Features// Wii:The Jury

Erica has bowled before and didn't have that problem...

Posted 29 Nov 2006 13:55 by
The premise for this real-world test was simple and was based on a media briefing, given at E3 in 2006, during which Nintendo stated that:
"The industry has always tried to improve in the same direction with games that are more gorgeous and more complex. But in order to approach lapsed or former gamers and non-gamers, these types of games can not serve our purpose.

?The logical solution is to re-invent the relationship between player and game - the game controller interface. We believe this approach can appeal to a much broader audience but also excite core gamers.

"Our first implementation was Nintendo DS... Many people in our industry thought these consumers were impossible to reach, but now the trend is spreading to the western world.

"So, how do we continue this strategy with Wii?"
How indeed? To answer this question, I rounded up family and friends during the USA's Thanksgiving break (a more perfect family-orientated opportunity one struggles to imagine) to put the Wii to the test. With ages from 24 to 55 and a full spectrum of gaming experience, expectations of the Wii ranged from: "I imagine the Wii to be the most important move forward in gaming ever" to "I've never heard of it. Is it really called Wee?"

Wii Sports, Nintendo's in-box freebie, was a clear candidate to test out the system as the software was specifically engineered to attract onlookers during game-time.

So, the trial jury comprised six people from very different walks of life who were given twelve hours of gameplay and, most importantly, no prompting. The verdict is in:

The Jury Members

[b]Candidate 1
Stefan's Mii
Stefan's Mii

Name: Stefan Walters
Age: 28
Occupation: Sells advertising and writes stuff for SPOnG.com - your author.
Gaming Experience: Dedicated gamer since the Atari VCS
Expectations of the Wii: "Should be the greatest games machine of all time."[/b]

Game-Time Experience
The Wii itself delighted me from start to finish. It's a fit little box and came packaged as beautifully as I'd expected of a machine that borrowed its design so heavily from Apple. Functionality, as an entertainment hub, proved spot on: Internet eventually, Photo Channel from SD card, download service all wrapped up in a deep yet unintimidating interface.

The Wii just did it for me. I first saw the hardware when The Secret was just that - a secret. It was just a shiny box emitting light in a backroom at E3 2005. As Nintendo's information striptease got down to the pink parts, the concept blew my mind. Simple yet brilliant - classic Nintendo. I played with some software at E3 2006 and, although the environment wasn't up to much (hordes of Nintendo fans sweating in unison in a very noisy place) the concept was fully relayed.

Wii Sports is fantastic and it worked! I was nervous about how well it would perform, I wanted to stay true to this experiment and therefore had previously left the game untouched. My only playtime with the Wii had come during the painful review of THQ's SpongeBob game during which my expectations had been somewhat lowered. I wasn't confident that the controller would be solid enough and able to cope with the plethora of game mechanics that Sports relied on. What's more, the game is a freebie - how good can could it be? The answer, I'm pleased to say, was that it was very good indeed.

Baseball was up first. Hold the Wii-mote controller like a bat, swing at the right time - success - it felt real and precise. The realisation that the Wii actually works and isn't just a good idea, poorly realised, was sublime.

Perhaps the most important thing I learned when playing Wii Sports was how much more involved every game was than it appeared on the surface. Bowling is a good example, with minute changes in direction and a twist of the ball giving excellent results. Then came Tennis with its full range of shots and wrist-twists putting spin and curve on returns.

The elbow-killing Boxing was limited yet brilliant; Golf proved to be a deeper experience than I had expected.

This proved to me that developers can provide a level of control and interaction hitherto impossible; and that bodes well for the future of the Wii.

[b]Candidate 2
Erica's Mii
Erica's Mii

Name: Erica Pemberton
Age: 24
Occupation: Fashion model
Gaming experience: Dedicated Nintendo-only gamer since NES. Averages 20 hours a week even today.
Expectations of the Wii: "I loved the NES and the SNES. The N64 I didn't like so much and it took me a while to warm to the GameCube. Cautious but very, very excited!"[/b]

Game-Time Experience
I found the movements of Tennis and Baseball to be accurate and overall thoroughly enjoyable. But I couldn't get my head around Bowling - I seem to be missing something.

I couldn't manage to control the outcome as well as I'd have liked - I must just need practice. It seemed that no matter how I angled the remote I managed to curve the damn ball way to the left every single time, regardless of how exaggeratedly to-the-right my stroke felt.What's going on here?

My only solution was to slide the red dotted guide to the far right before bowling. This worked well only if I got a strike or if my remaining pins (to pick up the spare) were on the left. This method didn't work if the last pins were positioned to the right, as the ball always pulled over to the left.

