Thoughts on the Wii

I’ve gotten a few more Wii games and played a bit more, and I’m starting to get a better feel for what’s working and what’s not.

The best part so far has been the successful migration of the DS Lite’s quirkiness and accessibility. I’ve written about the awesome Wii Sports already, and between that, Rayman Raving Rabbids, Zelda, and Trauma Center: Second Opinion, the Wii already has the most diverse lineup of the new systems. Trauma Center especially — a hospital simulator where you use the Wii remote to suture wounds, take glass out of wounds, excise tumors, and more — is one of those games that’s unlike any other but easy to pick up. I didn’t play Trauma Center on DS, but I imagine it’s not as easy to play on such a small screen. But the Wii one is great (and has a surprisingly mature take on being a doctor).

Trauma Center, Rayman, and Wii sports all have short chunks of gameplay, so you don’t have to invest tons of time. And that makes it easy to get other people to try them out. Nintendo has more of this kind of game on the way in the form of a Wario game and the next Mario Party, and I think that will continue to be the bulk of the Wii’s success beyond the Zelda/Mario/Metroid games.

I’m much more cautious about how successful 3-D games — shooters and adventure games, primarily — are going to be. But I think the lack of a second analog stick is going to seriously hamper those games, shooters especially. I tried out Call of Duty 3 yesterday, and while it isn’t unplayable it’s not very good either, control-wise (the graphics are maybe on par with a good PlayStation 2 game). The problem is that you look around and turn with the Wii remote, but it’s impossible to hold the controller perfectly still — so the screen is always moving. It’s hard to set up a head shot, or any solid shot really, when the view is shifting slightly as the remote moves. In Zelda the remote doesn’t control the camera at all, so the view only shifts as you move Link with the nunchuk joystick. It works pretty well, but there are times when I wish for a second joystick.

For shooting games, I guess there could be a button that steadies the camera, sort of like the button in Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter that has your guy hold his breath for a steady shot. Otherwise I’m not sure shooters will work too well. Plus it might not make sense to have traditional first-person shooting games on the Wii anyway, since those games are so dependant on snazzy graphics. The shooting boards of Rayman are hilarious (you should plungers at crazy bunnies dressed up as pirates, ninjas, etc.) and even though it’s more like an old-style Lethal Enforcers type shooting game where the game moves you along at its own pace, it’s still more fun than Call of Duty. And if we’re talking about different kinds of shooting games, the restlessness of the Wii remote might not matter so much.

— December 18, 2006

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