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Wii impressions


labarte
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I went to a Nintendo press event for the Wii today, here are my thoughts:

Wii

It all looks lovely enough, I only got to try the remote controller but they had the others on display and they’re pretty damn slick -- the conventional Gamecube-like pad is gorgeous.

The remote feels great in your hand, it’s natural straight away. The difficulty comes when you first try to use it: it seems jittery, over-sensitive and oddly dislocated from on-screen events. After about 2 minutes you get the hang of it though and after 10 it feels great (rumble feedback is surprisingly educational here). Another 5 minutes and I wasn’t even thinking about the controller just playing the game -- a very good sign. The D-pad seems excellent too, very similar to the DS Lite.

Anyway, the games:

Tennis – my favourite, the controller works so well here. Flick it to throw the ball up then give it a whack to serve. The players move themselves so the main element is choosing whether to go for forehand or backhand and adding spin. It feels so right after a set or two and there is quite a bit of depth (lob shots, aces, etc.) to be had if you spent some more time with it. The idea of pressing buttons to hit shots in a tennis game just seems totally ridiculous after this -- like playing Tekken with a mouse.

Golf – a tough one to get the hang of but the potential is obvious. It works like TW, but much more freedom of movement and therefore much more potential to cock things up. I was fairly crap at it, but one of the guys there was pretty good. It’s not as intuitive as the tennis game, seeming like a matter of learning how the game wants you to swing the remote around rather than just doing what feels right (mind you, I’m no golfer). Even when you’ve mastered it I can imagine it getting really tense in multiplayer; there’s so much more margin for error than with an analogue stick – get too nervous and your swing will suffer. One of the great things in sport is seeing people crack and the Wii controller is really going to bring that out, it’s so much harder to flawlessly repeat things than with a joypad because you need to use more of your body to get the right movements.

Baseball – you hold it like a baseball bat and hit three different types of pitches. Hard to get the timing right, but very satisfying when you connect. It was OK, but then I don’t really like baseball that much -- a cricket game please Nintendo!

Duck Hunt (?) – just as you’d imagine really, great in multiplayer because certain targets are worth more points so it’s a scramble to get to those first. It doesn’t work like a light gun game because you don’t so much aim the controller as use it to move your crosshair on screen -- you do get that light gun-style rapid accurate movement though. Make like a cowboy and shoot from the hip...

Wario Ware – great fun and it really shows how good the Wii is at tracking the controller in 3D space. There’s one where you have to insert and Old Lady’s false teeth; once you position them over her mouth you thrust the controller forward to stick ‘em in -- brilliant. In another you use the controller to balance a clown on a ball, aping the way the clown is holding his balancing pole. The only problem is that the game pauses to tell you how you should be holding the controller before each round, which looses a bit of that Wario Ware relentlessness.

I was hoping there might be a bit of Mario Galaxy or Red Steel to try but alas there wasn’t. Still, overall the Wii seems great, definitely something different without being a gimmick. My only concern is that the controller takes a bit of getting used to so it may not have the instant accessibility of something like the DS’s stylus (everyone knows how to use a pen after all). On the other hand, there’s huge motivation to learn, because it’s so obviously fun when you see others playing.

Now the agonising wait before I get the chance to spend some quality time with one.

DS

They had a load of Lites there and I had a go on the new Zelda, Yoshi’s Island 2 and Starfox. Zelda had a strong Wind Waker influence and is played with the stylus. You move a fairy around, which acts as a waypoint for Link then you double-tap on enemies to attack – it all works very nicely.

Yoshi’s island 2 has the same graphical style as the original but tarted-up for the DS, it makes quite an impact visually because of it’s unique crayon ‘look’ and the way it’s spread over both screens like Sonic Rush. The main innovation seems to be that you can call upon a stork, which brings you different babies to swap with Mario. Each have their own abilities: a Princess Peach baby uses a brolly to allow you to ride updrafts to reach coins and other secrets, for example.

Starfox insisted you use the touch screen to control your Arwing, which I didn’t really get-on with. Mind you, I not really enough of a Starfox fan to have persevered…

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Duck Hunt (?) – just as you’d imagine really, great in multiplayer because certain targets are worth more points so it’s a scramble to get to those first. It doesn’t work like a light gun game because you don’t so much aim the controller as use it to move your crosshair on screen -- you do get that light gun-style rapid accurate movement though. Make like a cowboy and shoot from the hip...

