I don't get a lot of time for gaming, but over the past few days I've taken the opportunity to spend some quality hands-on time with my Nintendo Wii console and it's easy to see why it's such a popular Holiday gift.
The Wii doesn't win any awards for power or performance, and the graphics compared to a PS3 or Xbox 360 are, well, primitive, but when it comes to fun, the Wii is the outright winner. I think that there are three aspects of the Wii that gives it the winning edge.
The first is that it's a social gaming platform. Playing a Wii with family or a group of friends is a fantastic social event where you're not just having fun gaming, you're having fun being together. Sure, you get cooperative play at a much larger scale by hosting a LAN party, but with a Wii you're all playing together, in close proximity, and all looking at the same screen.
The second element that makes the Wii different is the Wii Remote and nunchuk. When I first saw this I was skeptical to say the least - not only does the setup look complicated, but I was convinced that it would be unreliable, after all, when you're relying on an IR signal and Bluetooth, that offers a lot of scope for things to go wrong and for a complicated setup process along the lines of a NASA moon shot. But Nintendo have taken care of things and the Wii is simple to set up, simple to use and rock-solid reliable. The gap between deciding that I want to play and actually playing can be as little as a minute, so you can sneak in some quick gaming.
Finally, the games are awesome and offer great variety. At the moment I'm in a "blast off the zombies heads" Resident Evil 4 and "road rage" Excite Trucks phase (I try to avoid driving for an hour or so after playing that game), but the kids have broader tastes that I do and can go through two or three games in an hour's gaming. The Wii Remote allows you to interact with games in a way that's not possible with any other console, and this is the strength of the console. Rather than relying on high quality graphics, the game uses the intuitive controls to make the games immersive.
Also, the Wii is unique in coming with a game (Wii Sports), and this is a pretty good game that most people who I've come across seem to like. Again, when I saw it initially I had that "yeah, riiiiight" reaction to it based on the graphics and the simplistic look of it, but a few minutes of playing boxing and I was hooked. Yeah, sure, they're pretty mindless on the face of it and not very taxing, but they're addictive in the way that Tetris is. The games are also a good way to become familiar with the unique input system. I even had a lot of fun creating my very own Wii Mii avatar, which looks disturbingly authentic.
Ahh well, I'm off to blast a few zombies ...
Anyone else been getting in some gaming on your favorite console? If so, what games have you been playing and on what console?