The group of three other people (non-gamers, I might add) in one session were laughing at me as I struggled to inch my score just above 60 in the last set. I'm usually a controller ninja, so this was a major source of frustration for me. I adjusted, or so I thought, my follow-through after every dissapointing bowl, but alas, more lefty loving.

I would have thought that it's an easy error to correct, but not for me, a seasoned gamer. True, I only played for an hour in total, but how the hell long should it take? What's wrong with me?

The remote felt lovely in my hand; the ability to use it horizontally or vertically was a definite bonus. I'm partial to the NES controller, which the horizontal Wii remote reminds me greatly of. I didn't get to use the Nunchuck in action, but it too felt natural to have in my hand.

The console itself is beautiful, a nice addition to the house. The Mii channel was loads of fun to mess around with. I've spent most of my hours on the machine just trying to get my Mii's nose just right. The rumble setting was great in gameplay, as was the speaker in the remote. However, I'm still finding it difficult, or impossible, to access the Internet and, as I'm extremely eager to play old Nintendo games using the new sexy controller this is discouraging.

Overall, very pleased, although it may take a while for me to get fully used to the capabilities of the controller, as it's quite advanced. But it's easy to see this machine is amazing and tons of fun. It will only continue to get better over the coming months, as I develop my skills.

[b]Candidate 3
Bonnie's Mii
Bonnie's Mii

Name: Bonnie Bolduc
Age: 34
Occupation: Artist and gallery manager
Gaming experience: "Can't remember. A MegaDrive at some point... Enjoyed VCS Centipede".
Expectations of the Wii: "None, though I was aware it was coming out".[/b]

Game-Time Experience
I loved the Wii, I thought it was really fun! I loved how interactive it was and how we were actually bowling - it really did feel like we were bowling! The other games I didn't really get into as much but they were all fun. I thought the controller worked really well too.

Erica was having some problems with the ball going over the left, and I'm not sure what that means. Erica has bowled before and didn't have that problem. I'd really like to compare it to actual bowling - and playing has made me want to go bowling in real life. As to whether I'd buy one, I probably wouldn't because I'm not that into videogames to justify it. But if I were to buy one I would buy the Nintendo, and I would suggest it to other people too.

The fact that it can surf the Internet, you can check email, weather and news from it is pretty cool. It's the way of the future! Wireless means it would just connect to my router which is really cool, definitely.

You know, I've already called my relatives and told them they should get the Nintendo over any other system for their kids at Christmas. The Mii Channel was really cute, I really liked that, and it personalised the experience; actually making Miis is great fun. Everything about the Wii was fun! I hope my relatives buy it because I'd like to go over and play it with them!
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LUPOS 29 Nov 2006 15:07
Great read. I'm glad to see some many "outsiders" enjoying the experience.

I didnt really have a chance to push it on to many over thanksgiving but my mom, who kicked ass at q-bert many years ago, really had fun playign with it for a bit. Baseball and bowling specifically.

I'm betting the machine will succeed on its party merits alone. the real question is, will nintendo be able to keep the more hardcore gamers apeased as well... and not just the nutty nintendo fanboys.
OptimusP 29 Nov 2006 19:37
Aren't fanboys by default hardcore gamers...yes, yes they are. Hardcore gamers who probably more prone to innovative and fresh and quirky gameconcepts...true...and by that maybe the most hardcore gamers of them all?

Makes you think, don't you...
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LUPOS 29 Nov 2006 20:27
OptimusP wrote:
Makes you think, don't you...

To analogize, cause thats how my mind works:

Hard core gamer is to Sports fan



They are the mostly naked, body painted, nut jobs we watch when the game is boring. Some people watch all sports, regardles if "their" team is playing... some, are fanboys.
Joji 30 Nov 2006 15:45
Thoroughly good Wii feature, Proves Nintendo's point down to the ground. I can see the Wii selling out for xmas with that kind of enthusiasm. Shame you couldn't stick Trauma Center in front of them to play, but do try it in future.

I don't know about the hardcore gamer definition. I'd class myself as semi hardcore. As in I will go as far as importing specific games I want. I'm not a fanboy like I once might have been, I try to play if not buy all games I like, regardless of console.

We are all gamers, so we shouldn't resort to labels anyways.
majin dboy 30 Nov 2006 16:21
i felt dirty buying my 360.i cudnt resist the loure of oblivion.
Svend Joscelyne 30 Nov 2006 18:39
Don't worry son, Oblivion is your friend. So is Gears of War. It's good that Wii is getting good reception from people of all walks of life - just as well really as that's the point of it isn't it. :P
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