Okay, so we’ve had the Wii for a couple of days and I’m finally trying to find some time to blog about it. I’ve really just been being occupied with playing, but I’m going to say that I wanted to Angela to have a chance to play some as well before I wrote much.
I guess the short review is: this thing is insane amounts of fun.
Now, Angela wasn’t as convinced as I of this fact before we had played the system. I had been following quite a bit of news about the Wii ever since Nintendo’s announced that its code-named "Revolution" was going to have a very different controller. It was mostly just out of general curiosity about what the big N was doing, as I had thought that the DS was a really innovative handheld and the fact that Nintendo was making games for people of all ages and interests seemed really cool. Each new revelation about what would eventually be named the Wii got me more and more interested. Sometime a couple of weeks ago, I found myself getting excited about November 19th. I hadn’t ever planned on buying a gaming console ever again, as PC games were much more my speed and interest (plus the fact that console emulators are easy to find for classic systems like the NES and the Sega Genesis). However, I found myself getting really excited about the Wii. This past week I decided: we were just going to have to get one. At first, Angela really was against the idea, citing the fact that we already waste way too much precious time doing non-active things.
At dinner on Saturday at Joe’s Inn, I told her: you’ll thank me later, but I have decided I want to buy as Nintendo Wii. She calmly said: "Okay, but you’ve got to sell me on this thing. Give me five reasons. You can think them up while I’m in the ladies room."
"Can the first one be because it’s insanely fun?"
"No. Five real reasons."
So, here are my five reasons as I listed them to Angela:
- It’s entertainment that will require us to get up off the couch. You have to move to play the games on the Wii.
- There are a lot of classic console games that we download for a small fee each and play in our living room again (just like when we were kids).
- The system comes with a bundled game, Wii Sports (most systems don’t come with games anymore).
- We can download the Opera web browser to surf the web in the living room.
- The Wii will eventually be able to play DVD’s, allowing us to have one less device in our living room (our current, much larger DVD player).
Okay, I’ll be the very first to admit that there are surely better or more interesting reasons that these1. The Wii has built in WiFi (with WPA encryption) and it also has some really great games at launch, just for starters. However, I was under severe time constraints and wasn’t trying to sell this to you or anyone else; I was trying to sell Angela on it. Anyway, after me talking it up here and there over the past month or so and then giving her some of the detailed low-down over dinner, she agreed it sounded like a lot of fun.
She then wanted to know my game plan for getting one the next morning (or at midnight, whichever). I explained to her that all accounts on the internet made Target sound like the best bet to score one but that there were already three or four people lined up outside the Central Richmond store. Further, one person had been outside the Short Pump store since noon that day! She agreed Central Richmond Target sounded like the best bet, but she felt like it was going to be necessary to get there that night and just camp out in line.
Okay, just in case you are reading this fast, let me stress this point once more: Angela, my rational and sane wife, wanted me to camp out in line at a Target store all night in freezing temperatures to get a game console the following morning.
We went home and I got some cold-weather clothes on, grabbed a couple of books, and packed up my sleeping bag. I went over to Libby Place, first stopping by the Starbucks and Barnes and Noble to get a venti coffee and then into Target before the closed. I wanted to get one of those camp-style2 folding chairs to keep my but off of the freezing sidewalk. I got out of the store just a couple of minutes before eleven o’clock, just as they were closing. I got my bag from the truck and found my spot at the end of the already growing line, about fifteen people so far.
The crowd that was there all night was really tame. I think most everyone I talked to anyway was there to get a system for themselves, as opposed to just flipping it on eBay for a profit. These were real Nintendo fans and they had been looking forward to this since before I had been, even. We all chatted the night up, getting to know one another and even more so, what games everyone was looking forward to getting in the morning. One of the guys waiting in line with his fiance was a Target employee and as the night went on I realized that all the stuff I had read online in the week previous was exactly how this was going to go down. From the number of Wii systems this particular store had (39) to the vouchers they would pass out an hour before opening to the fact they were planning on serving everyone in line soda and popcorn the following morning just before opening; it was all spot on.
The thirty-ninth person showed up in line sometime around 5:00 am, I think. My original plan to show up at 4:00 likely would have gotten me a Wii but, to be perfectly honest, I enjoyed hanging out all night and meeting lots of friendly people. I think I brought up the average age of those folks out all night be at least a couple of years all by myself. Even so, everyone was really fun and I enjoyed getting to make some new friends. A couple of girls even picked up two boxes of donuts during their hunt for a civilized bathroom (something about the drainage ditch beside the store didn’t appeal to them). I shared some brownies I picked up earlier for us and everyone was doing their best to make sure that everyone else didn’t freeze (loaning blankets, chairs, and sweatshirts). Even the next morning, when Target employees handed out the console vouchers, the 40th person and on in line didn’t make any big fuss that they didn’t get one. There was no pushing or shoving and certainly no need for the police to use non-lethal weapons to subdue the crowd. Probably the exact opposite from my previous experience of waiting in a long line elsewhere in Henrico County.
