Wii have lift off

Posted by Dom
As Nintendo releases a new games machine pretty much once every five years, it was unsurprising that the UK launch of its new Wii console last week generated a tremendous amount of interest. As expected, the mainstream media concentrated on some of the perceived negative aspects of the launch – such as stocks selling out within minutes, controllers flying out of unsuspecting gamers’ hands, or machines selling at up to £1,000 on eBay. The Great British public, meanwhile, concentrated on the twin tasks of exploring every high street/back street avenue available to snap up a console, and then enjoying the new system to the max once they’d got their hands on one.
I was one of the lucky ones. Having read a few glowingly complimentary articles online during October about the machine, I decided to pre-order one from Woolworths – not one of the mainstream game stores, admittedly, but a shop that I thought would be getting a decent amount of stock, and which wouldn’t be totally over-subscribed. Come Friday morning (which I’d ‘coincidentally’ booked off as holiday from my homepage duties), with no word from the Woolworths website apart from the ominously vague order statement ‘Processing’, I was gearing myself up to have an almighty sulk, and spent a mournful morning in the Kingston rain traipsing round random shops to gauge if there were any machines going begging. I should have been a tad more patient, however, as come mid-afternoon, I got a text from Woolies saying my Wii was ready to be picked up at the Kingston store, so I rushed out to pick it up.

So what’s the Wii actually like? Is it worth all the fuss, and are the scare stories in the media accurate?       
First impressions of the machine are re-assuringly positive; I’m certainly no great tech-head when it comes to setting up any kind of new machine, but you really can get the Wii up and running within only 20 minutes or so. Successfully getting the Wii online obviously depends on what kind of Internet connection you have at home – my wireless setup was recognised by the console incredibly quickly (once I’d remembered to enter my wireless key), and after a couple of painless necessary updates, it was net-ready with the absolute minimum of fuss. What you can actually do online at the moment is pretty minimal – the News and Weather channels, for instance, aren’t ready yet, although you can use the ‘Virtual Console’ feature to download such classic titles as Sim City, Donkey Kong and BomberMan. At a cost, though – you have to buy Wii Points, either from your local games shop or by using your credit card, to be able to download any retro gems.
The Wii’s main user interface is pleasingly sparse and simple, with the available channels laid out in a simple, no-nonsense style. Many people new to the world of Wii will have a good couple of hour’s fun creating their own ‘Mii’ – cute little virtual characters that you can design to look like yourself, or any other friend/relative/famous person that takes your fancy. These Miis can then be dropped into many of the Wii games already available, so, as an example, it can actually be ‘you’ running round a tennis court or weaving around the boxing ring in the game that comes packaged with the Wii, Wii Sports.
Onto the all-important games – what are they like? It’s fair to say that reaction so far has ranged from ecstatic to puzzled, mostly because of the revolutionary way the Wii asks you to play your games – instead of the traditional joypad, you’re asked to use a combination of a motion-sensitive remote control (dubbed the ‘Wiimote’) and an extra device known as the ‘Nunchuk’, which allows even more interesting options when it comes to playing.
Using these controllers instead of the ages-old, traditional joypad is a bold step forward by Nintendo that could really revolutionise gaming – and the bundled free game Wii Sports has one main aim, to teach you just how to get to grips with the devices. Baseball, boxing, golf, tennis and ten-pin bowling all rely on you using your remotes in new, innovative ways – whether you’re gripping them like a baseball bat to try and hit home runs, or as an extension of your hands to try and knock your opponent out in boxing.
Graphics are fun, cute and colourful, but light years behind what Xbox 360 owners, for example, have come to expect. That’s not really the point, however. The Wii is designed to be completely different to everything that’s gone before, and to totally eschew the direction taken by both the Xbox and the Playstation 3, in favour of a world where fun, enjoyment and simple playability take precedence over jaw-dropping, next-generation visuals.         
Get somebody else involved (you’ll need to fork out for an extra Wii remote, unfortunately – although you do get one free with another launch title, Wii Play), and you’ll soon begin to understand the possibilities of the machine, which is already being described as the ultimate party gaming system. Nintendo wants everybody from every conceivable demographic to ‘get’ the Wii – in the process breaking down the stereotype of a sad, socially awkward gaming ‘geek’ that has followed video games around for so long. And making them lots of money, of course. 
On this level, and as a system that’s bringing incredible amounts of fun to the lucky few thousand who actually have a UK machine, the Wii is a huge success already. Programmers have only begun to get their heads around the different ways of playing games that the motion-sensitive remote provides – which means that whilst there may be a fair amount of tat around in these first few months, there could be some staggering leaps of quality and innovation in just a couple of months. Once the online capabilities of the system are fully up and running, and your little Miis are running around other people’s consoles and joining in their games, a whole other new and exciting world is opened up, and when you consider that hundreds of classic retro games will be being made available to download over 2007, you can begin to see just where Nintendo is heading.
Innovations like the Wii updating itself even when you’ve switched it ‘off’, flashing a blue light at you when you receive new email, are pretty funky, and we haven’t even mentioned side issues such as the pretty comprehensive photo channel, or rumoured hook-up possibilities with the Wii’s little brother, the handheld DS. And new games such as The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Process are gaining incredibly positive reviews across the board.
The dire internet warnings of flying remotes and smashed-up TVs seem to be pretty far-fetched to me, as well – I’m sure there will be isolated incidents, but I’ve been involved in some pretty heated sporting contests over the weekend and haven’t had any alarms or worries about the safety level of the wrist strap. Whether other games compromise this fact I can’t really comment on yet, but I still think it would have to be quite a freaky incident for anything serious to happen.
The Wii is ultimately a genuine breath of fresh air in an industry that was in danger of going stale. Its achievement in offering something completely different to its two main rivals shouldn’t be underestimated, either. Whether there’ll be an ultimate ‘winner’ in this new round of console wars is difficult to predict, of course, but the very fact that there’s a refreshingly different alternative out there is something that should be celebrated. And the simple truth at the moment that you pretty much can’t get your hands on a Wii in the UK, unless you’ve pre-ordered one weeks in advance, means that the British public is buying into the concept whole-heartedly as well.   
If you’re one of the lucky ones who has a Wii, if you have absolutely no intention of buying into Nintendo’s plans for world domination, or simply want to share your Friend Code with other like-minded users, please let us know.
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18 Responses to Wii have lift off

