The name may be goofy and surely lends itself to a hundred different bad puns, but Nintendo’s new console is a serious contender. It’s so vastly different from the competition that it’s debatable whether Microsoft and Sony really are competitors at all, meaning casual and serious gamers alike have a lot to look forward too in the Wii.
Nintendo’s theme at the show is “Playing = Believing,” and it’s exactly the way to describe the situation. Once you experience the games, any concerns you might have about looking childish by swinging a controller like a tennis racquet are replaced by a childish grin on your face. Simple things become engrossing. Opening doors in Metroid on GameCube performed by pressing a button, are now done by physically reaching forward with the controller, grabbing, and twisting the lock.
The Wii is far smaller and lighter than either
Sony or Microsoft’s offering.
It’s a very different and very immersive thing, and it makes very simple games much better than they would otherwise seem. A perfect example is the games that comprise Wii Sports, a collection containing rudimentary versions of tennis, golf, and baseball. The graphics are low-quality, the gameplay is simplistic, but when played with the Wii controller they’re surprisingly good.
More impressive are the full-fledged titles, with Metroid being one of the most fun. No, it doesn’t really look any better than the last one, but the control scheme is brilliant. Using the thumbstick on the left “Nunchuck” add-on controller to move Samus, flicking the Nunchuck to use the grappling hook, and aiming by moving the controller itself works brilliantly.
Using the Wii’s Nunchuck, which like the main controller
is motion-sensitive, gives you a separate analog thumbstick
plus two extra buttons.
Super Mario Galaxy is another great game. It doesn’t really use the Wii controller for much, but it looks like it’ll be as fun as Mario Sunshine was, with some new gameplay mechanics introduced by the extra-stellar setting. Zelda: Twilight Princess, launching on the GameCube as well, uses the Wii controller to control Link’s sword fighting, aim his bow, and cast a fishing rod. Graphically there are not a lot of differences between the two versions of the game, but the extra feel added by the Wii controller is reason enough to upgrade.
Mario leaves the solar system in Mario Galaxy.
Perhaps the most impressive looking game is Red Steel. At first glance it seems like something the GameCube could handle, but after a few minutes of play looking at the subtle reflections, ragdoll physics, and other visual tricks, you realize there’s some visual depth to the game. It doesn’t hold a candle to Xbox 360 powerhouses like Gears of War, but it isn’t a bad looking game on its own accord, and using the Wii controller to aim weapons or wield swords is a blast.
Choose who lives and who dies when you,br>wield a sword in Red Steel.
It’s perhaps not worthy of being called “next gen”
in terms of graphics, but Red Steel is definitely
“next gen” in terms of gameplay.
Before the show everyone lampooned Nintendo for their poor name choice. It’s still a poor name choice, but the system’s games will be more than good enough to make up for it.
Fans lined up for hours to get their hands on
Nintendo’s Wii console, and most found the wait was worth it.
[Text and original images by Tim Stevens.]