The Console Itself
Okay, so not too long afterwards, I was home and warm and ready to unbox my new toy I’d waited so long to get. First of all, the packaging is really very nice (Angela said it really reminded her of an Apple product). However, once it’s out of the package, the first thing that struck me was just how small this console is. For all the talk of how "underpowered" the Wii is, it is still an amazing work of engineering. the entire device is roughly the size of a 5-1/2″ external drive enclosure (like a USB DVD burner, for example). This is slot loading drive, motherboard with processor and graphics chips, Wi-Fi… all of it. It’s really just a very handsome and sleek device that doesn’t scream "I frag!" to anyone who walks into your living room.
The longest part of hooking up the Wii was just pulling out our rather weighty A/V head to hook up the video and audio cable. I think it took less than five minutes and I really anal retentive about this sort of thing, so normal people could probably do it in about a minute. The Wii menu, or home page, is a pretty nice UI. It’s well laid out and intuitive for anybody. I still haven’t even opened up the user manual and really don’t know why I would unless I ever needed to contact Nintendo. I got the latest firmware updates3 and then got online to see about downloading the Opera browser. It’s not yet available, but it will be free through June of next year once it is available.
I got a second controller and nunchuck so we could at least play two-player games, which was also a big deal to Angela (probably should have been one of the five reasons, since the DVD capability might not happen for a while in the states). I played most of the games on my own to begin with, though, since Angela had gone to work by the time I got home that morning with my scored loot.
The first game I gave try was Wii Sports. I wasn’t expecting too much from a bundled game but this thing is loads of fun. I actually enjoy golfing and bowling. There are some practice/training sections which are okay, but the actual sports are where all the fun is at. That night I boxed the computer for three matches and was actually sweating by the end of thirty minutes. The controllers are a little sluggish in boxing, but I was still able to win all three bouts. Tennis matches are also a lot of fun and my Mom (who is currently visiting for the holiday) was able to beat me in two straight matches. Golf and tennis are loads of fun and although I cannot actually play those in real life (nor do I really have any desire to), the controls seem like a very good simulation. I’ve not played a full baseball game yet, but batting practice seems to be what I am the least good at so far.
I’ve played The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess some and so far I really enjoy it. I’m not really far enough into the game yet to really say much about it, though. I’ve spent most of the time playing with another person and Zelda is single player only. However, I figure that game is a long term investment. I know that some people have already beaten the game, but I don’t mind spreading out over weeks or even months. I really want to feel like I’m exploring that world and not rushing through it, kind of like I was getting vacation there.
I had gotten Rayman’s Raving Rabbids since it had a lot of quirky mini-games thinking it might interest Angela. However, after I got home I was almost regretting spending more than I had initially intended to (I hadn’t planned on buying but one additional game and that was Zelda). However, I am glad I decided to break it out. Angela and I are having a blast playing all of the very stupid yet incredibly addictive mini games. We absolutely love whomping bunnies in the face with plungers. I don’t know if this qualifies as a first-person-shooter, but we love it.
The Wii’s Have It
Well, Angela has now played the gaming console, along with my Mom and we all agree it is so much fun we almost feel guilty. I spoke with my brother Dave earlier tonight and he jokingly asked me if I was a gamer now. I honestly answered no, I’m not. This is really all about entertainment and fun with friends and family. The machine itself (and it’s controller) is more than just a novelty, though. This is what gaming can be. I still don’t consider myself a gamer, at least not that it is a serious hobby. However, I am glad that I have a fun new device in the living room that is much more than just sitting on the couch and pushing some buttons.
Penny Arcade weighs in on the Wii Remote’s attempt at getting gamers off the couch. Angela and I and continue to look like toolboxes, regardless. Thanks to Bit-Tech‘s Will Harris for point this out on this week’s TWiT.
- I probably should have considered consulting Glamour as apparently they have a different take on five great reasons a girl would want a Wii. [↩]
- No one actually takes those camping, unless they are doing it out of the back of their pick-up truck, though. Those things weight like ten pounds. [↩]
- There have been a number of reports about some people getting serious Error Code messages and essentially bricking their consoles. Fortunately, that didn’t happen to me. However, it would have been too late by the time I learned about any of that. [↩]