Wii

Not one to be swayed by popular opinion alone I nevertheless find myself sharing one here; namely that this thing is rather exciting. And I want one. Now anyone who knows me will know that I’m a pretty avid gamer. Anyone who knows me well also knows that I stick almost exclusively to my PC for my gaming needs. My complete past history of console ownership started and ended with the Sega Genesis many years ago. In hindsight I probably would’ve had more fun with an NES, but the Genesis was the new thing at the time… and I digress.

I don’t mean to imply that no other console has ever provided any interest before or since then, but rather that I’ve found the recent generations of machines all ultimately uninspiring. The only recent console I’ve really taken more than a passing interest in was the Xbox, and that was mostly due to Microsoft’s hijacking of Halo (which was set to be an amazing PC game) and making it an Xbox exclusive (yes, they released a pc port eventually, albeit one with awful graphics performance and worse mouse lag). A few minutes playing a shooter with a couple buttons and a d-pad was more than enough for me.

So personally the Xbox has been about the most interesting thing to come out of the console world since the the days of the NES and such classics as Metroid and Excite Bike. Fortunately it looks like that’s all soon to change. Nintendo’s Wii (née Revolution) is the first non-PC gaming platform I’ve recently been excited about.

Now it’s undeniable that the Wii lacks the same level of multi-core processing and industrial strength GPU power as the X360 or PS3. More than making up for that however are the player interface, gameplay and style displayed so far. It’s awesome that Nintendo appears to have recognized the importance of the interface with which we play games. We’re long past the point of having adequate graphics and sound for games to be entertaining. Output-wise we’re pretty much golden, there’s plenty of impressive things going on there. One of the biggest things we need now is this new direction and innovation on the input side of things.

It doesn’t seem entirely coincidental that the most obvious classic example of this kind of development goes back to Nintendo: the reason Duck Hunt on the NES is still a lot of fun? It was(is) all about the light gun. You weren’t using a d-pad to move a crosshair around the screen and pressing a button to shoot. You had a gun in your hand, you pointed, you pulled the trigger, and it worked. The low res graphics and scratchy sound didn’t matter are more than acceptable when accompanied by awesome gameplay.

The Wii appears set to translate that kind of intuitive interface into a more general form: positional and rotational input for any game, any time. The most important thing here is that this capability will be standard so all developers will be able to design for and take advantage of it right out with the box, right from the get go. There are a ton of great potential applications for this right off the top of my head, and surely many more nobody has even conceived of yet. Rather than start listing them though, I’ll encourage you to take a look at this:

Done? Now tell me you aren’t excited too.

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