We’re nearing the end of our third week with the Nintendo Wii and it’s seen a fair bit of use. There have been stretches of 3 or 4 days in a row that it hasn’t been touched, though. I can’t say I’ve gone longer than 24 hours without turning on my Xbox 360 in the year that I’ve had it. So that says something right there. If you haven’t caught on by now, I’m going to get into some of the things I don’t like or down right hate about the Wii. Fanboys (and probably more so, fangirls) beware!

The Controls

Obviously, the main attraction of the Wii is its unique control scheme. Remote in one hand, nunchuk in the other – for those games that require the nunchuk, anyway. For the most part, you’ll find yourself merely wielding the Wiimote. If you’re holding both controllers and have your hands pretty close together, you’ll notice that you’re basically holding any other controller. But instead of a right thumbstick to look around, you gently move the remote. Everything else that you’d find on an Xbox 360 or Playstation controller is basically there, albeit, quite a bit more awkward to get to. On the face of the remote there’s a d-pad and 6 buttons. Your thumb rests comfortably on the giant ‘A’ button while your index is curled around ‘B’ on the underside which resembles a trigger. During gameplay, I find it pretty awkward using the d-pad and any other button aside from ‘A’. Whatever you’re trying to reach with your thumb, you have to shift your hand slightly and loosen your grip on the remote. Doesn’t sound like much effort, but it’s pretty disjointing when you’re not used to having to find your way around the controller like that to simply press a button.

Overall, the control scheme works pretty well. I’ve only had a few instances where I felt like it wasn’t responding properly and actually caused me to miss whatever I was doing on screen. But I must admit – aside from mini-game type gameplay, I really don’t like the Wii’s setup. I was especially disappointed with Call of Duty 3 and Twilight Princess.

COD 3 and I’m sure every other first person shooter, is not all that fun. It gets tiring pointing your hand at the TV for 15-20 minutes straight and is simply uncomfortable. But aside from that, they didn’t really make good use of the motion sensitivity. I was expecting to be literally tossing grenades and making a reloading action to throw in a fresh clip, but not the case at all. Both are button-push actions. The melee attack however, is a quick jab forward with the remote. Which actually doesn’t make all that much sense as your dude on screen bashes dudes with the butt end of his gun. Twisting the remote to the left and jabbing forward would have been better.

Twilight Princess was an even bigger disappointment, though. I figured that the flagship game, the only big title at this point would have a killer control scheme that really showed off what the Wii is all about. My jaw pretty much hit the floor when I discovered the camera was fixed behind Link and you have no control over it what-so-ever. To make matters worse, the fighting movements are just lame. To do a big slice, you make a quick left-to-right or right-to-left motion with the remote. It doesn’t matter which direction you go or how fast you move your hand, the result is the exact same every time. But if you hold down ‘A’ while you’re doing it, Link will do a big jump attack. And of course there’s Link’s signature spin attack. A quick shake of the nunchuk invokes this maneuver. Wait, what? The nunchuk is in your left hand… which is Link’s shield hand. Hmmm… I guess I was expecting something more… a lot more actually. I want an arm I can freely control. I want to poke dudes in the nuts with my sword or backhand them across the face if I feel like it. Where’s the freedom in this? Frankly, I’d rather be pushing a button if the result on screen is the exact same anyway.

Player Information Management

In one area, Nintendo has hardly progressed in the last 20 years. And this is how they handle your information on the console. I’m talking about your personal preferences, in game profiles, saves games, etc. I was totally blown away when I tried to setup profiles for myself, my wife and daughter when we first got the Wii. There are no profiles. Everyone just grabs a controller and goes. Probably being, everything is still the same as it was in the olden days. Some games have limited save spots and you have to enter a unique 3-letter name for yourself. Where others allow you to use your created Mii which holds your scores and records in the Wii Sports and Wii Play games. But since there are no profiles, there’s nothing stopping someone from using your Mii and wrecking your flow. Not to mention, your save games are right there in the open for someone else to continue from, or worse, delete.

But by far the worst offender in this category is the Wii code. If you want to link up with a friend you have to exchange your 16 digit numeric code with them. Not that you can even do much with it. Your Miis can head over to your friend’s Wii where they form a parade. Yay! But even more horrific is the talk of online gaming on the Wii. There is none at the moment, but a couple games coming out are supposed to support multiplayer gaming. To play with a friend, you are given yet another 16 digit numeric code that you have to exchange in order to play together. Yes, it’s seriously that mickey mouse. We Xbox 360 gamers truly are spoiled, you know? One profile with a name (not a giant fucking number) that is used across every game we play. And of course, a unified friends list.

The Games

Man, I’m fucking bored, there’s nothing to play! Wii Sports is fun. But after the initial thrill of waving your arms around wears off, you’ll pop it in for a quick round of Bowling or Tennis here and there, but that’s about it. We rented Wii Play yesterday, and while my daughter and wife get a kick out of a couple of the games, most of them are mediocre and tired after the first time you play them. Their purpose is to get you moving and serve as a demo for new-comers, and that they do well. But they don’t have any kind of lasting value once you’re over the gimmick. There are quite a few games out already, but anything that’s out on another platform is better played on another platform. Because of this, Nintendo really has to focus on the exclusives and get them out, fast! Super Mario Galaxy, Super Smash Bros Brawl, Super Mario Party 8 and Metroid Prime 3 will most likely be huge games and lots of fun. But shit, none of them even have a set release date.

