Wii Thoughts

So I’ve been in Peterborough for three days now – every night has been in the Wii. The short verdict is it’s brilliant.

At first I felt a little bit self conscious waving the controller around but that quickly disappears. The simple graphics don’t matter – it’s just not important. The games are all about fun and having an HD output doesn’t make any difference to the Wii. Four player tennis was just great. The bowling actually feels very realistic. Although you don’t actually have to bowl the ball and get down on bended knee it just didn’t feel right without doing it. At first I felt the games were all a bit arcadey but there is some depth there with certain features not explained allowing you to find out these through experimentation and further play.

We also played some Super Monkey Ball. The party games included were a bit hit and miss but some were hilarious. You do need quite a bit of room for anything more than one person though. I managed to skelp the wall a couple of times (left a bit of a dent) and one of Shakeel’s models took a bit of a bashing and was moved before any permanent damage was inflicted. You just need to make sure that you’ve got plenty room to swing. Hopefully I’ll get some photo’s online over the weekend – some are hilarious.

Like the DS Nintendo have an absolute winner with the Wii. They’ve made something different that the competition just doesn’t offer. This has been the most fun in years that I’ve had on a console and whats key is that the console isn’t just for gamers – anyone can pick up the remote and play. Will I be getting one – maybe. Firstly in Glasgow I hardly do any real world multiplayer – it’s all online so some of the fun would be lost. Secondly I’ve said maybe as I have a habit of backtracking on not getting gadgets so this gives me a bit of leeway. However I’ve no doubt that if you’ve got kids or there are two or more (potential) gamers in your household then the Wii is a must buy console, certainly ahead of a 360 or PS3 in the purchase list. Enough of this – time for some baseball…batter up!

Nintendo DS Lite

Last year when Sony and Nintendo brought our new handhelds I plumped for the PSP. The system had games I wanted to play (Wipeout Pure, Ridge Racer and in the future Pro Evo and GTA), looked to have great multimedia potential and the hardware looked great. In particular the hardware design in comparison to the DS was night and day. The DS was like a relic from the 90’s – clumsy, flip screen and the touch screen concept just didn’t click with me. No media playing ability either – just games.

Last week I picked up a DS Lite. I had an itch to play something fresh and new, Shakeel was raving about it and at just £99 it sounded a bargain. After a week of use I can only say I wish I had bought a DS sooner although in retrospect the Lite is such a better design/platform it’s a blessing in disguise that I only got one now.

DS Lite

I picked up a white one as I was warned the black one was a grease and fingerprint magnet. Even with the white you can still see the marks. However it looks great – very Apple esque and smaller/neater than the original. More importantly the screen brightness has been much improved and is as good if not better than the PSP. However this was bought for one reason – the games. It also shows that Nintendo still understand the games market better than anyone else.

Mario Kart DS is sublime on the DS. So many tracks that are known and loved with some originals thrown in as well. It’s also the best Mario Kart I’ve played since the SNES original – a real credit to the developers. The online mode is amazing – select from continental, worldwide or friends list to play online with up to three others. Every game so far has been lag free and when you think of who you may be playing with round the world on such a small hand held…fantastic achievement by Nintendo.

Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training highlights the unique nature of DS games. Using the touch pad or your voice you play a series of small mind games daily that help stimulate and work the brain. I’m loving this right now and while the actual science behind it maybe questionable it’s so enjoyable that I want to play it each day. This games also highlights one other aspect – how Nintendo get people to play that aren’t your typical gamers. My mother is loving this more than me – I’ve created a game addict. I may have to purchase another DS so I can get a shot.

There are plenty of others games available but these two alone have shown what a great platform this is. In some ways it’s a shame that Nintendo didn’t launch with the DS Lite against the PSP. They would have captured even more sales although it is trouncing the PSP at the moment so it’s not that big a deal. I do wonder about Nintendo designers though. Compare American SNES with Japanese/Euro SNES. There has been so many other bad examples through their history although the Wii doesn’t look like being one of them.

Back to the DS Lite – it’s great fun…and that’s really what games should be about, no? Highly recommended to everyone, not just hardcore gamers.

PSP Games

Having great hardware is all well and good but you need great games as well. You only need to look at the Gamecube (stunning hardware spoiled by having a few great games) to see what I mean. At launch of a new platform there is always a wide mixture of good and bad games, usually down to time pressures and lack of familiarity with the new platform. That being said the PSP has a couple of cracking games out from day one with some more to follow soon.

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