Yellow Badge

 I was fairly indifferent about the whole subscription thing. I think its about as ridiculous as paying for avatar clothing, but if there is demand then I am in no position to really criticize the supply. Especially if it is done under a sort of "we don't want to split the userbase" approach. 
I don't even care about how the whole bombcast things spits upon that approach, but only because I don't listen to the bombcast. 
 
But the medals just take this way too far. You see, I have this over-stylized image (and I guess I am not the only one) of a very certain giant bomb user, the kind of user that puts the opinion of any of this site's creators above all else in the world, the user whose idea of heaven is to get his e-mail read on the bombcast, the user who says "anime is for jerks" and "peter molyneux's ball" with a nudge-nudge and a smug grin whenever there is a possibility to do so. Naturally, you want to punch this hypothetical  user in the face. 
But that's okay because no one forces me to pay attention to the outbreaks of this phenomenon.
 
But these goddamn medals, however justified this may be, conjur up the image of just this... person over whoever wears them. "You are now reading a post or a topic by a person who is willing to spend money on a subscription model of giantbomb.com". That's like having a marker on everyone's avatar whether they vote republican or democrat. I don't want to know. :( I prefer not knowing because I like approaching people without that kind of negative prejudice. :( Why would you introduce a huge visual indicator not only of difference, but of a sense of superiority onto a part of the userbase in a discussion board that should not put an emphasis on competition? 
 
tl;dr: Are you that desparate for subscribers and that ignorant of the climate of discussion by stigmatising parts of the userbase that you feel you need to put a huge, obnoxious medal icon(!) over every paying member's avatar?

24 Comments

Dear male adolescent Giantbomb.com members.

I notice that a significant number of you think that it is a good idea to go on video game message boards and open up sad, pathetic threads about what you perceive is the mythical, magical creature of "girl". Clearly, you think, this is the place to do that. 


 

Seriously. You're embarrassing yourselves. Look, there are many awesome internet places that were made to help and support you in this strange world, like relationship health.  There are nice guys and gals eager to listen to your stories and views and help you out. 
 
Please. It's physically painful.
 

 

147 Comments

Motion Controls And You. Part 2: MotionPlus and the myth of "1:1"

Motion Controls And You. Part 1: Waggle!

Motion Controls And You. Part 2: MotionPlus and the myth of "1:1"


    Are you still there? This series of blog posts investigates in the field of Motion Controls, from the Wiimote to the Arc, and I will talk a little about each systems technical  side, advantages, disadvantages and (possible) implementations. Last week we had an in-depth look at the Nintendo Wii Remote, and if you want to read up on it, you can do that  here.
   
 It's ... new!

We established that the original Wiimote was kinda the worst direction they could have taken for controls initiated by human motion. Devices that are based on three-axis  accelerometers can detect simple linear motion (did you know netbooks have them for detecting when they are dropped so they can park the hard disk head? I didn't!), and basic  rotation when they are hold still, and both of these things they do with a high quota of errors. What that means is.. well, I'm sure almost all of you have played Wii games that  couldn't even detect the simplest of gestures, let alone complex motion.

    The reason they did this was simple: Production cost. I'd bet both my hands that they had prototypes with MotionPlus functionality way back in 2004 but had to decide against  them. A wiimote would have cost the customer over $100, and it might have been bigger, less shock resistant, and used more power. Nintendo R&D's Junji Katamoto said as much himself: It was not until 2008 that they were able to buy technology that they felt should have been in there from the beginning in a form that was  affordable, small, and ready for mass production. They were to deliver " complex motion" via a small white magic plastic dongle you plug into your wiimote.

    But before we go into the technicalities, I have a confession  to make. What I initially wanted to do today was open cold and say: "Wii Motion Plus doesn't know shit about where  your hands are", then go on explaining what the device can't do and why people are bound to be disappointed.
    I made assumptions about the capabilities based on what we had seen so far, on what I had played so far, and what seemed to distinguish MotionPlus from - seemingly -  significantly more sophisticated technology like Sony uses with their Arc.

    And while a lecture on what not to expect from the device and why people are going to be disappointed is still to follow, I was very much surprised that in my investigation I  found that I was kind of wrong with some of my assumptions.

 Circuits! Cookies for who can spot the IDG-600, the X3500W, the CPU and the EEPROM.
     Finding out what was inside the device wasn't as easy as I thought. Nintendo, as usual, didn't release any  hardware specifications. The company InvenSense had a press release proudly announcing that they were cooperating with Nintendo and that MotionPlus would feature their custom- made IDG-600 2-axis gyroscope, and this is what the "scene" for a long time believed they would get. Kinda disappointing, since you need a triple-axis gyroscope (combined with  the triple-axis accelerometer of the Wiimote) for the 6 degrees of freedom you need to detect 1:1 motion (yes, I said "1:1"!). Curiously, on the "gaming" page of InvenSense,  they speak of their "dual-axis" gyro, yet in the next paragraph they go on to explain the "three axis" gyro measurements the device is capable of. And it's true, because it is.

