Friday, February 02, 2007

Wiiview (Wii Review)

So here it is, the final analysis. 2006 Best post coming soon and gaming show going on air tommorow 8pm GMT.

Introduction + Packaging

The packaging is very contempary which is good but dosen't fit entirly with the Wii

The Nintendo Wii was released last November for £179. This included the console itself, a wiimote (the controller), a numchuck (the attachment), all relevant cables and Wii Sports (a selection of mini, sport based games). I managed to get a Wii January the third a my local game store. I did not buy anything else because everything was out of stock. The packaging is clean white. On the front the word "Wii" is clearly printed in a large simple font. It also depicts someone holding the controller. The other side as a picture of the console. There is no pictures of games for the Wii or anything "in your face." When you open the box it is in two layers. Overall the packaging is very contempary and stylish. Although this may sound good, I do not belive it fits in with the fun, light hearted aspect of the console.

Set up
Considering the complexity of the console, it was relativly easy to set up
As consoles go, this was going to be the hardest to set up. With wireless controllers, a sensor bar and the fact that you point at the screen to select stuff. There are only three things to plug in to the back and each plug is different so it didn't confuse me too much! When the controller turns on there a number of forms you need to fill in. This is the first time you pick up the controller and what you enter is quite important. However, it is easy to change anything you type. When you type your Wii's name you must use the pointer to select the letters. This takes quite some time as your hand is not used to this. I found myself pressing the backspace a lot of times. It is worth noting that you can use the d-pad to select letters if you find it impposible although it dosen't make this clear.

Main menu
The menu is very contempary which is good but dosen't fit entirly with the Wii
Once you have got through the set-up you are presneted with a dazziling white screen filled with boxes. Most of these boxes are blank as they are for downloaded games and software. The first box is for whatever is in the disk bay at the moment. When you select that it scans the disk bay for a disk. Inserting a disk is very class. You put it near and it eats it. After a couple of seconds it will load the games front screen where you press enter A to enter the game.

Mii Channel
Varying amount of choice. Very good with ceartain areas although colour, height and lardness (Ed: not bothered about PCness)
The next box is the Mii Channel. This is where you create your Mii, which is your avatar in many games. This feature is yet to be fully embraced, however, it is simmilar to the profiles on the 360 except the Miis are a lot more fun to create. When you create your first one you are presented with the "deafault" person. You can then choose the colour of there skin, shape of there face etc. There are many hundereds of options to choose from. There are 6 pages of hair styles! The control is really given to you with things like eye brows, you can move them for example like small horns! My first criticism is that the colour selection is fairly limited, obviously Nintendo wanted to keep a bright colour scheme, however you have a much greater choice in say Fifa. You can also choose height and weight for your Mii. This is also a point of criticism as the choice is not quite as extreme as I would like. The Miis are a bit of fun so it does not matter if they are not realistic. It is particually noticable in the weight where the fattest setting looks like a slightly inflated version of the thin one. I think this is disapointing but it may have caused graphical errors and it is more than made up with the freedom granted throughout the rest of the creation.

Mii Plaza
Limited number of ways to order them, putting Miis on Wiimotes is a very clever feature
Once you have created your Mii he drops down on to your area. All your created Miis will cluster here. They will walk around but nothing interesting happens. You can choose to line up your Miis according to some properties. There is, however, no ability of organising them by height or weight. You can also go to your Plaza where Miis from consoles you have conected with can potentially gather. I have never seen this happen as I have not conncted with another Wii. You can transfer your Miis (up to 8) on to you Wiimote so you can take them round to a friends house. This is simple to do and saves memory cards etc.

Photo Channel
A little gimicky but very well executed.The transitions could have been more varied and random
The next channel is the photo channel. This allows you to view photos on a SD memory card or in your message box. I only have two images, the ones Nintendo have sent me, however I experimented with what you can do with them. You can put them in to a slide show and play a number of background musics and 3 different tansition types. These are not particaully different though. Also, you can play with the photo by either doodling on it. The control is fairly impressive with 8 coloured pens, 4 stamps and the ability to crop it. Also, you can put a "mood" on it where it will brighten the image, or turn it to back and white, or turn it to strictly black and white or finally invert the colours. Finally, you can jumble the pictures in to boxes then you have to rearrange the boxes to make the orginal image. Although this is well done, it is very gimicky and I wouldn't think less of the console if it didn't have this.

Shop Channel
The shop has a good range of games with promises of many more. The navigation can be frustrating when you click on the wrong button
The next channel is the shop channel. This allows you to download (for a modest fee) retro games from the NES, SNES and N64. To purchase these games you need to puchase points, this can be done through 2 methods. Either register a credit card, or alternativly by a pre-paid card at your local store. If you go for the latter you will get 2000 points. This is £15. 2000 points will buy you 4 NES games, 2 SNES games with 500 pts left, or 2 N64 games with nothing left. Each game has different support for different controllers. Obviously none of them use the motion sensitive capabilites of the Wiimote. There are 3 controllers for the Wii. The Wiimote which most NES games support, the Nintendo GC controller and the arcade controller. Most games run on the NGC controller and all of them run on the arcade controller. I have not downloaded a game, however I have had a good look and have ear marked 3 games I wish to download. There is a OK selection of games at present. Nintendo aim to add more games regulary, at the moment there are four pages of games. The shop naviagtion is fairly intuitve, however, the loading times are un-acceptable and if you press the wrong button, which is perfectly possible unless you have sniper hands, there is no cache so you are forced to reload the page. This is both irrating and time consuming.

