It’s been two and a half weeks since the release of the Nintendo Wii in the United States, and according to the Wii’s internal play clock, I’ve spent roughly 50 hours with my new favorite piece of white plastic goodness (sorry, iPod, but you had a good run).
To say that I’ve been impressed is an understatement. As someone who doesn’t carry a Nintendo fanboy card in his back pocket, I have to say that this console so far is living up to and for the most part exceeding my expectations.
Setup was easy, and aside from figuring out the remote syncing when I opened my second remote, it has been painless to operate the unit. Note to Nintendo: the next version of the Wii remote should have the syncing button directly beneath the nunchuck port, so it’s both accessible without removing the battery cover and not easily bumped.
Navigation of the Wii menu is also very simple, and aside from the lack of functionality of the online channels (aside from the shop), works well. The updates thus far have taken little time to download and haven’t caused the system to malfunction, which is a good sign in my opinion. I haven’t downloaded any console games, as I’m still playing some launch titles.
The game play has been out and out fun. I haven’t yet spent time playing the latest Zelda incarnation, nor was I suckered into the broken-wristed disappointment of Red Steel. My time with the Wii has been Wii Sports, Excite Truck, and Madden 07. But this article is about the console itself, so I’ll get to the games another time.
I’m sure everyone who is using the Wii online is complaining about the friend code situation, with the 16 digit number causing consternation among gamers who wish to connect to their friends over the Wii network. To me though, it is actually kind of a neat idea. Think about it this way: the 16 digit console number is basically a credit card number, even broken down into the same 4 number sequences. I know after using my cards online a while, I come to know the numbers by heart, and eventually, I think the Wii friendship codes will be the same way.
Once you’ve exchanged and registered friend codes, communicating via “Wiimail” is easy, but seriously in need of a wireless keyboard. While the Wii remote is great for in game control, it’s painfully slow in typing out anything more than a short sentence. I don’t consider this a major flaw though, as the unit is not designed to replace your PC based email software. (But with a wireless keyboard, it almost could)
The one thing I had truly been concerned about is would the motion sensing work the way it did at the Fusion Tour, or when I got home would I experience something different. Even with the vastly smaller sensor bar, I found that the motion controls are pretty solid. I haven’t attempted to adjust the sensitivity yet, and I’m not sure if I will unless a game really feels like it requires it.
The unit also travels pretty well as I took it to my parents for thanksgiving to play games with my nieces who insisted on creating Miis that look surprisingly like them. Aside from the clumsiness of the setting up the sensor bar with its thin and all-too-easily tangled cord, disassembling and assembling the unit is easy. The forthcoming wireless sensor bars will alleviate this issue I’m sure.
In short, it’s been a very interesting and more importantly fun two weeks with the Wii. I’m excited to see what the next few months will bring as online play, the web browser, weather and news channels, and new titles are released for the Wii.