    Homebrewers opened it up and had a look: There's the IDG-600 alright, plus an additional single-axis gyro by the name of " X3500W" from a japanese-based company named Toyocom.  InvenSense offers single-axis gyros for the same purpose, but Nintendo decided to go with another custom-made, japanese product, probably for cost reduction. Neither the IDG- 600, nor the X3500W are listed on their respective company's product catalogue, and you can only speculate about their specifications. Huh.

    Explaining in layman terms and in a few words what a MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical System) gyroscope actually does is difficult, so I'll keep it short and extremely simplified. 
 MEMS. Not actual size.
The technology used in Motion Plus (and other consumer electronics) is tiny parts made out of silicon on a microscopical level. In MEMS gyroscopes, a pair of tiny " tuning forks"  for every axis are brought to vibration and the resonance is measured. Because of the coriolis effect, a change in orientation  will change the measurements. From this data, rotation is deduced, digitized and sent to the given device.  
 
    This is what happens in the two chips found inside the Wii Motion Plus, and this is the only thing that happens there. Add to that a microchip with firmware, a Wiimote extension  port extension ( :D ) and a small EEPROM for on-chip factory calibration, stir, and you have yourself a MotionPlus.

   Whew. Cool. Six degrees of freedom. And yet Wii Sports Resort doesn't use them. That's right: The highly rated (and awesome, btw) game that is supposed to show the world what  Nintendo's future in Motion Controls looks like does not, in fact, have any real 1:1 functionality. Neither does Tiger Woods, nor Grand Slam Tennis. Zangeki no Reginleiv  doesn't, Ghost Slayer won't, and for all we know, Red Steel 2 won't, either. They all use the gyro's rotational measurements for cursor enhancement, fake 1:1 animation mapping  and reliable gesture input.

    Why?

 
 It works, but not how you might think it does.
     Yeah, why? I didn't know when I started writing this. In fact most of the information that you can find in this blog post I gathered while looking for this answer. Before I started writing it, I was under the impression that this is what MotionPlus does - deliver rotational motion information without being able to deduce actual 3D space  information, and that it is obviously inferior to Sony's Motion Controller technology. And while this is true in practice, and Wii Sports Resort really shows nearly (but only  nearly!) all that MotionPlus is capable of, the reason isn't inferior controller hardware. The reason isn't developer's lazyness either. It is Nintendo's decision not to part  from the sensor bar in favor of an alternative visual aid to the motion input that prevents the oh-so-popular demand for "1:1". 
This is the only reason.
 

    ...What?


 It works, but can it work better?
    Gyros and accelerometers are blind. Hold still, they might be able to roughly tell where the gravity comes from, but they have not the slightest clue about where the floor is,  Where your body is, where the TV is, or even the look and proportions of the device they are built into. They use microscopical mechanics (not electronics, mind you -  mechanics!) to measure the changes of X (acceleration), X (roll), Y (acceleration), Y (pitch), Z (acceleration) and Z (yaw)  that is being applied to them. From Position A, the  measurements of these six degrees of freedom is used to give en estimate(!) of Position B.
No matter how precise the measurements are, they will never be 100% accurate. Readings that are slightly different from the actual position B the device has  moved to will accumulate over time to readings that are significantly different from the actual position B. 

    Imagine you're being blindfolded and led through an area you are familiar with by a voice telling you how many steps to go in which direction, and asking you for an estimate of  your position every 10 steps. Your first few estimates will be fairly accurate, but after 1000 steps, chances are you are off by half a mile. In Motion Control terminology, this  phenomenon is called drift.

"If there is even a 1% error in our estimate of the direction of gravity, it leads to a 9:8cm=s2 error in
acceleration, which can translate to over 40cm of error in position after just a few seconds."



This is a quote about the Wii Motion Plus from the "director's cut manual" of AiLive LiveMove 2, a developer's platform for Wii motion control development. 40cm (15in) of error in position after 2-3 seconds of movement. In most cases, the sensor bar cannot be used to "correct" the position, because it too does not deliver absolute data, but relative data. It can tell where the Wiimote points to, but it doesn't (or does only vaguely) know where it is, how far away it is, or how it is oriented.
Now you know why Wii Sports Resort isn't fully "1:1", and why no Wii game ever will be.

What's this, then?