Weather Channel
A little gimicky but very well executed. The globe is prerendered which makes spinning fun
The next channel is the weather channel. This was not innitally avalibale, however it became avalaible not long after I got it. Also I get a message from Nintendo (XD) telling me the weather channel was now avaible. When you load up the channel you have to select the place you live nearest to. The selection was pretty vast and the location I choose in the end was pretty close to where I live. At first it is quite confusing to find out what weather it is displaying as I thought today and current were the same (how stupid). Once you have got past this it is easy to find out the weather. Also, you can go to the globe, which is simmilar to Google Earth in many respects. You can spin the globe etc. I have noticed no lag when doing this, even when I spin it REALLY FAST. The problem with this channel is, to access this you need internet, so you may as well check on the BBC website. It is a nice feature though with very soothing music.

News Channel
No real need to this as BBC is freely avaliable however it is still easy to use with some cool features.
The next channel is the news channel which was very impressive. That is, once I got past the download errors which kept crashing my system when I tried to download this. The news is sorted in to a number of categories and has plenty of articles from around the world. You can get it to slide show all the news articles or news in one category. Also it has a globe that you can spin etc. and see where the news is breaking. This has a nice feel to it but is also gimmicky.

Wii Conect 24
Some really frustating errors and no cancel button put this on to a bad foot and with no online games as of yet to save it this is not a good point for the Wii
That nicly leads me on to my next paragraph. The internet, Wii Conect24, patches, built in Wi-fi and the like. When Nintendo boasted built in, free Wi-fi that allowed online play I was over the moon. Once the inital excitement had subsided enough for me, I browsed to the settings section. After looking at some of the settings and not changing them I progressed to the Wifi area. The Wii found my network instantly and I could connect as soon as I entered my ridiculous (and safe) long password which was, to say the least, painful with the pointer. Once you connect however, things start looking less positive. First of all, it tests your connection. It failed the first time because MSN was running or something like that. Once it passed the test it said, "downloading patches". There was no button to abort or any button to cancel. The home button is disabled and the only way to escape is by disconnecting the power. The patch took at least 20 minutes to download on a 2mb internet connection, with nothing else on the bandwidth and only a couple of feet from the router. As it finally drew to a close I heaved a huge sigh of relief. Then it started to download another one. Once again no choice, or even a hint that this was the last one. I was getting quite impatient by this point and so it was fortunate that this update was much quicker.

The Controller

The controller is fun, intuitive and lived up to its hype. The speaker and rumble packs are nicly intergrated in to the controller and games. The battery life is not too short
The controller is obviously the selling point of the console. The controller is a magic wand that looks like a TV remote. It also has a attachment called a numchuck. Both of these parts are motion sensitive. The buttons are fairly limited, and the accesible ones even more so. On the Wiimote only the A (big button on the front) and the B (trigger on the underside) buttons are accesible. There is also a D-Pad, a plus and minus buttons which act as start and and back. a home button which is like the Xbox button, and 1 and 2 which are like the black and white buttons on the Orginal Xbox. On the numchaq there is a joystick and two buttons. All of these are accesible. The motion sensing is ussally instant although, sometimes, it dosen't pick up small movements if you are not standing directly infront of the TV. This is particually noticable on golf when you are trying to do a small put. The control design is very slick and the blue, white and gray means it fits perfectly with the colour scheme. There is a strap on the controller that you are advised to put on your wrist to avoid the Wiimote flying off when you swing it too hard. When I was reading about this on the internet, I thought you would have to be a complete idiot to do that. However, once I did let go of the controller, fortunatly the strap was on so no damage was done. However, this shows it is very easy to let go. Syncing controllers is, as far I can tell, automatic. If the sync does get broken is is farily simple to reset it. You can also to choose to do one sync, for when you are at a friends house, or permanent syncing for your console. The Wimote supports a rumble, which is farily powerful, and a speaker. The speaker is very powerful as on one or two it is perfectly loud enough and it goes up to atleast 10. The controllers need 2 AA bateries and do not support rechargeable batteries. I am half way through my second set and I got my Wii on January the third. The life has improved a lot since I turned off the speakers in the controller and started using duracell bateries.

