Wii Havin’ Fun Now

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.

The Sell

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:

  1. It’s enter­tain­ment that will require us to get up off the couch. You have to move to play the games on the Wii.
  2. 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).
  3. The sys­tem comes with a bun­dled game, Wii Sports (most sys­tems don’t come with games any­more).
  4. We can down­load the Opera web brows­er to surf the web in the liv­ing room.
  5. 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.

The Overnighter

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.

The Games

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.

You can play it that way…

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.

  1. I prob­a­bly should have con­sid­ered con­sult­ing Glam­our as appar­ent­ly they have a dif­fer­ent take on five great rea­sons a girl would want a Wii. []
  2. 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. []
  3. 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. []