Meaghs and I have been looking for a Nintendo Wii now for weeks. We both had the original Game Boy growing up and loved to play what is arguably the greatest classic Mario game of all time: Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins. However, everywhere we checked the stores in our area were sold out. There were often shadowy rumors of shipments that might appear in the middle of the night, but the few systems that did arrive were snapped up extremely quickly and we had no interest in queueing outside stores at 5:00am just to get a chance at perhaps buying one. Fortunately while in Target this weekend to pick up a copy of Guitar Hero II, we noticed that there were a few systems sitting there in the racks. At first recoiling from disbelief, we quickly snagged a sales attendant and soon had our hands on the elusive Wii. Woohoo! The system ships with one controller and the add-on “Nunchuck”. Knowing that we’d want to play together, we quickly invested in a copy of a party game pack that came with an extra controller. The game pack contains some classic style games like a duck hunt ripoff, tanks, and other minigames that would use the Wiimote well, and only cost $5 more than an extra controller would on its own. Deal!
We also purchased a copy of Rayman: Raving Rabbids because it looked like a lot of fun and was something we’d wanted to try ever since hearing about the Wii. Target were out of Nunchucks so we took a quick jaunt down I5 to the ever-popular Fry’s Electronics. There, we were able to pick up a second Nunchuck and a copy of Super Paper Mario. I played the original Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door on the GameCube and absolutely loved it. So far, we’ve played through the first two chapters of Super Paper Mario together, taking turns with the controller, and we absolutely love it. The superb game design and polish that existed in the GameCube original has been enhanced a thousand-fold and the addition of the Wiimote is brilliant. At any point during the adventure, you can turn the Wiimote towards the screen and use it as a kind of detective-style clue hunting device. It can reveal secret doors and levers and pointing the Wiimote at any on-screen character or object will provide help information for that item. Lots of fun!
In Rayman Raving Rabbids, you get to participate in a vast number of minigames in an attempt to please a horde of rabbits who have taken Rayman (you) hostage and throw him daily into a sort of wacky roman colloseum. You get to “run” by shaking the Wiimote and nunchuck in opposite directions up and down really quickly. You have to “draw” around shapes of food by pointing the Wiimote at the screen and using it like a long-distance remote echasketch. The screenshot below is of a game where you shoot plungers at the rabbits in a wild-west scene in an attempt to thwart them. It’s all really well put together and a lot of fun.
The Wii in general is extremely well presented and sports a well-polished interface. Nintendo have been occupying a strange space in the gaming market for the last few years. Their dominance from the days of the NES, SNES, and N64 has certainly waned, despite the fall of their long-time rival Sega. The Playstation was the first part of that decline and the PlayStation2 and XBox pushed them out even further. I was dubious when I heard that the Wii was not going to compete either graphically or in terms of competitive licenses, but now I see Nintendo’s game plan and I really like it. They have carved themselves a superb part of the market and with a continued commitment to quality titles will soon re-establish a dominant position in the market. Their virtual console service is very similar to the XBox Live Arcade and its great to see a lot of the Sega Genesis titles being released there in addition to the obvious NES, SNES, and N64 games. I’m impressed. I was playing the original Streets of Rage on the virtual console this morning while laying in bed. It was a great way to wake up and simple enough to spend just twenty mindless minutes reliving an old classic.
I’m looking forward to the potential of getting more of the classic games for the virtual console and also to the possibility of a new Pokemon designed for the Wii. We’ll get a copy of Zelda once we’ve beaten Super Paper Mario and I’m anxious to see what else the developers have coming down the pipe. Vivé la Wii!