So we've had our Wii in our home for about 2 weeks now which means this will be more of an impressions post rather than first impressions as I am a firm believer that first impressions are only skin deep and don't really tell you everything you need to know
That said, after 2 weeks of constant play with the Wii I can say without hesitation that the people at Nintendo have showed us once more that they are a bunch of geniuses.
I never thought I'd get so well acquainted with gaming console after years and years of being a causal gamer who in truth is more interested in the Home Theater / HD capabilities of the 128-bit generation and beyond (and someone who missed the 32/64 bit generation of consoles entirely). The true gamer in my family is my boyfriend who is more of a gamer-addict than an avid gamer. But we've had to set up a schedule for when I can play my Zelda b/c it cuts into his 360-Phantasy Star Online gaming time and he gets upset.
I really never imagined that the Wii mote would update video game play in such an incredible way. When I read previews of Wii sports - particularly bowling - I was completely skeptical. But after a few days of playing Wii-tennis, bowling, and boxing, I am astounded. I even prefer Wii-bowling to the real thing! I've yet to try Baseball and I can't seem to get the hang of golf, but I've never golfed besides the occasional put at the mini-golf birthday parties so I'm no expert.
When I first saw the Wii-mote I thought it looked a bit on the clunky side. I never imagined it would be so intuitive to use and that the Wii - Sports motion would mimic so closely the real thing.
I was reading an article the other day in which someone from Microsoft (I think it was Bill Gates himself) commented on how odd it would probably be to hold two separate pieces of the Wii controller in each hand. I wonder if he still feels the same way today. I pretty much dread going back to a traditional controller. I've personally heard Bill Gates say so many "out of the box" things over the past 12 years, that i can't believe he would comment this way. the Wii controller is so well implemented it is really REVOLUTIONARY.
My one big gripe with Wii sports is that it doesn't have built-in online play. In hindsight this looks like a much more serious oversight being that there are 4 million Wii consoles in homes around the world at this moment (or at least shipped, but you tell me where one is actually available for purchase at retail price and you start to realize that there are pretty much 4 million Wiis that can be linked together for online play.) In particular, I cannot wait to play Wii Tennis and boxing online. I understand that Nintendo didn't want to spend all that extra time developing features that may never become popular, but with the success of the console more or less ensured, it seems silly not to be Wii-connect24 capable out of the box. Anyway perhaps they can add this feature via software update or something.
My second gripe (which also has to do with the Wii online strategy) is lack of voice chat. My boyfriend spends countess hours every day playing PSU on his 360 and I feel so sorry for all those playing PSU on the PC or PS2 who have to type out commands to communicate. Of course the average participant seems to be male, age 14, so most of the conversations are not what you'd call intellectual in nature. But if the original xBox was capable of voice chat over a broadband line, then the next gen consoles can do it as well and they should. It really adds so much to the gameplay.
With regards to the Wii interface, I have to say I like it very much although at times I think it looks decidedly dated or low res especially in comparison with the 360's interface (which admittedly is running at 720p on my setup). I'm also super impressed with the Opera browser beta - although I've found little practical use for it besides when I'm too lazy to move from the couch to my computer to check email and read some news stories.
Being right handed, I find that it is easier to press the minus key w\\ my right thumb than it is to press the plus key thus making zoom-in kind of a pain. Otherwise I find surfing the web with the Wii-mote to be really well done.
Note to 3rd party developers: Please create a USB dongle / sensor bar combo that will allow us to use the Wii-mote as a standard mouse.
Interestingly enough, the News channel came on the other day and I couldn't be happier. I was so impressed with the way the articles were formatted to be easy to read on the TV without having to zoom in and pan left and right. I hope we are given the option to subscribe to news feeds that we find relevant in the future so that we can get news sources that have different points of view besides the few standard US-based news sources.
The most non- intuitive Wii menu option I found is when attempting to set up Wii Connect 24 for the 1st time. Instead of taking you directly to the parental controls section where you must agree to use Wii-Connect 24 when 1st trying to set it up, it makes you drop all the way out into the parental controls section, agree to use Wii connect 24 and then makes you go back to the online options. Which I thought was unnecessarily cumbersome, although I can see how it might throw a little bit more weight to the importance of the decision.
It is Zelda: Twilight Princess that has me most impressed of all. I always took statements like Once you play Zelda with a Wii-mote you will not be able to go back to a regular controller. With a grain of salt. Oh please! was my typical response. But I have to admit, I am sold. I have my GC Zelda: Ocarina - Master Quest disc waiting in line for when I will replay it using the Wii and I'm scratching my head trying to figure out a way to make it work with the Wii-mote.
