Well we've spooned up the prawn cocktail of part one and wolfed down the turkey dinner of part two. Now, ladies and gentlemen, it's time for the Christmas pudding and custard of this year's three-part Christmas Mega-Blog. This year's part three is a comprehensive personal review of Nintendo's most recent home console - the Wii.
Part Three – The Wii-view
Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to talk about the Wii.
...Yeah, I realise I'm a little late to the party here. I probably should have prefaced this blog with a note saying that I've never played much Wii. Before this Christmas, my total experience with the Wii consisted of a very brief stint on one at my girlfriend's house, playing a Raving Rabbids mini-game collection. While it was fun in a distracting way, I didn't see much merit in it as a medium for playing video games. On the flip side, though, this was little more than half an hour spent with a single game – definitely not indicative of the console's entire library. Thankfully, this festive season has given me an opportunity to be less dismissive about the Wii. As a collective family Christmas present this year, my parents shelled out for one, along with a few games – specifically Wii Sports, Wii Sports Resort, Mario Kart Wii and Tomb Raider: Anniversary. After a few days of getting to grips with almost every aspect of Nintendo's latest console, I'm ready to pass judgement and deliver my verdict on the little white money-printer.
The first games we tried out were the Wii Sports titles, and these are the games that my family has been coming back to more than any other in the short time we've had the console. The games on offer are varied and simple to grasp, but most importantly, they're also wicked fun. After my family discovered the bowling on Wii Sports Resort, a whole evening was lost to it. Even as I write this, my parents and youngest sister are gearing up for yet another game of 10-pin. They're also really getting into the golf. The other sports on offer have proven to be fun distractions, but not great family material given we only have one Wii remote at the moment. I'm sure that'll change when my parents pick up another, though, and in the meantime the bowling is keeping them very satisfied.
Mario Kart Wii is something of a mixed bag for me. On one level, the motion controls seem to serve their purpose well – they're responsive, accurate, and intuitive. Sometimes I did forget I was playing a motion-controlled game, and either pressed a button to turn, or let the wheel drop on the final straight causing me to spin out, but that's my fault for not being used to the control method. My main problem with the game lies in issues I take with Mario Kart as a whole, though – the lack of any real sense of progression, the clumsy single-player structure, and the general flatness of the games' presentation. In that respect, they're not issues I take with the Wii, but with the design philosophy of the developers. I wish I could say something about the multiplayer aspect, but having only one remote and no internet connection, I can only base my opinions on the few hours I spent with the single player Grand Prix races.
My mum bought Tomb Raider: Anniversary because there's a long history of love for the franchise in my family, and she figured that she and my dad could probably play through it together. I spent half an hour with it yesterday and came to the conclusion that while it's a competent port, actually playing the game felt pretty awkward. I played through Anniversary a few years ago on the PS2, and the Wii version definitely felt like the controls had been shoehorned onto the remote and nunchuk. The motion control-based mini-games felt like they'd been added to the game just for the sake of getting some use out of the motion controls, as well. I'm sure my parents are going to enjoy it, and it's going to be a great way of reintroducing them to the kind of game they used to love, but it didn't do much for me, I'm afraid.
It's a shame I didn't get to play anything like Super Mario Galaxy in my short time with the Wii, as a title that was built from the ground up to take advantage of the hardware and controls might be enough to change my tune. For now, at least, I'm convinced that the Wii has the ability to bring a family together in a way that no other entertainment system ever could. Even my grandfather was getting involved in the bowling on Boxing Day, and he's not the video game type at all. I'm not ready to shun my 360 or PS2 in favour of it just yet, but the Wii has promise, and I hope to discover more of it when I'm next back from University. I'll close this blog by telling you all I was planning to write this on Boxing Day, but I didn't start it until the 28th of December. I think that says more about the mystical pull of Nintendo's little white box than anything else I've written above. As a final thought, if any of you have Wii recommendations for my family, be sure to let me know so I can pass them on.
Currently playing – Fallout: New Vegas (X360)