Thursday, February 01, 2007

Review: Nintendo Wii

I've never bought a game console in my life, though I did own an Atari Lynx once upon a time. But when a colleague brought in his Wii and I tried it, I thought that this game would be something that Lisa would love. So over the holidays, I brought her over to another friend's place to test that theory. Needless to say, she was hooked. She got so into the Tennis game that she kept hitting me by mistake. When she tried the boxing game, her palms were so sweaty that my friend had to wipe the controls dry when she was finished.

The hard part was to find a console. I was fortunate that Kekoa worked down the hall from me and had a script that scraped Amazon's Wii page, and when it was available (for all of 5 minutes) I got one. The console only comes with one controller and one nunchuk, so I immediately bought another set, and then signed up for Gamefly, the Netflix of computer games.

I've had the console for a week, and tried a couple of games with Lisa and a few friends. The choice of Wii sports as the game to bundle with the game is nothing short of inspired. Lisa would start having to remove jackets or sweaters by the second round of tennis, because she was getting such a workout. The internet features are a little disappointing, and I've crashed the console a few times, so it's not the most stable right now, but when playing the games you won't notice. (It's mostly crashed when I was running the beta Opera browser)

I also tried two games, Zelda: Twilight Princess is a fun console RPG. (Note the emphasis on console RPG. Balder's Gate or Neverwinter Nights this is not --- the story is strictly linear) The controls are very intuitive and a lot of fun, and the story is nice. But it's a little involving, and there are a few places where if you don't quite follow the story line you might have to do a lot of backtracking. Nevetheless, if the game appeals to you, it's worth buying since it's quite a long rental to finish it.

Trauma Center: Second Opinion turned out to be another winner. It's got amazingly intuitive controls (especially the defibrillator, which vibrates just enough when you activate it to feel real), and fast, short, uninvolved gameplay. You could pick this up and play for half an hour every other day, which I doubt you can do with Zelda.

In any case, the Wii has proved to be an amazingly good game, and in terms of the amount of use we'll get out of it, I think it will prove to be a fantastic purchase. My only complaint is that the SDK is extremely expensive (and not at all easy to get), as there are quite a number of games I can think of that can use this intuitive interface amazingly well. I think the Wii is the first truly original video game concept I've seen for a long while, and I am convinced that it's going to stay the runaway success it's been for the past few months.
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