Monday, December 25, 2006

Wii wish you a Merry Christmas

It’s a rule. You’re not allowed to make any kind of Wii related article, without having some kind of pun in the title.

I’ve had a couple of goes on a Wii now. I’ve played Excite Truck, Wii Sports, a Monkey Ball mini game, and I’ve had a go at creating a Mii. I’ve also seen one connect to the internet and visit a regular website. Here are a few impressions:
  • Wii Sports is fun. It has about five main game types, of which some offer limited longevity (boxing), but some of the others, such as golf and tennis are worth coming back to.
  • It’s really cool that it connects wirelessly to the internet and gives you a proper web browser (Opera based). As a test, we connected to YouTube and watched a video. It all works, but due to the limited resolution, you generally need to zoom in and scroll around the page to read it. For text entry a virtual keyboard appears, which you type on by aiming the Wiimote at the screen and shooting the letters sort of like a light gun. I’m sure a third party hardware manufacturer will do a keyboard before long.
  • When the Wiimote is used to point at the screen like a light gun / mouse, it’s very nice. The pointer is nice and steady and easy to control. One fun thing is that the pointer icon on the screen rotates if you twist the remote. In Excite Truck I noticed the pointer jittering. I’m going to take a guess that when the pointer position is smooth, the application is doing some averaging out of the position to hide the jitter. If this is the case, then there might be a slight lag in how well the pointer follows your actions, but I didn’t notice a problem.
  • Monkey Ball has something like 50 mini games, which each find different uses for the controller. I didn’t play it much, but this would very likely be a good game to get for Wii, as the original was good.
  • I find the Mii creation to be great fun. You personalize a little 3D person to look like yourself (or whoever) and then games can give you the option to play as your Mii. In Wii Sports, the little character who’s doing the sport can be the Mii you created. You can configure multiple Mii’s on one box, and I believe that when you see which of your friends are online, you see their Mii’s. Very cool. It’s quite reminiscent of the south park character creator.

  • The controller works well.
  • It’s great fun for everyone, even people who never play games.
  • Free online service (as opposed to monthly payments for things like Xbox Live).
  • Nice and small.
  • $250.
  • The limited resolution is going to detract from the usefulness of the browser (I think).
  • The CPU and GPU aren’t the best, but then that’s not the selling point.

Overall I’m greatly impressed. I’ll be picking on up as soon as the drought is over.

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