I Finally Bought a Wii: My Thoughts on Three Games.

Posted by BlazeHedgehog (1102 posts) -

 Behold, my haul of hauls
You may remember that back in June, I was contacted about winning one of those Xbox "Download & Win" Sweepstakes. You know the type - you see it on the dashboard from time to time, where an advertising something wants you to download a set of gamerpics with their branding and that counts as your entry. I won "a lifetime supply" of Xbox Live Gold and 32,000 Microsoft points, which came out to be roughly $1,900 worth of stuff.  It arrived in August, to the tune of a bunch of cards in individual blister packs. Given that I didn't really need all of what they gave me, and the rules said nothing about being forced to keep my prize, I sold the bulk of it. Selling it was a slow, painful process, as the only place I could actually make sales was Ebay. Just before Christmas, a friend came to me and offered me an alternative place to sell the cards, but even that was sluggish, as by then, Holiday discounts had kicked in and nobody was interested at the prices I was asking. A couple weeks ago, that finally changed, and I ended up selling pretty much all of my remaining stock in around 48 hours. That meant I was sitting on nearly $600 - which was spent on the bounty you see above. It was almost like a second Christmas. (as an aside, I had actually shot a bunch of video of me opening these boxes, but they were incredibly dark and the microphone on my camera is absolutely trash - nevermind the intense guilt I felt actually recording something like that; ignore the fact that I'm now doing it in text form).
 
I haven't gotten around to putting my new processor or graphics card in (I need to back up some files first since I am pretty sure I will have to re-install Windows), but one thing I can talk about is my newly acquired Wii. Believe it or not, I had not ever really sat down and had a go with a Wii, not until I played it over at Ashuku's house a little bit before Christmas. It was there I finally had a go at Wii Sports Resort, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Sonic Colors and saw about an hour's worth of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. The takeaway was that yes, I still do need a Wii - and despite the fact that I still consider myself a Sonic fan, it was actually Silent Hill that captivated me the most.
 
So here we are. I've had my Wii for a solid week as of today, and though the bulk of that week has been spent setting up various gray-area aspects of it (it's now a more robust media player than my Xbox 360), I've spent a lot of time with three specific games: Sonic Colors, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, and Donkey Kong Country Returns. Sonic Colors is, well, Sonic Colors - perhaps one of the most thoughtfully-designed 3D Sonic games ever produced. When people describe a game as "Going through the motions", what they're actually describing is a lack of being taught anything. Whether you're aware of it or not, all good videogames are constantly teaching you how to do something. They are teaching you how the controls work, how the enemies work, how to manipulate the world, and testing you on what you know with increasingly complex "lessons", for lack of a better term. When that learning experience is absent, you get the sensation that there's something "missing". Even if the level designs themselves are challenging, if you aren't learning something new from the experience, you can feel that lack of cerebral stimulation. On a long list of other problems, this is something that had effected Sonic games for a long time - and any time those games would teach you something new, it was done in a very dry, text/dialog-heavy manner by simply explaining the solution to every "lesson", even before you knew there was a "lesson" to begin with. This began to change a little bit in Sonic Unleashed, where you could genuinely see the game occasionally making efforts to teach you specific gameplay lessons and testing you on that knowledge. Sonic Colors on the Wii finally takes the plunge and goes full-tilt in that direction, as every level is chocked full of lessons and tests - almost as if it was competently designed by people who actually understand how a videogame is supposed to function! Unfortunately, there's something else wrong with Sonic Colors - something I can't quite put my finger on just yet. Sonic Unleashed's levels were incredible, remarkably intense thrill rides that blew past at speeds that almost felt too fast. 
  

"Arid Sands", one of the last and fastest levels in the HD version of Sonic Unleashed.
    

Sonic Colors definitely feels more neutered in this department. The game is definitely fast - but it's missing a certain element of spectacle that Sonic Unleashed nailed. That feeling of being on the edge of losing control. That's the biggest problem with the game, but there's definitely other stuff - other stuff I think I'll save in case I feel like following through with that video review I plan on doing. It's a good game, though, make no mistake. I do not hesitate to say it is the single most solid 3D Sonic game ever produced. It doesn't even need the qualifier of, "It's good for a Sonic game". It's just good, period.  But after the adrenaline overdose that was Sonic Unleashed, Colors definitely feels... "slow".
 
