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Wii Businesses Nintendo

Two Weeks with the Wii 458

In the 80s, kids of my generation cut their teeth on Super Mario Bros.. They went through high school with Mario Kart, and bonded with college friends playing Super Smash Bros. By 1999, though, the N64 had long since proven that Nintendo's dominance in American videogaming was over. The GameCube that followed was largely a disappointment. Nintendo failed to interest third party developers, and frustrated fans with long-delayed chapters of the Mario, Zelda, and Metroid franchises. Coming into this no-longer-next generation of consoles, Nintendo announced they were aiming for a Revolution, and then confused everyone by renaming it Wii. Their actions left a lot of people wondering if the company still had what it took to compete with committed powerhouses like Microsoft and Sony. The launch lineup is kind of tepid, and the controls really do take some getting used to. We've already established that they're not aiming to compete in the graphics race. So what is the console really like? Why is it selling so quickly? What does it have to offer? I've had two weeks to find out. Read on, so that you can get a feel for the system you'll definitely be playing (if not owning) at some point in the future.
My somewhat bold claim is not based in any sort of fanboi favoritism. It's a simple reality of Nintendo's console; the Wii begs to be played by lots of people. Unlike the solitary games that are popular on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, Nintendo's scrappy fighter is at its fullest potential when you've got four people armed with Wiimotes. Four players on a Wii title is like nothing you have ever experienced in gaming before. For some people the Wii's demand that you be physically proximate to your fellow gamer will be a mark against it. For many people, though, I think the need to get together in one space will cut through the confusion and misunderstanding this hobby has always suffered from.

The reason for this is that it is easy: It just works. The first time you hand a Wiimote to someone and they point it at the screen, they know what to do. There's a little hand, representing where you're pointing, and each Wiimote has a different colored hand. Navigating menus is actually ... fun, in an odd sort of way. Moving over UI elements with the little hand representing your controller causes a very slight rumble. The controller shakes just enough to give the entire experience a tactile element that, again, I've never seen in gaming before. It's the little things like this that really makes the Wii experience. Turning the Wiimote upside down inverts the hand. They didn't have to do it that way, but they did. Navigating menus is, mildly, fun. One of the first games my cousins played after they'd picked up the controllers was the "duel with their icon-hands" challenge. Odd, yes, but entirely understandable. The Wiimote, and the completely natural movements you make when using the device, require no explanation. When Nintendo went to the AARP event earlier this year, they knew what they were doing; this is the console your grandmother can use as easily as you can.


Graphically, the system's UI is a clean mixture of greys and whites. The Channel selection screen is the first thing you see on booting the system, and stands out well against the system's default imagery. From left to right on the top row, you're going to find the games channel, the Mii channel, the photo channel, and Wii Store channel. Though I'm not sure why the somewhat anemic photo functionality gets to rank so highly, they've organized your primary Wii elements together on one screen. On the bottom of the screen there's an unobtrusive options button, and a button to take you to your Wii's address book functionality. As you purchase things from the Virtual console (the primary online capability of the console right now) they'll fill in additional windows on the console's launch page. This is also where the news and weather features are accessible, with promises of more services further on in the Wii's lifetime.

To start addressing the channels in order, the games channel is where you'll access your currently-loaded disc. The system has a little splash screen there on your Wii frontpage illustrating what you have loaded. Just to reiterate something you've probably already heard, GameCube titles are 100% backwards compatible with the system. The Wavebird controllers are too, and nicely slot into the ports for them on the top of the console. If you're planning on playing a lot of Virtual Console titles, I recommend that you make sure to hang onto your Wavebird; they'll play almost every game the download service can offer up, and your Cube games to boot.


The Mii channel may just be the hidden gem for this system. If Nintendo plays things right, the Mii may become as much a part of your online identity as Microsoft's gamertag. Miis, to explain, are little virtual people. Using a canned set of features (hair, eyes, mouths), you can combine facial elements to great a little 'you'. Or a mini-Lincoln. Or Jesus. If you've always wanted to school the King of Kings in tennis, the Wii is the system for you. As innocuous a feature as this sounds, it's impossible not to find yourself wrapped up in possibilities once you sit down to play with it. At the very least, you're going to have to make you. And your S.O. And your family, and all of your friends, and your favorite movie star ... it's just too bad they don't have ears and you can't make pets.

