I went up to my folks' house in Oxford and broke crescent roll with my aunt and uncle from Missouri who I hadn't seen for 21 or so years. As it happened, they brought my cousin with them: 17-year old Matt, whom I met for the first time that day. Turns out he'd brought his new Nintendo Wii with him. I had the chance to try the thing out before dinner and here's my verdict:
Not so much.
I know lots of people have already bought Wiis and are already enjoying them -- my experience was little more than cursory: I tried just two of the four sports games that come with the Wii: boxing and bowling. If I'd spent more time playing the Wii, I might have liked it better, but based solely on the half hour or so I spent playing the thing, any interest I had in getting one myself went out the window. Take the boxing game, for example. Using the motion-senstive controller, you can lean from side to side to avoid your opponent's blows, you can jab high and hit the face and you can jab low and hit the stomach. (However, unlike other non-Nintendo boxing titles, you can't hit any lower than that. Which is sad.) And you can bring your gloves up or down to protect your face or your own abdomen respectively. After playing a few rounds, I got the basic gist of how to play. Here's the thing: I could throw a series of quick jabs (albeit in my patented middle-school girl-style), we'll say four punches, and my boxing avatar would only register one of the punches. If this were some other sort of Wii game, say Excite Truck, and I was asking my truck avatar to do something that was impossible under the laws of that game's physics, say fly, then yeah, fie on me for wanting too much, but this is Wii Boxing: I am a human playing another human on TV. If I can throw a flurry of jabs, however weak and ill-advised, I think it should show up on-screen and not be subject to the seemingly arbitrary rules of the game's programming.
Bowling was a little better, but it's difficult to get excited about a bowling game, motion-sensitive or not. I watched my cousin play some of the new Zelda game and I can't remember the last time I've been that bored and that frustrated watching someone else play a game. I don't know if it was his gameplay or if it was the game itself (I suspect a combination of both) but then again, I've never understood the allure of the Zelda titles since the original on the NES. None of them have been good.
I'm not going to write off the Wii altogether -- the technology Nintendo put together for the Wii may one day allow for other game-designers to create an amazing game that will make Wii a must-have system. And Matt did suspect that his particular controller was "twitchy" even though we changed out the controller's AA batteries after what couldn't have been more than a couple hours of gameplay. I just don't think the Wii's quite there yet. But kudos to them for going in a new direction and trying to create an entirely new gaming experience. So many kudos.
A couple other things.
1.) T.C. Boyle seems like a good guy. He's also a good writer. But if you'd like to take a listen to a feted author letting his ego take over and presenting his own pompous, self-important side to the public (via an interview with Ed Champion of the blog, edrants.com), you can listen here. In this hour-long interview you'll hear Mr. Boyle talk of his typical moviegoing experiences. As T.C. explains, when T.C. laughs in a theater, he is usually the only one laughing because he, unlike the rest of the audience, is laughing not at the film's jokes, but at the transparent ways in which the filmmakers are trying to manipulate the audience into laughing. He laughs at their ham-fisted attempts to manipulate because he sees them quite clearly for what they are. The rest of the audience, you see, dolts that they are, does not see these transparent manipulations and, as a result, laugh precisely when they're told because they are the Great Unwashed, and unread ignoramuses to boot. I imagine that when someone tells T.C. a joke, he doesn't laugh at the punchline like all of those other morons, but rather at the clever way the joke's set-up subverts the listeners expectations so that the punchline can have its intended impact. Oh, T.C.! O, Vaunted One! How blessed we are to live in the same world as one so generously gifted with intellect!
Anyway, Boyle goes on on a variety of subjects in this same sort of I-am-smart-and-everyone-else-is-grotesquely-stupid vein for awhile. Like I said, he seems like a nice guy overall, but I wonder if his particular outlook isn't shared by a lot of venerated writers who've just managed to keep a tighter lid on it. John Irving comes to mind.
2.) And finally, I thought I'd post up a page from the Oscar Mayer job I've been working for the last week or so. (I finally finished it yesterday.) [Ed. note: I've taken down the Oscar Mayer board, as per Heath's sage advice, and am replacing them with a couple boards from a Molson commercial I did a couple years back. Enjoy the hijinks of these beer-loving white men in the rap star's limousine.]
Enjoy the rest of your Wednesdays.