Nintendo Wii Release Titles – Initial Impressions

Finally got my pre-ordered Wii from Amazon last night after some question of where my order had disappeared to within the Amazon system.  Thankfully, it arrived when I expected it, and within a few minutes I was up and running with it.   (My Wii code is 8538 8031 5411 6139 for those interested).

I really really like the Wii interface, when compared to the PS3 and the 360.  And getting used to the Wiimote is rather quick; the rumble feedback is probably the thing that makes this work really well in addition to the visual indicators and the speaker in the Wiimote.

Wii Sports – I used to bowl and had a decent average (150 range), and I’m rather impressed how well using the Wiimote can simulate the bowling movement  and other physics of just the bowl itself (though I have to back off a bit on my spin since there’s nowhere close to the same weight as with a real ball.)   Golf feels natural as well, and definitely a different take compared to most console-based golf games.  Tennis, baseball and boxing feel a bit weird but likely I wasn’t giving myself enough room (as I was mostly testing the games out).  Nintendo definitely did right in including this game with the base system – it makes the Wii usable out of the box and demonstrates the power of the Wiimote, plus adds a significant physical element to actually playing the games.

Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz – The gameplay itself is not much different from any other Monkey Ball title, but the use of the Wiimote is what makes this unique, and may be the best game you can get to learn how touchy the Wiimote is and how to fine tune your movements with it.  I’m also pleased to see a lot more minigames with this (at least 20 it looks like), though I’ve only played a handful so far.

Trauma Center: Second Opinion – I know this is basically a remake of Trauma Center: Under the Knife for the DS with an added chapter, but the game plays a lot differently from the DS touchscreen to the Wiimote, in that you have an easier time of selecting the tools you need for the operation with the nunchuck, but you have a little less accuracy with the pointer from the Wiimote, though the game appears to be giving you a lot of sensitivity.  To me, despite knowing the cases, it still feels like a whole new game.  It also seems to show that it is possible to take a game concept that relies strongly on the DS touchscreen and make it into a Wii game  (Kirby’s Canvas Curse and Ouendan/Elite Beat Agents are two titles that come to mind immediately; I also wouldn’t mind seeing Phoenix Wright brough to the Wii in this manner).

Red Steel – Take a standard first-person shooter, and add in the elements of stand-up arcade shooters that have gun controls (like Time Crsis or House of the Dead) and you get the foundations of Red Steel; you use the nunchuck to move (WASL style), the Wiimote to look (the mouse in conjunction with WASL), and then use objects and reload by moving the nunchuck up or down appropriately.   Haven’t got a katana yet (though I know it will be there!), and the controls are a little tricky at first but if I spent a bit more time, I’m sure they would start to come naturally, but in general, these add a new level of interaction with first person or third person shooters that isn’t possible with controllers on the other systems.  Unfortunately, the graphics are a bit clunky, and maybe I rushed too fast through the look calibration proceedure as the sensitivity for looking is just a bit too high, though I know I can change this in game.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess – Still at the first village, but so far this game works nicely with the Wiimote/nunchuck, and still has the same feel as any Zelda game (though closer to Orcania of Time and Mogana’s Mask in terms of art and stylings, even when you look past the cel-shading issue from Wind Waker – it’s just the feel of the game; maybe it’s just the fact that most of the world you’re in isn’t underwater and thus feels less sparse than Wind Waker.  Still haven’t gotten to combat but I expect that to be interesting.

At this point, with some time on both the PS3 and the Wii, and what I’ve done with the 360 to date, I think that Nintendo is going to come out on top in this round.  The Wiimote is a rather ingenius device and, like the touchscreen on the DS, will offer new ways to play game genres that have otherwise become stale; and yet you can still fall back to classic controls for titles that really need them.  I’ve heard good things about how EA’s done Madden 07 for the Wii, and also good things on Rayman, so I will likely pick these titles up as well.  However, I can’t wait for Super Mario Galaxy and in particular the next Metroid game – if Red Steel is any indication, first person shooters are going to be completely revolutized on the Wii.