Once you've made your Mii-version of former child star Gary Coleman, you can actually compete with him or against him in Wii Sports. At the moment, the games on the pack-in disc (and those on the upcoming Wii Play disc) are the only places you can make use of your strange little people. Even with that limited scope, Nintendo is already showing their intent to make the most of this feature. Your capabilities in Wii Tennis, for example, are tracked via intuitive charts. Someday down the line, when more titles take your Mii into account, you'll hopefully be able to import more interesting stats (frags and such) into your Mii's pockets. You can already take your Mii with you; up to 8 Miis can be loaded onto a single Wiimote for easy toting to another person's house. You can send them away, too; after you exchange friend codes with someone, you can trade Miis. They'll go wandering, too, if you let them. Heading off into the great Wii beyond, they'll wander across the Mii Parades of consoles across the nation, just begging to be included in that owner's personal Mii Plaza. Reggie Fils Aime has already hinted at the eventual addition of more facial features, and it is little wonder why. With the ease of making a little 'you' so tantalizing, it's easy to see why Nintendo is taking this 'uber-cutesy' feature very seriously.


The system's photo feature/mp3 player is something of a forgettable tack-on. Photos and music can be uploaded to the system, or played directly from, SD memory cards. They slot right into the front, and featured photos are very lovingly displayed by the UI. Music can be played behind the photos; it's essentially the only way to just listen to music on the system. Uploaded tunes can be played during select Wii titles (like ExciteTruck), which is very nice, but otherwise the media capabilities of the Wii are fairly forgettable. Given Nintendo's drum-beating about the Wii being 'focused on games', I'm kind of surprised they even bothered. Just the same, the utility of these features can't be denied, and they certainly don't get in the way.

Virtual Console

The Virtual Console, then, is the final default offering you'll find on loading the system. Nintendo's answer to Microsoft's Xbox Live and Sony's E-Distribution model, it currently only offers downloadable retro titles. The Wii Shop will eventually be where you pick up additional services as well, but for now games are all this service has to offer. While the launch list for the U.S. market has some much appreciated classics included, overall the titles are downright disappointing compared to other regions. I'm not complaining about what we have gotten, to be sure. Bonk, the original Sonic, the SNES version of Sim City, and the original Legend of Zelda are all titles still well worth your time in 2006. It's hard not to look at the Virtual Console list from Japan and other sectors, though, and not be a little jealous. Castlevania IV and A Link to the Past? Why don't we deserve Link to the Past? Recent events has also hinted that Nintendo has no plans to offer games via the Virtual Console if they were not originally released in that market. If that turns out to be true, terrific JP-only NES and SNES games will never reach our virtual shores. A serious oversight on the company's part.

The Virtual Console itself has proven to be less enjoyable for me to use than other parts of the Wii interface. Out of the box, the only way you'll be connecting with the Internet is via a WiFi connection. Even with a solid WiFi setup, it's inevitable that your connection will flake out. The console seems intent on blaming 'firewalls' for its woes, but some days I know everything is working fine; the problem lies with a cranky Wii. Once you're online you may run into difficulties there as well. The interest level in the Virtual Console must be higher than Nintendo expected, because I've found the service absolutely hammered and essentially unusable several times since the system launched. All that said, this is exactly what you'd expect from Nintendo: a solid retro-delivery system, straight from your childhood. I spent many, many, many hours playing the SNES version of Sim City. I gave myself an allowance of three games from the launch lineup. Along with that early Will Wright title, I snagged the original Zelda (my wife had never played it) and Sonic, as we were Sega-less in my formative years. All three play as smoothly as silk. No hiccups, no quirky controls, just unadulterated blasts from the past. Of course, my three titles will soon have friends. Even with Nintendo's odd reluctance to give us the good stuff, they'll be releasing a least one new title every Monday for the foreseeable future. Emulator fans may scoff, but it's hard to look down your nose at a legal way to enjoy retro classics in relatively high definition. The Wii even does game suspension, so you don't have to play games straight through. Despite some petty annoyances, they've got a great channel here for future content (including the much vaunted indie gaming scene), and it only looks to be getting better in the future. At the end of the day, even if it can be annoying to use, at least the Wii Shop music is soothing.

