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Wii impressions: the E3 experience


Due to how the Joystiq staff divided the Wii games' coverage, I ended up posting about a game that needs a lot of work (Madden), a game that needs a little (Metroid Prime 3), a couple of games that show promise (WarioWare & Elebits), and a game that is simply a gimmick (Final Furlong). I also played: Super Mario Galaxy, RedSteel, Twilight Princess, and Tennis.

I'm not convinced that, at this stage, the Wiimote and nunchaku add-on are superior to a gamepad. Miyamoto, speaking last night at a developer's event, said that after becoming comfortable with the Wiimote, it's now impossible for him to go back. I'm not there yet, and I know I'm not alone. It's gonna take a lot of work to rewire how we, longtime gamers, play video games. It's important for Nintendo to understand this, and I believe they do.

At that same event, Sakurai echoed this sentiment when he told gamers not to throw out their GameCube controllers; that is, Super Smash Bros. Brawl will use a conventional (not motion-activated) control scheme. There has to be this balance on Wii, or at least, the option. The Wii version of Twilight Princess should support GameCube controls, as perhaps should Metroid, RedSteel, Madden, etc.

The ace, of course, is the Wiimote (and nunchaku). But, Nintendo shouldn't feel compelled to always play their ace. I understand that it was important to make a splash here at E3, and so Nintendo took a risk, displaying 27 playable (motion-controlled) titles. A lot of these games don't play well. Perhaps by their launch dates, many of them will, but I guarantee that a number of these titles -- like Final Furlong -- will flop. That's not to say that there wasn't brilliance on display.

Super Mario Galaxy is a perfect example. The game does not rely on the inconsistencies (in the current state) of the connection between the Wiimote and the TV sensor. It's affectively a bridge between the conventional gamepad and the innovative Wii controls. I felt comfortable with Mario minutes after launching the demo.

And then there's Tennis. It really works. Force, angle, timing; these are all crucial to success in this mini-game. Tennis is fun and intuitive, and a gaming experience that can only be had on Wii. That's special. But again, not every Wii game needs to be so exclusive.

I respect the risk Nintendo is taking and value their goal, which is to open video games up to anyone and everyone. But I'm not gonna let that adulation cloud my judgment. What I've gathered at E3 is that the Wii's foundation is rock solid. The Wiimote and nunchaku designs are brilliant, as is the console, which, where necessary, is compatible with the GameCube controller. But the software, roughly six months before launch, is a mixed bag.

It's no longer the revolution, folks, but it's a decent start and a commendable effort. I'm looking forward to the final outcome just as much as you are. See you on launch day.

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