Kris and I have been playing a lot of Nintendo Wii lately.
We played the game a lot when we got it in November, mostly because of the novelty. During the holiday season, we had fun sharing the Wii with friends. Whenever we had guests, we would create a Mii for them. (A Mii is a cartoon avatar that represents a person in the game.) We now have a large library of Miis for all our friends.
During January and February, though, we didn’t use the Wii much. It sat unused, looking more-and-more like one of those impulse purchases that I used to make. (I have boxes of seldom-used gadgets out in the workshop.)
Then Kris discovered fitness mode in Wii Sports. Wii Sports has five games: tennis, bowling, golf, baseball, and boxing. You can play these games by yourself or against other players. But you can also do three training exercises for each sport. In fitness mode, the Wii randomly selects three of these fifteen exercises for the player to perform. Based on the results, the game assigns a “fitness age”.
Kris had been doing this for about a week before I decided to try my hand at it. I was dismayed to find that my fitness age ws 58. The horror! I began to take the fitness test every day. (Each person is only allowed one chance per day.) I’ve managed to climb into the 30s and even the 20s now. I still have bad days (51 last Saturday!) on occasion, but most days I’m around 25. The best score you can get is 20, I think.
Meanwhile, I’ve also begun to practice bowling and tennis, the two games I find most enjoyable. For a long time, I was using a bowling throw that removed spin from the ball: I released the ball late, lobbing it out into the lane. I was able to get some good scores — a high of 258 — but ultimately I decided this lob throw was too sporadic, so I’ve been working on a spin throw. (I actually tried this lob throw at a real bowling alley, thinking it would reduce my natural spin. Not a good idea. It’s very conspicuous when your ball sails through the air and then clunks to the ground halfway down the lane. Management doesn’t like that.)
Tennis has been my real source of joy lately, though. As you get better at each game, you’re given a rating. “Pro” level is 1000. I think the max rating is 2000. My bowling rating has hovered around 1250 since last fall, but my tennis rating had been a measly 400. With daily practice, I have this up to about 1750 now, and can usually win against the top two computer opponents (rated 1900 and 2000). I love the tactics of Wii tennis: the positioning, the shot selection, etc. It’s fun. (I’ve never really played actual tennis, so I don’t know how it compares.)
I’ve also begun to explore other areas of Wii-ness. For example, yesterday I downloaded the Wii web browser. It’s quite a trip to look at my own websites from inside a video game console. I also recently downloaded some classic games. The Wii comes with a “virtual console”, which means it’s able to play games from all of Nintendo’s past systems. You have to pay to download them, but they’re relatively cheap. For example, I paid $5.00 to download Super Mario Land (from the Super Nintendo system) and $12.00 to download Mario Kart 64 (from the Nintendo 64). Fun stuff. The selection is limited, but it doesn’t matter because Nintendo is offering only the best classic games. (The Wii also plays Gamecube games directly — no downloads required.)
I bought several games when the Wii was released, but I haven’t played them much. (I’d like to trade them for other games.) I do like Zelda and the surgery came (which I forgot to show to Pam), but the others aren’t that exciting. I’m waiting for more stuff directly from Nintendo itself.
I’m only spending about 30 minutes a day with the Wii, but I’m having a lot of fun!