So, that's what the machine itself is like. The Wii's control scheme is what has people sitting up and taking notice though, and it's hard to judge that on menus alone. As a study in comparisons, I offer you the Good, the Bad, and the Awesome: Wii Sports, Red Steel, and Rayman Raving Rabbids.

Wii Sports

In the U.S., our consoles were $40 more expensive than in Japan. This was the reason - the Wii Sports pack-in. I've been lamenting the loss of the pack-in for years now, though, so I begrudge them nothing. It would be one thing if Wii Sports was a waste, a Luigi's Mansion for the next-gen era, but thankfully this mini-game game holds its own and encourages your aging relatives to make fools of themselves. Wii Sports consists of five simple games which ... kind of ... resemble actual sports. There's tennis, golf, bowling, boxing, and baseball. Controls for each of the five pastimes are the definition of simplicity. Each only requires a very simple motion with the Wiimote, mimicking actual movements you'd make while participating in the sport. Tennis is probably the one that's been seen the most at press events, and all it requires is a quick flick of the wrist to get the ball moving to the other end of the court. It's also one of the most enjoyable of the offerings, and supports up to four players for some hi-larious doubles action. Bowling is likewise enjoyable in multiplayer mode, and requires only that you know how to make the bowling motion with your arm in order to strike. Golf and baseball are less enjoyable, as built-in sensitivities to the mini-games lend themselves to confusion and mistrust of your capabilities. In reality, it's not you, it's the game. Golf is particularly bad, as even the slightest swing will have the game registering 'too much force' on the ball. The final game, boxing, is much the same. Using the Wiimote and the nunchuck, you can deliver one-two punches to your opponent's Mii ... if you can get your flailing arms to work right. I've personally found boxing to be highly enjoyable, despite its lack of precision. Two people really into the game results in an air-slapping girly-fight scene like something out of "Revenge of the Nerds". Nintendo made an excellent choice including this as a pack-in, and Wii Sports will continue to be the social game console owners reach for until the likes of Wario Ware or Mario Party make it to store shelves. (Just make sure to use the wrist strap.)

Red Steel

On the opposite end of the hardcore scale, we have Red Steel. Along with Call of Duty 3, this is one of the more 'adult' offerings accompanying the Wii at launch. It concerns the battles of a gentleman who has come to a fancy restaurant to have dinner with his girlfriend's father. As sometimes happens, the Yakuza assault the building and an epic fight ensues. While the title does an admirable job of convincing the player that FPS controls are completely enjoyable on the Wii, the title fails to deliver in almost any other way. The reason has nothing to do with the Wii; Red Steel is just not a very good game. Unlike Yakuza , which manages to weave a tale of Japanese crime with a straight face and get away with it, here the attempts at gritty criminality come off as hokey and poorly thought-out. The hero is utterly forgettable, and the noble quest to protect friends and family from the vicious crime syndicate is one John Woo flick short of a film festival. The only thing it gets (mostly) right is the control scheme, which is just as you'd imagine it. The Wiimote directs your point of view, while the stick on the nunchuck moves you forward. This is the schema that were' going to (hopefully) see a lot of over the Wii's lifespan. It's the way we'll be playing Metroid down the line, and can also be seen one door over in Call of Duty 3. Red Steel chooses to make the protagonist's arm flex and bend in inhuman ways as you turn, fouling up the game's one solid feature. His long, seemingly jointless arm is very disconcerting, and only serves to remove you from the action. Embarrassingly, the control scheme breaks down during sword fights. Those gooshy, confusing fight sequences are not quite as disconnected from reality as Wii Boxing, but it's fairly close. Even when poor reactions began leaking out of the enthusiast press, I maintained a guarded enthusiasm for this title. Guns and swords for the win, right? In the end, though, there's just not enough 'there' there. As much as it makes me want to play Metroid Prime, it makes me want to shut off the console more. You need not suffer from the launch-day enthusiasm that carried this into my cart; you can definitely give this one a pass.

