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!
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.
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. 😉