Monday, 4 July 2011

Wawa Wii Wa


Roll the drums, please, as our household welcomes yet another gaming platform inside: After the recent introduction of Android we are now the proud owners of a Nintendo Wii. Old in the tooth, I know, but the admission price was so low at Big W this weekend we couldn’t resist it ($138 for the console package, accessories and Mario Kart game + $57 for a second Wii remote to allow two player gaming + $7 for a used copy of Wii Sports = $202).
The official excuse was us wanting a gaming platform the toddler of the house can play with. We do have a PS3 that he’s exposed to, but the games there tend to be more adult oriented than kiddie ones. His Android tablet is nice and fun for our in-house Angry Bird fan, but a Wii allows us all to play together. Sure, the PlayStation 3 has its own Move kit, but there can be no doubt the orientation of Wii games suits children much better. There can also be no doubt as to the Sony's excessive cost, where kitting two players costs as much as the Wii.
The Wii could also work for us adults. The best video gaming fun I tend to experience comes from social multiplayer gaming, and the Wii is better oriented there. No, I am not going to try playing Call of Duty on the Wii; that’s exactly where the PS3 excels. But for innocent fun, the Wii’s nicer.
We are looking forward to exploring the cheap fun games the Wii is famous for, both by buying more used titles and by renting.

The first thing I noticed upon connecting the Wii to our home theater setup was the quality of presentation. By now all of our source components are either native high definition or upscaled standard definition material (e.g., the DVD player upscales the picture to 1080p). The Wii, however, takes us back in time with its composite only connector and standard definition quality: its picture just looks B-A-D.
Our receiver lends a hand in de-interlacing the Wii’s picture and pushing the converted result down an HDMI connection, but it will not upscale the picture. Which leaves it looking horrible.
The presentation’s impact was immediately noticeable when trying out Mario Kart. We have a karting game for the PS3, Modnation Racing, that’s got quite a bombastic presentation. Mario, in comparison, looks pale and miserable. However, Mario is offers more enjoyable silly multiplayer action and proved vastly more accessible to our toddler.
So there you go. I can still enjoy a good game despite the awful presentation. However, as I already said, games where the presentation is the key will definitely continue to be acquired for the PS3 platform.

The second thing I noticed was the speed with which our toddler got tired of playing Mario and Wii Sports. The lack of appreciation on display, both here in with the new bicycle we got him last week (his second pair) is amazing: here is a console I would have committed genocide for as a child, yet our distinguished toddler takes it for granted – and happily moves back to play with regular favorites, like his paper planes.
I take two lessons there:
  1. Our child, like most children today, is over stimulated. On the positive side, I suspect he is significantly smarter than what I was at his age.
  2. A price tag does not make a toy great.

Image by Ramen Junkie, Creative Commons license

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