Rayman Raving Rabbids

From the inane to the insane, we move on to Rayman Raving Rabbids. I've never really liked Rayman in his previous platform title outings; he's always been something of a forgettable character. Here, though, Ubisoft has offered up a crack-addled assortment of mini-games, and hung them very loosely around Rayman's neck. He's the central character of the game only insomuch as the little guy on screen has his name. Otherwise, you'll be concerning yourself more with the Rabbids: evil, stupid, ugly, bunnies from hell. The outline of the game is fairly simple. Ray competes in various events, spread out over a period of about thirteen days. Every day, there are four events to participate in. Completing three events unlocks a 'boss' event, which when cleared allows Ray to move on to the next day. Completing all four events during each day unlocks (on alternating days) new outfits for Ray to wear, and new music for you to listen to. Multiplayer play focuses on several people competing in individual events, with an option to string some of them together to make fairly anemic storylines for your adventures.

The beauty of this game, though, is that it's a.) absolutely crack-addled b.) hilarious and c.) completely addicting. Just a few of my favorite examples from the game include:
  • "Bunnies Don't Like Bats" - Direct Rayman as he mounts a giant bat, collecting piggies and dropping them into a pigpen before the time runs out. "Bunnies Don't Like Bats 2" adds the complexity of fending off a Bunny raiding party while you collect the piggies.
  • "Bunnies Don't Know What to do with Cows" - Whirl the Wiimote over your head, as Ray does the same with a chain attached to a cow's collar. Hit a button on the Wiimote to send the cow flying while it's facing away from you. You get more points the further the cow flies; the cow flies further by whipping that Wiimote as fast as you can above your head.
  • "Bunnies Don't Use Toothpaste" - Grab horrible grimacing worms with the Wiimote as they emerge from the rotten teeth of a Bunny, and flick them away. They come slowly at first, but emerge faster and faster as you play. Allowing a worm to emerge and then disappear ruins a tooth. Allowing two worms to reenter a single tooth sends the worm borrowing up into the Bunny's soft palate and ends the game. Hilariously, the mini-game is backed by an homage to the the theme from "Brazil".
  • "Bunnies Can Only Fly Downward" - This wonderful bunny-filled version of the parachuting level from PilotWings has you directing Ray down through smoke rings with your Wiimote. You speed up by pushing on the nunchuck's stick, but you lose control that way too. Your aim is to get to the ground before a set time has passed. (Hint to Nintendo: PilotWings for the Virtual Console. Get on it.)
  • "Bunnies Are Addicted to Carrot Juice" - While pumping the nunchuck with your left hand up and down, aim the Wiimote at the oncoming diver-Bunnies to fill their dive masks with carrot juice. Filling them up causes them to fall over. You lose if the ever-increasing wave of bunnies reaches your bar.
Beyond these, there are rhythm games, races, and a slew of FPS-style bunny shoot-em-ups. This last genre is usually the 'boss' event for any given day, and actually gives me even more hope for First Person Shooter titles on the Wii than Red Steel does. The controls are tight and responsive, and a ridiculous amount of fun. Zelda may be the reason that everyone bought a Wii, but Rayman should be the game you break out at Christmas parties this year. It's gloriously unhinged to play with four players, and is guaranteed to be better while drunk. Most enjoyably, there are several games that can be played by two players, one holding the Wiimote and the other the nunchuck. It's a wonderfully cheaty form of co-op play, and I highly recommend it as an excuse to get your wife, boyfriend, or girlfriend interested in the Wii's unique control scheme. The only problem here is the game's brevity; beatable in just a day or two, Rayman really only has legs as a party game. For a party game, though, and one made up so defiantly of mini-games, its well worth at least a look. Ubi has a winner with this ... this grotesque mockery of Bunniedom. I hope there's room in Ubisoft's budget down the line for a sequel. My suggestion for a mini-game: "Bunnies Avoid Corporate Takeovers."