  1. Robert says:

    Good report! Unfortunately I was stupid enough to not bother preordering a Wii. I never got round to it. However if i knew I\’d be refered to as \’Number 8\’ for the next 6 hours in a 30 man queue for the Wii in ASDA I may have been bothered to pay the £5 deposit for the pre-order at GAME.
    There was me, Innosently buying bread and milk for my parents at Asda when I stopped dead in my tracks. There were 6 people sitting on chairs outiside the Entertainment section of Asda. Some were girldfriends looking very peeved off with their other half. Some hardened game Geeks (Number 1 and Number 6) Playing wireless Multiplayer Mario Kart DS with eachother. But one thing they all had in common: They were going to get a Wii in 6 and a half hours.
    I had to make a snap decision,
    "Excuse me, Do you know how many Wii consoles you will have in tonight?"
    "Yes sir, 25. And you won\’t get another one here until after Christmas probably…"
    Oh. My. God. I reached for my mobile.
    "Hi, Mum… Errr, I won\’t be coming Home until about 1am, I\’m Buying a Wii"
    "A what?! Robert, are you on drugs?"
    "No time to talk, I have to get in the line, bye!"
    Little did I know that In this line of eventually 30 people (Including 5 very disappointed people), That I would have some very strange experiences, ASDA Put on Disney Cars for us to watch, A group of 4 men aged about 20 bought 3 whole cooked Chickens, A bottle of ketchup, 10 bread rolls, a 2 litre bottle of coke and a tennis ball.
    I left ASDA a very happy boy, Knowing I\’d be one of the few to make it through the night and get an un-pre-ordered Wii. Does that make me cooler? More daring? No. More Geeky.
    Robert Reynolds- Happy Wii Owner. Aged 16.

