Monday, November 20, 2006

One Wii to Wule Them All!

Have I got a Wii story for you!!

So I had my Wii pre-ordered at my local game store, Games For Less. I'm not sure if they're a chain or not, but I doubt it. They weren't doing a midnight launch, so I would have to pick it up Sunday morning. Of course I couldn't sleep Saturday night, so I got up early Sunday and got there around 9:45am, to be greeted by a sign on the door: Wii Shipment Canceled, all pre-orders canceled! So I was pissed. There were other people there who were mad and were waiting to get their money back, but it was still early and I figured I still had time.

I rush out the door, look at the Toys R Us across the street, there must have been 100+ people in line!! No way I was getting one there. I look at my watch, 9:53am, I had time.

I rush to the Circuit City down the road. The people waiting outside were just going in. I had time!! So I walk in behind everyone, and one of the employees said they had sold out that morning at 8am. What!?? We were all so mad! So I started chatting with the people there, and I look to my left, and guess who I see! Elijah Wood! Apparently he couldn't get a Wii either, and in a strange way, that helped ease the pain. Nice guy. I didn't want to bother him, so I just talked to his friend for a while. But I have no time for celebrities when a Wii is waiting for mii. I notice they just put out some games and accessories. I pick up Red Steel, Zelda, and an extra Wii-mote. I know my Wii is out there. Somewhere.

I take off. Toys R Us? Sold out. I snuck into Cost Co. Sold out. EB Games? Sold out. Another EB Games? Sold out. Gamestop in the mall? Sold out. Game Rush (Blockbuster)? Sold out. Target? Sold out.

3 hours later, I give up and drive home. I probably called another dozen places. Sears, Wal mart, Comp USA... Sold out. I finally give up around 1pm. There were all gone. I was Wii-less. I got a second wind that afternoon, but still to no avail.

So this morning I wake up to go to work. It was about 9am and I read that stores were supposed to be getting shipments all throughout the week. Maybe they got one today? So I called Gamestop in the mall that was sold out yesterday. "Do you have any Wii's in stock?" "Hold on, let me check..." This had potential! Usually you get an upfront "no, sorry..." I wait. I wait... "Yes, we have 5." "What????? You have 5???" "Yes, we have 5." "Can I reserve one???" "Sorry sir, first come first serve, we open at 10am." "Thanks!!"

So this morning I got in to work, which is right across the street from the mall, just counting the clock. 9:40am. I can't take it anymore. I rush to the mall, and wait by the Gamestop. Nobody else there. I was first. I will get my Wii. But what if they were mistaken? What if those were pre-orders people didn't pick up? I started having doubts. I look at my watch. 9:50am. 10 minutes. No big deal. I look around the mall. Read some of the signs, look at the setup, lost in my thoughts. I look at my watch. 9:51am. Dang it!!

Gamestop guy walks up to the store. "I'll open it up in 10 minutes." Two other people get in line behind me. Finally, he opens the store, "I'll be right with you." I wait patiently. "You called about a Wii, right?" "Yes, I did." "I'll get it from the back." He walks to the back room. Was he mistaken? Did they have them??? Yes!!!! He walks back, rings me up (I got Monkey Ball too) and I pay.

The Wii is mine.

And so begins the longest day.

Sunday, November 5, 2006

I played the Nintendo Wii today!!

So today I went to Gamestop to trade in some games and reserve Gears of War, and to my suprise, they had a Wii on display! So when I was talking to the clerk, I asked him if he had a remote, just so I could check it out. He said, "well, if you give me your California ID as collateral, I'll let you play it. Just don't run out the door with the remote or throw it at anyone." Oh man!! I was so there!

So I handed over my ID and he busts out the remote. It's about as long as your standard pen or a can of soda, and about as thick as a regular remote. It felt really comfortable holding it, and it had a nice weight to it. It definitely didn't feel cheap.

The system itself was really small. About the same dimensions as 3 dvd cases stacked together. It was really slick looking. They had the sensor bar hooked up underneath the demo tv. It was really small and not very intrusive.

The game they had setup was Excite Truck, an off road racing game, so they didn't have the nunchuk attachment because the game itself didn't require it. Graphically, the game was probably a little bit nicer than Gamecube. It's like if Gamecube had anti-aliasing. Ie, if the edges on the Gamecube games weren't jagged, but nice and crisp. I wonder if Gamecube games will look nicer on Wii....?

To control the truck, you would hold the Wii-mote (remote) sideways, so it is parallel to your body. You then tilt it like a regular car steering wheel, left to go left, right to go right. You hold down the '2' button to accelerate, so you can just use your thumb to keep it down the entire time. Holding the remote like this felt really natural. When your truck goes off a jump, you can tilt the remote forward or back, to level our your flight while in the air. The controls felt very tight and responsive, but it did take a while to get used to. Also, when you crash into another opponent (I was playing 2-player) and take him out, a speaker inside the Wii-mote has sound effects and applause. How cool is that???

You could also run over different tokens in the game, one would give you a speed boost and the other would change the landscape of the level. It would cause a giant ramp to emerge out of the ground, which looked pretty neat. Also, if you come off a jump and land perfectly, you would get a boost from that as well. The levels themselves were pretty well done, and they had lots of different paths to follow. You could crash through trees and find shortcuts, but I think your truck takes damage, so you could only take out so many trees before you explode and reset.

How does it compare to the PS3? Well, I played the PS3 at a Sony event on the main lot a few weeks ago, and I also played their off road game, Motorstorm, which would make a good comparison. Graphically, the Wii is just slightly better than Gamecube. So that means the PS3 blows the graphics out of the water. Motorstorm looked really great on the PS3, and that was just a build that was 65% done. Wii definitely cannot compare to PS3 graphics.

Motorstorm also utilized the PS3 motion sensing controller, and frankly speaking, it did not work very well. It could just be that since the game wasn't finished, it needed tweaking, but it was more of a pain to use than just regular controls. The Wii motion sensing blows the PS3's out of the water.

So what did I think? The Wii is a very small, slick looking console. The controller was very intuitive and comfortable to hold. The motion sensing was very slick and responded very well. The speaker inside the Wii-mote is very awesome, and was utilized well. Excite Truck is a really fun game, but definitely cannot even come close to graphics on the PS3 or Xbox 360. They were better than Gamecube, however. But nobody will be buying this console for the graphics, it's all about gameplay. Plus, for the console only being $250 (as opposed to the PS3 being $600) it's so much of a better deal. I already have my Wii reserved :) One final note: When playing a Wii game, don't sneeze. You'll crash.