November 24th, 2006, 00:17 Posted By: Is'lan
One of my earliest childhood memories was watching my brother play such games as Super Mario Bros. for the original NES, and Final Fantasy 2 and 3 for the SNES. Of course, at the time, my own ventures in the gaming world was limited mostly to multiplayer bouts with my family. Once I was old enough to buy my own video games, however, it was in the Playstation hay-day, and once I saved money enough I finally got my PS2 when I was 17. The Nintendo in that age was different to me from the Nintendo of before, a company that I felt more indifference to than craving at its center bastion of creativity.
But those days changed as I lay knelt before my bed, slowly opening this small, white box sporting a small, three-letter word. The Wii stood for something new, something different, something innovative. And now it was mine, the first person to get it from GameStop as the hour struck midnight, marking the beginning of the 19th of November.
I slipped open the box neatly, not even needing to cut any tape off. What awaited me were two slide-out compartment-shelves. I slipped open the first one, to find a flock of instruction manuals, the sensor bar, the nunchuck, but more importantly, the wiimote. I slipped the protective sheath off the tiny saber, instantly noticing that it seemed smaller than predicted, and, despite reading a review that spoke to the contrary, incredibly light. So light, in fact, that it almost seemed absurd how much the item really costs.
The second shelf I pulled out. And there it was. Taking its protective coat off, I curled the white obelisk within the dark folds of my arms, a demon embracing an angel. "It has been far too long, old friend," I muttered to it. Nintendo, I am back.
The setup was easy enough as any standard gaming console, barely even bothering to look through the instruction manuals, of which there are quite a few, including three copies of the same one (one in English, one Spanish/Mexican?, and one French). The only thing about the setup that really made it different from any other system was the sensor bar: small, thin, and well-balanced, it fit neatly atop my television, its thin wire draping from behind it, up into the compartment that held my Wii. And by thin, I do very-much-so mean thin, almost to the point of fear of too much weight being put on it, and long, quite long, which may come in very useful one day.
The power adapter, audio/visual cables connected, and the sensor bar all connected in the back, it was time to fire this baby up. One thing I noticed was that the standby-light on the Wii came immediately on when I plugged the power adapter in. Though I have not even bothered reading any manual yet, I must come to the current conclusion that it is in fact impossible to turn off your Wii short of unplugging it outright.
Turning It On
I sat back on my couch, and pressed the little power button on the Wii-mote. Instead of getting some nice, happy-sounding startup sound like I was hoping for, however, I simply got a safety-warning/caution from Nintendo before moving on to the mundane task of filling out such things as the time, date, and location/language. At the end of it all, though, came the time to actually name my Wii. Though I take great delight out of naming my computers, I have never received any inspiration to name any of my consoles. After much deliberation, I decided on Evereska, punching in the words from an on-screen keyboard with the wiimote. Indeed, these first trials with the wiimote felt very responsive, if making a notice of my hand's own unsteadiness. One nice feature I liked was that the wiimote pulses as the cursor moves over selectable buttons. Feels like you are really moving over them.
Once the name was complete, I was brought to the Wii Channels page. Since the box did not come with the Wii StartUp Disc like I was expecting (as some have reported), I decided to jump right in and put a game in.
Of course, the first thing I try out is Tennis. I used this opportunity to experiment with the wiimote, letting the system tell the difference of power of my strokes. I even tried to see if a light swing would be detected in order to set the ball right over the net: turns out that that is not a recommended strategy, with motion not seeming to be picked up at all. Really, you only seem to have two moves in this game, front-swing and back-swing, along with changing the height of your racket to hit the ball. Though I tried playing this game sitting down at first, me and my friends found that it was more fun standing up. Though a simple game, we found it mildly enjoyable for it's simplicity.
Next my friend Jesse gave a shot at bowling. I'm not sure if it is the same in real life, but at first we discovered that there is a natural tendency of the ball to drift to the left, causing us to move more to the right in order to get a strike. However, as he got more used to the controls, Jesse started being more powerful with his throws, which seemed to cancel out the drifting. One fine moment of physics was when he was able to pick up a two-set spare, launch one pin into another for the win.
Our next undertaking was boxing, which is, in our opinion, the best. It is the only one that we have played that uses the nunchuck attachment (for some reason all other games make you remove the nunchuck before playing), using both to box in normal fashion, setting them inwards to block, and leaning them left and right to effectively swerve. This combination of features quickly became lots of fun, though we discovered that the game doesn't like it when you move the wiimote too fast.
Though I would not say that this game is money-worthy, Wii Sports is a very nice addition to the game system, and an excellent item with which to first test out your new controls. (Oh, and remember: you can make your own personal Mii with which to play Wii Sports, as well as other future planned games). But now, it was probably time for a real game.