  2. Ross says:

    Woah Snap to the max.
    I too ordered from Kingston Woolworths and on the morn say "processing" and prepared for a big sulk !went down in the rain too! for 8.30 am only to be told they had not arrived and were stuck in Germany and had no idea when theyd be here…..i panicked and ran to all the places thinking of just cancelling this woolies one if i could get anotehr but no can do , both games,smiths,X,cex,pc world,barkmans,dixons…. nope nada zilch ..
    just as well really as i moped off home looked at the status on screen and saw " Goods awaiting pickup" and seconds later the phone rings telling me its there .
    🙂 And damn Zeldas fun!!! and my mum loves the wiiplay games hahs

  3. Unknown says:

    I ordered from Argos online, the console was then had delivered Friday lunchtime.
    My first views, complete and utter MAGIC! Wii Sports is great fun, though the only problem here is that once mastered its a bit shallow. Zelda (my only other game SO FAR!) is great though, the much more interactive ways to fight are excellent.
    Bring on more game……..

  4. Tracker says:

    there is a large amount of hype over the broken straps, but it mainly seems to be over-zealous american gamers that have the problems. the wrist strap itself isnt the problem, but more rather the tiny lengthe connecting the strap to the wii-mote. http://www.wiihaveaproblem.com for more details. Nintendo have acknowledged this and are sending out replacments to those that complain, and are creating stronger straps as we speak.

    another example of why nintendo are going to win the console war, because nintendo focus on their customers, the gamers. a strap breaks? they replace it and cover delivery costs etc. the wii have hard drive reading problems? they replace the unit free of charge and cover delivery costs. you dont see microsoft doing stuff like that. and at £400 a shot that level of service will be the minimal expected from sony and the PS3!.

  5. Col says:

    I was one of the lucky few who got a Wii on Friday, having pre-ordered mine back in September from Game.co.uk.
    Have to agree with the article, it’s new, and it’s different, but most importantly, it works!

    As a “seasoned” gamer, I got rather bored with the last generation of consoles, everything seemed to have been done before, there was nothing new. Every generation before that though had seen a huge leap forward,
    8 bit to 16 bit saw the graphics improve amazingly (compare original Mario Bros with Super Mario World)
    16 bit to 32 bit (or 64 if you went for the N64) saw full 3D being realised, I’m thinking Mario 64!
    But then nothing, same games prettier graphics.

    I had an Xbox 360, and realised that it was again more of the same, and got rid of it.

    So for the seasoned gamer like me who was giving up on console gaming, the Nintendo has breathed new life into the market, and my love of consoles.

    One word of warning though . . . It might just have been me, but I found that I had more trouble getting used to the new control than my girlfriend who isn’t into games. I think this is because after a lifetime of getting used to just using my thumb to control, she had less / no experience of gaming and so wasn’t used to playing games a certain way and adapting. It’s very embarrassing to play your new console and get your arse kicked by someone who doesn’t play games.

    But she’s hooked on the console now, all she wants to do now (unfortunately) is one more game of “that monkeys balls game” (she means Super Monkey ball) . . . and that is the highest praise for the Wii, it’s attracting the non-gamers, and as that’s what Nintendo wanted to do, regardless of sales figures in my mind it’s a huge success and my guess is that the sales will follow.

    Just my thoughts.
    Oh and, more than happy to share my Friend code with any and all.