:o

I hope this gets changed.

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:o

I hope this gets changed.

.::: You know what scares me? That in their quest for simplification Nintendo seems to be producing more difficult controls that ironically rely on the interpretation of the control mechanism again.

Case in point Red Steel: forcing you to learn a moveset instead of giving you freedom to move with a sword.

Now this Duck Hunt thingie also seems to rely on how to move a crosshair instead of aiming and shooting using intuiton and a sense of aim.

If this continues the entire point of the Wii will be defeated by Nintendo themselves.

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.::: You know what scares me? That in their quest for simplification Nintendo seems to be producing more difficult controls that ironically rely on the interpretation of the control mechanism again.

Case in point Red Steel: forcing you to learn a moveset instead of giving you freedom to move with a sword.

Now this Duck Hunt thingie also seems to rely on how to move a crosshair instead of aiming and shooting using intuiton and a sense of aim.

If this continues the entire point of the Wii will be defeated by Nintendo themselves.

I think you are exaggerating a bit. It has already been said that Red Steel will re-interpret your movements as it sees fit. So you won't have to learn a moveset at all. As for Duck Hunt, using a crosshair isn't that bad.

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I think you are exaggerating a bit. It has already been said that Red Steel will re-interpret your movements as it sees fit. So you won't have to learn a moveset at all. As for Duck Hunt, using a crosshair isn't that bad.

.::: Not at all. What was said...

In other words, while the shooting was fairly straight forward, point-and-shoot, it was the sword play that proved to be a true challenge. We quickly learned that wielding a sword and manipulating the controller was a lot of fun, but we didn’t want to force people to become actual professional swordsmen – just have fun. Also, we have to consider the animations of the sword and matching it up with what you see on screen. We didn’t want any delay whatsoever in response to what was happening with the controller and what you saw on the screen.

We’re continuing to tweak the controls to optimize the game and ensure it’s a great experience on all levels, for example keeping the precision and accuracy of the aiming but working on the sensitivity and the stability. Also the sword fighting is going to offer more diversity in movements and couple of special moves I will not talk about this time...

So basically they will allow more movements with the sword, but won't go totally freeform (which of course the rest of the world interpretated differently and explains your comment). It seem they now will only enlarge the moveset, which (if it is going to depend on anally small differences) may suddely turn out to be mindbendingly frustrating if the margin of error is very small (this is what the benefit of a small ruleset is). Both will require the player to 'learn' the movements and how they are executed instead of simply slashing around with a sword.

Frankly I find the 'expert swordsman' comment ridiculous. ("Oh dear lord! They've simulated a gas-pedal in this driving game! I'm not an expert driver you idiots!") If the game proves to be too hard in this case, simply adjust the game. Instead they seem to be only looking at how to adjust the Wii Remote to interact in a world they have complete design-control over. It's like they're limiting their own options just for the sake of it.

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.::: You know what scares me? That in their quest for simplification Nintendo seems to be producing more difficult controls that ironically rely on the interpretation of the control mechanism again.

but 10 minutes until the wii remote becomes transparent to use is a lot shorter time than it'd take a non-gamer to get to grips with a standard controller, surely?

edit: what i mean is that you can't really expect to be totally proficient with anything from the off, can you?

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They'd have to replace the controller with a light gun to make it any more light-gun like, because it works in such a different way.

The guy I spoke to there told me there will be a gun peripheral. No idea if it was bollocks or not, but they'd be mad not to. It's good fun with the remote, but you just need the gun.

On the event in general, I'd echo the comments above. Tennis = fantastic; Golf = great potential, but only a snapshot of the game shown really; Baseball = could get old pretty quickly; Wario Ware = Wario Ware with a remote, so great.

Of the DS titles, the only one I really tried was Zelda (we only got an hour, and I was on Tennis for quite a while). My initial reaction is that the touch-screen controls left me feeling slightly bemused.

Oh, and for the record I fucking rock at Tennis. :o

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.::: Not at all. What was said...

So basically they will allow more movements with the sword, but won't go totally freeform (which of course the rest of the world interpretated differently and explains your comment). It seem they now will only enlarge the moveset, which (if it is going to depend on anally small differences) may suddely turn out to be mindbendingly frustrating if the margin of error is very small (this is what the benefit of a small ruleset is). Both will require the player to 'learn' the movements and how they are executed instead of simply slashing around with a sword.