 
   This is why all of what I said above isn't as bad as it sounds. What we're looking at here are two things MotionPlus does well. The first thing is what Wii Sports Resort
 The smartest and most impressive use of the technology yet.
does all the time: It ignores the linear motion to reduce drift significantly. Using rotational motion, speed and a cursor, you can still give a good estimate and approximation of movement. The game has no idea that the player in the video above raises his arm to put the sword into defensive position. If he had just turned the Wiimote sideways, the in-game animation would have been the same. This can work very well because human motion almost always has a rotational component.
    Consider Wii Sports Resort Archery: You would think that you aren't rotating the Wiimote at all, right? You're holding it out in front of you, moving it left, right, up and down. Clearly linear movement, right? Wrong! There is a miniscule amount of rotation whenever you move your arm left, right, up and down, and Motion Plus is accurate enough to read it correctly.

    The second thing that Red Steel 2 does is cursor enhancement. The moment the camera in your Wiimote loses track of the sensor bar, MotionPlus takes over in estimating where you point at. This estimate is very accurate, and even if it happens to be off, it is corrected instantly the moment the sensor bar becomes visible again. In practise, this enables developers to make games that always know where you point at, all the time, be it directly at the TV or not. In Red Steel 2, this knowledge is used for your sword slashes. They are 1:1 - Whatever direction, speed, and intensity (this is where accelerometer data is used!) you cut your TV in half with is perfectly replicated into the game - even though the technology isn't able to map it perfectly to your in-game polygonal arm and sword.

 Like this, but... functional.
    There is a third thing that Red Steel 2 does that isn't shown in the .gif above, one that Wii Sports Resort doesn't use. And that is actual, full 3D space 1:1 motion recognition over short periods of time - the 2-3 seconds mentioned above. Combo moves are triggered by such motions. Gamers have become weary of and cynical about gesture input because of how unreliable it is with the regular Wiimote, prompting developers to have the game accept or just demand any kind of movement. Waggle, yes. In the seconds the Wii Motion Plus is able to detect full 1:1 motion, any kind of gesture input, no matter how elaborate, can be used as input. I am looking forward to seeing this implemented in more games.

   Speaking of which, I have not encountered anything that excuses devs from releasing games without MotionPlus support. Games that would clearly have benefitted greatly from a cursor that doesn't spazz out the game once it loses track of the sensor bar, games with hundreds of opportunities for cool and satisfying gesture input, games that boast themselves with dozens of control options.... Since the launch of the device in June 2009, only four MotionPlus-enabled games that aren't sports games have been released, two of which are flat-out bad, comparably unknown titles that don't employ it in any meaningful way.

   I'm not asking for dozens of games to require the player to buy an add-on and play with gestures, but is it too much to ask optional MotionPlus support in games that are clearly inferior because of the sensor bar and accelerometer's restrictions?


    With Zangeki doing well in Japan, Motion Plus selling in the millions, Red Steel 2 reporting high pre-order numbers, several M+ Wiiware games coming out and the next Zelda requiring it for play, I will continue hoping for more games that feature what we all wanted and imagined the Wii to do from the beginning, and whose absence so quickly turned so many people into bitterness and mockery. 
 
    Finally, the old showcase video of AiLive LiveMove2, which many of you might have seen already. See how the device does 1:1 motion recognition, but only in modes where the position is reset after 2-3 seconds of motion.

 

   And now some of you might think: "Wait, what if we used the exact same technology, but came up with some sort of system that could frequently verify the position and correct the data if necessary?"

That's an excellent idea, wouldn't you think? How could such a system look like? Here's a crazy thought: We could take the controller, and stick a huge glowing ball on top of it.


Next Up: Steal from the best - The Sony Arc.

20 Comments

Motion Controls And You. Part 1: waggle!

Motion Controls And You. Part 2: MotionPlus and the myth of "1:1"

Motion Controls And You. Part 1: Waggle


    This is a series of posts that investigate in the field of motion controlled gaming. Beginning with the Nintendo Wii Remote that was announced in 2005, the goal is to look at each of the following systems - MotionPlus, Natal and Arc - looking into their respective technologies, advantages, disadvantages and implementations. (Or nobody cares and this will quickly disappear again.)
 
 
    Nintendo was never very technical when unveiling and demonstrating new hardware and, much like Wii Sports did in 2006 with the capabilities of the Wii Remote, Wii Sports Resort has a habit of making people believe MotionPlus is capable of doing much more than it actually does.

    It is not very surprising, then, that some early importers of Zangeki no Reginleiv and some hands-on reports of Red Steel 2 express careful scepticism: "Yeah, its very cool and all, but why isn't it 1:1?"

    Nintendo lets this happen, and is setting a lot of people up for disappointment over upcoming releases, most notably The Legend of Zelda, by resorting to a simple and effective "Wii Motion Plus will transfer your movement into the game more precise than ever before!" instead of actually telling them what they can and more importantly, what they cannot expect. So lets get technical.


 First, let's look at what is inside the regular Wii Remote that made it necessary to release this add-on in the first place.

