The Nintendo Wii, first impressions

April 2007

Aleksander Demko

This is a short write up on the Nintendo Wii, in particular its control scheme and where I think this system can go. I've had the system for almost two months now, played a variety of games (including finishing Twilight Princess) and based on my DS ownership, I think many people have the wrong idea on where the Wii is headed.

Many naysayers forget that when the DS was launched, its stylus+touch screen was viewed as a fad and to be gimmicky, much like I'm sure the mouse was when it was introduced to the IBM PC in the eighties. However, time has proven in both cases that this new interface, when used correctly and decisively in games, can have a huge impact on game play as well as open up new genres of games to a platform.

I think this will be the same with the Wii, in particular, the wiimote with its pointer capabilities, will basically bring the power of the mouse/stylus to the living room.

The pointer will allow for mouse-centric games to come to the Wii, finally bringing PC-style games to the console. These include:

This strategy is already evident in the Wii's web browser, easily the best execution of bringing in a web browser to the living room. To be able to surf the web so naturally, and only with one hand makes all other non-mouse (in particular, game pad) based interfaces look arcane by comparison. Ditto for the Wii photo channel/viewer.

So although the wow factor right now is on the motion control (after all, four players swinging virtual rackets makes for great video), overtime, I believe judicial use of motion control with clever (and appropriate) use of the pointer coupled with convention analog stick controls is the future of Wii games. As with the DS though, there will be a learning period for developers and users as they learn what works and what doesn't.

This all doesn't mean that Nintendo still can't shoot itself in the foot. Nintendo still needs to show that it can do on-line gaming, work with 3rd parties and allow (and encourage) mature games on its traditionally kiddie platform. That, and I still think Wii Shop points should come free with ever game you purchase, dammit. 500 points ($10CAN after taxes) for 20 year old games is just silly.