Wii Sports Resort with MotionPlus

The Nintendo Wii is a polarising device. Ask a gamer, and most of them will agree that the PS3 is overpriced, and the XBox 360 is unreliable. These are facts. The Wii on the other hand polarises people between love and meh. The graphics are decidedly last-gen, and the controller is either miraculous or just a pointless add-on, depending on who you ask.

MotionPlus, with and without the silicone case.
MotionPlus, with and without the silicone case.

I owned a Wii for a while when it first came out, but eventually sold it for a 360 when I realised that (a) none of the “major” franchises that I enjoy would ever come out for the Wii; (b) I can’t watch videos from my PC with the Wii; (c) the Wii wouldn’t drive my HD TV at decent resolutions; and (d) the waggly controller is fun for about 3 months.

None of this has stopped Nintendo from making the Wii more … waggly I guess. The engineers have engineered a new add-on for the Wiimote. This comes in the form of a small extension that you attach to the bottom of the controller. It incorporates a tuning fork angular rate sensor, but that doesn’t sound sexy so: MotionPlus. Apparently the MotionPlus increases the accuracy of motion, and enables new styles of gameplay. The MotionPlus also removes any doubt that Nintendo were serious about the padded silicone case for the Wiimote. The plug comes embedded in a silicone case with room for the Wiimote to slot in above it, forming one complete, padded unit.

Does it work? To be brutally honest, unless you play regular Wii Sports then Wii Sports Resort with MotionPlus one after the other, I’m not sure you’re going to tell the difference. There’s still no force feedback, so you’re left with a reasonable simulcra of the sporting motions required, but none of the feeling.

Wii Sports Resort comes with some improved and some brand new sports that ostensibly benefit from MotionPlus. A quick rundown of how I felt after a week with the console:

  • I’d say golf is slightly improved – it feels like you have a little bit more control over the hook/slice mechanic.
  • Swordplay is a better mano-a-mano option than boxing ever was, with a more satisfying strike and block system. Speedslice makes you feel like a total samurai, slicing sushi and flowerpots and … umm… giant pencils.
  • Bowling is almost identical in mechanic. They have changed my favourite “Power Bowling” to a full multiplayer game of 100-pin bowling, which is remarkably satisfying. It’s like a combination of dominos and bowling.
  • Frisbee is alright, perhaps better called golf-lite?
  • Wakeboarding is a little frustrating. It’s hard to work out what makes you land correctly and what makes you nosedive.
  • Canoeing appears to be designed as the optimal way to show just how frustrating a lack of force-feedback can be in a game.

But it all comes down to this: you get out what you put in. Watch any newbie using a Wii (or a promotional video), and you’ll see people thrashing about like epileptic cats, thrusting and swiping and poking with their full range of motion. Watch someone who has used a Wii for more than a few days, and you’ll find them sitting on a couch barely moving their wrist. Sure the Wiimote and MotionPlus will mirror your gigantic Tiger Woods golf swing, but it will just as happily register the same movement using a wrist-flick.

Ultimately, I think the Wii (with or without MotionPlus) has lasting appeal only for kids, and gamers who need their Mario and/or Zelda fix. This is not a Bad Thing.

Here’s a little video to illustrate, with compulsory Yakety Sax. In the final scene we’re having an epic sword battle, can you tell?:

Problems in PS3-land?

The XBox 360 has been receiving some positive press lately, mainly about the increase in sales in several markets. This will be a welcome change for Microsoft after the horrific “red ring of death” news previously.

If you look back through the news, you’ll see PS3 sales and XBox sales leapfrogging one another on an almost monthly basis. I won’t even mention the Wii because it is so completely dominating the overall current-gen console ware.

Outside of Japan, PS3 and 360 sales are effectively neck-and-neck, with the 360 holding a 6 million unit head-start. You can see this pretty clearly by the parallel green and blue lines in the TGDaily graph below:

Even within Japan, the 360 is getting the occasional boost from new releases and console price drops. While tiny, these victories to Microsoft would have been completely unheard of with the previous generation consoles.

Overall, I think Sony has a hard road ahead if they want to overtake the XBox 360 in worldwide sales. The 360 has just had another price drop, and is nearing a likely hardware refresh. Sony, on the other hand, is reluctant to lower PS3 prices – probably pointing to the lack of cashflow they are seeing from lower than expected game sales. If they (as you might expect) forecast console and game sales on the meteoric trajectory of the PS2, I’d imagine there are some pretty long faces around Sony boardroom tables.

Wii: Standard Issue on Norweigan Cruise Lines

It’s not so much that the Wii is recognised as a fun and innovative console, but also that companies like Norweigan Cruise Lines see a need to issue a press release when they decide to install Wiis on their ships.

Can you imagine them saying this sort of thing if they decided to install 360’s or something? 

[quote]

“With its active, engaging and inviting game experiences appealing to every age from kids to parents to grandparents, the Wii from Nintendo is a natural fit for Freestyle Cruising,” said Colin Veitch, NCL’s president and CEO. “With the addition of Wii to our on-board activities, we can now offer bowling, boxing, golf, tennis and baseball across the entire fleet. Cheering, yelling and high-fives will be highly encouraged.”

[/quote]

Link to Wii Invades Norwegian Cruise Line – Kotaku

[tags]consoles, wii, nintendo, cruising[/tags]

PS3 VS. 360 – The Beer Difference

360beersonthewall.jpgI love PR stunts.  This one by Microsoft has a certain beery quality to it. 

Baiscally Microsoft highlighted the price difference between the 360 and a PS3 to a video game magazine.  In beer.

[quote]

“What would you purchase for £146…? (The price difference between an Xbox 360 and a PlayStation 3)”, asks the included Xbox 360-headed notice. “Well, for a start we thought you might like £146 worth of beer to kick start your weekend early.”

[/quote]

Of course haters and whiners will point out that you need a HD-DVD addon and a Live subscription to truly match the PS3, but that would take all the fun out of the stunt.  And I debate the Live price anyway, because you can hardly call PS3’s online system comparable to Live.

[via Kotaku]

[tags]xbox, sony, consoles, beer[/tags]