So, I managed to score a Wii on Friday. From Friday 1PM (when I finally got it set up) to Sunday 9PM (when I went to bed last night) I have played with my Wii (I love that phrase, it's so wonderfully immature) for just about 26 hours (it keeps an internal playtime log, broken down by number of minutes on which game per day, in order). Unlike some other, more "hardcore" people, I took time out to sleep and go get coffee and whatnot.
The list of what on me is sore:
back of neck (right and left)
both shoulders (top and back sides)
both sides of chest
lower back (left and right sides)
left upper arm (front only)
right upper arm (front and back)
both index fingers (the left one confuses me -- don't know how that happened)
right big toe (not at all sure how that happened)
I don't think I've had that much activity in a weekend in ages!
Some observations on the games:
I had read previously about the guy who had his 60" TV broken when his buddy let go of the Wiimote (the common name for the controller, officially called the "Wii Remote") during a game of bowling, and I was curious how that could actually happen. When I saw the Wiimote I noticed it is smoothe sleek plastic. Very easily made slippery by a slight bit of sweat and with no knob or finger grips or anything that could make it easily held on to. I was still wondering how hard he had to have been tossing the thing to make it break the wrist strap (which is admittedly too flimsy) and still crack the screen. After playing Wii Bowling (part of the Wii sports 5-pack of games that comes with the system) I can now see that it is entirely too easy. The game does sense how hard you are throwing and does modify the speed of your ball based on that. Your hands do get very sweaty sometimes playing that game and I also had the Wiimote slip out twice (though the strap didn't break). Thankfully, it doesn't care if you are throwing towards the TV or not, so I was able to aim my throws to the side of the tv by angling my body (just in case the strap did break) and it worked fine.
I have played Wii Golf (another of the free games) so many times I've just about memorized the pathetically limited 9 holes that are in it. And though it is still fun, it's not sophisticated enough. The Wii Bowling knows how you spin your hand as you throw, it knows speed/strength of throw as well. The golf seems to only have the code for the strength of hit. It ignores the twisting, which while certainly helpful for those of us who can't seem to keep it straight no matter what we try, is somewhat annoying to not even have the option. And some sort of limited course creator or randomizer would certainly help to remove the monotony of playing on the same 9 holes over and over. Even with all that, though, it's quite fun and addicting to keep trying to get better. At least it does keep track of your skill level and adjusts the wind to attempt to present you with a constant challenge each time you play. If/when Tiger PGA comes out for the Wii (rumoured for march '07), I may just have to call in sick to work the next day. :)
Wii Bowling is by far the most enjoyable for me of the Wii Sports package. Very full featured in the controls, very natural. I was able to hold the Wiimote with both hands and do a granny shot between my legs and my character dutifully gave the ball the slightest touch of push and let go very early, just like it should have. My spins are coming back too much or not enough, in keeping with my inability to stick just the right amount of twist in my wrist. The pins have very believable physics, with the perfect strikes happening in exactly the way you would expect. A buddy of mine who was bowling with me complained that the pins seemed slightly fatter and closer together than real pins would be, and he also suspected they were coated in rubber since they were a tad bouncier than he expected. He did, however, admit to having a total blast playing the bowling and lamented the future lost work days if they happened to release a pro-bowling game for the Wii (he's a more serious bowler than I'll ever be, plays in a league and has even gotten an almost perfect game).
The Wii Boxing game is unarguably the most serious workout in the bunch. It uses both the Wiimote and the nunchuk (the official name for the second controller that plugs in to the main one) and does an admirable job of mimicking your movements. You have to punch slightly awkwardly, but it's close enough to proper that people who've had some experience (even a little bit of training will suffice) do notably better at the start than people who have no fighting experience at all. Eventually, through the training, you figure out how it wants you to throw the punches and you discover how it's interpreting the angles and movements of your hands, and after about the 7th fight or so everyone has adjusted and can fight on equal footing. You can control anything from low to high blocks, left and right dodges (including degrees of left and right) lean in or out, and can punch from low to high, straight in or roundhouses, or anything in-between. It gets your heart pumping, your whole body sweating, and it doesn't take long before you're dancing around the whole room making your geekiest attempt to float like the proverbial butterfly. A quick 3-minute match (three rounds per match (assuming you don't KO the opponent before that), one minute per round) gets the heart rate up, two of them in a row and you're panting and wanting to collapse (yes, we geeks are not the most athletically orientated), and string five or six of them together and you're looking at a halfway decent 15 minutes cardio workout!
The other two sports games, Wii Tennis and Wii Baseball, left me wanting and wondering if they were projects that got canceled half-way through. I was unimpressed, and I actually like playing Tennis in real life. But then, I didn't really have a chance to give them a fair try yet as I'm having too much fun bowling and boxing (and, of course, playing Zelda)!
So yeah, I'm totally loving the Wii. Very fun console with plenty of room for game developers to grow in the coming years. I gotta admit, I think Nintendo may have out-smarted everyone. Microsoft thought they had the next-gen thing in the bag with their year earlier launch. Sony arrogantly stated that next-gen didn't start till they said it did. But with the Wii, and it's different approach to gaming, I think Nintendo may be the only company offering a truly "next-gen" system. The Xbox360 is just last-gen with better graphics, the PS3 is only slightly better (if at all, I'll leave that debate to gamers who care). The Wii is the only one where you walk away from it thinking you've just experienced what video gaming should be and it will eventually become. With golf on the other systems (the Xbox360, at least), you'll sit there and twiddle your analogue sticks back and forth. On the Wii I stand up and swing a friggin' club! I even got to experimenting with adjusting my footing, it's that immersive! Nintendo wanted to make a gaming console that is so natural that anyone can play games. I think they've just about hit the nail on the head.