  6. Unknown says:

    My brother went out at 11.30pm on Thursday night to meet up with 3 of his mates who had all pro-ordered their Wii.
    By 12.30am he was back with a bag of goodies and I was perched on the sofa in anticipation of some nintendo fun! It didn\’t dissapoint, we made our little Mii characters, updated all the internet type stuff and were away…
    Bowling on Wii sports is by far my favourite game so far, but I think my brother is loving Zelda and Rayman\’s not bad either (I have never before tried to swing a cow above my head so successfully). We eventually retired a couple of hours later.
    Over the weekend we introduced our mom and dad to the joy of Wii… my dad took over the golf and wouldn\’t pause it to have his dinner and my mom (who doesn\’t like playing video games in case she\’s rubbish) came 1st at bowling.
    My favourite moment came when mom asked if she could take it next door to play with the neighbours and stated that noone else could use her Mii "in case they\’re rubbish".
    Now the beautiful Wii is living in my brother’s room and as we’re not allowed in there it’ll be a while before I get another go. We need to sort out some visting rights, you know – weekends, birthdays, Christmas.
     I’m gonna save for one of my own … only drawback my weakling arms hurt loads!

  7. Barry says:

    I ordered mine from ebay a game seller selling them for 30 pounds more, i was told by play.com that i wouldnt be recieving my wii on release day and i could possibly be after christmas. With that in my mind i ordered one from ebay for £30 more and will be sent for release day.
    So on the 7th december i finnished work early (half day) i got home about 1 o clock, i was sitting in the living room hoping friday would just turn up, when the door bell rang, its was a parcel man i took the parcel indoors not thinking it was my wii but other stuff ive ordered for christmas, but to my surprise it was my wii, a day early. i could hardly believe my eyes.
    I rigged the console up pretty quick and downloaded all the updates from the net, which was easy to set up. the wii channels are great all set out nice and easy, i set to making all my family and friends in the mii channel and one off my friends came out spookily spot on. Now to the games, i loaded rayman in its a good game full off mini games but i had 1 small moan, the game couldnt pick up my remote from the couch i was sitting on, it was ok in the wii channel parts it must be just the game, i had to sit a little closer. but swinging a cow round your head has never been so much fun.
    Wii sports is just great, it gets you used to the remote, bowling is good fun, baseball is great the movement off the wiimote reflex the movement on the tv screen. all in all nintendo has done a fine good job of making a console for the masses, as my mum and dad wanted a go when they came round, which normally would never happen.
    Ohh and dont get me started on zelda, its just amazing.
    If you havent got a wii GET ONE. if your waiting for one you will not be let down, its in a class all on its own.

  8. erin says:

    great report i will be having one of them  for the kids (hahaah) yeh right    u talked me into it

  9. Cassandra says:

    My husband queue for 5 hours at Tesco to buy a Wii on the night before its launch, I must admit I thought he was crazy I couldn’t think of a certain thing I would queue that long for; all the hype didn’t help but when I started playing it I was hooked absolutely brilliant.
    Flying remotes and smashed-up TVs is more rubbish hype and would only happen if you attached the remote to a brick, probably dreamed up by the same person who supposedly bought a Wii for over £1000 on ebay.

  10. Matt says:

    I can\’t belive they are putting a really thick strap on!!!

  11. joni says:

    Yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh……………… Oldest Grandson got a wii for xmas and I couldnt leave it alone!! Stopped for xmas dinner and then carried on till everyone was crawling into their beds!!  Great fun, gets you off the sofas and moving about good exercise) much better than slobbing, being anti-social, eyes glued to a tv screen so no one else gets a look in.  Everyone gets a turn!! Well done Nintendo and hopefully some more sports games please!!

  12. Chey says:

    K question, I want to get my wii internet connection, I have vista, and windows live care. I try everything I can think of, taking down the firewall, messing with the internet servers (and yes, I tried connecting before I did all this) and i\’ve checked the site(technical support), it wasn\’t very helpful *sigh* im honestly hoping somebody. I love the wii, i play it practically every day (Super smash bro\’s brawl champion right here 😉 ) I\’ve had my wii for about..a month? Thumbs up, nintendo. WAAAAAYYYY UPPP you\’ve gotta work on these technical crappy internet bugs though…

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