Wii!

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Friday December 8. I had the pleasure of sending a friend to stand in line at the local electronics store. It is a small store, quite a distance away from the city centre in Oslo, and they didn’t expect to see a line that morning, but they did. Fortunately, my friend occupied the first spot, and managed to secure one of the three Wiis available when the store opened at nine.

I remember being excited when talk of the Nintendo “Revolution” first arrived. When the motion-sensing controller was revealed, it seemed Nintendo might actually be able to deliver on their promise – a revolution in the way games were played. After a while, even the new name – Wii – seemed a sensible choice. But still a doubt lingered, that the new control scheme would prove just a gimmick – fun the first ten times, then relegated to the dustbin.

After playing quite a lot of Wii Sports over the last couple of weeks, I’m certain – this is definitely not a gimmick. Playing tennis on the Wii feels so different compared to how playing other tennis games feel. You get a whole different level of engagement with the game when you actually do the movements instead of pressing the buttons. That’s one side of it. I think that the sheer physical effort involved makes gameplay more intensive; you get worked up, exhilerated, excited. And that is a big part of gaming!

In addition to the fun I’ve had with boxing, tennis, bowling, baseball (which is tricky!) and golf, I’ve played through the minigames in Wii Play. They serve as a useful demonstration of what kind of games are possible. I am particularly fond of the Tanks game, where you drive a tank around using the joystick on the “nunchuck” attachment to the Wii remote and fire by aiming the Wii remote on the screen and pressing the buttons. This is a gameplay mechanic I hope to see replicated and enhanced in a full, stand-alone title. It doesn’t matter if it’s low budget – Tanks is just pure fun, and I would like more of it.

Gameplay, that’s what it’s about, and the Wii has tons of gameplay!

In addition to all the new possibilities, you can buy old games off the Wii Shop and download them straight to your Wii. I’ve downloaded Sonic the Hedgehog (originally for the Sega Mega Drive), Bomberman 93 (TurboGrafx 16) and Gunstar Heroes (also Mega Drive). These are all fun in their own ways, but I particularly enjoy playing Bomberman in multiplayer – a great party game – and checking out classics I’ve never tried, like Gunstar Heroes.

Bottom line? The Wii is a great console. I am really, really happy with mine (it is in my carry-on luggage right now, coming home for Christmas with me), and considering the fun I’m having with a first-gen title like Wii Sports, I can’t wait to see the fully fledged tennis, boxing and golf games that are en route!

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