Donkey Kong Country Returns is a surprisingly retro game. That's not some pun on the fact that it was developed by Retro Studios, or anything. I mean that, for better or worse, they don't make games like this anymore. Now, I haven't made it very deep in to Super Meat Boy, so maybe I'm lacking "teh skillz", but DKCR does not play around. This is the kind of game that is, right out of the gate, immediately challenging, and it only ramps up from there. By the end of the first world I was kind of surprised how frequently I was dying, and by the middle of World 3 I've found myself actually shouting "OH COME ON! SERIOUSLY?" at the TV screen. There is a shockingly large amount of trial-and-error to certain elements of these levels, where things can and will damage you (or even kill you!) without really warning until it's already too late. On top of that, many of these levels are incredibly long - take a look at this speedrun video for a level that made me want to throw my controller at the screen called "Itty Bitty Biters". Despite zooming through the level as quickly as possible, it still takes the guy almost four and a half minutes:
  

This level involved A LOT of trial and error for me.
     
 
You may also notice the fact that "Itty Bitty Biters" there, despite being as long as it is, only had one or two checkpoints. This is the case with most DKCR levels as far as I can tell - your first time through a stage like Itty Bitty Biters can take well over 10 or 15 minutes, with most of the time soaked up replaying the same 2-3 minute chunks over and over and over again. I was planning on happily unveiling DKCR to my Mother, because she loved DKC1. Unfortunately, she was never good enough to pass the first world in that - and considering I can 101% DKC1 with my eyes closed, she'll probably start the first level of DKCR and end up breaking in to tears before even making it to the first checkpoint, or something.
 
And that brings us to New Super Mario Bros. Wii. I was extremely disappointed with the Nintendo DS verison of NSMB; in comparison to the other 2D Marios like Super Mario World and Super Mario Bros. 3, NSMBDS took little effort to beat. Not only did it suffer from the whole "going through the motions" syndrome, but the game practically refused to be difficult, not even a little bit. I sleep-walked through the game and came away underwhelmed. NSMBW seems to dial up the challenge a little bit and introduces more new elements to spice things up, but I can't get over how heavy Mario feels. This is something I noticed while playing DKCR, too. It just so happened that around the time I was playing these games I also happened to play bits of Super Mario Bros 3 and Donkey Kong Country 2, and this ended up giving me a very solid basis to compare the old entries in these franchises directly to the new entries.
 
The conclusion is that NSMBW, DKCR, and to a certain degree even Sonic Colors favor momentum far more than their forefathers did. Momentum is an important part of any game - without it, controls feel stiff and over-responsive. Momentum lends a degree of smooth movement to characters, and, especially in Donkey Kong Country and Sonic the Hedgehog, momentum and flow was a big component of how levels in those games were laid out. But while DKC2 and SMB3 had momentum that lent the games a tight, snappy feel, in NSMBW and DKCR, our characters feel big, lumbering, and heavy. While that may fit the description of Donkey Kong, it actually makes controlling Mario feel almost like a chore. Once Mario gets moving fast enough, it's hard to get him to slow down, and though I consider myself a person who mastered the old Mario games, I'm finding myself missing jumps in New Super Mario Bros. Wii with alarming frequency, either by overshooting them by a huge distance or not going fast enough and falling short. It actually makes me not want to play NSMBW, because the game feels genuinely difficult to control. It's almost like playing a Sonic game, in a way, except without the high-flying, rollercoaster style antics that typically surround a blue-hedgehog adventure. Instead, you just get a platformer with sluggish, and dare I say downright unresponsive control - something I never thought I'd say about a Mario game officially developed and published by Nintendo.
 
Now if you will excuse me, I have to go VIDEOGAMES VIDEOGAMES VIDEOGAMES ARGH ENTERTAINMENT OVERLOAD
#1 Posted by BlazeHedgehog (1102 posts) -

 Behold, my haul of hauls
You may remember that back in June, I was contacted about winning one of those Xbox "Download & Win" Sweepstakes. You know the type - you see it on the dashboard from time to time, where an advertising something wants you to download a set of gamerpics with their branding and that counts as your entry. I won "a lifetime supply" of Xbox Live Gold and 32,000 Microsoft points, which came out to be roughly $1,900 worth of stuff.  It arrived in August, to the tune of a bunch of cards in individual blister packs. Given that I didn't really need all of what they gave me, and the rules said nothing about being forced to keep my prize, I sold the bulk of it. Selling it was a slow, painful process, as the only place I could actually make sales was Ebay. Just before Christmas, a friend came to me and offered me an alternative place to sell the cards, but even that was sluggish, as by then, Holiday discounts had kicked in and nobody was interested at the prices I was asking. A couple weeks ago, that finally changed, and I ended up selling pretty much all of my remaining stock in around 48 hours. That meant I was sitting on nearly $600 - which was spent on the bounty you see above. It was almost like a second Christmas. (as an aside, I had actually shot a bunch of video of me opening these boxes, but they were incredibly dark and the microphone on my camera is absolutely trash - nevermind the intense guilt I felt actually recording something like that; ignore the fact that I'm now doing it in text form).
 