    Apart from all the usual stuff for buttons, sound and vibration, the distinct features of a Wiimote are an Infrared Camera at the top, and a three-axis ADXL330 accelerometer right next to the A-Button (to the right of the red tube in the picture above). This tiny bug-sized little chip is where all the waggly magic happens. With a price tag of $25 per chip, you may see why the Wii remote, containing the ADXL330, a bluetooth radio and a multi-point 1024x768 100hz infrared camera is considered a remarkably cheap and diverse piece of hardware amongst hackers and homebrewers.

    The bluetooth Infrared camera inside the Wiimote picks up two flickering spheres of infrared light (IR cameras see IR light and nothing else) coming from the sensor bar. Because these spheres change position and distance depending on where you hold the Wiimote, this data is used for your cursor (that is why it isn't perfectly mapped to where you point - the Wii doesn't know where and how big your TV is, only where the sensor bar is), both for its position and for its distance from the sensor bar.
 Good in theory.


    What the ADXL330 accelerometer does is to detect relational acceleration along three axis - it measures the g-force that acts upon it. During acceleration, it can measure and record the XYZ direction, duration and speed it is moving in and sends this data via bluetooth to the Wii. When it is hold still, it is able to deduce its orientation in 3D space because of the downwards gravitational pull - until you turn it over. Turning it over along one of the axis provides ambiguous data, and the reading becomes unstable or useless. The same goes for unexpected change of orientation during accelerated movement: Straight lines of movement are awesome, wavy lines or rotation not so much.

    Can you see where this is going? Cursor functionality aside, the Wiimote can detect its orientation in space, as long as it is hold still, and even then there is a high probability of error, especially when you turn it over. The probability of error when detecting accelerated motion is even higher, even more or less straight lines of motion cannot always be measured correctly.

And this is the technology Nintendo went with for detecting and translating motions of the human arm!

 
 This is you.
     Three years later, the number of Wii games that employ this technology for great effect, circumventing the shortcomings, creating situations where gamers won't use the remote in ways that confuse the accelerometer is slim, though there are some. Games like Wii Sports, that feel like they know a lot of what you're going, when in fact they're based on "is there quick motion and if so, when did it end?"; games like Zack&Wiki that change things up a lot and are very careful about crafting situations in which the player naturally does the "right" motions, games like The Force Unleashed that, while not perfect, use rotation and quick thrusts for so many nice moves that you cannot help but have fun - or games like MadWorld that create situations where the motion input might not be very elaborate, but are so well staged, paced and forgiving that they are directly translated into a big, mad grin on your face. In Dead Space: Extraction, you solder bolts, handle the ripper, melee enemies and do active reloads by pointer, distance AND gesture input, enhanced by the Wiimote speaker and rumble. Those are the moments when the technology really shines.
 Zack & Wiki - One of the games that sport excellent Motion Controls

    After the unsuccessful and saddening attempts at elaborate gesture-controlled segments of the first few waves of games however, games that turned many people away from the console, the majority of devs settled on simply using an I/O system - substituting a button press for "accelerator sending any sort of motion data". This (in many cases) pointless shaking of the Wiimote became quickly known as "waggle", and is very enthusiastically used to this day, even though it is mostly avoided or rather cleverly used these days.

    Code seems to have improved on the reading of "jabs", the "distance" reading of the pointer is seen increasing popularity, unreliable gesture input is avoided and waggle only sparsely used in high-profile games - combining motions with the Nunchuck has also proven to work quite well. Interestingly, there is not an ADXL330 in the Nunchuk, but a "LIS3L02A", also a three-acis accelerometer that costs roughly the same but consumes less power. I have read one forum post that it actually works slightly better than the one used in the Wiimote itself, and that techies actually buy Nintendo Nunchucks as a cheap way to get a hold of LIS3L02As. Maybe the only reasons these are not built into the 'mote is cost reduction? Who knows.

    But the inconsistencies and the very, very small room of possible implementations of the Wiimote and Nunchuck accelerometer remain, and the Classic Controller is getting more popular every week - especially in Japan. So popular that even games predestined for motion input such as No More Heroes 2 and Zangeki No Reginleiv receive optional Classic Controller support. And those in favor of regular Wiimote gesture input are often so because they have found out how the system wor ks, controlling their motions, knowing what the controller can do and what it can't do. Quite the opposite of the intuitive, easiliy approachable motion controls big N might have had in mind.

    And that is even though Nintendo released a little peripheral in the summer of 2009 - over seven months ago - called MotionPlus, that, according to Nintendo themselves, contains technology that "was initially planned for the original hardware, and should have been in there from the start."


 


Next up: 

Wii Motion Plus - Dispelling the myth of "1:1"

16 Comments

I started a Rune Factory game. What was I thinking?


