Monday, November 20, 2006

Will Wii or Won't Wii?

So I haven't owned a video game console since the year 2000, when I bought an xBox that I used approximately four times before selling. But since I got a new HD television, I've thought about getting one, even though I'm not really that into video games (mostly because, as a child, I managed to support every single failed gaming and computer platform ever invented -- remember the NEC Turbografix? Of course you don't.)

Anyway, Nintendo, which I thought went bankrupt, is apparently planning to introduce a new console to compete with the Sony PS3 and the aformentioned Microsoft xBox. On Slate, they have competing reviews that suggest (a) the Wii is about to revolutionize gaming or (b) the Wii sucks and will fail spectacularly. Here's the compare-and-contrast, starting with the pro-Wii guy:

Every Wii console comes packaged with Wii Sports, which features a set of simple but addictive games. Wii Tennis, for example, is pretty much a trumped-up Pong with a Wii Remote, and it's exactly as fun as that sounds. More important, it felt like playing tennis, despite the cartoonish graphics and music. The realism in Wii Tennis, like the rest of the games in Wii Sports, comes from the gameplay mechanics of the motion-sensitive controller, not the graphics. To serve, you "toss" the ball in the air by flicking the Wii Remote upward and then serve overhand toward the screen. You must hit forehand or backhand volleys, depending on which side you approach the ball from. You can lob and smash by lifting the Wii Remote upward or downward. I even found myself getting into a slight crouch and dancing on the balls of my feet as I awaited an oncoming serve. In Wii Baseball, I stood in a batter's stance and unconsciously backed up in the box before a pitch.

Well, that actually sounds sort of fun -- a game machine that doesn't give me carpal tunnel syndrome from flicking buttons at 400 mph? That could work! That is, unless the remote doesn't actually sense motion very well:

Sure enough, when I tried hitting a baseball in another game, it was another exercise in round pegs versus round holes. The ball came in, I swung, and the ball flew away. After a few whacks, I realized that the Wii isn't asking me to simulate a realistic swing. There's no reason to assume a batter's stance, and no reason to bother swinging the controller fast or following through—flicking the controller like a pingpong paddle works just as well. This is the Wii's biggest letdown—you don't need to stand up, leap around, or otherwise leave the warm embrace of your couch. The console senses motion, but compared with the full-body workout of a game like Dance Dance Revolution, you're not getting any kind of exercise at all.

Call me a skeptic, but I bet the second guy is on to something here. If you can play Wii Baseball without actually simulating a baseball stance, you are basically playing a crappy carnival game that happens to be electronic. Kids will figure this out quickly and get very annoyed.

[Ed: Does this mean you are recommending a short-sell strategy for Nintendo? Heck no. By predicting that the Wii will suck, I'm practically guaranteeing its success. Whatever I say about electronics, do the opposite.]


Blogger Johnbai3030 said...

It does look kinda fun. And while you could just sit on your couch and flick the controller, wouldn't it be more enjoyable to stand up and pretend you were actually playing baseball/tennis/etc.? Just because you don't have to, doesn't mean you look stupid if you do.

But for the record, Dance Dance Revolution IS the greatest video game ever. Jimmimoose and I have had a few showdowns at the nickle arcade in Portland... and I have the scars to prove it. (We did West Side Story knife-fighting dances.)

10:33 AM  
Anonymous Jimmimoose said...

I lost one of my kidneys to this fucker.

12:58 PM  

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