All posts tagged wii

I selfishly "borrowed" the Wii Fit board at work for the long Memorial holiday, although it was more like grand larceny with the kind of looks people gave when I called shotgun. And boy was I sorry to give it back today. I called every single store I could think of, and many no one has ever thought of, and places were sold out within an hour or two. Fry's Electronics emptied their hoard of 80 in three hours. Nintendo stock, Nintendo stock.

Like all things Nintendo makes, if you try it with an open mind and the intention to find something enjoyable, you usually will. The Wii Fit board was no exception, delivering a level of fun and intangible feelgood that I never expected in the three months I had the opportunity to place a pre-order. Along with the Mii channels, Wii Sports, Everybody Votes, and their Brain Age games, the Wii Fit board capitalizes on something that Nintendo has dominated to great commercial success: our desire to discuss ourselves. Everything about the Wii Age and the Brain Age rankings, the nifty progress graphs, the popularity contests, etc. are about finding the personal information we're secretly dying to examine and share. It's that famous saying that our favorite subject is ourselves.

So does it work?

Well, my sore abs, bruised feet, and Xstine's whole aching body can attest that it definitely does more than we ever thought a video game capable of. There is no doubt that with regular use, it can make you fit. That's not to say you can bulk up, or run marathons, but for the average inactive potato, it's great to work out in the fun and comfort of your own living room.

To all those parents out their shocked that the game told your precious spawn that they were overweight or obese… yeah, your kid is probably fat. Or you didn't read the part in the manual where it explicitly states that BMI is not an accurate index if your kid is muscled from all the sports they supposedly do. And most importantly, you haven't taught your kids that their self-image should never be dependent on the non-judgemental conclusions of a mindless toy. Unless your child really is "big-boned," promise.

Our wrap party was last nite, we had a good time, got to saran wrap our lead designer and make a clown outta him while destroying the open bar. I've got my first VG title under my belt, and dammit if the game ain't too bad either. I've never cared about game reviews 'til now, but it's all in good fun. We know we hauled ass on it, and reading what some people say on GameFAQs.com can be anything from hilarious to depressing. In the end, we just want to put out something that kids have a lot of fun with, but without sacrificing our families and sanity to do it. I think we struck that balance very well.

So with what looks like a slow, struggling recovery, I may be wrong about the stock market's resilience. It wouldn't be the first time. To be honest, fancying myself a technical trader, I've never been very good at the buy-and-hold game. Accumulators probably had a ball with this dip. I took it as an oppotunity to accumulate high dividend stocks. I am no baller in this arena, and I will not play the rebound on a court I don't know. I'll remain cautious, and more importantly, I will not regret gains I might miss out on. That's my style, I'm stickin' to it.

After Nintendo's amazing financial statement came out, Sony follows up with equal aplomb… in the form of pompous bullshit. It's shocking that Sony CFO Kobuyuki Oneda said:

"Actually, because the number of units [of PS3] sold was not as high as we hoped, the loss was better than our original expectation,"

Ignoring the massive costs of R&D, support, and over-manufacturing, let's just think about the sheer illogicity of this spin. If I were the worlds ugliest hooker and had my legs spread on the street next to a bedpan with "five bucks a fuck" scratched into the rim, I'm less of a slut than the rest since no one would be taking me up on the offer.

Get real.

Meanwhile, I am trying very hard to find an Xbox 360 to buy, probably an elite. I've already pre-ordered Bioshock, and I'm just waiting to see if the system price drops on August 12th. This coming gaming season is going to be unmissable, and the raving reviews of the 300 HD-DVD makes my wallet suicidal.

We had a great movie summer this year, but after E3, it looks like we're going to have an even more amazing holiday season for games. Some the ones that really caught my eye:

Call of Duty 4
Mass Effect
Super Mario Galaxy

Also amazing was the Wii Fit "game" that Nintendo introduced, causing me to seriously consider picking up more shares in their stock. Their ability to make disposable fads never ceases to amaze me. Or maybe I'm just so shaken by the prospect of Metroid Prime 3, Smash Bros. (this year!!!), and Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. But even more amazing was EA's admission that "we are boring people to death." Games like Boogie and EA Playground are spreading the crepuscular rays of hope that the industry's great heartless game factory has a human pulse.

And although I keep swearing not to, I can not help but criticise Sony once again for it's utter disrespect for gamers. Hot on the heels of Microsoft's announcement of an awesome retroactive 3-yr warranty for the 360, Sony decided to drop their own bomb. Playstation 3, the 60gb version, is shedding $100 off its tag. Brilliant right?

And then Hirai tells us that that SKU of the PS3 is no longer in production. How disingenous can they get? If that kinda of bait-and-switch is what they think E3 is for (remember the original Killzone 2 trailer? See the latest in comparison), then they've truly lost their minds. And if they haven't, that would be even worse.

