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November 5, 2009

Filed under: gaming»hardware»wii

Stalled Out

Last week I got a used copy of Excite Truck in the mail as a trade, but life's been busy, so I didn't get around to popping it into the Wii for a few days. When I did, while I enjoyed the game itself, it was with the bittersweet realization that this is the first time I've turned Nintendo's little white box on in many, many months.

It's true that I'm gaming a little less at the moment than I normally would--breaking practice is taking up a lot of that time--but that doesn't explain it. It's not the graphical difference between the Wii and the XBox 360, since I could honestly care less. And it's not the network infrastructure, although Nintendo's take on multiplayer is still shamefully backwards. The explanation is simpler: there's nothing decent to play.

When the Wii has good titles, they're very good. Metroid Prime 3, No More Heroes, and Super Paper Mario all come to mind. I've played through all of those. And I own a Wii Fit board, so it's not like I haven't done the crazy lifestyle game thing too. But two years into owning the console, it seems to have hit a drought. I can name plenty of XBox or PC games, either recently released or on the horizon, that I'm anticipating. But I've only got two on Wii (NMH2 and Muramasa) for which I can really say the same. And I've played all the GameCube games that I wanted to play. At this point, what's left? Apart from Excite Truck, the only reason I turn the Wii on is if I left my smartphone in the other room and don't want to get up to watch YouTube or check an IMDB entry.

At its introduction, the Wii was meant to be a new paradigm for console gaming: family-friendly, cheap, innovative, and a bit silly. It lived up to some of those promises, and then just seems to have completely lost momentum. Was it too weird for third-party developers? Too difficult to write ports? Or just abandoned by the manufacturer? I don't regret the purchase, I'm just kind of saddened by the neglect. We've already got one Dreamcast, I can't keep collecting "wacky" consoles forever.

May 17, 2007

Filed under: gaming»hardware»wii

First Wiik

I can maintain the puns forever, Internet. Don't try to stop me.

Positives:

  • All my Gamecube games run in progressive scan mode now.
  • The controller generally works well, and while the batteries are not terribly long-lived, I think I'm getting good use out of them. I'll still switch to rechargeables when I get the chance.
  • Internet channel! Belle thinks this is really dorky, especially since I keep my ancient laptop in the living room for emergency surfing anyway. But I love being able to turn on picture-in-picture and visit IMDB or Wikipedia while watching a movie, and the Wii's browser runs smoother than Firefox on my Celeron 366.
  • Virtual console! And everything looks SHARP. I don't ever remember N64 games looking that good. I think they cheated a little on the emulation.
  • Zelda is not awful. I don't have high expectations for 3D Zeldas, and Twilight Princess just barely clears them.
  • Wii Sports is a pretty good workout. If I started doing this and DDR on a regular basis, I might actually get into passable shape.
  • A side effect of the Home button is that you can pause anything, which is handy for those long cutscenes.

Negatives:

  • If I open up the top panel to plug in my Gamecube controllers, the cat comes and chews on the plastic. That's not really a mark against the Wii, it's just really annoying.
  • We keep the TV next to the front windows, and sometimes the remote gets confused by the light outside and goes crazy. I have to play with the blinds down. Belle would prefer I play Wii Sports with the blinds down anyway though, because it looks really stupid.
  • The keyboard on the web browser is awful. You should be able to plug a keyboard into the USB slot. Also, there's not enough memory to load Pandora, which is too bad, because I'd love to be able to play my Internet radio through the TV (while we still have Internet radio).
  • What's with the selection on the Virtual Console? Super NES games but no RPGs? Genesis but practically no fighters? Where's the NEO-GEO or CPS arcade boards? There's some weird stuff here, mixed in with the classics. And the slow release schedule is annoying.
  • There's some issues in the UI that are strange, particularly with OK/No buttons that can't decide to consistently exist on the left or the right side of each other. I'm not sure, but this may be by design to keep you from accidentally confirming destructive options.
  • Did I mention that the cat has tried to eat it? She chews on everything. We have got the weirdest cat on earth.

May 9, 2007

Filed under: gaming»hardware»wii

Wiiconomics

After several months of stopping in at retail outlets every now and then and being told "well, we had them just yesterday," I broke down and bought a Wii on eBay. It should arrive today or tomorrow. The eBay premium on this comes to about $50 after you consider sales tax, so it could be a lot worse, I guess.

I looked at the XBox 360, and it's still tempting. But it's a bit high-priced for an impulse buy, and there's nothing I'm really dying to play. The media center functionality would probably be more appealing if we didn't have TiVo and Netflix. And I'm pretty sure Belle and I will get more enjoyment together out of the Wii than we would another system (where it would basically just be for me).

I'm still just amazed by how scarce the units actually are. I'm no industry analyst, but it's been almost a year now and I still haven't even seen a box on the shelves anywhere. The hardware isn't that complicated, from what I understand. The Freakonomics blog thinks it might be artificial, but no-one really knows.

But what's undeniably true is that there's more than a couple thousand of them up on eBay at any given time, selling for (including shipping) at least 130% of the retail price. How that figures into the shortages is hard to say--two thousand isn't a very big number, spread across the whole country--but it's a little galling to see the grey market flourish like this.

Future - Present - Past