jump to push a coin out of the box above him), but at the end of this, you will have a web browser.

The web browser is Opera, which I remember using and even paying for once upon a time. This seems a pretty decent niche for it, and it does quite well as an embedded browser. All of our favourite sites came up just fine, and although I am sure that some plug-in content that requires Windows Media Player, Quicktime or RealPlayer might not work, there were some surprises, e.g. YouTube worked just great in the browser.

Entering text isn't too bad, either... you get a full keyboard popping up on-screen which is less tough to navigate than I would have thought, and you get word suggestions in the middle that you can click on to help shorten the process, including ".com", etc. at the end. (Hey, it helped pick out 'nimble' and 'brain' pretty quickly)

I picked up two more games as well, WarioWare: Smooth Moves and Konami's Elebits.

Smooth Moves is just freaking nutty. Basically, everywhere you visit has a little storyline for you to help with, like getting Wario out of the temple, and helping the shy quarterback make a touchdown. You help out by playing oodles of mini-games, and when I say mini, I mean mini. Most of the games are 5-second games, requiring you to do things like stick a finger up somebody's nose, or swat a fly, or find someone with a flashlight. It makes great use of the controller, and warns you in advance how you will be expected to hold the controller. If it's a new way to hold it, you will get an humorously mellow introduction to the "form", e.g. the "Umbrella form" where you hold the controller facing upwards.

Elebits is a lot of fun, and reminds me in some vague ways of Katamari Damacy (being able to interact with larger things the further you go is the big metaphor). Some awful voice-acting and the weight of some things sometimes doesn't seem right, but the game is quite a hoot, as you zap little escaped Elebits to get enough wattage to start powering things on around the house, and the elebits that come from the appliances can let you start moving heavier things. I'm having troubles turning to the right, though, which is detracting from the game, but I do wonder if I have some signal bouncing going on, because left works perfectly. You get to make an extraordinary mess of the rooms in your quest for elebits, which is itself quite satisfying :)

All in all, I'm looking forward to future games on this platform. I'm a pretty good gamer, but adding the kinesthetic element really provides one more level of challenge, and keeps me up and off the couch (though quite frankly, you can control the Wii from the couch if you so choose :) Ones that really use the controller paradigm will probably do better than ones with the Wii controller stuck on as an afterthought... well, at parties, anyhow. This is the ideal party machine.

I will re-thank my coworkers on Monday :)

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