Leaving for DC for our very first excursion to the fabled East Coast, our firm intention is to capitalize on a precious long weekend. For the flight, I am bringing along my Nintendo DS and Hotel Dusk, but the recent announcements from Nintendo have me slightly riled up, if there can be such a state.

Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, Geometry Wars DS, Mario Strikers Charged, they all make me happy. But Planet Puzzle League, a revival of the puzzle perfection that was Tetris Attack, has me in throes of ecstasy. Do nerds lose their virginities to the nigh-sexual stimulation delivered upon slabs of unassailable gameplay? If so, then Tetris Attack was my first, and I remember her way too well.

A puzzle game is a funny thing. Its purpose is to stroke you until you are frustrated with mounds of unfulfilled resolutions that dance tantalizingly within reach. Yet pleasure in them is in the play, not the completion. Each time you do it, you learn to can go longer, and in time it's second nature. You gain mastery of a new, simple universe with simple rules, until you meet another player. Pitted against each other, you become addicted to unending contests of attrition.

The perfect puzzle game, which Tetris Attack is, never lets up. The split second of breath it gives you to either save yourself, or let a fuckton of bricks crush the life out of you is like trying to pants Death and escape alive. A perfect puzzle game, like Tetris Attack, doesn't give you or your opponent any cheap saves though. Each near-death experience is earned, and each earned is in turn a riposte, and each riposte can add up to a counterattack upon your nemesis' unpreparéd ego. I would say this game is the purest distillation of human power struggle and its wanton equilibrium ever made.

You know when a game is perfect when in the end a match between equally skilled players is decided not on luck, but on preserverance. This isn't the imbalanced Puzzle Fighters, the analog Wetrix, the stoic Tetris, the feminist Zuma, the arbitrary Lumines, or the shallow Bust-a-Move. This is Planet Puzzle League. Be afraid.

So 300 was amazing. The story and dialogue was predictably trite, but the shots were absolutely stunning, especially the long fight sequence in the first battle. Xstine went nuts over the painterly aspect of several shots, the ones that gave an illusion of no perspective points. I loved the claustrophobic set, complete with static props and painted backdrops.

The cherry topping it all was the total lack of political correctness. Asia! These terrorists are from ASIA! Promise! The film vomits patriotism, and makes no excuse for the need of violence to resolve all problems. While the speeches get long in the tooth, it provided ample ampules of adrenaline. So caricatured and comic it was that I don't seen how there can be a hang-up. I'm just surprised as an liberal an industry as Hollywood even let it reach the public.

As if timed by Zeus himself, God of War 2 comes out this week. Today in fact. In fact I don't know why I'm writing this and not picking up my pre-order from the store. I even prepared myself for this release by playing Golden Axe for the first time in a decade. I'm still a badass with the dwarf. While the AI is terrible, the game is still somehow fun, thanks to the visceral and unashamed action. Kinda like 300.

One last thing to check out is this jaw-dropping but heart-warming new game from the creators of Rag-doll Kung Fu. Most surprisingly, it's coming out for the PS3, not the Wii. While Sony's hodge-podge embrace of card-carrying "indie" developers hasn't impressed me yet, this one looks far more substantial than a Flash in the cell like Flow. Keep this up, and I might actually want a PS3. Provided it plays well. User-created content spawns more paupers than princes, and I've grown out of sandbox-style games. They're usually nothing but ludologized technology, and technology grows wearisome. Hurrah for LittleBigPlanet.

Yes! We FINALLY got our hands on a Wii. Xstine had been calling every EBgames and Gamestop every week for the past godknowshowlong when she had nearly given up on it, and handed the torch to me. Calling the service centers for Best Buy, Circuit City, and Fry's, I had them scour the whole of the bay area for any remote shard of salvation. It was futile. I typed "Wii tracker" on a whim, letting Google do my searching. Wal*Mart was the only online vendor with available Wii's and even then, there were only their 7-game mega-bundles.

I decided to call Wal*Mart anyways, even though I had foresworn never to shop their again after buying three shattered Kingdom Hearts in a row from one. A teenager so greasy you could sense it through the phone static answers me.

"'Scuse me, just wanted to know if y'all have any Nintendo Wii consoles." You can tell how jaded I was.

"Yeah, just got a shipment in, they're selling fast."

I screamed at him to hold one for me. I damned his ancestors when he said he couldn't. I tore downstairs into my car, crushed the pedal, nearly side-swiped eight old ladies and a dozen squirrels as I barreled down the freeway. I glared at each car I passed, wary of their intentions on my Wii. MY WII.

