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A Wii Bit of Fun

Nintendo WiiShortly after 11am I dropped by the local Gamestop to pick up my semi-pre-ordered Wii and an extra controller. I'd already gotten the games a few days ago, after all.

I took the box home and hooked it up. I wasn't surprised by the size of the machine, but the size of the sensor bar and the cord attached to it was a shock. It's tiny. As I quickly found out, too, it needs to be in sight. I tried it on the top of my TV and it didn't work.

I created some Miis for my family and then showed off the picture-viewing and editing capabilities by decorating an actual picture. I set up the Internet connectivity and looked for the Opera download (it's not there yet). Then, finally, I played some games.

Here are my impressions.

Wii Sports
Sure, it's a free pack-in, but I spent nearly as much time playing Wii sports as anything else today. The IGN review got it right: bowling and tennis are top-notch. Baseball is okay. Golf and boxing only so-so. Carey and others got into the action. Carey complained of a sore arm in boxing (the controls just aren't quite solid). Bowling was great, though.

Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz
I only managed to beat the first world. All the levels were pretty easy. I lost one life when the birds flapping their wings blew me off (I didn't know that they were more than decoration), but otherwise got through okay. If I have to sit through that stupid credits screen (and yes, I realize you can "play" it) every time I beat a world, I'm going to be annoyed as heck. What's with the inability to save mid-world or skip that credits screen?

The controls here are pretty sweet. The Wiimote is built for this game.

Rayman: Raving Rabbids
Throwing the cow was difficult, as was the "slam the door on the shitting rabbits" game. I kept throwing the cow straight to the right. That particular mini-game (the cow toss) ignores physics - you have to release the cow when he's in front of you (i.e. heading straight to the left).

It's fun, and I'm sure I'll get further into it, but at the same time I'm disappointed that this game isn't available in progressive scan as the manual indicates1.

Madden 07
I spent the most time playing Madden. At first - and after spending a few hours navigating by pointing at the TV with my Wiimote - and particularly on defense, I found myself trying to move people around by pointing the Wiimote, as if I could just point at the ballcarrier and say "get him!"

Later in the evening I wrapped my brain around the fact that the Wiimote isn't a mouse or a laser pointer and got some good gameplay in. The game is solid and the control scheme really adds to things. It took me awhile to get used to pointing at my line to ask them to shift (and other things made necessary by the Wiimote's lack of buttons), but I'm getting better. I love the feeling of throwing lobs and bullets, particularly while on the run, though I've not yet figured out how to lead a receiver.

Kicking, as you've no doubt heard by now, is a joke. I'm tired of giving the opposing team the ball at their 40-yard line due to 0% kicks. Fortunately PATs get through the uprights even at 0%. I've probably only managed put more than 0% power into about 15-20% of my kicks.

Call of Duty 3
I didn't get the chance to play it. I don't know that I will. Anyone want to buy it for $49 + S&H? 😀

Upsides

  • Creating our family's Miis was fun. They're reasonable representations, too. But why do they all have the same color pants?
  • Carey enjoyed bowling, tennis, and fighting.
  • The graphics are better than the GameCube's. Barely.
  • Using the Wiimote became second nature very quickly.
  • Games seem to load fairly quickly. Games save very quickly.
  • The console itself is inexpensive (relatively), small, and stylish.
  • I like the addition of a speaker to the remote.
  • The Wiimote and nunchuck are comfortable to hold and work from about 20 feet away pretty well (sitting on my couch).
  • I did pop in SSX 3 to confirm GameCube playback. It worked wonderfully.

Bummers

  • Zero Miis came to my console.
  • Last-gen graphics. To be honest, I was disappointed.
  • I hate typing in all those characters for my WEP password.
  • Dolby ProLogic II? Are you kidding?
  • Almost none of the "channels" are set up yet. Furthermore, when trying to revive an old "MyNintendo" account, Nintendo's server basically died. It's still dead four hours later, spitting out Java and LDAP errors. Brilliant, Nintendo, just brilliant.
  • I really hate the credits screen in Super Monkey Ball.
  • The lack of buttons will, unfortunately, hurt. Not everything is well suited to be remapped to "swing your arms wildly to the right" or whatever.
  • The little drawer on the front of the console needs a little handle to open more easily. Small nit-pick, I know.

One thing to note: for whatever reason, and despite the fact that I've set my Wii to display 16:9 video, Madden and other games display as "480p 4:3". It fills the full screen on my TV (or I can squish it into a 4:3 box with black sidebars, but then the game is obviously squished). I was expecting the TV to say "480p 16:9" (as it does for most DVDs). What's up with that? I dunno. Probably something about the non-square pixels and the same resolution or something. Anyway, still odd the TV doesn't say "16:9."

Footnotes

  1. It says there's an options menu where you can turn on progressive scan mode, but it lies.

13 Responses to "A Wii Bit of Fun"

  1. I can't get my Wii to connect right now. It just gives me error 51330, whatever that means. If it ever does go online, my number is 4602 4785 1228 7232. If we add each other, our Miis will start to transfer. That will be cool!

  2. Interesting to hear your thoughts - I very nearly thought about trying to get a Wii today. I figure that knowing in advance I'll never get my moneys worth out of a console I might as well pick up the cheapest.

    From your description it seems that individual games can bump it back down into 480i land... that sounds uncool. Surely the console should be bumping it back to 480p. Although, given the general lack of HD in the Wii (both in terms of graphics and the lack of digital audio), I suppose I shouldn't be surprised.

    Is it really generating 16:9 by just throwing black bars around it, and then relying on the tv to zoom? My DVD player does that for divx files (played off a usb stick), which is rather annoying. It seems that it's throwing away resolution at the same time.

