Friday, June 4, 2010

Wii ownership: one month in.

Almost a month. Twenty-four days, and I've gotten very little use out of it thus far. In my defense, 3D Dot Game Heroes and Red Dead Redemption happened.

There's a lot I haven't done with it, yet. I still haven't connected it to the interwebs (you need to buy a special adapter in order to plug a cable modem into the damn thing!), and after becoming more familiar with the conditions of the Virtual Console, I'm not sure I will.

This is a bit of a blow, to be sure, as that was one of my main reasons for wanting the console - the original Mario Bros, Super Mario 3, Super Mario World, Link To The Past, Donkey Kong Country, Mario 64 and the N64 Zelda titles were hugely attractive - but as it turns out, if you buy 'em off the Virtual Console they are locked to the Wii system you activated them on.

If my Wii ever bricks (the console has a remarkably low failure rate, but) I would have to re-purchase all those games. Which seems like a shitty deal. To be honest, I'm considering getting a PSP-3000, purchasing the Super Nintendo games I want in a used store and emulating them on the handheld. it still illegal (or immoral) if you own the cartridge? I should look into that.

The first order of business after hooking the thing up was trying out 2007 Game of Year contender Super Mario Galaxy. And... I'm not really thrilled with it.

I like it. I generally enjoy my time spent with it, but it fails to inspire the same level of excitement Mario 3, Mario World or Mario 64 did. The first time I laid hands on Super Mario 64 - this is not an exaggeration - I described it as a religious experience. Galaxy is everything the critics said it would be, but the delicious ingredients listed in reviews have failed to congeal into a satisfying meal, for me.

I feel like I might be losing my mind. I know I should love this game - aside from a few control niggles (which, according to all reviews, don't exist), I can point out nothing wrong with it - but it simply doesn't thrill me in the way that I'd hoped.

This is not a review, by the way - this is my reaction after fully completing the first two galaxies. Or... zones. Rooms. Spaceship rooms with six or so worlds each.

I'm not about to give up on Mario - the little plumber was my first virtual love - but in the meantime, let's focus on something more undeniably pleasant. Like this awesome Princess Rosalina cosplay, for example.

Impressive, no? The lady is a hardcore cosplayer. Check it out, here she is as Harry Potter.

Next I tried Muramasa: The Demon Blade, which has demanded much more of my time.

Muramasa may have been the single feather that tipped my internal scales towards Wii ownership. Last year I didn't really have any intention of getting a Wii, but I was so enamoured with the game I took a screenshot of it and turned it into the header for this very e-publication.

I only put a few hours into it when I first cracked the Wii, but it instantly became irrefutable evidence that the console's purchase was not ill-advised.

After finally bedding down Red Dead Redemption (for the time being), I tried to spend more time with Galaxy, but it is Muramasa that has ignited my imagination. Obtaining the Classic Controller was a good idea - it feels very much like playing a game with a Dualshock - and this game is incredible.

The production values are off the scales - perhaps simply because there are no other full disc release games that attempt to deliver high-quality 2D action (with one exception) - but it's the attention to detail, the animation, the (phenomenal) music, the unrivaled beauty of the universe presented that really holds my attention as much as the twitchy, fast-paced swordplay.

When I was a kid, I looked at Super Mario World and Sonic and thrilled at how beautiful games would, one day, be. Of course, one generation later things took a left-turn and 3D became the name of the game. Nowadays, if you want a 2D, side-scrolling platformer/action game, for the most part, you have to turn to smaller, independent developers on XBLA or PSN (or the 'net).

Only one company concerns itself with making the most gorgeous, lovingly rendered full-release 2D games you've ever seen, and it's called Vanillaware.

Dead Space: Extraction is the title I've spent the least amount of time with. I ran through the first chapter - didn't dislike it - but Galaxy, Red Dead Redemption and Muramasa were more insistent, in requiring my attention.

It's lovely to return to that world, and that is the single greatest point I can make in the game's favor. The graphics are fine (from what I've gathered, excellent for a Wii title), the gameplay is fine, and the narrative is a bit above-par. I suppose it's the nature of the rail-gun shooter - the complete lack of freedom - that turns me off.

I'll certainly return to it, but probably not before I've cracked the rest of my fledgling Wii library.

It pains me greatly that the PS3 is without a Tenchu title, and Shadow Assassins got above-par reviews. Word is, it's made by the original Tenchu team, though I do fear what waggle controls hold in store for me.

MadWorld was purchased mostly out of solidarity with Platinum Games, but given its stellar reviews I'm certainly willing to admit it may be an excellent title.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is still in its cello-seal, waiting to breathe free air. I expect I will leave it until the summer, when major releases are few and far between and I'll be prepared to invest a good forty hours into a single title.

Despite my somewhat tepid response to Galaxy, I have a huge amount of faith in Twilight Princess's ability to deliver the expected and the surprising. I don't know why I believe this, but I'm operating under the impression that once I fire that disc into my Wii it will be weeks before I take it out again.

* * *

And that's where I'm at with the Wii. Beyond Muramasa, it hasn't really proven itself a required piece of kit - although I admit, it is nice to set aside the more mature pursuits of my PS3 library and throw down with something a little simpler, a little more gamey.

It's nice to have options, is what it is.


  1. Chance - a few things. First of all, get your Wii hooked up to the Internet! You can download some sweet channels (even if you don't use them often) and it's worth it to be able to play WiiWare and VC games. It's true that your purchases are tied to your Wii unit, but I have to correct you on the bricking thing - if your Wii bricks, you don't lose everything. You just send it to Nintendo and when they fix or replace your Wii, they put your VC purchases on the new system. You can't transfer them to a new system yourself, but why would you? I'm confident that when the Wii's successor launches, there will be a way to transfer your purchases.

    On Galaxy: I wish you were loving it more, but some of my friends who have played through it have had similar reactions for a while. My only suggestion is that you keep with it. The levels and the scope get much more epic (it's worth playing through just for some of the later levels, though I have to admit that Galaxy 2 is out-doing the level design of Galaxy 1, somehow).

    Oh, and you'll enjoy Zelda, once you get to it. It's not the revelation that Ocarina was, or radically new like Wind Waker, but it's still a lot of fun. I recommend you rent Punch-Out!! and/or Metroid Prime 3, too - they're both pretty good. I'm going to go comment on another post right now and ask you a few questions.

  2. Scratch that. I'm going to e-mail you, so that you can take your time instead of adding to a comments section that I could potentially miss!