Final Thoughts

The reality of the situation is that multiplayer Wii games make you look like an idiot. As strange as it sounds, this is just one mark of a system that has succeeded. For so many people, gaming is either a solitary pastime or one done socially via the cold detachment of a Ventrilo link. I, like many other folks, had the opportunity to introduce the Wii to my family during Thanksgiving, and it was anything but detached. It resulted in several hours of good-natured competition among my cousins, and allowed me the pleasure of watching four individuals north of 40 volley and serve via Wiimote. With the exception of my mother, I believe it may well have been the first time these people had ever played a videogame. It's not Half-Life, sure, but it isn't exactly Tetris either.

Even with a fairly humble collection of launch titles, Nintendo has managed to get gamers and non-gamers alike to drink the kool-aid. The system delivers exactly what the company promised when the 'Revolution' was announced in 2004. It's a system that offers the best of both worlds. Non-gamers have a completely intuitive control scheme that will now allow them to play with their game-loving friends. Hardcore gamers already have more innovative titles to play than they know what to do with. So what if some of them, like Red Steel come up a little short. For every Red Steel, there's a Trauma Center, a Rayman, or a Twilight Princess (whose review grew too large to fit here, and will be addressed tomorrow). Offering the best of new technology and plenty of unearthable retro memories, the Wii is a console that demands attention. I've yet to encounter anyone with a mild opinion of the little white box; you are either going to love this thing, or hate it.

Either way, Nintendo has finally broken free of its 'me too' position, held since the days of the N64. Even if the Wii stays the third-place console, it's no longer possible to think of the company as an also-ran. Sony and Microsoft are in for a hard fight this time around. The only side guaranteed not to lose is our side; whatever happens in this war, it's the gamers who win.
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Two Weeks with the Wii

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  • by WillAffleckUW ( 858324 ) on Wednesday December 06, 2006 @03:16PM (#17134626) Homepage Journal
    I agree, have a Wii, two nunchuks, one wiimote, three GameCube controllers (see the top slots), but how in the heck do you get four Wiimotes?

    One of the good things about Wii Sports is it lets more than one person share the same controller - and quite frankly, I've been dropping by game stores for weeks and still can't get a second wiimote.

    But I agree that Rayman's Raving Rabbids is the best game - and yes, we've played many many hours of Zelda.

    And, yes, it IS that fun - all ages too. My 15 yo son loves it, as do all his friends (14 to 17). But so does everyone else.
  • by jZnat ( 793348 ) * on Wednesday December 06, 2006 @03:16PM (#17134644) Homepage Journal
    It's still impossible to get a Wii at MSRP (i.e. you have to buy from eBay scalpers), and I don't see this getting any better before Christmas...
  • by WillAffleckUW ( 858324 ) on Wednesday December 06, 2006 @03:18PM (#17134678) Homepage Journal
    I vote for Rayman, having played a whole bunch.

    And the tossing cows isn't half as much fun as the dancing, plus the carrot juice bar and excessive use of plungers ...

    Graveyards will never be the same ...
  • by Cocoronixx ( 551128 ) * on Wednesday December 06, 2006 @03:29PM (#17134896) Homepage
    Owning both Super Monkey Ball and Rayman, I'll say that Super Monkey Ball's handling of the Wiimote is slightly squirrely, as compared to Wii Sports & Rayman. Rayman has 70 mini games, as opposed to SMB's 50. The only downside is that you need to unlock the levels in single player mode with Rayman (which was kind of a let-down for me, because I had bought it on the way to a friends house to drink & play,) but the game is so addictive that I had 'beaten' single player in 3 days. If you have the money, get both, if not, get Rayman.
  • How to get a Wii... (Score:4, Informative)

    by nweaver ( 113078 ) on Wednesday December 06, 2006 @03:34PM (#17134978) Homepage
    Stores keep getting in shipments and selling them out the same day, usually 20-40 at a time about once a week.

    Pick your favorite retailer, and just call them once a day when they open.

    This worked for a friend, and I'm trying it now.

    EG, for Black Friday after thanksgiving, the local Tarje (thats Target for those not from SoCal) got some 30-40 Wiis (and 3 PS3s that got placed in a corner and nobody cared about).
  • Re:Wiimote (Score:3, Informative)

    by Tadrith ( 557354 ) on Wednesday December 06, 2006 @03:36PM (#17135010) Homepage
    I played my Wii quite a bit until I finished Zelda, and I'm still playing Excite Truck pretty frequently.

