Five days with Wii – The good, the bad, and the nitpicky

Nintendo really nailed it with the Wii. I do have a few complaints so far, but they’re mostly minor. Here are my thoughts after five days with the Wii.

The Good

It’s Like God’s TV Remote ”“ Yes, the controls on most of the games are intuitive and respond wonderfully, but just as important is the feel of the controller. It’s sturdy, but not too heavy, which can be a difficult feat to pull off – just ask the designers of the Xbox’s original Shamu controller. After playing for a few minutes, it melds with my hand.

Lights on a Controller
”“ As simple as they are, the lights on the bottom of the Wiimote that indicate whether you’re player one, two, three, or four are brilliant. Anyone who has ever played multiplayer games with the WaveBird likely experienced the frustration of whose remote is whose when play resumed after breaks. Several of my family members have been prevented from asking, “Which player am I again?”

Just Like You, Only Cuter – I have to admit that I completely underestimated how great the Mii Channel is. Nearly everyone who’s played my Wii has made one, and I’ve lost count of how many times someone has begged another player to hurry up and finish their Mii so they can get back to Wii Sports. Not to mention seeing myself in Weeble form strangely pulls me into the game and convinces me that I absolutely MUST win this round of golf.

Epiphany: I Am a Hermit ”“ Another simple but friggin’ smart idea ”“ keeping track of the hours and games you play. So that’s where all my free time goes.

Elfin Magic ”“ Three points I’d like to make about Twilight Princess. 1.) This game is basically an enhanced GameCube game, it has been criticized for some blurry textures, and launch games almost always fail to use the full power of a console. Yet Twilight Princess looks amazing. Honestly, if you were to tell me this is the best Wii can do graphically, I’m content. As it has been said many times before, it’s art direction, not horsepower. 2.) Remember those concerns we had about the Wii controls? Oh, how I laugh at our past selves. I need to get one of those phones Cartman had in the Wii episode of South Park, call my past self, and tell myself I’m an idiot. 3.) Game of the Year. There, I said it. Spread the word.

My Family, The Ultimate Focus Group
”“ I witnessed something miraculous today. My sister, who rarely plays games, whooped butt in tennis. My mom smiled as she threw a spare in bowling. My dad, a man who I’ve never seen play a game in his life, beat my mom at bowling by getting four strikes in a row. I underestimated Nintendo. I wondered if their whole anyone-can-play strategy was simply marketing hooey. I was wrong, and Nintendo was right. If my family was playing games today after Thanksgiving lunch, Nintendo’s future is brighter than the Wii’s blue light on its brightest setting. Speaking of which”¦

The Bad

No Blue Light Special ”“ Every time you see a promotional shot of a Wii, you see the blue light. Yet since purchasing my Wii, I’ve seen more direct sunlight than I have the blue light. Sad.

The Miis Who Never Were ”“ For every successful replication of a friend, family member, or celebrity, there’s another person whose Mii just doesn’t have the right look. Why couldn’t the Mii Channel have as many options as the create-a-player option we’ve seen in countless sports games? How nice would it be if Nintendo could give us more Mii options available for download or sent directly through WiiConnect24?

Third Parties Didn’t Get the Memo ”“ While I fully expected Nintendo’s first party games to serve as a guide for third parties on how to masterfully implement Wii controls, I never thought I’d experience such mind-numbingly awful controls as the controls featured in nearly half of Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz’s mini-games. If Nintendo made the Wiimote to remove the barriers that traditional controllers create for non-gamers, why are so many of Banana Blitz’s mini-games requiring you to hold the Wiimote vertical, while holding the Nunchuck on its side, while shaking both of them, while standing on your head, while curing cancer? Wii is supposed to be about simplicity and intuitive design, not convoluted to flat-out broken controls. And I haven’t even played Red Steel yet, but the horror stories are keeping me away from it.

Loitering Online All the Time – Nintendo shouted from the rooftops that Wii would finally see its makers embracing this little Internet fad the kids are into. And sure, there are Virtual Console games, but that’s about it. The News and Weather Channels still aren’t operational, and while I know that’s not the reason most of us got a Wii, I don’t like having features waved in my face only to have them not work. Also, not one of Wii’s launch games has online play. In fact, we won’t see any online games until next year. Psst, Nintendo. Are you sure you’re embracing online features? Or are you merely getting your feet wet?

Wii Sports is the Homeless Game – As much as Nintendo is touting how great it is they’re giving us Wii Sports in the box ”“ and rightfully so ”“ would it have killed them to spring for a real case as opposed to a cardboard, counterfeit case that screams demo disc? I’m proud of Wii Sports, so how about letting me display it proudly alongside the other Nintendo godsends on my game shelf?

Buying a Car with One Tire ”“ I know, tons of you are sick of hearing people gripe about how the Wii only comes with one remote and one Nunchuck. We should be happy that we got a gem of a pack-in like Wii Sports, right? But that’s the whole point ”“ Wii Sports is the perfect example of how the Wii was built for multiplayer. And Wii Sports makes the lack of a second controller seem even more obvious. Okay, Nintendo. You win this round. I went ahead and spent the extra $180 for three extra remotes and nunchucks.

What are your Wii likes and dislikes, no matter how monumental or nitpicky?