 "Just one more day, then I´ll go to bed. Maybe two."
What is it about the human nature that Harvest-Moon-games speak so thoroughly to? I just wanted to have a quick look at Rune Factory: Frontier, ended up playing 3 hours today - and I have not even scratched the surface of the things this game has me do for the next few virtual seasons. 
Why? Why do I enjoy a game that simulates mundane, repetetive work?
Oh New Super Mario Bros. Wii, it was good to have known you.
22 Comments

tl;dr presents: Half a Wii Sports Resort review

It is both sad and awesome that now, about four years after I described to a friend what we believed (or even: were led to believe) the new Nintendo console would control like, we actually get it. Because, and I'm going to spoil the ending of this way too long article now, playing Wii Sports Resort Swordplay alone is as eye opening and amazing as playing Mario64 for the first time, leaving Midgar, or battling your first colossus. It is just that great.

What follows are some thoughts to each of the games. I have played 6-7 hours so far, single-player only. There are several modes that are only available to multiple players, and some games that I imagine are only really good when played against human opponents. Hence: Half a review.

SKYDIVING


Skydiving was a surprise, because it's actually a very nicely done, fun game. You use the airflow and the MotionPlus tilt to control your Mii, freefalling towards Wuhu Island. What you actually do, though, is to try and grab as many fellow Miis as possible while a timer of 3-4 seconds counts down. Every Mii you reach adds a second to the timer, so you string together combos by flowing through the air as quckly and precise as you can. What counts to your ultimate score, however, is not the number of
Ever wondered what the bottom of a Miis shoe looked like?
people you reach: When the timer runs down, a photo is taken. How many people's faces are seen on all the fotos constitutes your score. After every photo, everyone lets go and the timer starts anew. So in the last second, you have to decide whether you go for it and try to reach another Mii (adding a second), or position your group so that as many faces as possibles can be seen for the photo. At the end there’s the opportunity for a large group shot, the parachutes open, the end. You get to see the photos and your score.
Of course, this will probably lose its drive after you've done it a few times (I have had three or four rounds so far), and there's a multiplayer component that I could not try. It introduces the player to the MotionPlus dual-axis tilt and its incredible precision. All it uses is rotation and as such, a similar thing, though less responsive and precice, could have been done with the regular 'mote.




BOWLING


I never got  into bowling in Wii Sports, it seemed unresponsive and I never got the ball where I wanted it to go. Motion Plus, of course, shows how it should have been
Fuck it, Dude, let's go bowling.
from the beginning. Not much more can be said about it here, your throw is read exactly, and the game is similar to its predecessor, with the exception that you don't let go of the B button to throw the ball (I think you can turn that back on, but I don't know how), and that there's an additional, third mode, where there are obstacles on the lane you have to work around by adding spin to the ball and such.

EDIT: Ball release by button release can be turned on in a menu I had not discovered. All is well!


GOLF


Not included: Guns
See above. Golf is as it should have been from the beginning, with rotational information added to the reading of your swing; Golf and swordplay are the games with the most content in this collection, Golf especially has a lot of holes to play (this time scattered around the Island) and I heard it offers a lot of content for fans of the sport (which I am not). Plus, there's disc golf, but that is found under "frisbee".




BASKETBALL


shootin' some b-ball outside of school
Basketball I find absolutely pointless. You pick up the ball with B and then do a throwing motion which determines the basketball's path. Cool, in theory, for games like Boom Blox, but without the actual weight and feeling of the ball, doing a throwing motion over your head to hit the basket is neither pleasant nor particularly intuitive. I have heard of people enjoying this very much (because, yes, the controls work very well and hitting the basket required actual throwing skill), but I just don't see it. On top of the just-throwing-balls, theres the actual "game" mode with teams of four, but that basically consists of throwing the ball once or twice to your teammates (by button presses, not by motion), and then take a shot at the basket. Once one team attempts to hit the basket, the game restarts. Dumb. And not very entertaining. Perhaps this is one of the games that benefit from multiplayer, but.. I doubt it.
Seems very tacked on. There can't have been mouch thought put into it. Definatly the worst game of the compilation.

FRISBEE and DISC GOLF


Sadly, the puppie is not available for sword duels.
Frisbee would have been cool if I didn't play Tiger Woods 10 before. Compared to the smooth, intuitive, precice throwing that Tiger Woods displayed, WSR Frisbee just sucks. A huge part of that is that you do not control when to let go of the disc. That is done automatically. Which I cannot understand, at all, because that prevents any kind of planning ahead or timing or aiming your throw. I don't get it. This is true for both frisbee (hitting a certain spot and balloons in between) and disc golf modes, both of which are nicely done and have good stages, it's just... If I cannot influence when to let go of the disc when throwing, I don't see the point of fancy 1:1 motion controls. Perhaps this can be turned off and I just don't know how.