    These aren't officially tested or anything, but just a general idea. I changed my batteries after about 40 hours of Zelda (according to the game timer), and about 5 hours of Excite Truck, and a few other things here and there.

    So, I'd say they'd last about 50 hours, depending on what you're playing. You could probably save some battery power by turning off the Wiimote speaker. I like the speaker, personally. :P
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, 2006 @03:47PM (#17135160)
    Even in SoCal, Target it still spelled Target, even if you're pronouncing it with a French accent. Same with Filet of Beef and Colbert.
  • The GameCube was a failure compared to both previous nintendo consoles and the PS2, it nearly completely bombed in Japan, did horribly in Europe, the only place where it sold some were the USA, and even then it only sold 21 millions worldwide. Just so you know, the PS2's clocking at 110 millions now, the N64 sold more than 30 millions and the SNES/SuperFamicom ended it's life after having sold 49 million consoles.

  • Re:Wiimote (Score:4, Informative)

    by Doctor Crumb ( 737936 ) on Wednesday December 06, 2006 @03:51PM (#17135234) Homepage
    I haven't replaced/recharged mine yet, after an hour or two a day for the past 2 weeks or so. From what I've heard, it takes a marathon all-day session to drain them.

    Also, they're just AAs, which are cheap and plentiful.
  • by killmenow ( 184444 ) on Wednesday December 06, 2006 @03:54PM (#17135290)
    I reserved and got a Wii on day 1. It is the first console I've ever bought at launch. I am thoroughly happy with it. Here are my thoughts:
    1. Wii Sports is a blast. I like bowling. My daughter likes boxing. My six year old son likes baseball. My teenage son likes all of them...except golf. None of us are very good at golf.
    2. Elebits, imho, will be a major seller and I am looking forward to it.
    3. There is no fear of losing the remote and busting your TV. I still don't know how the people reporting this problem are making it happen. The only way I can imagine it is if, in your excitement, you just LET GO. Wear your wrist strap and don't flail your arms about like you're trying to throw your shoulder out of socket and you'll be fine.
    4. Red Steel is fun. I know it's getting bad reviews but it's enjoyable just to play. I only have one real complaint with it: there are several parts where you are supposed to fight a guy with your sword. But why? If I am walking around with an Uzi in my hand, and round a corner where there's a man standing there brandishing a sword...why in the world would I put my Uzi away and get out a sword to fight the guy close combat like that? Why can't I just shoot him with the Uzi? That makes a whole lot more sense to me. But, no! You HAVE to fight the guy with the sword. And that's just lame.
    5. Virtual Console sucks right now. There are no games worth buying, imho. And, at $5-$10 a pop, I am not seeing the value. Maybe after some better titles are available, it'll be worth it. Right now it's a waste.
    6. Where is Opera? Where is the Forecast channel? The News channel? Bring on the extra online features NOW NOW NOW!!! I'm sick of waiting already and I've only had the Wii two weeks.
    7. Wireless connection troubles...the only way I can get my Wii to connect consistently is to turn off WEP and WPA/WPA2. I have to make my WAP open (and I've tried two different access points/routers) for it to work consistently and reliably...again, that seems just wrong to me.
    8. It's only been a few weeks. I am hopeful and optimistic that Nintendo will work this stuff out and this time next year, the Wii will just kick all kinds of ass.
  • Golf and Boxing (Score:5, Informative)

    by tansey ( 238786 ) on Wednesday December 06, 2006 @04:06PM (#17135510) Journal
    Golf is particularly bad, as even the slightest swing will have the game registering 'too much force' on the ball.

    I admit golf probably has the least pick-up-and-play controls, but it is really true in real life also. The controls reflect the ease of their real life sports. Bowling's controls are easiest because bowling is an easy sport. Tennis is easy to start but hard to master. Golf, however, is very hard to start up in real life...I don't know many people who can pick up and start swinging for 100+ yards without major accuracy problems.

    So yes, golf has sensitive controls but if you put in the time you can develop precision with them.