What Does it All Mean?

To put it frankly, the Wii is not made for gamers.

It’s not for those that like to sit in front of their TV for hours on end, shit talking their friends as they annihilate them over-and-over again. It’s not for those that get a kick out of the latest tech and enjoy being wowed by gorgeous visuals and incredible sound. It’s not for those that head to their local game shop every Tuesday to pick up the latest big title that just scored great in the reviews.

It’s for those that want a casual game here and there. It’s for those that want to have a good laugh when the family are over for dinner. It’s for those that don’t mind (or notice) the horribly jagged edges and muddy textures.

And finally, the Wii is not for me. Sure, I have some fun with it, but I’m never drawn to it like I am the Xbox 360 or how I used to be with PC. It’s something I could do without, but not something I regret buying. Watching Hannah (my daughter) play Baseball with her little friend the other day was an absolute riot! Seeing Deanna and Hannah trying to pick out the fastest Mii crossing the street was hilarious! And I’m sure there will be many more times I’m amused and satisfied watching my family enjoy the Wii. But at the same time, I’ll probably be watching the clock – waiting for them to finish so I can jump on the Xbox 360. 😉


Comments

Great article Matt. I totally agree that the Wii is not meant for gamers who game for hours on end. It’s been 2 months since I purchased my Wii and the only time I really play it is when I have a party or when my friends come over and are begging to play it. I believe the Wii is primarily for 2 or more players, in order to get the greatest experience out of the console.

As a side note I stumble upon this Mac Application that lets Wii owners use their Wiimote instead of the mouse/Apple Remote for your Mac. I’m not sure it’s that practicul, but it sure is cool. Here is the application site:

http://homepage.mac.com/ianrickard/wiimote/

And here I was about to buy one of these things. WTF was I thinking?!

Well, at least Warioware, Paper Mario and Wii Sports look fun.

@Ryan: Yeah, it’s definitely a party console. Although, I had a friend over the other night and we only rocked the Wii for about 20 minutes then moved to the Xbox 360 for a solid 2 and a half hours.

@Andre: It really depends on the type of person you are and how you play games. I prefer games that have me hooked by a good story or great action and I find myself dying to play them. Where as, the Wii is not much more than a gimmick at this point.

I rented Warioware the other day and hated it. It’s "extremely Japanese" if that makes sense? Couldn’t stomach it.

Excellent article Matt!

This is basically what I thought whe I experienced the Wii. When I saw the concept of Red Steel I nearly passed out. Then I played it and did pass out; but out of disgust.

360 FTW! I still can’t get over GoW. Crackdown is great fun too.

I see your points, Matt, but I disagree with some of them. I’ve been a gamer my entire life, and now that I have a Wii, my Xbox collects dust.

As far as "sitting" in front of your TV for hours, shit talking with friends, I find that the Wii is just as good for that as any other high-powered gaming machine. Except that you don’t sit. And it’s more dangerous. You should see my friends and I when we really get into some Wii Sports…

What it comes down to for me is that the Wii is a "second console" to whatever other machine you might have. Sure, it doesn’t pump out crazy textures or realistic gameplay, but it’s not supposed to. It does what it does and it’s damn good at it.

But yeah, it’s not for everyone. At least you gave it a try, and at least you have something to enjoy with the whole family now.

I agree completely with most, if not all, of your points. I’ve found that the games available are far too cartoon-like for my taste, as I’ve grown more and more attached to FPS for the PS2 and Xbox. I’ve always thought as Nintendo that way, aside from maybe Res. Evi games, or Metroid otherwise I’ve never been THAT big on Nintendo.

I honestly haven’t played on the Wii in.. a long time. I’ve already beaten the games I have, I don’t like Wii Sports, and I’m sure as hell not feeling like wasting another $10 on Wii points. I already bought and beat Super Mario, and I already finished Kirby (lol I had to.)

The Wii is definitely not as much fun when you’re playing by yourself, unless you’re playing Zelda or something equally boring. Hell, I was even bored playing RRR by myself, and found I enjoyed the game more when I took turns with my boyfriend playing it.

I’m really hoping that in the upcoming months and over the year, that more games will come out that don’t focus on glitz and glamor and are really bad ass. Secretly hoping that the new Star Wars game for the 360 makes its way on over to the Wii…

I mean, who wouldn’t want to use the Wiimote like a light saber?! I’d even pay for an attachment that you stick on the top to make the damned thing look like one 😛

But I definitely prefer sitting for long hours in front of a PC, PS2 or Xbox playing a guts and glory game than playing a game on the Wii. Halo2 > Wii Sports.

I have to say, I completely disagree with your thoughts on Zelda–it would not be the incredible game it is without the controls. How else could you pull off riding along on Epona while firing an arrow?

