Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Premature Wii-jaculations

The disappointed press has its say again. This time the self-consciously oppositional Slate hates on Wii.

I'm down with the criticisms. Certainly it is a little painful to see the fawning coverage of the launch of these consoles. They are consumer products, after all, not the second coming.

Yet from the start of this Slate piece, I have to question the author's ability to offer fair criticism. "I'll admit it—I was in love with the Nintendo Wii long before we'd ever met," writes Erik Sofge. Yet when he gets a chance to meet-up in real life, like an internet dater after a flirtatious email build-up, reality lets him down.

I get that way too, sometimes. I build up high expectations and when they aren't met I feel very negative. Yet in these situations, the negativity is related to fantasies, not reality. It's a very human reaction. But it is a problem for critics, since unmet high expectations shouldn't count against something.

Still, Sofge's criticism has me worried. "The ugly truth is that the Wii's already-legendary motion-detection system doesn't work very well," he writes. Specifically, he has trouble aiming in-game crosshairs with the motion-detecting controls. Playing first-person shooters was one of the things I was most looking forward to with the Wii-mote. I knew the new Metroid for the Wii would have the same old lock-on feature of the Gamecube's Metroid Prime games. I worried: maybe the Wii-mote is not as accurate as had been suggested. This Slate piece seems to validate that fear.

Slate is running this as a pro/con sorta thing, so they also have a more positive review from Chris Suellentrop. This dude is glowing, even though he doesn't have exclusively great things to say about existing Wii titles like Wii Sports and the Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. It seems his excitement and positive feelings are pinned on how much he expects to love Wii games in the future. High expectations, as we have seen, have a way of not being met.

(Okay, no more cutesy Wii-related post titles for a while.)


MattG said...

worriable news indeed. I read a similarly less enthusiastic review about the use of the remote in the zelda game on gamespot. However, It apparently rules in Madden '07 where its made the esoteric button commands considerably more intuitive. hopefully this reflects early software glitches and not hardware inadequacies.

Jeff said...

I haven't played it yet, but Sarah played it at a friend's house while visiting NYC and she has now joined in my Wii-lust. This is extremely notable, because she has never expressed even a passing interest in video games before. Maybe it truly is the system that will get the non-gamers hooked. I tend to doubt it, personally. I think non-gamers may enjoy the novelty of it, but there are plenty of options available already for people who don't want to spend their time memorizing button combinations, and that hasn't done much to change the market.

I've been obsessively stalking the boards at Amazon.com, reading about people who are salivating to get their hands on one. I am not about to spend $500 for one on eBay, but I'll admit, I'm counting down the days until the market becomes saturated enough that I can go into any store and pick one up.

The one thing that fascinates me the most about this whole PS3/Wii excitement is the way that stores are taking advantage. Wiis are available at CompUSA and WalMart ... but only if you buy them in a bundle with 6 other products, which means buying 1 extra controller and 5 overpriced games. I understand that stores are out to make a buck, but it seems pretty shitty to me to tell customers that the only way to get the thing they want is to buy it along with a bunch of stuff they don't want. I can't really think of another industry that creates this kind of demand. I don't recall having to buy twelve doll outfits in order to get a Cabbage Patch Kid.