When I picked up a Wii a couple months ago I never bothered to do a "first impressions" type post. The reason for this was twofold: 1) there are already a million glowing, feverishly ecstatic "Wii First Impression" articles out there, and 2) it seemed sort of pointless when I only had one game.
And what a game! Wii Sports had me AND Julie hooked for awhile. We'd fire up that Wii and swing our Wiimotes around to Wii Tennis. I'd fire up the baseball and sock dingers. I'd stay far away from Wii Golf! Just like real life!
Then I discovered some tricks. For one thing, you really don't need to be standing up to play some of these games. You can sit there on the couch and casually flick your wrist playing Wii Tennis. In fact, playing this way actually makes you better because you can get unbelievable force on your shots by making quick jerky motions as opposed to "proper" sweeping motions.
Similar tricks apply for baseball. Instead of performing a full swing, you are guaranteed to hit 600 foot blasts out of the stadium on every swing if you give the controller a quick flick. Same thing for pitching: 93 mph every time.
That doesn't mean these games aren't still fun. And it actually is more entertaining to do a full swing. But you're handicapping yourself if you do that.
Keep in mind though, there's only so much mileage one can get out of Wii Sports before you start to wonder if you really just paid $250 for a one game console. I picked up Zelda for the Wii at the same time as the system, and I'm sure if any Nintendo fans out there read this they will kill me on sight... but I fail to see what the fuss is about.
First of all, the graphics on this game. I'm the first one to say over and over again that graphics shouldn't matter in a game. This is almost always true. But in the case of the Wii, when you can buy a pimped out Xbox 360 with full HD capability and everything for the same price, it is really tough not to feel serious inadequacy. I mean, Zelda looks like it could've been made at least 5 years ago.
None of this would matter if the game was fun. A lot of people seem to think it is. But for me it consisted of between 2-3 minutes of fun, followed by an hour or so of trying to figure out what the hell to do next. When you're in the forest temple and those damn monkeys are squawking at you for over 60 minutes, trust me, you're not thinking about how neat it is to swing the Wiimote and watch Link swing his sword. You just want the monkeys to shut up and the pain to end.
But don't worry, once you solve the madness of the maze and the puzzles, they will be quickly replaced with another!
I quickly traded Zelda for Madden 07. I really should have known better than to do this. I haven't enjoyed a Madden game since the 2002 version. But I figured messing with the controls on the Wii would provide some good fun.
Wrong. Most unnecessarily complex control scheme ever. There are some great ideas here: running the football is pretty cool and intuitive. Jerking one of your controllers left will make the running back spin or juke left, etc.
But defense. Not even Mike Martz would find this level of defense acceptable. The controls just can't seem to figure out what your intent is. When I try to tackle, the guy leaps to... deflect the pass?... well there goes the running back. Touchdown. When I rush on the line or spin out of a block... my guy dives?... well there goes the running back. Touchdown. Okay, this time I'm just going to sit back and try to deflect the pass, I know I can do that. Here comes the pass, my guy... tackles the wide receiver?... pass interference, ball on the one yard line.
It doesn't get much better from there. I tried out Super Paper Mario, which got decent reviews. Folks, this is a game suited for the DS, not a "next-gen" console.
I hate to say it, but the games that are coming out for the Wii just flat out suck right now. Look at this list of recent games with their Metacritic rating:
- Spider-Man 3: 56
- Bionicle Heroes: 49
- Heatseeker: 67
It goes on like this. There are only 10 games that are well reviewed enough to even garner ratings above 75:
2) Super Paper Mario
3) WarioWare: Smooth Moves
4) Madden 07
5) Trauma Center: Second Opinion
7) Rayman Raving Rabbits
8) Wii Sports
10) Super Monkey Ball
Three of those games on the list I have played and didn't like one bit. Two of them are essentially DS games ported to the Wii. Three of them are mini-game compilations. If this is the best the system has to offer, my purchase is starting to look dubious.
Compare that with the Xbox 360 which boasts 83 games rated over 75. Folks, the Wii doesn't even have 83 titles available for purchase yet.
During the last console war, I managed to back the wrong horse by going with the XBox. I got some decent mileage out of the system (the Star Wars RPGs were awesome), but it is now pretty clear the PS2 was (and still is) the way to go. Since picking up a PS2 I've played at least 20 superb titles, and I've only had the console since November. A buddy even loaned me God of War 2 recently, and this thing looks and plays better than anything on the Wii I've seen. I'm talking about a PS2 title here, folks.
I'm still holding out hope. The Wii has a cool control scheme and the possibilities seem staggering. But they have not even come close to being realized yet, and all of the goodwill and market advantages Nintendo has managed to grab for themselves aren't going to mean a thing if they don't have the games. Every console war in the history of consoles has been decided by the games.
Nintendo has chosen to market "fun" ahead of "graphics". That's a worthy strategy, but they better come up with some more "fun" games and pronto. My idea of "fun" is not playing Wii Sports for a year.
Anyway, I could always sell the Wii now and get my money back for it easily enough. But I'm sure, like my Dad when he refused to admit backing Beta may have been a mistake, I'll go down with this ship, flailing my Wiimote all the way.
Note: Most of the links are to Penny Arcade, which is basically like the Oprah Winfrey of the video game crowd in that they have an army of slavish followers that will obey their every whim. That's not their fault though, and besides, their comics are funny.