I haven't gotten around to putting my new processor or graphics card in (I need to back up some files first since I am pretty sure I will have to re-install Windows), but one thing I can talk about is my newly acquired Wii. Believe it or not, I had not ever really sat down and had a go with a Wii, not until I played it over at Ashuku's house a little bit before Christmas. It was there I finally had a go at Wii Sports Resort, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Sonic Colors and saw about an hour's worth of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. The takeaway was that yes, I still do need a Wii - and despite the fact that I still consider myself a Sonic fan, it was actually Silent Hill that captivated me the most.
 
So here we are. I've had my Wii for a solid week as of today, and though the bulk of that week has been spent setting up various gray-area aspects of it (it's now a more robust media player than my Xbox 360), I've spent a lot of time with three specific games: Sonic Colors, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, and Donkey Kong Country Returns. Sonic Colors is, well, Sonic Colors - perhaps one of the most thoughtfully-designed 3D Sonic games ever produced. When people describe a game as "Going through the motions", what they're actually describing is a lack of being taught anything. Whether you're aware of it or not, all good videogames are constantly teaching you how to do something. They are teaching you how the controls work, how the enemies work, how to manipulate the world, and testing you on what you know with increasingly complex "lessons", for lack of a better term. When that learning experience is absent, you get the sensation that there's something "missing". Even if the level designs themselves are challenging, if you aren't learning something new from the experience, you can feel that lack of cerebral stimulation. On a long list of other problems, this is something that had effected Sonic games for a long time - and any time those games would teach you something new, it was done in a very dry, text/dialog-heavy manner by simply explaining the solution to every "lesson", even before you knew there was a "lesson" to begin with. This began to change a little bit in Sonic Unleashed, where you could genuinely see the game occasionally making efforts to teach you specific gameplay lessons and testing you on that knowledge. Sonic Colors on the Wii finally takes the plunge and goes full-tilt in that direction, as every level is chocked full of lessons and tests - almost as if it was competently designed by people who actually understand how a videogame is supposed to function! Unfortunately, there's something else wrong with Sonic Colors - something I can't quite put my finger on just yet. Sonic Unleashed's levels were incredible, remarkably intense thrill rides that blew past at speeds that almost felt too fast. 
  

"Arid Sands", one of the last and fastest levels in the HD version of Sonic Unleashed.
    

Sonic Colors definitely feels more neutered in this department. The game is definitely fast - but it's missing a certain element of spectacle that Sonic Unleashed nailed. That feeling of being on the edge of losing control. That's the biggest problem with the game, but there's definitely other stuff - other stuff I think I'll save in case I feel like following through with that video review I plan on doing. It's a good game, though, make no mistake. I do not hesitate to say it is the single most solid 3D Sonic game ever produced. It doesn't even need the qualifier of, "It's good for a Sonic game". It's just good, period.  But after the adrenaline overdose that was Sonic Unleashed, Colors definitely feels... "slow".
 
Donkey Kong Country Returns is a surprisingly retro game. That's not some pun on the fact that it was developed by Retro Studios, or anything. I mean that, for better or worse, they don't make games like this anymore. Now, I haven't made it very deep in to Super Meat Boy, so maybe I'm lacking "teh skillz", but DKCR does not play around. This is the kind of game that is, right out of the gate, immediately challenging, and it only ramps up from there. By the end of the first world I was kind of surprised how frequently I was dying, and by the middle of World 3 I've found myself actually shouting "OH COME ON! SERIOUSLY?" at the TV screen. There is a shockingly large amount of trial-and-error to certain elements of these levels, where things can and will damage you (or even kill you!) without really warning until it's already too late. On top of that, many of these levels are incredibly long - take a look at this speedrun video for a level that made me want to throw my controller at the screen called "Itty Bitty Biters". Despite zooming through the level as quickly as possible, it still takes the guy almost four and a half minutes:
  

This level involved A LOT of trial and error for me.
     
