Wiivisions

(the silly post title parade continues)

Hardware revisions for the Wii are planned to roll out fairly soon:

multicolored WiiThe obvious things that Nintendo would do to make the Wii more attractive are add new colors, increase its internal flash memory, include rechargeable batteries for Wii Remotes and component cables. There isn’t much merit to making the console any slimmer or lighter, and high definition support isn’t likely to happen.

The Wii is attaining mass-market appeal, much like the iPod. It may only be a matter of time before Nintendo adopts Apple’s hardware redesign strategy.

Note that DVD support is already confirmed for the end of the present year, though probably at a slight price premium. That will certainly make things more convenient but it’s hardly a must-have feature. Unlike, say, the retro-themed Wii:

retro Wii

yum. The last game console I actually ever owned was in fact the original Nintendo. Alas, the above mod is just fan art, but it’s seriously cool enough that Nintendo better take notice.

mod my Wii for DVD

a mod chip for DVD playback on the Wii? I’ll believe it when I see it. Ars is similarly skeptical. Though it does lend itself to yet another childish post title.

BTW the Wii is everything I expected it to be. From my 4 year old (almost 5) to my inlaws, everyone can play games on this thing and have a blast. Even a jaded 15year old PS2 jockey I knew had a blast playing Wii Tennis with me. And you should see the ladies take out their frustrations on their husbands on Wii Boxing! I can’t believe how this simple, clean box has made videogames fun again. And you don’t need thumb extensions and finger grafts to play.

Wii Play

I picked the Wii Play title up from Walmart this morning, and gave it a whirl with the 4yr old this evening. The game is a package of 9 mini games on one disc, plus one extra Wiimote controller, for $50. This means you’re essentially getting a game for $10, and given the simplistic nature of the games on the disc I think it’s a pretty good value (though Ars Technica was not impressed; perhaps the author doesn’t have kids?).

IN any case, Nintendo knows what it’s doing. Shigeru Miyamoto, the inventor of Mario and Donkey Kong, lends some insight into the target audience. In a nutshell – moms: Continue reading “Wii Play”

Wii at last!

I noticed the sunday paper had Wii advertisements in the Target and Toys R Us flyers, so on a hunch I called. Target: sold out within five minutes after opening, sorry sir. Sigh. Toys R Us: Yes sir, we have them in stock. Me: what? really? How many? TRU: Plenty, sir. I leave immediately. When I get there, it’s a ghost town – no cars in the lot, no crowds in the store. I go to the game section and they have a pile there. I restrain myself and just pick up the console unit alone, no extra wiimotes or other fluff; I’m in a kind of daze.

And now I am home and my 4 year old is eying the box. Not gonna be blogging much today 🙂

UPDATE: And just like that, I am dismissed. Guess I have time for blogging after all. I really should pick up another Wiimote later, heh.

rationalizing the inevitable

I still haven’t found a Wii on the shelves, but the day I see one, I will buy it then and there. So it’s not like I need to justify the decision to buy one. However, rationalizations are another matter entirely 🙂 A few days ago, Shamus pointed to someone using the Wii for weight loss; now comes word that video games improve visual acuity by 20%:

Video games that contain high levels of action can actually improve your vision, claim researchers at the University of Rochester. Their findings, which will appear in the journal Psychological Science, show that people who played action video games for a few hours a day over the course of a month improved by about 20 percent in their ability to identify letters presented in clutter—a visual acuity test similar to ones used in regular ophthalmology clinics.

“Action video game play changes the way our brains process visual information,” says Daphne Bavelier, professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester. “After just 30 hours, players showed a substantial increase in the spatial resolution of their vision, meaning they could see figures like those on an eye chart more clearly, even when other symbols crowded in.”

The paper isn’t on PubMed yet, though I did find some other relevant, entertaining and informative abstracts.

Given that my wife and I both are severely vision-impaired, I am seriously interested in any beneficial effects (however negligible) I can arrange upon my daughter’s vision. Of course, keeping her running around and gesticulating wildly while remaining tethered to a specific part of the house is also a big appeal 🙂

no Wii

Sunday was supposed to be a big Wii day. Dean got one. I went to two best buys, a target, two walmarts, and two game stops. No wii for mee… sigh.

Ars has a couple of reports from the field. One is your standard “I just showed up on a lark and they shoved it into my hands” blah blah blah. The other I think reflects reality a bit better. I can’t even express the frustration, verging on sour grapes. I’m not going to make any effort anymore.

Incidentally, Circuit City has acted dishonorably indeed. I won’t be buying a Wii from them, or anything else, ever again.

PS3 vs Wii

God help me, I’m turning into Sharikou! But Razib links to a YouTube video that makes the comparison between the PS3 and the Wii in a visual manner that is not exactly suited to this kawaii-safe blog of mine. Best line: “I’m cheap and fun!” Oh yes, indeed.

the tragedy of choice

It turns out that Playstation 3 console supply problems started easing before Christmas, enough that pretty much anyone that really wanted one could have gotten one without much pain. Now that you can actually find one, though, should you actually buy one? The thing still represents a sizable investment, yet offers little immediate return, especially for family game play.

Oddly, there are reports from industry analysts that suggest that the console drought will stretch well into next year, but that doesn’t agree with the experiences of gamers on the ground. For example, in comments to this piece on the drought, someone comments, “I walked into a gamestop at a local mall and they had a bunch of PS3’s just sitting there.”

I’ll test the waters on Dec 31st, which is the next date that ps3seeker.com/wii says that local retailers will have Wii consoles. But given that the Wii is cheaper, significantly more fun and family friendly, and truly innovative, I think that it’s more likely that any console drought will be limited to Wii and PS3’s will be plentiful after New Year’s.

UPDATE: PS3 officially a dud?

As soon as people realized that you couldn’t make a profit with PS3s on eBay, they started returning them to the retail stores. It wasn’t rare to walk into a Circuit City or Best Buy the week before Christmas and find 3 or 4 returned Playstation 3s.

In fact, when GamingMoments returned its PS3 to Circuit City after failing to sell it on eBay, the employees told us that more and more people were starting to do this, confirming a trend.

However, even with a surge of Wii supply on December 17th, Nintendo Wii continues to be totally unavailable. No returns at the stores. You can’t get one on eBay for less than $450, almost 2x retail.

I’ve got nothing against the PS3 – you won’t see me go all Sharikou on you and proclaim “SONY BK in 3 Quarters” or anything. It’s just frustrating to some extent that the high-end, Bluray-equipped, godlike trancendent machine is sitting on shelves, while what amounts to nothing more than a souped up Gamecube with a cool controller is impossible to find.

Speaking of sharikou, even he’s on board the Wii wagon. As are the linux geeks.