Wii insurance

Yet more Wii injuries abound:

“We noticed we were getting a number of middle-aged parents coming in having played for far too long on the Nintendo Wii that they had bought their children,” said British osteopath Martin Davies in a Telegraph news story.

He said Wii Sports, the game packed in with every console, was the most “dangerous.” Specifically, Davies noted most of the cases are from over-strenuous bouts of the tennis and boxing mini-games.

At this rate, I think some form of policy might be warranted. Bundle it with life insurance for a good deal.

Wii hacking

Johnny Chung Lee, a CS grad student at Carnegie Mellon University, has done some very cool things using the Wiimote and custom code running on a PC, including a multi-touch interface and a virtual-reality headset. However, the holy grail of Wii hacking is to run custom code on the Wii itself, and take full advantage of the system hardware. Last week, that goal came one step closer:

In the video, a man stands on stage at the 24th Chaos Communication Congress before a screen showing a projected image of Lego Star Wars on the Nintendo Wii. He seems nervous. “Some day we’ll have a nice Linux bootable DVD,” he tells the crowd as he awkwardly moves around the menus. Then the screen goes black, and a small bit of code—really just a moving cursor with coordinates—comes up on screen. “We can show you we do have code running; this is running in Wii mode, not GameCube mode,” the man says. “We do have access to all the hardware.” The crowd begins to applaud. It’s an initially unimpressive display, but if you know what you’re looking at, it’s a lightning bolt. Soon after the video went up, the word went out: the Wii has been hacked.

Here’s the video of the hack:

As Ars notes, whoever these guys are, they still haven’t released code yet to let others verify, but even if this is a hoax (unlikely) it stands to reason that someone else will achieve the same thing soon. Doing so means that people could write native games for the Wii, of course, but also let people run custom applications and who knows what else. Looking just at what a lone grad student has been able to come up with using only the Wiimote, it’s clear that the full creative potential of a fully-hacked Wii is far from realized. The original code name for the Wii, Nintendo Revolution, seems more and more fitting. Kudos to Nintendo for not getting in the way (so far).

a $1.3 billion raincheck

That’s what the Nintendo Wii shortage will cost Nintendo in lost opportunity sales this holiday season. As Engagdet notes, this is basically the rebuttal to the common refrain:

WiiGuy: The Wii rocks, Nintendo can’t produce enough!
H8r: They’re artificially limiting supply to drive up demand
WiiGuy: No they’re not
H8r: You’re a fanboi
WiiGuy: No you are!

Nintendo isn’t going to just walk away from the table, though. They just announced a raincheck program through GameStop to try and capture some of that revenue back:

These vouchers will guarantee you a system before January 29, but to get one, you’ll have to prepay for the system in full. Reggie noted there will be “tens of thousands” of these rain checks available, and that we could expect a press release from GameStop explaining the program in greater detail. The vouchers will be sold on December 20 and 21.

One other nugget of timely importance: this weekend there will be extra large shipments of Wiis to retailers. If you’re in the market for one, now’s the time to put your plan on finding a Wii into action!

How to find a Nintendo Wii

(I was tempted to title this post “Wii don’t need a Guitar Hero” but figured it was too off-topic. Besides, who even recognizes Tina Turner nowadays?)

Here’s your problem in a nutshell. You’ve been reading about the Wii (and suffering the puns) for about a year. You’ve played it at someone’s house, and you’re hooked – your kids love it, your parents love it, and the graphics aren’t that bad (and not really even the point). And you haven’t even dipped your toe into the wonderful nostalgia of the Virtual Console yet! So it’s decided. You want a Wii. Wii welcome you!

Now all you have to do is find one.

Don’t despair. True, the task seems positively Sisyphean: even though Nintendo is manufacturing 2 million Wiis a month, with 350,000 Wiis sold the week after thanksgiving alone, even the President of Nintendo of America couldn’t score one. The Wii is the hottest item on everyone’s wishlist this Christmas. So what chance do you have?

