Pretentious, opinionated language

Games, technology, music, silliness. Oh and ninjas. Lots of ninjas.

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Location: Oslo, Norway

I am Andreas. Day time programmer and technical consultant. Night time musician and game developer.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Wii in da house

So i picked up my Wii this friday. It was pretty easy since i preordered; went down to EB during lunch hours, got a Wii and an extra remote+nunchuck. I'm super happy i got the extra controllers because Wii Sports is *worthless* without it, but more on that later. Turns out it was actually harder to get the games than it was to get the console. Most people were able to walk out with a console, but very few got the games they wanted. In my case i couldn't get Zelda. I'll go searching for it next week, maybe i'll dig up a copy somewhere.

I brought my bag of Wii-related junk back to the office, and it was almost impossible to NOT start opening boxes. Prior to this, my only look at it was through pictures and a good few brief looks at E3. Being able to unwrap one and touch it was too crazy a prospect not to jump right at it.

The response around the office was pretty much immediate. People gushing over the controllers, the console itself, even the box art, talking about the potential, how many things you could do with it. Hard not to feel a bit like the king of the castle when everyone at the office wants what you own ;)

Anders giving his approval

We set it up at my friend Richard's house later that night, as he has more room than me. The process of setting it up was, basically, Nintendo easy. I had a total blast setting up my 360, but the Wii was very, very simple to get up fast. He has a somewhat unorthodox tv tuner based setup much like my own, but we had no problem whatsoever getting the thing on, synching up the extra controller, and getting busy getting it online.

Richard's wireless network has a *64 letter WPA key with upper and lower case letters*, so it was a total chore to get his wireless key in there, giving me quite a crash course in using the remote to input text and numbers. Let me tell you, nothing else out there short of hooking up a keyboard comes remotely close. In fact, throughout the Wii interface, Nintendo have done an exceedingly good job of making it easy to write things. You even have an SMS-like interface in addition to the onscreen qwerty keyboard, complete with an SMS-like dictionary. The dictionary even had the name Anders in there, which surprised me somewhat.

The online update popped up pretty fast compared to the craziness Gamespot's launch feature demonstrated, and we were on the main menu, 2 controller "hands" on screen. Naturally, the first thing we did was create Miis. I've made quite a few since then; here's me and my girlfriend:

I'm on the left by the way ;P

The Mii thing, for the record, is mindblowingly entertaining. It's impossibly simple to get caricatures of you and your friends up there, and sometimes the accuracy is startling. My friend Billy sent me a few he and his friend Jesse made of them and their girlfriends, and the likeness is pretty intense. Being able to beat the shit out of them in Wii Boxing is another awesome pleasure.

After the first while with the remote and the interface, i found some running themes that i really enjoyed, both as a user and as a developer: The buttons on the controller relevant to general interaction is the dpad, the remote itself, the A (top) button and the B (trigger) button. B is "back". A is "confirm". B+A is "grab". After a while this feels very natural, closing your hand around objects to pick them up. This runs through the Messaging interface, the Channel browser and the Mii channel. I assume it will ring true for forthcoming channels as well.
The Channel metaphor is brilliant. There's nothing better than being able to go to the Bomberman channel.


We decided to go through Wii Play first. I'll write a review for this later, but i'll just say it's pretty obvious why the game is a freebie with the extra remote. It's pretty bad stuff. Some of it was rather fun, but it actually seems to complicate the controller more than it diffuses any mystique there may be. For instance the air hockey game controls by pointing where you want your paddle to be at, and the pointer functionality at the current stage has too much latency for that kind of fast reponsive behavior. It works for aiming something at a point: not so much split second accurate response. The motion sensing works far better than the positioning, with fast responsive gestures, much more so than i'd expected.

After Wii play it was on to Wii sports. We started at midnight, and i came home around 5am. Today my arms are sore at the elbows and shoulders. It's a good sore; the one i'd usually get from Wing chun training. It feels like you did something worthwhile.

We had the most fun with Bowling and Golf. Golf has somewhat of an inherent appeal as we're both, frankly, prep nerds, but it is actually a very good game of golf lite. Hardened souls will probably recognize that the motion required to hit the ball isn't necessarily realistic. We played some "overhand" golf for a while for instance, but the fun you can have by going through the full range of motion and *playing some make-believe golf* is pretty damn intense, and anyone too jaded to get into it; i pity the fool.

So far, i'm deeply happy with my purchase. The thing is fun, responsive, intuitive and incredibly sexy. I have barely touched my other consoles for 2 days. Here's hoping i can pick up Zelda sometime soon.


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