    The final game, boxing, is much the same. Using the Wiimote and the nunchuck, you can deliver one-two punches to your opponent's Mii ... if you can get your flailing arms to work right. I've personally found boxing to be highly enjoyable, despite its lack of precision.

    Now this is just plain not true. I've put in probably 40 hours to Wii Boxing, it makes a great workout game. The punches aren't easy to throw accurately, that's true. There are some tricks to the developing rhythm, knowing when you're leaning in the right direction to be able to throw a certain punch, etc. Those are all things that are true to real boxing.

    Again, boxing is a sport that it's easy to pick up the gloves and "flail" your arms around, but if you want to be good at it you have to practice and start thinking about your moves. However, the controls in boxing do seem to be the least precise of all the games (though as I said, they aren't bad), and I'd like to see a full fledged boxing game that has a little more time put into it.
  • by Thag ( 8436 ) on Wednesday December 06, 2006 @04:12PM (#17135610) Homepage
    Dude, he said "Don't ask me why!" :)

    Seriously, though, Achievements are a feature of XBox Live that allows you to compete for high scores and other feats in a game. They are tracked online, and you can see how you're keeping up with the Joneses.

    Jon Acheson
  • by freeweed ( 309734 ) on Wednesday December 06, 2006 @04:19PM (#17135718)
    The bad: Controller eats batteries.

    For those that don't have a Wii yet, don't listen to this guy. The cheap no-name batteries that came with the unit lasted some 20-30 hours for me, and the replacements (rechargable NiMH RULE) haven't worn out yet (past 40 hours now by my best guess).

    "Eats batteries" makes people think you'll be replacing them every time you play. Even if you play 5-6 hours every single day (ie: you're unemployed), you're still good for a solid week.

    Unless you really hate wireless devices. Then yes, you'll hate the Wii :)
  • by MadJo ( 674225 ) on Wednesday December 06, 2006 @04:42PM (#17136090) Homepage Journal

    It may have bombed in Europe because of the incompetence of Nintendo Europe.

    News has surfaced [] that the Wii Virtual Console in Europe will run in 50Hz, (most PAL TVs support 60Hz), which means that games will have borders around them, and the games will be a bit slower. And the chances of seeing previously Japanese-only or American-only games on the VC in Europe are very slim.

    Nintendo Europe apparently hasn't learned from their past mistakes

  • Re:Wiimote (Score:5, Informative)

    by focitrixilous P ( 690813 ) on Wednesday December 06, 2006 @04:48PM (#17136172) Journal
    Something no one seems to mention, there's an actual battery meter in the wiimotes, but you can only access it through the console display itself. Pretty accurate so far.

    If the console is off, push any button except power on the Wiimote and the LEDs on the bottom will light up to show you the percentage of power left. Took me forever to realise it too.

    I've charged my cheap 1800 mAh batteries (15 bucks for 4 with a charger) twice since launch, but all my friends have been over to Wii Sports things up quite a few times. I might invest in some 2500+ ones once Wiimotes are actually in stores consistantly.

  • by HoserHead ( 599 ) on Wednesday December 06, 2006 @04:54PM (#17136266)

    I absolutely loved Super Monkey Ball 1 for the Gamecube, and so Super Monkey Ball Wii was one of the two games (along with Zelda) I picked up when I first got my Wii. I wanted a decent single-player game along with the joy of multiplayer that Super Monkey Ball had been for my friends and me in the past.

    In short, Super Monkey Ball Wii is not even close to as good as Rayman. (More on Rayman later). The reason I know this is that I tried to enjoy it for about a week before trying it with friends, and discovering that it was basically not fun anymore. Even Monkey Target, which was the best of the best back on the 'Cube, isn't any fun on the Wii. It seems like they never thought of the game as an experience, but instead just threw together a bunch of tech demos and put the same interface on each of them. There's no quick way to retry a minigame. There are no settings on minigames. (That means there's also no stage selection on Monkey Target - it's a one-stage wonder.) You have to enter your name using a bizzare wheel of letters instead of the Wii keyboard used in the interface. In short, it's very disappointing in many ways. I even found the single-player game disappointingly difficult to control, and at the same time way too easy (due probably in part to the jumping ability they added). I am planning on trading in Super Monkey Ball to get Trauma Centre this weekend.

