Allen (allengator86) wrote,

Ready For the Wii-kend

Here are some interesting articles on the upcoming console, the Nintendo Wii.  Take THAT PS3 people.

Wii Zero-Day Hands On

We unbox the Wii to give you a first look at the retail package and experience of Nintendo's new console.

14 Nov 2006

What a day. Our boxed retail Wii arrived by none other than armed escort. Didn't take long to figure out that Wii was here (yes, cries of 'Wiiii!' went out over instant messenger) and we realized we had a dilemma. To PS3 or to Wii? In the end we did both, and this is the unboxing experience, as close as we can bring it to you.

Box by Apple

Plenty of people have likened Nintendo's new hardware designs (Wii, DS Lite) to Apple's engineering, and that aesthetic carries over to the packaging, too. The elegant white box opens to reveal two blue trays featuring the Wii and bundled accessories.

You'll find the console, stand, and supporting flange, as well as A/V cables (composite only, we're afraid) and power cable, complete with a power brick slightly larger than that of the GameCube, and far smaller and lighter than that of the Xbox 360. The remote and nunchcuk are packed in, as is a set of AA batteries for the remote. Contrary to reports, there is no system update disc, but there is a cardboard sleeve (sob!) containing Wii Sports.


Our package also included an extra remote and nunchuck controller, as well as Excite Truck and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.

Wii at First Sight

After the enormous size of both the 360 and PS3, it's difficult not to love the diminutive Wii. The front panel buttons (power, reset and eject) are tiny but easy to operate. Slightly more difficult to use is the front panel door that leads to the SD card slot; you'll need a good fingernail to hook in and get it open. We considered standing the Wii vertically without the included grey stand, then realized that the stand also elevates one of two primary vents for the console; Xbox360 horror stories flashed through our heads as we put the stand back in place.


The rear panel is quite clean: two USB ports, the sensor port, power, and A/V ports. We hoped that, like the PS3, this A/V port might be backwards compatible with GameCube cables, but that isn't the case. Each cable has a distinctively shaped terminal that makes it easy to plug in correctly.

Sensor Overload

Contrary to some reports, the Wii requires only a single sensor for the remote to work. It's about nine inches long, one inch deep and a half inch tall, with a long, thin grey cable to connect to the console. We placed the sensor on the top edge of the center channel speaker that sits right below our monitor; Nintendo includes a couple pieces of mounting tape, as well as small stand to accommodate the sensor. Once in place it's quite unobtrusive, and since there's already an A/V cable running to the console, the connector cable doesn't add much more clutter to the media center.


Remote Channel Control

With the sensor in place, we turned on the console for the first time, and were greeted by an instruction screen for the remote, then a warning screen similar to what we quickly scroll through on the DS.

The remote responded with only the barest calibration efforts -- we simply had to tell the Wii what hand we primarily use to control the remote, and whether the sensor bar was mounted above or below the television.

Like everything else about the console, the operating system is friendly, even inviting. The 'Wii Channels' concept seemed confusing at first, but in practice it makes perfect sense. Insert a disc, and the Disc Channel in the upper left will display the type of disc or game title.

The Mii Channel allows you to create a custom avatar for various "casual" titles, including the Wii Sports pack-in -- cartoonish and blocky, but with a surprising amount of variety and detail. There's the option to let your Mii roam the internet to other consoles (where, among other things, it can appear in games and parades) and we're curious to see how far Nintendo takes that concept.


We checked out the Photo Channel by popping our camera's SD card into the front slot. It was recognized immediately and we were able to scan, rotate, and throw effects onto photos. While we like the idea of uploading photos to the Wii message board, we'd also like to be able to save photos to the console itself.

Using the remote to navigate the OS has so far proven to be almost as natural as using a controller, and we expect that as we acclimate to using the pointer, it will feel more smooth. The only thing that bugs us about the remote so far is that, while there's an options panel containing a few tweaks, there's no way to remap the selection button, which is currently set at A. (The button below the d-pad.) It seems much more natural to use the trigger to select menu items; we'd at least like the option to change it.

Ready to Launch

So far, we've only got Nintendo's three first-party games in hand. As others trickle in we should have updates before the full reviews go live. For now, here's a tease from the final build of each. And we have to say, while a lot has been made about Nintendo's relative disinterest in graphics, the look of each game we've played from the company seems quite appropriate to the game itself.

