Nintendo Wii: first playtest

Sunday 24 December (2006)

So today I went over to my uncle’s house under the guise of visiting my cousins on their eighth birthday, but ostensibly to have a go on his Nintendo Wii console. This was the first time I’ve ever been on the most exciting video games console yet available, and I have to say – it’s fucking great!

I started out with a quick game of tennis on Wii Sports. I was amazed at how intuitive it was – I had barely strapped myself into the Wiimote when it was time to serve, which was done by pressing the ‘B’ button and then – well, serving. So I press the button and the ball flies up into the air, and suddenly I’ve got to swing my arm through the air to serve. I felt like an idiot on my first go – my parents, sister, three cousins and my gran were all sat on the couch behind me and my uncle, so I was quite self conscious. But, lo and behold, I swung my arm and served the ball, and the game was underway. By the third swing of my arm I had forgotten there was even anyone else in the room, as I leapt about swinging my arm, trying my backhand and topspin. So intuitive was it that on my very first go playing it, I actually won the match 2-1.

Next I tried making a ‘Mii’ – the avatar-like representation of yourself that is used in game. Again this was simple, easy and fun to do – I designed a simple charicature of myself, chose a hairstyle and height etc., then I was done. So my uncle loaded up this fitness test thing that you can do on Wii Sports – a set of basic challenges which you are supposed to do once a day in order to improve your abilities and real-life fitness.

First up: bowling. This was harder to get used to than tennis as it didn’t just rely on the motion of the Wiimote, but also the speed. The first few times I did it I failed to hit the pins, the bowling ball not moving fast enough. Once I got the speed aspect down, I started fiddling with my angle of attack, and putting spin on the ball – it was tougher to get the hang of, but that’s good. I had worried beforehand that all the Sports games would be simple hand gestures that required little or no skill – that’s not the case.

The final game I played before the kids took over the machine was baseball, which was really challenging and a lot of fun. Like tennis and bowling before it, I had to hold the Wiimote in the appropriate stance – this time like a bat. Balls were fired at me and I swung at them with gusto, but I only managed to hit about half of them properly. This was the first game I played that I could see myself flinging the Wiimote into the TV, swinging as hard as I was – my ‘Who the hell lets go of the Wiimote?’ stance is now changed to ‘Yes, a potential hazard.’

But what did I bring away from this first Wii session? Well, until now I’d been fairly content to wait until Smash Bros. comes out before buying my own Wii (probably waiting for the rumoured relaunch.) Now? Fucking get me one of those consoles right now…

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