I really wanted to pick up Zelda: Twilight Princess at launch, naturally, but unfortunately GameStop had them already fully reserved (silly me, I only preordered the console itself). However, they did have plenty of copies of Red Steel, which was in my head the next-best game for the launch. So I inserted the disc and selected the game channel from the Wii Channel page. The disc ran for a while before it finally loaded, bringing me to a new interface. The wiimote seemed to slow down, and I was brought to a very odd menu screen after all the initial messages (I do get tired of seeing the same ones very every single game you play). I new from the beginning that this was going to take some getting used to as I had to use the wiimote, not only to select a menu item, but had to click and drag it on to a billboard for some reason.
I quickly found myself dropped in the story, which I must say seems quite bland. The immersion factor seems quite wanting, with the fact that it is a video game being reminded to you every time an NPC talks. My first trials, of course, involved simply moving the camera around. The "bounding box," as IGN puts it, or, the invisible area on-screen that acts as a turning-point when the wiimote pointer strays to it, felt more responsive than I had feared. However, there were still some performance problems, such as the cursor seeming to get stuck one of the right-hand corners, not wanting to come down, thus making it difficult if you wanted to, say, look up-right and then smoothly move to just right-pan. There was also a time when a sensor-mishap with the wiimote resulted in my character's arms apparently twisting upside-down on screen.
There is also a certain care you have to find yourself taking with wiimote. For example, I quickly found that sitting straight up and forward instead of slouching makes a big difference. Also, try to have a centering-point for the wiimote and nunchuck, namely to where your elbows are glued to your sides with your forearms pointing out and a little inwards (at least with my not-very-big screen that I have to deal with). There is also a necessary feature in Red Steel where you can zoom in on enemies by holding A and pushing the wiimote towards the screen. Several times I had a problem, though, when I'd be under cover, and my arm would be sticking out but it would not be zoomed in. What can a guy do? Well, stretch yourself out to lean even further in, as uncomfortable as that is.
I also had some initial fears of the sword-fighting system put to rest: your movement is not fixed, though the camera is (on your opponent), and the parry and dodge system is not as repetitive-feeling as I thought that it would be. However, don't expect to be using your wiimote like a real sword. The attacks, so far that I have seen, are rather limited, and without a clear command with the wiimote, it becomes very finnicky.
All-in-all, I only played the first twenty minutes of the game that really only acts as an introduction to the gameplay, so there is a chance for improvement as the game continues.
For my final task I decided to at least try to connect to the internet; though I did not myself have a wireless router, I live close enough to my college campus that I just might be able to find a connection. And, lo and behold, I could, given the option to select one of two wireless access points (their icons showing which signal strength was stronger). The actual connection, however, took quite a long while. Also, when I put my Wii into standby and turned it back on, it seemed that it needed to connect again, which seems to me that it goes against the claim that the Wii remains connected to the Internet even when it is in standby.
Well, that is all for my initial review. Though so far I am at least not used to this new control scheme, I still have high hopes for this game console. Why? Because Nintendo is actually trying to be creative. The actual fate of it, however, lies in the game developers.
As I thought Red Steel does get better, although the sword-fighting system remains pretty buggy and unresponsive to the point of annoyance (but can somewhat be enjoyable just for visual appeal if nothing else). Often I find myself laughing at the terrible dialogue. I have also run into a few glitches in the game, such as when one sword-fighting match started, instead of switching to my sword automatically, I still had my uzi equipped. So I tried to simply shoot the guy. That failed, and instead it then switched to my sword, only the sound-effect the uzi firing kept on going, and remained throughout the rest of the scene. As for the enemy AI, it is both good and yet at the same time not so good. They are very good at hiding at cover, but kneeling down behind a box of crates doesn't help when I'm already on the other side of said crates. Though I rather wish I had not spent $50 on it, I still enjoy having it.
I have also managed to pick up Zelda: Twilight Princess, and must say I am more than impressed just with the use of colors in this game. My only gripe is that sometimes the gameplay feels as if you are really just trying to find out what you are suppose to do, and it's easy to do once you find out what it is, rather than the other way around, but that in no way keeps me from enjoying it. I'm in the third dungeon currently, and I must also praise their creative level designing. This is simply a winner and a must-have for all Wii owners.
Also, I was a little worried about power to the wiimote. The AA's that came packaged definitely did not last the promised 60 hours, but my rechargeable 2500mAh seem to do the job perfectly. Also, if you let your wiimote sit for awhile, it'll automatically shutdown to save power (you can't manually turn it off though without turning off the Wii).
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