EDIT: Disc release by button release can be turned On in a menu I just found. It makes the game significantly better, more fun, and very much enjoyable. It is still inferior to Tiger Woods which is near perfect, but it's now very usable and very satisfying. Disc Golf is awesome!




TABLE TENNIS


Is that an aloha shirt?
Table tennis, control-wise, is sort of the opposite to Grand Slam Tennis. The racket is very precisely mapped to your hand, very much like the sword, and you hit the ball by actually positioning it properly with the racket. However, once the ball is hit, it takes a very guided, very limited path. Unlike GST, where your motion has little influence on the character animation but the ball mercilessly goes where you virtually hit it, Wii Sports Resort Table Tennis balls have sort of a life of their own. You do influence direction, and spin, but it is very appearant that the game "helps" with keeping it on the table, and doesn't let you position it on the other side as much as the other M+ tennis games. Most probably, people who have not played GST or VT09 will never notice that. At the end, the game is very fun, but comparably shallow. There's two modes (that I know of), normal matches and "ball machine", and I have not spent as much time with it as I thought I would.
Naturally, table tennis will be awesome in Multiplayer with a real human opponent. That's where Table Tennis will shine beyond measure. But in single-player, it's not really that mind-blowing.

JETSKI


No pixel shaders!!!1
It's a waverace demo. I don't think it has MotionPlus functionality. We've seen steering by Wiimote-Nunchuck-steering-wheel-position before, and this is exactly that. Travel the waves through rings. The multiplayer is said to be very cool but, again, I have not been able to test that, so far.






WAKEBOARDING


The best screenshot I could find. I know.
You hold the Wiimote like you'd hold the handlebar and then steer yourself through the waves, doing jumps and stunts. With every successful jump, the ride gets faster. Mess up, and everything will slow down. The trick is to position yourself so that your landing is as level as possible. Not a surprise in both content and controls, and ultimately forgettable. The slowing down in particular is pretty annoying, as most of the time you don't really see what exactly you did wrong. Wakeboarding is very, very similar to Excitetruck and Excitebots and one of the games that I don't think use MotionPlus to any noticable improvement.


CANOEING


Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
Canoeing is fun. Very much. It's definatly a MotionPlus game: You hold the mote like a paddle and then just.. go. The point of the single player game is to get to the goal in the shortest possible time, avoiding obstacles and fighting the water. There are three or four different courses with different challenges each. On top of that, there's a multiplayer mode where it's all about syncing with the other players, and I'm told it is one of the best WSR multiplayer experiences, but I couldn't test it myself. Playing it, however, I notice that the paddle controls are almost completely tilt-based. You cannot actually decide how far in you want to thrust it into the water. You cannot actually play around with the paddle, hold it over your head or anything like that.
But we know from Archery that the device can detect non-rotational motion, right? After all, you control the bow by holding it parallel to the TV and then move it left and right and up and down, right? Well, we'll see about that when we get to archery.
Still, Canoeing is awesome, and its one of the games showing very clearly how much superior MotionPlus is to the previous device. It's scary how precise and reliable the consoles and the gesture/movement recognition are.

CYCLING


You'd think this had balance board support, but no.
I wondered how they wanted to pull of cycling when I saw it in the trailers. It works like this: You hold your hands like you were steering a bicycle. To accelerate, you move them up and down one after the other, like you do with your legs. To break, you pull the breaks (B+Z buttons). And, er, to ring the bell, you flick the analog stick (I laughed when I found that out). Those of you who have played the chocobo races in Final Fantasy VII know what Wii Sports Resort Bicycling is like: Racing others through a course, keeping an eye on your stamina meter. To steer, you steer. That's the advantage of MotionPlus, I suppose, that it retains accurate steering even when you are pedaling.
There's different courses and a multiplayer race mode. I suppose the game benefits from the multiplayer. I didn't have that much fun with it, simply because the controls are as awkward as they sound. They work well, but they're just not entertaining.

PLANE


This could have been StarFox.
At first sight, the flying of the plane over Wuhu Island seems exceptionally boring and pointless. You hold the plane like a papercraft plane, you can get speed boosts by doing a thrusting motion, you can shoot little blue things but that doesn't seem to have any effect on anyone, and you can send a signal rocket into the sky, whatever for. All around the island, symbols can be found which give you some kind of information about the locations when you fly through them. You have five minutes per game to fly around. And that's it, basically. The controls work like you imagine them to be, and a similar game would have been possible with the regular wiimote, though less precice, quick and reliable, and with fewer stunt possibilities.
However, you can get some hours out of this game if you like the collecting of stuff that can be found in, for example, platformers. There are 80 Info-symbols hidden all around the island, sometimes on places very hard to get to without crashing, and the more you collect, the more functions you unlock. Discover 10 symbols and balloons will start appearing on the island, on the vehicles, or in the hands of the many Miis that populate it. You can pop them by flying through them or by shooting them. The number of balloons you pop in each game is counted, but I have not yet discovered what that is for. With more symbols discovered, you get better weapons, more stuff appears on the map, you can play during the evening or in the night (complete with fireworks), or your plane will house more pilots.
The map is huge, and you will not discover more than 5-10 symbols each game. I have found ~60 so far, and I plan to find them all. It's interesting to see what else will change and be available. It certainly is a "non-game", and it's not the most astonishing showcase for MotionPlus, but it's more entertaining than I thought it would be.

