Nintendo Wii: First Impressions

by J.D. Roth

I’ve been a PC gamer for nearly thirty years. (I started as a young boy on an Apple II.) Recently I’ve grown away from gaming (except for World of Warcraft). I owned a Nintendo Gamecube for a while, but traded it on craigslist for a digital camera. But ever since I first heard reports about the Nintendo Wii last May, I’ve coveted one. I saved some money explicitly to purchase a system on the day it was released.

Last Saturday, after our college reunion, I drove to the Oregon City Fred Meyer to buy a Wii at midnight. I didn’t get one. I was 77th in line and the store only had 75 units. So I got out of bed on Sunday morning at 4:30 to stand in line at the Oak Grove Fred Meyer. This time I was 9th — I got one.

I only played for a few hours yesterday, but that was enough for me to fall in love with the Wii. I think Kris even liked it. Here are the four games I own and my initial impression of each:

So far, the Nintendo Wii is a lot of fun, especially Wii Sports. Here’s a system that doesn’t emphasize graphics or technology or shooting and killing. It emphasizes fun. The wireless controllers look like remote controls and contain built-in motion sensors. This opens up an entire new world for gameplay. I’m eager to see how other games take advantage of this unique control system.

Nintendo is marketing the Wii as a gaming system for people who don’t play games, and I think they’re onto something. Kris has never been much of a gamer, but she agreed to play a round of tennis with me yesterday. She beat me, and had fun doing it. Later she beat me at boxing (which kind of bruised my ego). Later still, she killed me at bowling — she scored 180 and I only scored 88. Yikes! (Tonight, just before I posted this entry, I beat her at baseball twice in a row, so I’m not completely inept.)

One final note is that playing a game on the Wii requires a lot more activity than playing a game on another system. For Wii Sports, you need a clear space in front of the television so that you have freedom to move around, to swing your controller. (I’m not sure we’re going to have enough room for four people to play doubles tennis.) A few rounds of boxing is actually enough to get my heart rate up. This might be the first videogame system that helps kids lose weight instead of gain it.

Updated: 20 November 2006

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