I do agree, however, that the current game selection is a little lacking as far as single person games go, but I anticipate that changing as soon as developers really start getting a handle on the controls. It’s something completely new, so game makers are still figuring it out.

hahah nice, I still wanna try it out when I visit tho:P

"shit talking their friends as they annihilate them over-and-over again."

oh really? thats it! GRAW2 time! put your money where your mouth is!

I’d echo much of what you say. I still find the Wii great fun with a few mates round, and I fully anticipate that it will replace the Gamecube as our group’s party-games machine. But Rayman got old quickly, Zelda simply never began to excite me, and Smooth Moves is plainly, as Penny Arcade would say, Not For Me. My wife does the Wii Fitness thing every evening, but I’ve barely played it in a fortnight.

That element – the full exploitation of the interface by decent, second-tranche software – will come. But in the online sphere they are shown up badly by MS for functionality and by Sony for inventiveness and creativity. That last one should never happen.

"Sony for inventiveness and creativity"

Dude.. seriously? From what I’ve heard their existing online system is weak and anything that could be called "creative" is at most a tech demo right now.

I’d hold any praise for Sony/Home until they deliver it!

@BPAndrew

Yep: the shiny stuff Sony are showing is, indeed, only a couple of stages removed from vapourware. That’s why I said creativity and inventiveness, and not something like "solid implementation".

But if they do successfully implement a virtual world as part of their online experience then yep, that’s a world better than the crappy Wii online functionality (at the moment, at any rate). At least they seem to be heading in the right direction.

Not that I’ll be trading in the Wii and the 360 to buy one any time soon.

I actually thought Twilight Princess was awesome. Yeah, the controls were a bit corny, but the storyline was good. A little ponderous at times though. But it had me hooked.

The thing that impresses me is that my wife loves it. I think a lot of guys have had success involving their significant other in Wii gameplay.

If it wasn’t for the GCN backwards compatibility, my Wii would be collecting dust. The only reason it’s still getting so much action is from games like The Wind Waker and Resident Evil 4.

Great entry, Matt.

Man… 03/24/07 10:00pm eastern time… i had hard times navigating around your site.. are you happy with orangesomething? lately i’ve experienced it q often.

I’d have to agree with most of the things you say. And this is coming from a Nintendo fan that hasn’t bought a console that wasn’t Nintendo branded in his entire life.

The Wii is great for Nintendo games and party games, but not much else.

When Nintendo told us they were aiming for the casual market, but still catering for the hardcore gamers, they lied. The Wii is and will continue to be a massive success thanks to the casual gamers, but for people who have gamed all their life, it’s just not going to do it.

I played the PS3 for the first time today at the shops. The motion control was great, the graphics were spectacular, and I didn’t have any problems with the controller. That is the sort of system made for the gamers, not the Wii.

I so totally agree with you, Matt.

I bought myself a Xbox360 a few weeks ago (also because you were so enthousiastic about it).

But when you bought yourself a Wii, I doubted if that would turn out good. And I was right, the Wii is just a big gimmick.

Here on the office we got a Wii (as a gift) and some collegues love it and play it all the time… and some (for instance: me!) don’t play it often (like never really).

It’s fun at the beginning, but when you played some golf, some tennis and some bowling… you’re done. There is nothing much left. The games suck, the gimmick is gone and you’re left with deprecated graphics and the same gameplay as years ago.

So I’m glad you still prever the Xbox360 over the Wii, because I like your (p)reviews and wouldn’t read it if they were all Wii-related 😛

As a gamer, I agree. I also fear the effect wii will have on the game industry, developers have a habit of following the money, and with wii selling so fast, and developing costs being so cheap especially due to the minigamish/techdemoish nature of it’s games, developers will jump ship from the lesser selling 360/PS3 and concentrate on wii (like what happened with the DS/PSP despite PSP being better for gamers). Punishing/depriving true gamers.

I have an HDTV and a 5.1 surround sound system, I love games with realistic physics, intelligent AI with tons of AI controlled characters, online multiplayer with 32+ people. You know, all those things wii does not and can not handle. Hell it’s a step back from the XBOX.

I see next gen as bringing things that couldn’t be done last gen, like Dead Rising. Not letting you the same things in game, but using a different input device to do the same thing.

Aside from the fact that I can’t get over your blog’s style, this was a great article.

I’m getting to the point where comparing Wii vs. PS3/XBox360 is like comparing Peanut Butter and Jelly to the Moon.

Sure, they both seem like cheese sandwiches but no one bothers to put jelly in space, right?

Hi there Matt. Hope the jobs is going well.

I finally got my hands on a Wii. Here in the UK they haven’t been available to buy for a good two months but I finally got one in a bundle deal.

Loving Wii Sports but can see it getting boring soon. Wii Play is ok but I mainly got it because it comes with a Wii Remote.

Sonic just isn’t as much fun as the originals but Godfather is pretty good. Not a patch on GTA but good nonetheless.

Just got to get Zelda soon and I’ll be a happy bunny.