Two words: persistence, and vigilance.

First, scope out every retail venue that sells the Wii in your neighborhood. These Wiitailers have to be within a 15-20 minute drive of your home. The usual suspects: Target, Best Buy, Walmart, Toys R Us, Gamestop. There may be smaller fry in your area too – make a comprehensive list of every single possible outlet. Get their phone numbers and figure out the phone menu on each to get connected straight to the electronics/gaming desk. Write all that contact info down in one place for easy reference.

Next, visit each one. Talk to the staff behind the desk and get an idea of when their shipments usually come in. It will vary, though the big box retailers usually get them on Saturday night. You will hear qualifiers like “well, it’s hard to say exactly when…” but be persistent and get them to give you a rough idea, or at least when the last few shipments were so you can extrapolate. Usually the dudes at the desk are more than willing to help you score a Wii and will give you as much info as they can. Make a point of stopping by at night the day you predict a shipment to arrive, and chat up the staff to see if your hunch is right.

Third, keep an eye on the Sunday paper. A sure fire bet that a given Wiitailer has Wiis in stock that week is that they will advertise the Wii for Sunday. If you can get ahold of the sunday advertisement inserts for the retailers ahead of time, that’s even better – for example you might look for the Sunday paper at your local grocery store on late Saturday evening, or go hunting online at forums like Cheap Ass Gamer.

With all this info in hand, your strategy then is simply to try to anticipate which stores have the Wii and then make the rounds. Sunday morning, as soon as the stores open, go down your list and call every retailer, starting with the ones who have the Wii advertised in their Sunday circular. The conversation should be quick: “Hi any Nintendo Wiis in stock?” The answer will usually be no, the psychotic hard core dudes waiting in line since 4am probably beat you to it. So move on, and keep calling. However, once in a while you will hear the magic words: “Yes, we still have a couple in stock.” That’s when you drop the phone, jump in the car, and go. This might happen once every ten calls; and four out of five times in that case, by the time you get there they will be sold out. But it only takes one lucky roll of the dice.

This sounds like a lot of work, and it is. It took me six weeks to score my Wii last winter. But understand that there are millions more Wiis in the retail channel this year than back then, so your odds are actually substantially better of scoring a Wii this holiday season than pretty much at any time before. You just have to be vigilant, do your due diligence, and then be persistent. Follow this plan of action to the letter and you have a very good chance of finding your Wii by Christmas.

Or, just go for the Vii instead. Who can tell the difference?

The Force is Wii us

the Wiisabre is at last a reality. This isn’t some hack flash-based game, but the real thing:

LucasArts to Unleash the Force on the Wii in Spring 2008

Star Warsâ„¢: The Force Unleashedâ„¢ Coming to Nintendo’s Platform with Exclusive Duel Mode

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – Sept. 18, 2007 – LucasArts today revealed that Star Warsâ„¢: The Force Unleashedâ„¢ will come to the Wiiâ„¢ home videogame system from Nintendo next spring, offering owners the unique chance to live out their Jedi fantasies by wielding the Wii Remoteâ„¢ as a lightsaber while using the Nunchukâ„¢ controller to torment foes with their Forceâ„¢ powers.

The Force Unleashed casts players as Darth Vader’s “Secret Apprentice” and promises to unveil new revelations about the Star Wars galaxy. The game’s expansive story is set during the largely unexplored era between Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. In it, players will assist the iconic villain in his quest to rid the universe of Jedi – and face decisions that could change the course of their destiny.

The Wii version, in development by Krome Studios, will also add an exclusive duel mode in which players can compete head-to-head with their friends to determine the ultimate Jedi Master.

“The Wii is a great platform for The Force Unleashed, because the console’s motion-oriented controllers really bring the game to life,” said Jim Ward, President of LucasArts. “We’ve worked hard to make the Wii version of the game unique in order to truly let you unleash the Force.”

Oh man. Oh man. Oh man.