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One Week ("Wii-k"?) Later… November 26, 2006

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Technology, Video Games.

The Wii delivers.

I know this because I am now hooked on Wii Sports. Although I haven’t given baseball or golf a swing (pun intended), I am all for the occasional round of boxing. I’m also now positively obsessed with bowling, and am determined to improve my backhand in tennis. All of this on the Wii, and in spite of the fact that I also bought The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, now gathering dust – unopened – in its little corner of my shelf.

And then there is the virtual console, which is nostalgia in a box. With my internet connection, and for anywhere between $6 to $10 a pop, I now have the ability to download games from the NES, SNES, Nintendo64, Sega Genesis and TurboGrafx16 as Nintendo makes them available (of course, in some cases this does require the appropriate controller, but that’s another story). For now there aren’t many games yet, but this has nowhere to go but up. In any event I’m sure that, when the time comes, Mario64 – already downloaded and waiting for me – will keep me well enough busy.

However, there are minor disappointments. Not all the “Wii Channels” promised by Nintendo are as yet available; in particular, the internet browser is still not there. Also, my virtual console copy of Sonic the Hedgehog (all $8 worth of it) seems to be buggy; for lack of a better way to describe it, the frame-rate seems to lag, making it nearly impossible to watch Sonic speed through each stage, let alone play the game. But this might have more to do with the TV than the console. As for the rest, well, at least the functionality is already there.

Besides, the whole point of the Wii is the revolutionary motion-sensitive controller, which from firsthand experience really adds an entirely new dimension to gaming. Will the novelty wear off? Personally, I don’t think so; at least, not completely. The ability to swing one’s arms around and have an avatar onscreen do almost exactly the same is just too good for words; in fact, on more than one occasion have I been prompted to wonder out loud, “Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before?” Really, they probably have, and it’s about time that someone has been able to implement it so masterfully.

But I cannot help but wonder: as consoles such as the Wii increase in sophistication, becoming more and more capable of emulating how we move and act in reality, why will anyone bother escaping into what should be the “unreality” of a video game? Believe me: it is extreme fun to stand (yes, stand!) in front of the TV and take what for all intents and purposes is a “swing” at the ball. But as many times as I’ve done that I must also have asked myself why I don’t do so for real.

I’ve never been the athletic type, and have never otherwise been possessed to take up tennis. Yet here I am, in the comfort of my room, trying to figure out how to perfect my backhand return. Does the appeal lie in mystery behind the enormous amount of effort it takes to develop such complex technology, making it do what can possibly be done much more easily with a real tennis racket and a real tennis ball? Perhaps: just when I figure that I might just be better off with the real thing instead of a video game, the instinctive response kicks in: but this is just too cool.

Surely there will be time enough for me to figure this all out. In the meantime, however, I think my backhand could still use some work.



1. reyl - November 26, 2006

The Wiinning approach to America’s obesity! I Wiish I had one.

(Thanks for adding me to your blogroll — you’re the first one to do so. Will add you when I get some time on my hands to fix it up)

2. Brian L. Belen - November 29, 2006

Almost on cue, there are now people complaining of aches and pains after playing on the Wii. Given Americans’ penchant for litigation, I suppose there’s a frivolous lawsuit here just waiting to happen.

I am glad, though, that the Wii invites more movement. The physical exertion does set another natural limit to how long a person can play.

Now to put some ice on my shoulder. Damned Wii bowling…=)

(And thanks for dropping by! That’s another step closer to double-digit readership!)

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