 
You may also notice the fact that "Itty Bitty Biters" there, despite being as long as it is, only had one or two checkpoints. This is the case with most DKCR levels as far as I can tell - your first time through a stage like Itty Bitty Biters can take well over 10 or 15 minutes, with most of the time soaked up replaying the same 2-3 minute chunks over and over and over again. I was planning on happily unveiling DKCR to my Mother, because she loved DKC1. Unfortunately, she was never good enough to pass the first world in that - and considering I can 101% DKC1 with my eyes closed, she'll probably start the first level of DKCR and end up breaking in to tears before even making it to the first checkpoint, or something.
 
And that brings us to New Super Mario Bros. Wii. I was extremely disappointed with the Nintendo DS verison of NSMB; in comparison to the other 2D Marios like Super Mario World and Super Mario Bros. 3, NSMBDS took little effort to beat. Not only did it suffer from the whole "going through the motions" syndrome, but the game practically refused to be difficult, not even a little bit. I sleep-walked through the game and came away underwhelmed. NSMBW seems to dial up the challenge a little bit and introduces more new elements to spice things up, but I can't get over how heavy Mario feels. This is something I noticed while playing DKCR, too. It just so happened that around the time I was playing these games I also happened to play bits of Super Mario Bros 3 and Donkey Kong Country 2, and this ended up giving me a very solid basis to compare the old entries in these franchises directly to the new entries.
 
The conclusion is that NSMBW, DKCR, and to a certain degree even Sonic Colors favor momentum far more than their forefathers did. Momentum is an important part of any game - without it, controls feel stiff and over-responsive. Momentum lends a degree of smooth movement to characters, and, especially in Donkey Kong Country and Sonic the Hedgehog, momentum and flow was a big component of how levels in those games were laid out. But while DKC2 and SMB3 had momentum that lent the games a tight, snappy feel, in NSMBW and DKCR, our characters feel big, lumbering, and heavy. While that may fit the description of Donkey Kong, it actually makes controlling Mario feel almost like a chore. Once Mario gets moving fast enough, it's hard to get him to slow down, and though I consider myself a person who mastered the old Mario games, I'm finding myself missing jumps in New Super Mario Bros. Wii with alarming frequency, either by overshooting them by a huge distance or not going fast enough and falling short. It actually makes me not want to play NSMBW, because the game feels genuinely difficult to control. It's almost like playing a Sonic game, in a way, except without the high-flying, rollercoaster style antics that typically surround a blue-hedgehog adventure. Instead, you just get a platformer with sluggish, and dare I say downright unresponsive control - something I never thought I'd say about a Mario game officially developed and published by Nintendo.
 
Now if you will excuse me, I have to go VIDEOGAMES VIDEOGAMES VIDEOGAMES ARGH ENTERTAINMENT OVERLOAD
#2 Posted by xyzygy (10078 posts) -

OMG... You won 32,000 MSP? I am so beyond jealous! cripes!

#3 Posted by BlazeHedgehog (1102 posts) -
@xyzygy said:
" OMG... You won 32,000 MSP? I am so beyond jealous! cripes! "
And I already spent most of it!
#4 Posted by JJWeatherman (14569 posts) -

 "a lifetime supply" of Xbox Live Gold and 32,000 Microsoft points    

That's crazy son. 
 
I have that same exact Western Digital HDD.
#5 Posted by Aetheldod (3723 posts) -
@BlazeHedgehog:  I would suggest buying  Metroid Prime trilogy , you have 3 awesome games for the price of one in on neat package , also its Metroid dude
#6 Posted by Ignor (2372 posts) -

^This is a sound advice.

#7 Edited by BlazeHedgehog (1102 posts) -
@Aetheldod said:

" @BlazeHedgehog:  I would suggest buying  Metroid Prime trilogy , you have 3 awesome games for the price of one in on neat package , also its Metroid dude "

What sucks is that Nintendo discontinued production of Metroid Prime Trilogy less than a year after it came out. Collectors have pounced on the game and it routinely goes for $75+ on Ebay and Amazon.
 
I already own Prime 1 and 2 for the Gamecube, though.
#8 Posted by WatanabeKazuma (989 posts) -

I really like the look of the Red Wii, really wish it could act as a DVD player, I would buy one for that alone.
 
