I played a Nintendo Wii for the first time on Christmas Eve when I helped set up my nephew’s present. Pretty much everything I’ve heard about the Wii was true.

The defining characteristic of the Wii, the control, is amazing. It really draws you into the games. It tricks you into using your whole body, as if you’re really taking over your avatar. Most games seemed easier to play standing up, and playing in a very large and open room seemed to be a necessity. Pairing up the remote with the Nunchuk made it even better as both hands got in on the action.  Most of the games I played didn’t support it, but it’s great in the games that do use it.

Because of the controls Wii Sports is a blast.  Tennis was great, and wiped me out after just a few games.  Bowling seemed to really require the same skills it takes to properly launch a bowling ball, except maybe the strength.  Unfortunately they really blew it with golf.  And they were so close!  The fatal flaw of the Wii Sports Golf game is the fact that you have no real club selection.  This makes the game pretty much unplayable.

The first thing that struck me about the Wii as we pulled it out of the box was the size of the console itself.  It’s tiny.  I would guess it’s less than a quarter of the size of the PS3, and an ever smaller fraction of the PS3’s weight.  Then I noticed the cables it comes with – Composite video.  You won’t need an HDMI port to connect a Wii, and the reason becomes clear as soon as you pop in the first game.  The tiny size of the console become pretty clear too – there ain’t much going on in there.

It seems the engineers at Nintendo came up with a great idea – a revolutionary idea – for controling video games, and they stopped right there and went to market.  The graphics just aren’t current generation console graphics.  PS2 graphics seem much better to me. The overall game design from the half dozen games I saw was terrible.  And the interface design is awful.

When you pop a game in the system does not recognize it, or least it does not respond to it.  You have press Home on the remote, then confirm that you want to go home, then wait for a very strange menu to load, then select the Disc, and the game starts loading.  Then you have to confirm that you have the wrist strap on (and sometime you have to separately confirm that you have the rubber jacket on the controller), Then either Press A or A and B for no apparent reason, and you’re in the game.

At that point you’re only a minute or two away from playing the game. Shaun White Snowboarding was particularly annoying as it constantly makes you click on things for no reason.  “You have an email!”  I really don’t care, I just want to play the game.  But you can’t until you’ve read the email.  “You have mementos!” Whatever, can I play now? No, you have to look at some pictures first. And there’s the incredibly annoying character selection thing it forces you through. Are you freaking kidding me?  Wanna do something really fun? Try explaining this whole retarded dance to a 6 year old that just wants to play the game.

In short the Wii controls rock, Wii Sports is easily a party on its own, but overall the console is just a toy.  PS3 and X-box bring serious processing power, super slick graphics, and great titles.  If you’re not into the sports games the Wii seems to have little to offer.  Overall I expect most adult gamers should be very disappointed with the Wii.  But still if I found one cheap enough I think I’d pick it up.  The controls are that good.  It lacks the power and versitility of a real console, but it’s remarkably good at what little it does.

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