SWORDPLAY: DUELS, CUTTING STUFF and BATTLE MODE


Become the blade.
Ah. Swordplay. Probably the reason many are going to get the game, and the discipline in which MotionPlus has to prove itself worthy. There are three modes: Duels in single- and multiplayer, where you have to hit your opponent into the surrounding water by blocking attacks and landing them yourself; "Cutting stuff" (SP and MP) where you have to be quick and precise in cutting things in half, and "battle mode", where you're given three hearts and have to survive hordes and hordes of opponents of different skill level during the course of some 15 levels. Battle is single-player only, I think.
All three modes are excellent.
But you probably want to hear about the controls. Swordfighting is lag-free, glitch-free, precise and unbelievably fun and satisfying. Unless you're flailing your arms around like crazy, every slash you perform is transfered 1:1 with angle, path and intensity into the game. Want to hit the opponents foot? Do so. Want to hit his knee? Do so. Want to hit his ear? Do so. Want to fake a left attack, then go for the chest? Do so.  Holding B gets you into block mode, where you have to watch the opponent carefully to block his attacks: By blocking his sword's path with yours. You will look like the guy in the Red Steel 2 teaser, playing Wii Sports Resort Swordfighting. It is really that awesome, and it works 99% of the time.
Duels are strategic battles that can get really difficult and exhausting once you reach Pro-Level. Imagine yourself doing a cool swordfight. That's what WSR Sword Duals feel like. Easily and without a doubt the best part of the game. Worth the price alone. A fantastic videogame expierience everyone should have.
Cutting virtual stuff up by 1:1 slashes is amazing, but of course something that is better played against a human opponent instead of the AI.
I did say your slashes are 1:1. That is not true for the entire control scheme. For example, you hold the sword parallel to the floor in front of your face. No problem. Then you keep the wiimote parallel to the floor, but move it down to your chest. In-game, nothing changes. MotionPlus detects every little rotation/tilt based input with 100% precision, even if you move your hands only slightly - But non-rotational motion it cannot and does not detect. At all. But what about archery then?

ARCHERY


[Placeholder for a hilarious Legolas joke]
Archery was the #1 argument when it came to comparing MotionPlus to Sony's ball-on-a-stick. People were holding the Bow out in front of them, moving it left and right and up and down to change the aiming. Clearly a non-rotational motion. Clearly, MotionPlus was able to detect the Wiimotes position to the ground, and the player, and the TV, right?
Wrong. MotionPlus knows shit about where the ground is, where the player is, or where the TV is. It has no space-awareness, at all. All it does is detect/record rotation and movement speed. I realized that when I found out that even the bow is controlled by rotation. Hold your arm out and move it left and right. Whatever you hold in your hand is inevitably rotated slightly.
MotionPlus detects that motion and transfers it to the archery aim. You can aim by holding your arm still and tilting the Wiimote. That would be awkward because it is extremely sensitive, but it shows how it works - Not by knowing where the Wiimote is in relation to the ground, but by rotation about its own axis. Now that doesn't change the fact that Wii Sports Resort archery or swordplay or canoeing are 100% reliable, sensitive, precise and awesome - But I predict that a number of people will be disappointed once they find out what MotionPlus can't do.
MotionPlus is able to record what movement has been done by analyzing rotation, direction and speed. Always relative to its previous position. It does that perfectly, and that will allow for some great things, if devs decide to utlize it.
What it does not do and never will is deliver 1:1 information as to where the Wiimote is at any time in relation to the player or the room. Many of the things shown in Sonys Motion Controller demo it will never be able to do, period. It is a great addition for a great price that will perfect gesture recognition and will enable awesome emulated 1:1 mechanics in games, such as the swordfighting or archery in this one, but it is not a revolution.
As for Wii Sports Resort itself, get it. It's cheap and offers a lot of value and fun in singleplayer, and should be spectacular in multiplayer. It has a lot more going on than Wii Sports, and it requires you to perform good at certain things to unlock others: Most games have unlockable modes and levels, and  it will take you a while to even have seen everything. I myself, 7 hours in, have not seen anything, nor understood everything because the game is entirely in Japanese. Wii Sports Resort is a great game, and a showcase for both players and devs about what should now be possible. I really hope devs take that opportunity.