Note to Nintendo: Please re-release all 3D-Zeldas with Wii-mote functionality.
I never want to play Zelda without a motion sensitive controller again. And I was following quite closely the other Zelda Wii vs. GC thread and I thought I would chime in. Particularly on the comments where people said they didn't find the Wii-mote to be as responsive as a traditional controller. All I can say is that the people who feel this way must have some Jedi-like reflexes. I find Link times my hacks, slashes and spins in a 1-to-1 ratio (or close enough to it) that I can't even imagine what people are referring to as lag.
In terms of the rest of the gameplay I find it is exactly what I was expecting, namely Ocarina Part 4. Truth be told I grew up on Sierra adventure games for the PC and have always found the story line and gameplay of Zelda games pretty pedantic - although I can appreciate some of the puzzles that the 3D gameplay has to offer. I think one way (besides the wii-mote functions) that Zelda:TP could have been brought into the next gen by leaps and bounds is by adding Voice work to all the characters. Of course I have to keep reminding myself that this game is a true GC port with Wii-mote functionality rather than a next-gen title.
In fact around 10% through Zelda:TP, after you recover the 1st set of light beams in Link's village and get introduced to the shaman who's lips look lie they've been injected with way too much collagen and look horrible that I once and for all understood that this was a GC game and was not a true showcase for the Wiis graphical abilities.
Let me be clear: the graphics, at times, look absolutely stunning. And I also actually love opening new treasure chests b/c each animation has a background unique to the location that link is in which was not always so obvious in previous 3D Zelda games. But I also belong to that school that says the graphics in WindWaker were pretty much stunning from start to finish. And for a while I really believed that Zelda:TP was almost like a step backwards in terms of graphics. However, at some point my BF and I were talking about this and he said, you really cannot compare cell-shaded WindWaker with 3D Twilight Princess. And I believe this is a fair assessment. Although I was very impressed with the fluidity of Windwaker (and the near complete absence of load times between areas) I will say that the Zelda:TP world is much more detailed world.
Its funny how if you give a game a stylized look, as with WindWaker, even though it may not be realistic or lacking in some pretty basic details, it still comes of as complete or finished-looking. I think it was a conscious choice made by Nintendo to go the cell shaded, stylized look. This allows them to seemingly do more than the technology might permit. In the same vain, I guess if you increase the level of detail on screen you have to increase the load time for everything to be drawn. Not that the loadtimes in Twilight Princess prohibit the gameplay, its more that I was stunned by the way the loading was masked in WW and it is now definitely noticeable - albeit minor in TP. I wonder how the load times are in the GC version of TP. I also find that the graphics seem to be improving as I progress through the game. I am still pretty much at the beginning of my quest having only completed the second dungeon so far, so I expect I have a few surprises in store graphics-wize.
Come to think of it, Nintendo also chose a stylized look for the graphics in Wii sports because they wanted the focus to be on gameplay. But it also masks some of the graphical shortcomings of the system. In general, I am satisfied with the graphics I have seen thus far, but I guess I'd be lying if I said that I didn't wish the Wii could do more in terms if graphics.
Still, I think in a few years time when we see a second Zelda title for the Wii the newness factor of the Wii will have dissipated and so even with voice chat or crazy graphical updates it wont be considered next gen b/c we will be so deep into the current generation of consoles. Meanwhile I think that the worst thing Nintendo could do is make the mistake that Sega did during the Genesis: try to capitalize on the success of their current console that they offer an updated version (think Sega X32 or Wii HD) that would only serve to confuse prospective consumers (and their parents) and compete with the Wii for people's limited gaming dollars. But all of this is pure speculation. Nintendo is much too careful for that IMO. I only hope that innovative games continue to be released for the Wii and we are not stuck playing Wii sports for the next 5 years.
Anyway, my next games will probably be Wario-Ware and Trauma Centre and I am totally looking forward to the next Mario Bros. adventure. (I may even pick up the upcoming "Ninja Turtles" game in an attempt to relive my SNES days *ducks to avoid tomatoes*)
Most of all I am excited that b/c of the success of the Wii (and I've become somewhat of a celebrity to my non-gamer friends and family who quite inexplicably light up when I tell them I spent an afternoon playing on my new Wii and who all seem to want to get their hands on one) Nintendo is going to find it economically viable to actually come develop the console to a degree that the poor GC sadly never was.. They are going to come out with useful accessories, and even original Virtual Console games. (Does anyone else wish they'd give you a 24 hour trial of the games available on VC to see if they'd really be worth spending $$ on?)
Anyway sorry for the length of this post. These are just some ideas that have been swimming around my head for the past couple days and I'm happy to put them down on paper. Please feel free to post your comments, if any.