Games Comments Off on Wii

It’s here!

Wii boxes

To be honest, I’ve barely touched the games yet — I spent five minutes playing a quick game of Wii Tennis. The rest of my time with the console has been spent exploring the various menus, the Wii Shop, and setting up the Wii with our wireless router (which was thankfully very simple).

While Wii‘s design has prompted plenty of comparisons with Apple‘s hardware, everything still feels distinctly Nintendo — that is, extremely well constructed, well thought out, and functional yet simple.

The most significant feature of the Wii is the control, which is a one-handed ‘remote’ style device. Its motion- and position-sensing can be used for gesture-based control (demonstrated in the bundled Wii Sports), as well as being a pointer in the menu system and games that require some kind of aiming. It can also be augmented with a ‘nunchuck’ attachment, which adds a more traditional pseudo-analogue stick, a couple of extra buttons, and additional motion sensitivity.

Wii Remote

Other features of the Wii include ‘channels’, which are additional bits of software functionality. This includes the ‘Mii Channel’, which allows you to create a personalised avatar to use in certain games, such as Wii Sports. There is also a Photo channel, which lets you play around with photos on a SD memory card, and the Wii Shop, which allows you to purchase and download classic games originally released for the Nintendo’s own NES, SNES and Nintendo 64, as well as the Sega Megadrive and Hudson Turbografx systems, to play on the ‘Virtual Console’. In the near future, News and Weather channels will also be added for checking up on events and outdoor conditions, and an Internet Channel, which will will use a version of the Opera browser for surfing on the TV.

1 Month and 1 Day

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I didn’t hold out much hope for landing a Wii on launch day, as I was told I was 90 or so in the queue. What pops through the door yesterday? A card from Game confirming we’ll get ours on launch day!

Apologies for the crap photo. Our camera doesn’t deal well with anything remotely close up.

Wii Preorder


Games Comments Off on Wii-ordered

Hurrah. Jane and I now have our Nintendo Wii pre-ordered. It’s no guarantee we’ll get one on the launch date of December 8, but if the many reports of console supplies are true, there’ll be every chance we will.

As well as the console, we’ve put in a pre-order for an extra controller for some 2-player Wii Sports (no rude jokes, please) action, and a copy of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.

Wii Sports is a collection of simple sports-based games designed to demonstrate the potential of the Wii’s motion sensitive controller, and comes bundled with each Wii console.

Twilight Princess is the latest in a long line of Zelda adventure games by Nintendo. The N64 incarnation of The Legend of Zelda, Ocarina of Time, was the title that got me back in to gaming, and taught developers how 3D games should be made. The Gameboy version, Link’s Awakening, won Jane over and convinced her to save up and buy her very own system with its mixture of adventuring and puzzling (and its TV ad with Rik Mayall).

Twilight Princess was originally designed for Nintendo’s Gamecube, with production beginning several years ago. The motion-sensitive Wii controls are a relatively recent addition, and as such there’s been a fair bit of negative talk about how well they will work. I trust Nintendo not to bodge this up, though—from previous experience, if something’s not perfect, they just don’t bring it out until it is. Can’t wait!

Blu-ray vs. PlayStation 3 continued

Games Comments Off on Blu-ray vs. PlayStation 3 continued

E3 has come and gone, and now we know a lot more about the upcoming consoles from Sony and Nintendo.

Firstly, Wii, as it’s now been dubbed by Nintendo, looks like a really exciting prospect with its innovative control system. It was quite telling of the versatility of the motion- and position-sensitive controller and accompanying ‘nunchuck’ attachment to see how different developers used it. It was very well received, and although not as powerful as the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360, showed that (shock horror) a good, fun game is not all about the graphics.

Things look less rosy for Sony, though. The inclusion of Blu-ray in PS3 has indeed forced the price way up — $599 in the US (or $499 for a cut-down version) and an artificially inflated €599 (or €499) in Europe. Apparently, Sony has also revealed a £425 price tag in the UK.

Sony keep reiterating that PS3 "isn’t a games console" and "what great value it is since it features a Blu-ray player", but this appears to be to the detriment of those who do just want a games console. What they have been particulary quiet about, is the lack of, among other desirable features, an HDMI A/V connector on the ‘cheap’ version of the ‘non-‘ console. This means that once Blu-ray movie discs start shipping with ICT (an ‘anti-piracy’ measure encouraged by US movie studios) enabled, it will not play those movies in high-definition.

The Blu-ray inflated pricing of Playstation 3 looks to have left Microsoft and Nintendo in a very strong position to draw the attentions of gamers who would otherwise have opted for a Playstation 3, but are not willing to re-mortgage their homes for the privilege.

Ars Technica have published an editorial on the subject of the inclusion of Blu-ray in PS3: Sony’s PS3 Gamble.

Blu-ray vs. Playstation 3

Games, Rant Comments Off on Blu-ray vs. Playstation 3

Sony is curently going all out in pushing its new Blu-ray disc (BD) format, which is capable of holding several times the data of existing DVDs. One tactic that it is using to get Blu-ray in to people’s living rooms is by employing BD as the format of choice for its forthcoming Playstation 3 (PS3) console. If a PS3 owner already has a Blu-ray player in their home, it becomes an obvious choice over rival format HD DVD. However good an idea this might seem, Sony appears to have a bit of a conflict of interest on its hands.

Sony announced today that the release of the PS3 will be delayed until November (although the simultaneous worldwide release means that European gamers will be able to get the PS3 earlier than expected!). The reason for the delay? The copy-prevention technology in Sony’s Blu-ray disc (BD) format still needs to be finalised. This extra waiting time (for Japanese and American markets, at least) gives console rivals Microsoft and Nintendo a bit more time to build market share, all for the sake of incorporating Blu-ray.

While this does put Sony at a slight disadvantage, I don’t think it’s the main issue that will bother consumers, as PS3 will still be out in time for the all-important Christmas period. The main issue will most likely be the cost of the PS3 as a result of incorporating BD technology. If a stand-alone Blu-ray player costs, say 500, then presumably a Blu-ray player with a powerful games console on top will cost even more, surely putting the cost of a PS3 above what most people will pay for a games console.

Otherwise, Sony will have to take a loss on each PS3 sold, which is what Microsoft did to get their Xbox console established, and they have repeated this loss-making tactic with their follow-up console, Xbox 360, which launched last Autumn. The last I heard, Microsoft’s home entertainment division (I can’t remember its offical name) was still at a significant loss of several million US dollars.

In their previous generation console, the Playstation 2 (PS2), Sony made a real success of including a DVD drive. As well as providing a superior format for holding lots of game data, the fact that the 300 console was also a DVD movie player was a big selling point (at the time, DVD players were still relatively expensive). The PS2 is acknowledged as helping the uptake of DVD as a common video format.

This is presumably why they believe they can pull off the inclusion of Blu-ray in the PS3. However, there are some significant differences. Firstly, DVD was four years old when the PS2 launched, so had already established a degree of acceptance in the movie market. It was also the de facto standard for digital movie distribution, as it had no competition.

Blu-ray is only launching this year, around 6 months before the PS3, and this time there is a competing format with HD DVD entering the market at virtually the same time. The issue of cost also comes up again — a DVD player surely cost far less to include in 2001 than a brand new Blu-ray player will this year. Discs will also be more expensive so early in the format’s life cycle.

Depending whether Sony launch a very pricey console (surely 400+?), decide to take a loss on each console, or a bit of both, there’s a very good chance that they will see either their home console market share (currently around 70%), their profits, or both, eroded for the sake of sneaking Blu-ray players in to people’s homes.

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