Frankly I find the 'expert swordsman' comment ridiculous. ("Oh dear lord! They've simulated a gas-pedal in this driving game! I'm not an expert driver you idiots!") If the game proves to be too hard in this case, simply adjust the game. Instead they seem to be only looking at how to adjust the Wii Remote to interact in a world they have complete design-control over. It's like they're limiting their own options just for the sake of it.

I'm not talking about dynamic animation/movement of the sword though. Around E3-time it was suggested that a lot of animations would be created with the game matching your movements to the most relevant animation.

The guy I spoke to there told me there will be a gun peripheral. No idea if it was bollocks or not, but they'd be mad not to. It's good fun with the remote, but you just need the gun.

On the event in general, I'd echo the comments above. Tennis = fantastic; Golf = great potential, but only a snapshot of the game shown really; Baseball = could get old pretty quickly; Wario Ware = Wario Ware with a remote, so great.

Of the DS titles, the only one I really tried was Zelda (we only got an hour, and I was on Tennis for quite a while). My initial reaction is that the touch-screen controls left me feeling slightly bemused.

Oh, and for the record I fucking rock at Tennis. :o

The gun peripheral is just a holder for the Wiimote and the Nunchuk by the looks of it.

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but 10 minutes until the wii remote becomes transparent to use is a lot shorter time than it'd take a non-gamer to get to grips with a standard controller, surely?

edit: what i mean is that you can't really expect to be totally proficient with anything from the off, can you?

.::: Nope, but the strength of the DS was immediately understanding what your actions did on the touchscreen. It's not going to translate directly unto the Wii I'm afraid. Basically because you won't have physical contact with the object you're using.

The DS adheres to a writing-skill that most of us are blessed with and the fact that what you touch is what you interact with. The Wii... well its movement might be tied to the Remote and might seem direct, but you're having the same mouse-pointer problem instead of the touchscreen-direct set. The mouse is just different. Just like a person may see a mouse and the result moving a mouse may deliver on a PC monitor but not yet grasp it's movement, so the same could happen to the Wii.

Basically with the DS you play by yourself. The Wii requires an 'avatar' in between so to speak. Might come across a bit vague but I'm sure this is still an obstacle. Take Trauma Center: Second Opinion. It's going to be a lot less precise as you can rest the stylus on the screen as you cut, but in thin air there is no resistance or feeling certainty and you have to align with your on-screen 'avatar' (cursor).

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@Cyhwuhx: That's why women will love the Wii. They will totally 'get' holding the controller in their hand. They're used to that kind of 'physical contact' with similarly shaped... objects.

So that's why Sony couldn't do motion and rumble together.

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@Cyhwuhx: That's why women will love the Wii. They will totally 'get' holding the controller in their hand. They're used to that kind of 'physical contact' with similarly shaped... objects.

.::: No, you're now more or less referencing the DS style of direct control, not what I think to be a problem for the Wii Remote.

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The gun peripheral is just a holder for the Wiimote and the Nunchuk by the looks of it.

The gun doesn't hold the Nunchuk, it's more or less a differently shaped version of it. There's an analog stick and a trigger on it, and the Wii remote slots into the top of it. It probably doesn't have an accelerometer in it like the Nunchuk - it'd be pointless to have one when you've got the one in the remote.

zapper2_re.jpg

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I'd imagine it would support all of the cables that the GameCube did seeing as it does 480p like the Cube.

There's no need for it to support HDMI as it transmits neither a hi-def image, nor HDCP. That would be more cost for nothing.

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.::: Nope, but the strength of the DS was immediately understanding what your actions did on the touchscreen. It's not going to translate directly unto the Wii I'm afraid. Basically because you won't have physical contact with the object you're using.

It's just gesture recognition. If you tell someone to whip the remote, like a sword, to swing a sword, they'll get it.

Wait, why is Cyhwuhx applying a problem that people only had with something like Zelda, which they soon got over, to every single game that will use the remote? Just because it's different to a touchscreen? And why is he assuming that absolutely every game is going to be made for my mum? Just because Nintendo said they wanted to make games simple? My mum will get Wii Sports and Wario Ware, I don't think there's much chance of her wanting to play Red Steel no matter how simple the sword controls are. My mum can play Nintendogs, but she can't play Meteos. HOLY FUCK THEY'VE FUCKED UP THE DS.

I think someone's trying a little too hard to be contrary.

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