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So, I had a chance to try out the Wii at the local Arcadia Festival yesterday. I wasn’t blown away with the festival itself (the only new thing there was the Wii and entering ended up costing 17.50$ rather than the 10$ the website claims), but it’s always nice to try out new games before their official release. I was taking a “wait and see” approach to the Wii, so that was a nice opportunity to see if the hype was warranted.
I played Wii Tennis and Excite Truck and watch others play Zelda, Raving Rabbids and Warioware. As I expected, the graphics were nothing exceptional — they were about the level of good looking Xbox (the original) games. But hey, it’s all the revolutionary controls, right?
The two games I played were quite simple: Wii tennis could be played with a single button instead of the wiimote (you don’t even control the movement of your character) and Excite Truck is an arcade racer with an accelerator and a boost button. Warioware looked just as simple. Raving Rabbids is a gun shooting game (with a cursor on screen) with some mini-games. The people I watched play Zelda didn’t seem to use motion sensing for much, but I didn’t watch them for too long.
I didn’t see anything really revolutionary — nothing that couldn’t be done easily on previous consoles. Sure the games are accessible to non-gamers (the target market for the Wii), but it’s because of the simplicity of the games and not the new controller. Would Excite Truck be much harder to play if you pressed left and right instead of holding the controller like a steering wheel?
Talking about Excite Truck, it had a control problem that’s unique to the Wii: lack of feedback. On a regular controller, you know if you’re turning as hard as is possible because you’re pressing the joystick fully. On the Wii, you turn the controller like a virtual steering wheel, but it’s not clear how much you need to turn it: is a quarter-turn enough? Is it 180°? 45°? Hard to say because there’s nothing to stop your movement.
Likewise, it isn’t obvious in Tennis that flicking your wrist results in much more powerful hits than full arm movements. I’m sure I’d get used to those two quirks, but it goes to show that there’s a different type of learning curve with the Wii: learning to do the motions correctly.
Nintendo’s motto is “Playing is Believing”. I played, I still don’t believe. I’m sure games taking full advantage of the Wii’s capabilities will come out eventually, but none of the games I saw really impressed me. Aside from Zelda, they mostly felt like mini-games. Zelda is also coming to the Gamecube, and (I’m probably the only one to think so) I think the Zelda formula is getting stale after 10 gajillion games. So I guess it’s still wait and see for me.