    Finally "Zero Miis came to my console." Not sure what you mean by that.

  3. Thanks for your review. Eventually, this console will also be showing up in Europe this year and I'll seriously consider buying it.

    One thing that struck me was that you said you set up the WLAN with WEP. The Wii FAQ on engadget mentions that it's also possible to use WPA. Is your base station in general set up to use WEP security only or did you not manage to set up WPA? Over here, people have a tendency to try to use foreign WLANs, so my Airport is set up to use WPA and the network is invisible.

    The DS lite is only able to use 40-bit WEP and the password must be entered as a hex value which sucks pretty much because this compromises the security of most WLAN networks over here.

    In the same context: did you find out if the Wii supports 802.11g networking or does it only support the b variant?

  4. It's not even 7 am on a school day, and my kids are already dressed and ready to go (bus comes at 8:15 am). That was my condition to let them play with the Wii this morning.

    I'm kind of surprised that Nintendo didn't have the browser and channels ready at launch (only channel that's up that requires the Internet is the shopping one).

  5. Ralph, the DS Lite supports 128-bit WEP. Which is not much better than 40-bit WEP, but at least it isn't trivially crackable.

    I'm glad Nintendo was able to support WPA in the Revo^h^h^h^hWii. Lets hope they can add WPA support to the DS now. I was very disappointed when I found out about its wireless shortcomings.

  6. You ain't kidding about that Monkey Ball credit screen… it's over 3 minutes long!! I didn't realize you could "play" the credits… I guess I'll try that to kill the time. This morning, I just made myself a cup of coffee instead. It's going to take me a while to get through World 2, so it won't be a problem for a while.

  7. PatrickQG said on November 20, 2006:

    From your description it seems that individual games can bump it back down into 480i land…

    Yes, that's what can happen.

    PatrickQG said on November 20, 2006:

    Is it really generating 16:9 by just throwing black bars around it, and then relying on the tv to zoom?

    No. Let me be clear about this. In "Normal" mode (4:3 for the TV) I get black bars on the left and right sides. In "Full" mode the picture fills the screen and is in no way distorted. The other two modes are zoom modes, so they fill the screen but lose some information at the edges. I never see black bars at the top and bottom of my screen. My TV just reports "480p 4:3" for some reason. I'm using the component cables, so, there shouldn't be any problem there.

    PatrickQG said on November 20, 2006:

    Finally "Zero Miis came to my console." Not sure what you mean by that.

    I mean no Miis created by other people came to visit mine, and mine didn't seem to go anywhere either.

    Ralph Scheuer said on November 20, 2006:

    One thing that struck me was that you said you set up the WLAN with WEP. The Wii FAQ on engadget mentions that it's also possible to use WPA. Is your base station in general set up to use WEP security only or did you not manage to set up WPA?

    I used WEP because the DS supported it, but given how infrequently I use WEP, I'm probably going to change it. In fact, I may just do that now.

    Ralph Scheuer said on November 20, 2006:

    In the same context: did you find out if the Wii supports 802.11g networking or does it only support the b variant?

    I'm not sure how I'd try that, but I assume it's got to be using g. 802.11b is pretty damn old (didn't stop Nintendo from sticking with stereo audio, though).

  8. Aaron Linville said on November 20, 2006:

    Ralph, the DS Lite supports 128-bit WEP.

    I did not manage to set that up. Could there be a difference between the European and the US version?

    Erik J. Barzeski said on November 20, 2006:

    I'm not sure how I'd try that, but I assume it's got to be using g. 802.11b is pretty damn old (didn't stop Nintendo from sticking with stereo audio, though).

    The Airport base station has a setting for using the g only. I have set this to force all my devices into g mode and to stop some pseudo-hacking attempts by stupid neighborhood kids with PocketPCs (quite a few mobile devices still require b networking). Every now and then I check out what happens if I open up my network completely or even if I make it visible, and almost every time I get some connection attempts from outside. I'm not too paranoid in general, but sometimes I have a Windows machine on the network, and that makes me a little nervous 😉

    Anyway, nice to hear that WPA seems to work.

  9. Eric, I've got a question for you: when is your disc slot light on? I'm having a debate with someone about when it's supposed to be lit.

    I've posted a half-done draft of my impressions on my blog. My friend code is 0141-4176-1669-5221.

  10. Christopher said on November 20, 2006:

    Eric, I've got a question for you: when is your disc slot light on? I'm having a debate with someone about when it's supposed to be lit.

    It's Erik. Mine isn't lit often. It lights when I put a disc in and, so far, that's been about it so far as I can tell.

    Ralph Scheuer said on November 20, 2006:

    The Airport base station has a setting for using the g only.

    In switching to WPA, I also changed everything to "g" only. It works.

    As for my friend code, I've yet to figure out how to do this on the Wii. When I try to add Mii friends, I'm told I must do so in the forum. I haven't yet seen a way to enter a friend code. I also don't plan to give my friend code to people with whom I'm not actually friends. If I've not met you in meatspace or even talked to you extensively on AIM, it's unlikely we'll be "WiiBuddies."

  11. [...] Update 1: I went through all the Super Monkey Ball screens with the controller flat on my table. It still has flat as defaulting to a bit of forward roll. Seems to be deliberate. I’ve gotten used to it, and I’m with Erik on this one: the game was waiting for this controller to be invented. [...]

  12. Sorry about the name. Realized it when I was typing up my blog post.

    I've been able to add friends in the Wii Messages section: I went Address Book: Register, and then registered a friend's Wii number.

    I added my email address as a friend, and have been able to get the light on when it's in standby and there's a message waiting, but that's the only time mine is on.

  13. All this Wii talk lately is making me feel left out. Must...resist...purchase....


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