So on Saturday while in Dublin City Centre, I wandered by Smyths. Popped in. Walked out with a Wii.
They actually had about four of them on the shelves. My first question to the clerk was, “are they real Wiis?” He laughed. Apparently they are all pre-orders that had not been collected. The clerk claimed they were probably the last ones available in the country. He’s probably right.
Of course, being a dad with a six month pregnant wife, I didn’t really get to play with the Wii till that evening. I was a little bothered that the scart out had to be plugged directly into the TV. I had hoped to chain the input into the DVD player. Our DVD player is chained into the Sky+ box and when you hit power on the DVD player the TV automatically changes to the scart input. This is a tiny nuisance, it just means, if I want to play with the Wii, I have to plug out the Sky+ box and plug in the Wii. There is also a surprising amount of cables too. I have no problem plugging things in and getting electrical equipment set up, but I’d imagine less geeky might get confused about where the IR sensor was meant to go.
Once I had it up and running, I tried to set up the wireless connection. I love my devices communicating and talking to each other. It’s the IT in me. My connection initially seemed a bit hit and miss (problems with my wireless router more so than the Wii) and it took two tries to do a system update. Phew, thats over but it’s nearly a good half hour later.
But that’s when the fun start. You can create little caricature of yourself called a “Mii”. I create one of myself and my daughter. Apparently they can travel to other Wiis but seeing as I have no friends and especially no friends with Wiis, that wasn’t going to happen. You need to exchange Friend codes or something. The Miis are great because they end up being used in games. (More on this in a moment).
Then I downloaded stuff: the Internet Channel (an Opera browser) and Everyone Votes Channel. Both free. There is also the preloaded News Channel (which is okay) and the Weather Channel (I’ll go with Met Éirean instead). They have a games from previous consoles like Mario Kart 64 that you can download. It was so nostalgic to just read through games from the Sega Megadrive and SNES (two consoles I owned as a kid): Altered Beast, The Legend of Zelda, etc. I had played quite a number of the games listed. Need to purchase Wii points though to get any (while the Internet and Everyone Votes Channels were free). Haven’t done this yet, I have a Nintendo “VIP” account that I’d like to use but I’ve forgotten my password and the “forgot password” form doesn’t work on the website. I have a number of “Bonus points” from the Nintendo DS Lite games, I don’t know if I can convert these into Wii points. That would be cool.
As for the Internet Channel, I have a Internet Browser for the Nintendo DS Lite and I used it to quickly check emails and read my feeds on Bloglines. However I find the experience a bit trying on the Wii. The webpage is displayed with a fixed width and you can zoom and scroll around. But when your trying to read your Gmail, it gets annoying that you can’t see all the text from the first line with out waving the remote to the left. Often you end up moving too far left and having to swing back to read the next line. I should probably try the mobile version of Gmail, but you can’t reply or compose emails with that.
So you know a good hour later, I actually decide to try playing the game that came with it. My wife, Sophie, decides to have a look in at it. She had been hearing me giggle and laugh for the last while… and that was just me configuring the box.
There is an initially, “I feel silly doing this” but once your over that your swinging and jumping all over the place. So far, we’ve hit both lamps, whacked the lights in the ceiling, banged the coffee table and the door handle. No damage to ourselves yet. I got Wii Sports with it. Great fun. The Tennis and Boxing I enjoy the most, though the box is a bit unresponsive with the punches and jabs. You use your Miis as your character on screen with other Miis on your console appearing in the background or as additional characters. In the baseball this is great where your team then is composed of your Miis. It’s fun shouting “Go Alice!” (my daughter) when she’s chasing the ball. The trick with the Wii Sports is that it’s fun in groups and for everyone. Playing bowling with my wife, even with the odd swing to the left the ball always seems to take, is a laugh. My six month pregnant wife, swing the remote around whacking the door a good one is even funnier.
On the Sunday morning, I showed it to Alice. She loved the little Miis, recognising herself, “Daddy” and “Maman”. I tried to show her Wii Sports Tennis. She got the idea immediately that the little Mii on screen was under her control. But she wasn’t getting the finesse down to actually hit the ball. She’d serve and swing after the ball had come down again. Initially Sophie, didn’t like the idea of Alice playing but I later found her flicking through the Argos catalogue for games that Alice might better enjoy.
I must admit though, after 30 minutes of playing Wii Sports by myself last night, I wanted a game a little more engaging. Wii Sports is great and I will get around to downloading at least Mariokart too. But I want something more engrossing (but not too engrossing) that takes advantage of the fun-ness of the controller. I guess I better do some research on what’s out there.
Conclusion? Bloodly good fun.
Update #1: Solved my little annoying dilema. I was trying to chain the Wii through my DVD player and then the Sky+ box so I wouldn’t need to plug in a cable to use the Wii. It wouldn’t work. On investigation, I found my DVD player was the culprit. It didn’t seem to pass the Wii signal to the TV. But then I was messing around in the settings for the Wii and under “TV Type”, you can set three frequencies. 50Hz (default), 60Hz and HDTV. So I tried setting at 60Hz and, magically the DVD player now passes the signal!