i Want Wii Want Wii Want Wii Want Wii Want Wii Want Wii

[Originally posted on 1Up.com]

During the last year or so it has become more and more obvious that I am ready for the Nintendo Wii, I'd like to present three pieces of evidence to the case.

Exhibit A: Apathy for established play methods

In the mid 80's I was introduced to the gamepad after having played games in the arcades with a joystick along with a couple of buttons, the D-pad seemed streamlined and provided a higher level of control as it was not as easy to accidentally navigate in the wrong direction, and it also provided additional "buttons" of sorts for games that only used the left-right directions for navigation.

This was fine for a while but got old and too common-place after a few years, I switched my primary gaming system from being the NES to the PC. As the mouse-keyboard combination became more and more refined, this seemed like a more superior control method, and thus point-n-click adventure games, FPS:s and (Real-Time\)Strategy games became the games de jour.

Meanwhile the gamepad became more and more developed, its button count doubled by several degrees and analog sticks where added until it became something that started resembling a warped keyboard.

In the late 90's I tired of pc-gaming and took a two-year Sabbath from gaming all together (well, I'll admit to the occasional relapse session of StarCraft or GTA)...

Then I was given a GameCube as compensation for an especially long crunch-time at work, my dying gaming-flame was re-kindled and I was truly exited by games and the prospect of playing games in (to me) new ways.

Two of my more memorable game experiences with the Cube where the release-title Luigi's Mansion and Star Fox Adventures which was another early title on the system. Neither game was especially critically acclaimed, and if I played them today I would not have been especially impressed, but back then it was all new and I loved that feeling.

I bought my PS2 as late as last December, and thus have a huge pile of games that I had previously not played. Devil May Cry 1 2 & 3, Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, Metal Gear Solid 2 & 3, Disgea, Mark of Kri, Gitaroo Man, Katamari Damacy, Black, Tomb Raider Legends, Hitman: Blood Money to name but a few. With all these (supposedly) great games, I still very seldom feel like playing any of them, because I feel like I've played most of them before in one form or another (Ok, maybe not Katamari).

Today many of us are so jaded, we've seen it all before and there isn't much that truly, TRUELY, excites us. I want to be exited by games like Twilight Princess, Okami and Gears of War, but an uneasy feeling deep inside says that beneath the thin layers of finish and "innovation" it's mostly the same-old same-old gameplay.

So instead, what I have been playing are the Singstar games, Guitar Hero and some EyeToy titles. All with new and refreshing play methods, which brings me to my next item...

Exhibit B: Games catered to fit the control method as opposed to control methods catered to fit the game

There are three ways to go about combining hardware and software. The first is to design a game based on the controls available on the target system, like grid-based playing fields for navigation with a D-pad\keyboard and on-off toggling of controls to coincide with the binary nature of most keys\buttons.

The second is to coax your game design into working with the available controls, like forcing movement to be 8-directional or (again) simply grid-based when navigating with a D-pad\keyboard instead of free-roaming, having speed be controlled based on how long you hold in a button instead of how much you push it, or forcing arcane button combinations to perform some actions because you've run out of logical input methods.

The third method represents the highest risk-reward, design a new control method that meets the needs of the game design. As is the case with Guitar Hero's SG controller, the Singstar mics and the EyeToy camera (although in the case of the camera the reverse is also true).

This presents new ways to play, but also more logical control methods for their respective titles. I have played Guitar Hero more than any other title on my PS2 and the number one game when I gather my friends and\or relatives is Singstar.

The other day I sat down to play and was about to lift GH out of the drive and replace it with [insert action-adventure title here] when I stopped, realizing I'd much rather keep "playing the guitar".

Exhibit C: Steep learning curves for newcomers vs. over-simplistic mechanics for veteran gamers.

A common debate during this last generation has been on the difficulty and accessibility of games for new- contra old gamers. While people that are new to the medium or even many casual gamers are put off by the - for them - overwhelming number of buttons and non-intuitive control schemes, veterans lament over how easy many games are these days, and how they are lead by the hand trough long tutorials and sometimes through entire games. There's no pleasing everyone, and developers often complain that it is difficult to create difficulty levels that provide the right balance between challenge and accessability while avoiding making the game boring or ludicrously difficult.

I have been trying to get my girl-friend to play video games for years without any real luck. Some titles, such as Myst\Riven, Animal Crossing and Wario Ware have had moderate degrees of success. But all have failed to keep her interest for long.

There are many reasons for this, such as settings\themes, content\goals as well as difficulty but one of the most common reasons she gives for not wanting to play is that she doesn't want to learn which buttons to press. This is where Singstar and EyeToy have succeeded, they both represent gaming experience where controlling the game is completely intuitive, and since she is much better at signing than I am she beats me every time, hands-down in Singstar.

So for my closing statement, it is obvious that Nintendo Wii is going to revolutionize gaming, if not for the world at large, then at least for me. With the success of the DS, Singstar, EyeToy and Guitar Hero, oh and don't forget the dance mats, and with recent stories of both Sony and Microsoft investigating similar control schemes, there is little doubt that gaming input devices are changing for the better.

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