    Rayman, on the other hand, is so utterly off-the-wall, incredibly funny - and fun, at the same time - that I can without hesitation recommend it to everyone, especially over Super Monkey Ball. I picked it up just before playing Super Monkey Ball in a gathering of friends, and we went to it - and stayed with it - for as long as we could before we had to leave. The controls are great and the minigames are fun, funny and highly varied, so it never gets boring. The only downside is that you have to unlock all the minigames in single-player mode before playing it multiplayer. This is really only a downside if, like me, you play it for the first time in a gathering of friends. Unlock everything, put your saved game on an SD card, and you'll be able to bring your game everywhere with you.

    I think I can sum up my feelings on the situation like this: When I started playing Rayman on my own, I said to my fiance "I really like this game." I had to push myself to even play Super Monkey Ball. Don't make the same mistake I did.

  • by falcon5768 ( 629591 ) <> on Wednesday December 06, 2006 @05:01PM (#17136414) Journal
    for the first three years of my PS2 (bought at launch) I had no issues with it aside from a dirty laser. But then it failed to read my hard drive, then the next 2 replacements failed. finally I got one working out of combining the two PS2s together) then bought myself a PStwo so as to not use my old style one for anything but FFXI. But in the end thats 4 PS2s I bought over the last however many years the system was out.
  • Re:HD? (Score:3, Informative)

    by webrunner ( 108849 ) on Wednesday December 06, 2006 @05:31PM (#17136938) Homepage Journal
    PS3 supports analog composite, 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, and 1080p.
    Xbox 360 supports the same, although 1080p was added in a patch (is that patch out yet?)
    Wii supports composite, and 480i and 480p.

    ALl three consoles support 4:3 and 16:9, although the Wii's 16:9 at least I think is 'fake' 16:9 (it's a 4:3 signal with 16:9 aspect ratio, from what I hear)

    Everything will work on an old set, and everything will look better on a new set.
  • by drrck ( 959788 ) on Wednesday December 06, 2006 @06:01PM (#17137460)
    I've got Super Monkey Ball as well. And I can tell you if you want to have party games, go for Rayman. The controls on some of the Monkey Ball mini-games are flat out terrible. Half of the games involve some sort of totally screwed up lawnmower type controls, only backwards. If you've played it you know where I'm coming from. So I agree completely, go for Rayman.
  • Re:Conversion (Score:3, Informative)

    by Overly Critical Guy ( 663429 ) on Wednesday December 06, 2006 @06:02PM (#17137478)
    After having a 360, and being impressed with it. I looked at the Wii, and went "annnnddddd......?"

    I said the same thing when I saw the 360. Especially when I found out you had to pay for online play, which is crap. Nintendo WFC is free.
  • by timmy the large ( 223281 ) on Wednesday December 06, 2006 @08:54PM (#17139906)
    Everyone I know had problems with their PS2. Personally, I think the problem is Sony's poor QA Dept. Sony makes a lot of sub par products. I'm not trying to bash them, it just seems like they have let themselves slip.
  • Re:HD? (Score:3, Informative)

    by batkiwi ( 137781 ) on Wednesday December 06, 2006 @09:19PM (#17140124)
    All non-digital 16x9 signals are "fake" (also known as "anamorphic") 16x9 signals.

    There is no geometry in an analog signal, only a sync rate and a number of horizontal lines. It's up to your display device as to whether or not each horizontal line should take up 1mm or 1.5mm or....

    Remember, analog signals only have a distinct vertical resolution, not a horizontal one. Hence "720p" is NOT "720*xyz", it's "720p" for a reason.

    So, for example, some (many here in Australia) 16x9 plasma TVs are "fake" 16x9 since their resolution is 1024x768, which is not a 16x9 pixel format.

    Or, if you tell your computer to output 1600x1200 to a widescreen monitor, and then have it compress the image, THAT is fake 16x9.

    However, outputting a 480p image there is no way to tell whether or not it's 16x9 or 4x3. Both signals look the same non-digitally!

Civilization, as we know it, will end sometime this evening. See SYSNOTE tomorrow for more information.