Friday, 1 December 2006

Wii Eye

So, we got our grubby little hands on a Wii yesterday, and I have to admit that I'm very impressed.

Of course, I'm not impressed with the raw horsepower (as Microsoft and Sony soundly thrash the Wii in that department). Instead, I'm more impressed with the overall product: it's sleek, elegant, well presented, and a joy to behold.

Now, I'm not going to bore you with everything you've already read about the Wii (yes, the controller is cool, the console is really small, and there is a ton of potential to be exploited), but I will bore you with details -- details that give this console that little extra something the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 just don't have.

The blue light. Lots of people have talked about it, but you don't actually notice that darn thing. That's because it's always off, unless you insert or remove a disc. It's a very small, yet useful feature. Oh, and it makes friends go "ooh!"

Rumble on menu items. It's such a small thing to add, since all menu items blow up and shine when your pointer is over them, but there's a small rumble that occurs when you mouse-over a menu item. When I first heard about this feature I scoffed at it, thinking it wasn't important, but now I realize that the feedback actually helps make navigation with the Wii remote easier than it already is.

Everything is automatic. Some people have complained that you need to do some configuration with the Wii in order to use it properly. In my case, though, I didn't need to set anything up: I just plugged everything in, turned the system on, and started to play Zelda. "It just works" is a great motto.

Small is the new black. When I saw images of the Wii sensor bar, I almost choked. The darn thing looked humongous in those images. But, now that I've actually held it in the hands, I realize that the sensor bar is a teeny-tiny little thing. In fact, it's smaller than the bezel on the 15 inch monitor I'm writing this article on. It's small enough that it will fit on top of any television set, even those nifty LCD and Plasma displays.

This thing is beautiful. I'm serious; the Wii is really nice to look at. Sure, it doesn't have that "futuristic shine" but it doesn't need it. The Wii is small, white, and can fit anywhere in any entertainment setup.

Weak rumble, strong fun. I never realized how much a strong rumble motor sucked until I played The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, and then picked up my Xbox controller and played a game of Halo 2. The difference was staggering: after playing with the Wii's remote, I found myself having difficulty playing Halo 2, because of the strength of the motor in the Xbox controller. Quite honestly, calling the motor in the Wii remote "weak" isn't fair, instead it should be labeled "strong enough."

The speaker in the remote. This isn't just a "oh, neat" kind of thing: the speaker in the Wii remote actually helps immerse you in the game you're playing. Sure, the sound quality isn't on par with your uber sound system, but it's "just enough" to make you think you're actually pulling that slingshot back, or reeling in that fish.

It's quiet, too quiet. The Wii is a quiet thing. Next to the Playstation 3 or Xbox 360, it's downright mute. Yes, you may hear the drive spin when the game loads, but that's about the only thing that console ever makes its presence known.

Overall, the Wii has a lot of polish. OK, maybe the exterior isn't polished to a mirror finish, but the whole package is presented in such a fantastic way that you feel as if this is the Lexus of the game consoles. Sure, the Playstation 3 may be the Ferrari of this console generation, but it's just not as elegant of a ride as its luxury counterpart.

I tip my hat to you, Nintendo. Kudos. You've done extremely well.