Fifteen minutes later, I was on the other side of San Jose. I forgot to wear a belt, but I charged into the store anyways, holding up my pants. Hoochimamas cocked their eyebrows at me. Had they never seen a geek in the wild? Breathless at the software counter, I yelped for a Wii, but the lady there seemed to already know what I wanted. In a cute latina accent, she told me there had been ten in the shipment, and now I was staring at two remaining.

"Do you want any games, sir?"

"I have to pull myself together first. There's time for games later."

As I stood jubliantly at the check-out, like Robert E. Lee at Manassus #2, like Alexander the Great looming over the frayed ends of the Gordian Knot, like Sir Galahad preparing to spank the virgins, a phone rang.

"Hello, Wal*Mart electronics department. Sorry sir, there's only one left. No, we can't hold it for you."

I nearly shouted out "SUCKER!" but I was already dashing out the door. Long story longer, it's all hooked up, and in fact I'm looking at my blog right now on my telly, amazed at how fantastic Opera Wii is. And last nite, Xstine and I watched Robot Chicken on Youtube, on our couch! Brilliant! The packaging, the interface, the feel of the console, it's all so planned, so… Nintendo. Critics of materialism wouldn't get it. There is something very immaterial about the Wii. It's like owning a physical brick made out of accessibility. For the nerdcore in me, it also represents bloodlust and victory, something hitting 70 in WoW hasn't even given me. I'll post more, after I take my medication…

If there is one sector I feel comfortable making predictions in, it would be the video game sector, although the majority of it is really just a cluster of a dozen or so companies that publish for a much broader cast behind the curtain. It excites me everytime that this mini-sector is covered by market blogs, and this article is no exception. I like to read about an industry dear to my heart from the perspective of those less intimate with it. What the article says about EA‘s development difficulties with the PS3 and idealogical difficulties with the Wii, while not surprising in themselves, reminded my of how I’ve forgotten that companies are companies. Even in the business of creativity and play, the corporate speak is nothing new to investors.

That comforts me.

The game industry, for some betters and many worsers, has grown up. It’s leaving its roots in the basement of hackers. It is being held to a multi-national standard, ethically and financially. It has, despite its loss of innocence, become recognized.

And I dearly hope that, like books, radio, comics, television, and film before it, it will endure through its current phase, the scapegoat of political campaigns and modern vices, and enter the annals of pleasant anachronism. Only there is it safe to continue to work its influence as the world whirls around another threat. There, it will build better men.

Right now, the old guard thinks it ruins them. What about the teenage gunman who turns out, contrary to preliminary reports, didn’t own a single game? Or what about when the stepmother of a boy recently apprehended for the sport-killing of a homeless man opens herself and her story to Penny Arcade, telling the world that “Video games DID NOT make this kid who he was, and it’s unfortunate that the correlation is there.” Her story is haunting, even moreso if unheard.

As the year of the Golden Pig arrives, I hope that the industry will have great fortune, making it (and me) rich. Feng Shui experts proclaim this also a year of Fire on top of Water, a year of great conflict and volatility. With game legislation in furor, and the industry cycle starting anew under the duress of the console war, this will no doubt be one of the deciding years on the fate of games and their status among other media.

So I had my first two days of sit down time with the Nintendo Wii. I stopped by Dan's place Friday nite, and he brought it over to Xstine's little birthday party the nite after.

The verdict?

I'd be kicking myself for not buying one if I wasn't so goddamn sore.

The thing was seriously fun, although I've wrecked eight different muscle groups trying to throw 94mph fastballs and hitting rabbits in the face with a plunger gun. The Wiimote was alot smaller and lighter than I expected, but once you were trying to hit a homer, you forgot about stuff like that. Golf was addicting, boxing was a workout, and somehow only a girl was able to throw the bowling ball straight. Proof that spin comes from the left… brain.

I woke up in the morning paralyzed from the neck down. Yeah, we got THAT into the stupid minigames it had. We spent a good amount of time playing the Rayman Raving Rabbids game, trying to pump a mine car into a roadblock so that it's bunny passenger in the Superman suit would eat a pail-full of dirt 150 yards away. The only weakness with the system is that while we were laughing our lungs dry the whole time, it's probably not as exciting solitaire. For that, I can only wait for Metroid…

There is something grotesquely addicting about watching Elebits, the upcoming Wii game. It seems to simultaneously satisfy the repressed anxieties of the Japanese schoolboy in us, and the magnifying glass execution fantasy we had with carpenter ants. Then it takes that bubbling cauldron of elementary sadism to the next level by laying down a track of level progression borrowed straight from Katamari Damacy, a sort of empowerment over physics over time. Watch for yourself, it gets very interesting a third into it, and I think I've been convinced to make this my first Wii title.