This will be you. Don't try to fight it.

35 Comments

I thought the Force Unleashed (Wii) was broken.

Played the Wii-version of "Force Unleashed" today.

And boy, was I surprised. I played the game on the 360, thinking it fun but forgettable (waste of a great art direction), but never touched the Wii version, because all I heard of it (as ususal) was about the bad graphics and (as usual) some control issues. With my impressions from the 360 gameplay, I could very well imagine a bad port control-wise, so that's how that game became fixed in my head. Until today.


I didn't play for a very long time (30 min perhaps), but in all honesty, this game benefits tremendously from the Wii controls; I would put it on par with RE4 in terms of "how much more fun this is on the Wii", maybe higher.

Now I am one of the Wii guys on this board, and I enjoy the console, but at the same time I am one of those that have always (and continue to) mourn the way "Motion Control" turned out to be, and I still harbour a lot of disappointment over the hardware Nintendo shipped and what most games do with it. There are many games on the console I like very much, but only a handful that I'd say really are awesome because of the controls.

Controlling the force and the lightsaber with gesture-based controls is great fun.
The apprentice usually controls the force with his left and the lightsaber with his right hand and so do you. Slashing right, left, up, down or lunging forward are all properly recognized by the motion of your right hand; lightsaber combos are very entertaining that way. Wanna throw the lightsaber? Then throw the lightsaber. Wanna block? Then just hold the Wiimote sideways in front of your character. Wanna just frantically waggle the Wiimote when enemies come close? That also works, but don't expect to fare very well, or do combos.

Pushing with your left hand does a force punch. The big "Z" button initiates the grab and holding items/enemies in the air. Maneuvering them around in this position is where some of the criticism came in, I think: The altitude is controlled with the vertical angle of the nunchuck, which works great - But the Position is changed with the analogue stick. That's slightly irritating, and it makes you wonder why they didn't use the Nunchucks horizontal angle for left/right maneuvering.
This takes getting used to, but it still feels great. Especially combined with throwing, lightsaber throwing, force lightning (C-Button), slicing and all the other violent stuff that makes this game fun on all platforms. Only in this version, you're doing the stuff physically, and it works incredibly well (including the swordfighting!), making the virtual use of the force as satisfying and close-to-life as never before.

Then there's the Quick-Time-Events. While still QTEs, what you're doing is much closer to what is shown on-screen, and it's not just moving the right hand at the right time or as fast as possible (as it is often in Wii games), but doing the right motions in the right angles, most of the time mimicking what the Apprentice is doing with his right/left hand during the Quick-Time-Event sequences. It's really, really cool.


Now the game still looks very bad. As in, very bad. Even by PS2 standards, the game looks pretty bad. Considering what should be possible even with the Gamecube-hardware alone, looking at the PS2/Wii-Version of "The Force Unleashed" is very depressing. If you cannot get over that fact, the controls most probably won't do it for you, either.

But damn, controlling the force and the lightsaber this way is awesome. I must've looked very silly, coming at the game with a very negative attitude and than grinning from one ear to the other just because I could physically throw stormtroopers around.


I just saw that the Wii version actually got a higher score on both metacritic and gamerankings than the PS3/360 versions. I thought it was scored waay lower. Where did that impression come from?


Yeah well. I guess you're all long over that game anyways and I'm just late to the party. I could've borrowed the 360 version from a friend of mine whenever I wanted, but I never felt like playing more of the game. But the Wii version I will most probably get back to.

You should try it.

  

Start the Conversation

I went and counted the hours I played Wii this year.

From the first of january to today, I seem to have spent 56 hours in front of Nintendo's console. Where'd all that time come from? Thats equal to 1.5 hours each day. For a person who was this close to selling the damn thing half a year ago, I guess that's not bad. I wish the X360 kept log of what you do for how long as well.


idiots like to show off their collections.





































Anyone else feel like counting and posting it here? I'd be interested. If only for the "No hours cuz it has liek no good gamz hurr" comments. :D

Start the Conversation

Watch me get owned by Diddy Kong.

Mario Power Tennis is pretty hard on expert difficulty. : (

  

I wonder how this game is doing, sales-wise. I cannot imagine what made the review scores so low, except the fact that there's nothing new and that there's no Co-Op 2 player mode (only competetive), as well as no multiplayer tournament. I mean yeah, that's pretty bad, but it still is an awesome Wii Tennis game with great controls, presentation and a lot of content.

For those who don't know: This is basically Wii Sports Tennis with 5 different swings forehand/backhand and 2 special attacks for each character, a lot of whacky courses and the ability to control the movement of your character with the Nunchuck.

It's great fun, it plays well, the control's aren't broken in the least, and it's cheap. Give those guys money, people. Am I the only one who has this?


Start the Conversation