Wiisports - Tennis
A very fun game, best game included in Wii sports. The lack of real SP or online MP is made up but the fun easy game play of this game. Smooth, crisp animation is also present.
Seeming as Wiisports was packed with the console it seems right that it is in fact part of the hardware so should get reviewed in this. Also, it serves as a way of reviewing the rest of the console. In Wiisports you can play one of five different sports: Tennis, Golf, Baseball, Bowling and Boxing. Each game uses none or very few buttons to opperate your character (your Mii). Also all the games support multiplayer on the same console. The tennis is, in my oppion, the best game. It supports up to four player and uses no buttons. All the games are in doubles as you are not able to move your character. The game claims to pick up 100 different shots, however only a few are actually animated. The animation is smooth and pleasant if some what funny. For example, if the ball was passing over you, and you swing the 'mote to get it you character will jump a ludicrously high distance in to the air, swinging the bat as they do, randomly glance the ball and then land perfectly on the ground. Do not get the impression this detracts from the game. It's this kind of light heartedness that makes the Wii so adorable. The AI steadily builds up in difficulty level. The problem is, and this goes for all the Wii games, the single player is dull and repetive with no rewards aside from gaining pro status. There are no cups to be acheived or tournaments to be one. The flip side to this is, potentially, the AI and single player goes on forever as they can just keep making the opponents faster and less foolish. However, I have discovered that it caps out as 1900/2000 and dosen't get any harder.

Wiisports - Golf
A simple game, single player is dull as no AI but good simple multiplayer.
The second sport is golf. Although you have to hold A to take your shot, this game is also intutive. The purpos of A is so that you can take practise shots. The game has a very simple way of managing shots. You have a power bar with 4 dots on. These correlate with the 4 dots on the minimap and represent where the ball will bounce (if there is no wind). You have a very limited choice of clubs and you rarely ever change. This keeps the game simple. There are 3, 3 hole course games or you can play all 9. The courses increase in difficultiness and rediculousness. The last map is actually 5 completly sepreate islandsin the middle of a ocean. Once again this adds to the light hearted humour of the Wii. The problem with this game is the limited number of holes, and when you do single player it's only against you and your personal best.

Wiisports- Baseball
This has probably the best single player, the multiplayer however is not very good
Baseball is the next sport. This is probably the hardest to get to grips with. The timing is vital when you are in bat and the computer has no mercy even on the easy difficulties. This game probably has the best single player as the games are long enough for it not to matter that there is no real goal. The controls are simple and when you are batting the speed which you swing the controller has no effect on how far the ball goes. The bowling is not very good as it requires buttons to do the more advanced bowls. This seriously detracts from the game as they are not hard to execute and very difficult to return. Whenever I play multi player I ban these as it makes batting no fun. If you do not know the rules of baseball, like me, it can be a bit confusing when you start, particularly when you alike it to cricket and there seems no viable reason why you are out!

Wiisports- Bowling

A simple game, single player is dull as no AI but good simple multiplayer.
The next sport is bowling. This is the one that I was least looking forward to. Bowling is fun and challenging in real life because the ball is heavy and the speed matters. Obviously the Wiimote wasn't going to be anywhere as near as heavy as the ball. However, the game is easily as fun as it could possibly be. In some ways it is better than the real thing because it isn't as noisy! The controls are intuitive and, although buttons are used for direction, spin and speed are controlled with the motion sensing. Like golf, this game is terrible in single player as you don't play against anyone. However, if the 4 player multi player is a simple, relaxing and surprisingly fun exercise.

Wiisports- Boxing

A extremly fun highly addctive game. Rivals tennis for best game. However, it is too energetic to play for long periods of time like tennis

The final sport is boxing. This sport requires the use of the Numchuck. There are no buttons to press. This is very energetic and you will work up a real sweat very quickly. You can dodge shots by swaying side to side, do upper cuts, round houses etc. This rivals tennis for the best sport. The only problem with this game is it might be a little too energetic. The multi player is intense and the single player fun. The additional cost of the Numchuck and the increased battery requirements are more than justified with this fun game. It is rather funny to watch as, when you Miis knock someone out, or are lying on the floor, if like mine, you gave it a smiling face, it looks ridiculously twisted! Other amusing physics errors also occur, for example, once I did a upper cut and the guy back flipped on to his head and then bounced all the way round.


Even I can't conclude a conclusion.
That is the Wii. Is it worth £179? Yes. The fact that it is bundled with a game puts this beyond any doubt. The controller is used well in Wii sports and acts as excellent demonstration of what is to come for the Wii. The controllers are erring on the side of VERY expensive as the Wiimote is £33 and the Numchuck is £18. However, this is probably countered by the cheaper console and games. The outlook for games appears to be good with plenty of non-ninty developers jumping on the band wagon. The launch games were a little weak, Zelda was very good although a lot of the big external developer games were a let down (Red Steel). The Wii has not had many problems except with the patches and the virtual console works fine. The Wii gets a thumbs up.

A note: Since writing this I have had occasional technical issues with the Wii and it not turning on. These can all be fixed by removing and reconnecting the power cable, but it is worth noting it is not 100% reliable.

Blog Update: There you go, the official Wii review, tell me if you see any spelling errors. I hope you like the new blog design complete with streamlined BTR player (look on the right). I may type up my 360 analysis that I wrote 6 months ago. Yes I managed to get this out within 15 minutes of when I was supposed to XD

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