Wii Sports
We've had a good time with Wii Sports so far, though it definitely has some quirks that must be learned. Most of the movements and game responses, when swinging a bat or tennis racket, or throwing a bowling ball, are spot on. So that makes the few things that aren't -- like the ability to master the spin of the bowling ball -- stand out. Tennis is the standout so far, though we're looking forward to playing with the Wii Fitness routine.


Excite Truck
So far, the game we've enjoyed the most in either launch has been...Excite Truck? Lord, this one is fun. Does it matter if it's just light-hearted, play for 15 minutes fun, rather than the super-immersive feel of other current games? Judging by our grins so far, nope. The graphics aren't up to Xbox 360 standards, but water and lighting look great and the frame rate blazes. And when you've leapt through hundreds of feet after grabbing a power-up to deform the landscape, only to land in the water you were aiming at to cool down your boosters to get extra speed, maybe high definition graphics really don't matter. Better music wouldn't go amiss, however.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
We've waited years for this one, so summing it up in a paragraph is absurd. Check out our hands-on preview for more in-depth coverage. The bottom line is it looks great and uses the nunchuck controller to show that there's more complexity to the Wii than just waving the remote. The special Wii actions seem a little tacked on -- swinging your sword isn't mapped to movement, it's simply activated by shaking the remote -- but they also make playing a lot more engaging;

Back in Time

We have to admit that before even popping in a new launch title, we inspected the Wii's performance with Resident Evil 4 and Eternal Darkness for the GameCube. If the Wii is standing vertically, two doors on the top open to reveal ports for GameCube controllers (4) and memory cards (2). The controller port area is large enough to accommodate a WaveBird receiver, which we appreciate. Both games loaded quickly and looked great. It was tempting to just play Resident Evil 4 again, but... all those new games...

Online...Soon (Redux)

Just like the PS3, the Wii's online component isn't quite live. We were able to configure and test our wireless connection easily (much as you would with the DS, ironically, considering the PS3/PSP interface similarity) but while trying to go online we'd be presented with a 'time for an update' notice, which lead to a timeout while contacting Nintendo's server.


So we haven't looked into the store or Virtual Console yet, and will have updates when those items go live. We also haven't yet been able to access the Weather or News channel, or let our created Miis go live on other people's consoles.

First wave of Virtual Console games revealed

Nintendo says gamers will have 30 downloadable Wii games to choose from by year's end.

While Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo are asking gamers to shell out for the next generation of gaming experiences, all three companies recognize that there are a number of people willing to spend money on previous generations' gaming experiences, as well. Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade has been offering retro titles since the system launched last year, and Sony recently detailed its plans to offer original PlayStation games for download on the PlayStation 3.

Nintendo had already announced the Virtual Console and some of its publishing partners, but today the company laid out the first wave of titles, 30 in all, to be available by the end of the year. The games (listed in full below) will come from Nintendo, Sega, and Hudson.

The company also reiterated the starting price points for the games, noting that NES games start at 500 Wii Points ($5), TurboGrafx-16 games at 600 Wii Points ($6), Super NES and Sega Genesis games at 800 Wii Points ($8), and Nintendo 64 games at 1,000 Wii Points ($10). Wii Points will be available online or at retail in packs of 2,000 with a suggested price of $20.

Mario Bros.
The Legend of Zelda
Donkey Kong
Donkey Kong Jr.
Ice Hockey
Urban Champion
Wario's Woods
Solomon's Key


Nintendo 64
Super Mario 64

Sega Genesis
Sonic the Hedgehog
Altered Beast
Golden Axe
Ecco the Dolphin
Gunstar Heroes
Space Harrier II
Toe Jam & Earl
Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine

Bonk's Adventure
Super Star Soldier
Victory Run
Bomberman '93
Dungeon Explorer

E3 06: Solid Snake in Super Smash Bros. Brawl; first trailer inside

[UPDATE] Shigeru Miyamoto reveals Konami's stealth-action hero will take on Link, Mario, Pokémon in the new game; Masahiro Sakurai helping development.

LOS ANGELES--Tonight at a special event in the Los Angeles Convention Center, Nintendo answered a question many visitors to its booth have been asking. Namely, why wasn't the new Super Smash Bros. playable in the Wii section of the publisher's massive E3 booth? Apparently Nintendo wanted to keep several aspects of the game under wraps from the public.

The secrets were revealed at tonight's event, which gathered a select group of journalists inside a darkened theater in Nintendo's booth. They were treated to a brief movie of the new Super Smash Bros. game, which began with three veterans of the series--Pikachu, Kirby, and Mario--engaging in yet another free-for-all brawl.

