Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Wii Out of the Box Impressions

My Wii arrived today. My order was shipped in three packages -- today, I got the box with the console and the extra remote. So today, I spent all of my free time doing everything that you can do with a Wii right out of the box, nothing else required.

The first thing, of course, is to appreciate the box. A minor work of art in and of itself -- eschewing the self-congratulatory text and screenshots that adorn most game console boxes, the Wii is housed in a box decorated with simple, comfortable images: the console itself, regal in its stand, with a remote standing nearby; a disembodied hand clutching the remote purposefully; and everywhere, the word that seemed so peculiar, so alien just one year ago, "Wii".

Open the flap and -- surprise! Instead of bags of cables and components scrunched in at random in a styrofoam mold, we find that the entertainment system has been neatly decomposed and placed into two cardboard "drawers" that remove from the box so smoothly that you'd think they'd intended the user to retain it for use as a travel case. The system's instructions -- both for the hardware and the preloaded software -- are bound in beautiful, full-color manuals, the same quality as the fall catalogue that Nintendo published in 2006.

Installation is simple, but I'm slightly disappointed to find there's no compatibility with Gamecube power or video cables. It's only a few minutes before I'm entering system settings, and then I come to the Channel selection menu for the first time.

It was an afternoon of quiet discovery. I slowly molded this virgin system to suit my needs. I had read enough about what the system could do to know where to poke it to get it to do some cool stuff. I was online in a snap. I installed the Internet and Everybody Votes channels. Homestar Runner looked great on my TV. I made my first Mii, a simple avatar that looks a bit like me.

Only then did I boot up Wii Sports.

Tennis was an instant favorite. It's plain to see why that was the game that was picked for the contest to see who would be the first person to play the Wii. The immersion is immediate and perfect. Even knowing that my movements aren't being followed, that my trajectory has more to do with the timing of my swing than anything else, I can't resist the charm of swinging like my life depended on it.

Bowling is good. Golf is good, even if it's disappointing that there's only nine holes to it. Boxing is good, solid, cathartic fun. Baseball's not bad, but I'd like an option for a full nine-inning game.

I have a friend in Great Britain who owns a Wii. We traded Wii Numbers, and I returned from work to find that he'd sent me three new Miis to play with and a number of pictures he'd played around with in the Photo Channel.

I was tempted -- so very tempted! -- to buy some more points for myself and go on a virtual console shopping spree. I suspect I'm going to lose a lot of money to the magic of armchair game shopping.

It looks like the majority of my games come tomorrow. Wario Ware, Cooking Mama, and Big Brain Academy. All games that I'm already familiar with. It's hard to believe that it won't be long before I get to see how the Wii has treated them.


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