Embarrassing admission: I can not ride a bike. Unless of course it has training wheels, then I'm sweet. More to the point, the saying "Like riding a bike," means nothing (other than of course, humiliation) for me. More apt would be something along the lines of, "Like playing Super Mario Bros. (or any early 90s 2D platformer)." Sure it doesn't flow as well, but its implications are essentially the same.
This weekend I spent some time with a Wii at my parents' place. It wasn't entirely horrible. When I think about it, I don't think I have ever discussed my feelings about the Wii with you all. In detail at least. To be frank, I am deeply troubled that this console is leading the market and the direction of the industry at large. Why? I don't have a huge problem with motion control. I am yet to see it implemented to great effect, but that is not why I object to the Gamecube Plus. I detest the Wii because it is the foremost, and unrivalled platform for shovelware. That, and almost any game worth owning on the system has been released on the Gamecube minus a few features. Even then, if it was not on the Gamecube, it would have been released on some other Nintendo console in some way, shape or form.
Case and point: New Super Mario Bros Wii. New Super Mario Bros Wii is startlingly similar to New Super Mario Bros released on the Nintendo DS, both in terms of gameplay and visual presentation. This isn't a game-breaker by any means, but the sense of deja-va is palpable. At times it even registers as a distraction. I swear that I had played through some of these levels before. I'd stop dead still in the midst of the game's 2D planes, and my mind would be cast back in time a few years. I got over it eventually, but I couldn't help but think that the iconic plumber hadn't come that far since the game's portable predecessor, released not even 4 years ago. Since Super Maio World even (in this iteration at least). As a matter of fact, I'd recommend Wii owners save some money and download Super Mario World for the Virtual Console instead.
I also spent some time with Mario & Sonic at Winter Olympic Games and I was surprised to find that there was actually some fun to be had. Simplistic, shallow fun, but fun all the same. As with the generalisation mentioned previously, the motion controls are functional but they did not allow for me to fully engage in the activities I was supposedly replicating. Holding a Wiimote to my chest and bobbing from left to right is a poor emulation of Skeleton, it is however as close as I am prepared to get to the real-life sport. What forced me care about what was going on was the competition, and the spectator. My fiance picked up the fundamentals very quickly, and before long she was almost lapping me in Speed Skating. My Mum was the lone spectator, and she mocked any demonstrations of n00bery with her infectious cackle. After a few rounds of Curling, with my hands mimicking the most personal of rituals and two loved ones laughing to the point of tears; I realised the true power of this device. Motion controls, in all of their ridiculousness, allow everyone in close proximity of the console to engage with games due to either the action on screen, or the displays of vicacity from those people actually playing.
I am still yet to play the most acclaimed games on the Wii (specifically: Super Mario Galaxy and its sequel), but my cynicism will not allow me to be anything but a Weekend Warrior when it comes to Ninty's foray into motion-contolled gaming.
What are your thoughts on the Wii? What did you play this weekend?