As for Sonic Colours, is it not the sidekicks that annoy you? For as much as people complain about Sonic 4 Episode 1 I did appreciate that it was just about Sonic again.

#9 Posted by Rolyatkcinmai (2699 posts) -

How is 32,000 points a lifetime supply? lol 
 
That's like a two year supply maybe, with moderate use. 
 
Still better than a Wii though.

#10 Posted by DeF (4977 posts) -
@Aetheldod said:
" @BlazeHedgehog:  I would suggest buying  Metroid Prime trilogy , you have 3 awesome games for the price of one in on neat package , also its Metroid dude "
also²: steelbook! (I'm assuming you're american)
 
and man, I want a red Wii, too! :D my old white one looks sooo boring now
#11 Posted by WatanabeKazuma (989 posts) -
@Rolyatkcinmai said:
" How is 32,000 points a lifetime supply? lol  That's like a two year supply maybe, with moderate use.  Still better than a Wii though. "  
 Probably an average they plucked out of thin air, I don't often buy points but even I have used something close to 10,000 in the past few years.
#12 Posted by benjaebe (2784 posts) -

Super pumped to see you enjoyed Shattered Memories. Great game and the best one in the series since Team Silent got disbanded. Real shame it didn't get more attention - I'm hoping they make a follow up. The motion controls worked really well in that.

#13 Edited by BlazeHedgehog (1102 posts) -
@WatanabeKazuma said:

"As for Sonic Colours, is it not the sidekicks that annoy you? For as much as people complain about Sonic 4 Episode 1 I did appreciate that it was just about Sonic again. "

Side kicks are fine if used in moderation, assuming they control well. The problem with sidekicks was when you had 6+ characters and none of them were half as fun as Sonic to play as. But being able to play as Tails and Knuckles in Sonic 3 & Knuckles was pretty fun, I thought. Sonic Colors doesn't really have any playable sidekicks - the alien "Wisps" function more like power-ups, like fire flowers in Mario.
 
@Rolyatkcinmai said:

" How is 32,000 points a lifetime supply? lol  That's like a two year supply maybe, with moderate use.  Still better than a Wii though. "


I don't know if the 32,000 points were meant to last a lifetime - the "Lifetime Supply" seemed to be more towards the 30 years of Xbox Live Gold I also won with it (and I sold or gave away all but three cards).  
 
@benjaebe said:
" Super pumped to see you enjoyed Shattered Memories. Great game and the best one in the series since Team Silent got disbanded. Real shame it didn't get more attention - I'm hoping they make a follow up. The motion controls worked really well in that. "

Screenshots released today from "Silent Hill: Downpour" on the 360/PS3 feel a bit like Shattered Memories, the way the camera seems to be positioned. There's hope yet.
#14 Posted by Claude (16254 posts) -

I loved Shattered Memories, but the shadows creeped me a little bit. Sometimes I would walk around and think, those shadows are just hanging there in thin air. Head scratching for sure. Have fun with your new toys.

#15 Posted by BlazeHedgehog (1102 posts) -
@Claude said:
" I loved Shattered Memories, but the shadows creeped me a little bit. Sometimes I would walk around and think, those shadows are just hanging there in thin air. Head scratching for sure. Have fun with your new toys. "
Isn't the game supposed to be creepy? :p
#16 Posted by Claude (16254 posts) -
@BlazeHedgehog said:
" @Claude said:
" I loved Shattered Memories, but the shadows creeped me a little bit. Sometimes I would walk around and think, those shadows are just hanging there in thin air. Head scratching for sure. Have fun with your new toys. "
Isn't the game supposed to be creepy? :p "
I don't know. Did they design the shadows that way or was it a compromise because of the Wii hardware? It seemed hardware to me, but it did add to the creepy factor.
#17 Posted by SuperfluousMoniker (2913 posts) -

Maybe it takes a little getting used to, but I really like the way Mario handles in NSMBW.

#18 Posted by robot4me (190 posts) -

I suggest tatsunoko vs capcom. A great fighting game. I also suggest monster hunter tri. A great action rpg with good online.

#19 Posted by LiquidPrince (16170 posts) -
@BlazeHedgehog: 
 "a lifetime supply" of Xbox Live Gold and 32,000 Microsoft points    
 
 
Dude... That's a pretty nice prize.
#20 Posted by dudeglove (8274 posts) -

Remember that it's backwards compatible with any Gamecube games you might have.

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