The melee was joined by three more classic Nintendo characters making their Super Smash Bros. debut. Wario, Kid Icarus hero Pit, and Kirby villain Meta Knight soon jumped into the fray, followed by a returning character in a new form. That would be "Zero Suit Samus"--the Metroid Prime heroine out of signature power armor and in a slinky catsuit.

Then the trailer took an even more surprising turn. The scene shifted to an unidentified installment in Konami's signature Metal Gear Solid series. Its hero, the rough-hewn commando Solid Snake, spoke with his commander Colonel Roy Campbell via the Codec communicator, a staple of the MGS series. Otacon tells snake he's been invited to join Super Smash Bros. and then asks where he is. Snake says he's on recon, and then the camera pulls back to reveal Snake hiding inside a cardboard box inside the Super Smash Bros. arena. The inside joke elicited thunderous laughter from the crowd. The final title for the Wii game was then revealed--Super Smash Bros. Brawl--and it's due in early 2007.

As the laughter died down, the lights came up, and Miyamoto retook the stage--where a second stool sat. After wondering aloud who the stool was for, he was joined onstage by Masahiro Sakurai, an industry vet who has worked with Miyamoto since Kirby.

Sakurai told the audience that he'd gone independent and thought he'd never work on a Smash Bros. game again. However, last year around the same time as E3, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata personally asked him to help bring the series to the Wii. Nintendo even assembled a special internal development team for Sakurai, and the independent developer found the offer too great to resist.

Sakurai also told the crowd that he is still accepting applications to come work on the project. He said they have an office in Tokyo staffed by a group of people from diverse backgrounds, adding that they've only just begun work on Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Miyamoto laughed at the comment and pointed out that the team had been together since October of last year. Sakurai then joked that even though they have been working so hard, there's nothing more than the trailer to show for their efforts.

Miyamoto then opened up the floor to questions, which sparked an upbeat Q&A session. The first questioner asked, "Now that the Wii is a reality, are you inspired to revisit older franchises the fans have been asking for?"

"I think it opens up a lot of different possibilities," was Miyamoto's response. He said he thought he could see a Wii version of Kid Icarus and that the Wii controller could enhance games like Starfox. "Sadly, though, I don't have time to do that right now since I'm so tied to so many different projects going on," said Miyamoto via a translator. He then commented how it would be nice to add Wii controller support for virtual console titles.

The next question was for Sakurai and was relatively simple. "What are some of your ideas for Wii games?" Laughing sheepishly, he said that he wasn't prepared to talk about anything just yet. He did, however, want to talk about Super Mario Galaxy. He said one thing he always wanted to do was have one person play as Mario and have others help out. Therefore, he is looking at a multiplayer mode for Galaxy where one person plays as Mario and another helps with the Wii controller.

Another question was presented to Sakurai. "How will Super Smash Bros. Brawl take advantage of the Wii controller?" The designer said he had been working with different ideas and had found that too much use of the controller's pointing and motion-sensor functions was not a good thing. He then dropped a hint, saying gamers may not want to throw away their old GameCube controllers, which the Wii supports. Sakurai then said he wants to support the console but offer something different from other Wii games.

The next query lowered the level of discourse a bit. "Will Wario have a fart attack?" asked the questioner, prompting giggles galore. "Yes, he will," said a semi-bemused Sakurai.

"Will the game's roster be expanded to include more Nintendo characters besides what we've seen?" was the next question. "Of course there are other characters we're thinking about, but we can't speak about any today," said Sakurai.

The next questioner raised a major issue, asking if Super Smash Bros. Brawl would support the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. Sakurai said his team would try to take the game online, but he thinks it would be a hard to make four-player online work.

The next questioner commented how it was nice to see that The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess would support 480p widescreen, but wondered if it would be possible for the Wii to support higher resolutions. Miyamoto responded that Wii can indeed display in widescreen and that it helps in Zelda, since you can see more of the world. However, he said it was up to the developers to determine if they wanted to use widescreen, but Nintendo will support it.

Then, the questions got simpler. Miyamoto told an audience member his favorite Wii game was tennis. He said that the main difference between the Wii Twilight Princess and the GameCube version was the interface, which has to be different to support the Wii's controller.

Then the subject turned to Solid Snake's role in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. After commenting that it was a good question, Sakurai said he thought long and hard on how to fit Snake in, since he's usually armed with a gun. Sakurai said he doesn't want to incorporate real weapons in-game, but if the characters used rocket launchers or other explosives it might be funny. He also said Snake will use his infamous cardboard box in the game.

That's all I have for now.  Will update with more things later.

The Allengator

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