Friday, May 23, 2008

Wii Fit and living with four women

My Fiance has been excited about Wii Fit since she first saw a commercial about it. I figured it would be a good way to continue my plot to make her into a gamer so I played along. I still have a few contacts with Electronics Boutique so we were able to get the device when it was released the other day. We had a softball game that night so we didn't pick it up until later in the evening. We were pretty tired so we decided to just set up our Miis with the system. In case you didn't know Wii Fit uses the Mii you created for the Wii and then asks you your age and height. It weighs you and then calculates your Body Mass Index or BMI. I am the only guy in our household. Our family unit consists of myself, my fiance, my soon-to-be step daughter and two exchange students. One is from Vietnam and the other is from Korea. Anyway, we all got together to calibrate our Miis for the game and I went last. The four women all had a "normal" BMI and then it came to be my turn. I made them all look away because I knew if I was going to be even close to normal it wouldn't be by much. Well, as it turns out I am not even close to what Nintendo considers normal. Great. So to add insult to injury, all of our Miis are calibrated, but mine is now a pudgy little guy running around the screen. Thanks Nintendo, I really needed that.

That got me thinking that they might have a good marketing ploy on their hands here. What if now that my Mii is calibrated and appears pudgy, it was that way for all Wii games that use Miis? That would be a pretty good motivator for geeks like me to get their Miis skinny. Imagine if in Wii Sports your Mii was now pudgy and couldn't run around as fast in Tennis or Baseball. I have heard that Mario Kart takes into account the weight of your Mii when determining how fast your kart can go. The problem is no one ever creates pudgy Miis. Assuming someone gets their head out of their ass and makes a good follow up to Wii Sports or incorporates Miis in a game in a compelling way, this would be an ideal way of getting people in shape.

As for Wii Fit itself, I have to say I am pretty impressed with it. The device is sturdy and easy to hook up. The balance games are fun if simple (kind of the hallmark of the Wii). My Fiance did a work out and even though she is supposedly "normal" (I'm still bitter) she said she was exhausted and could really feel it the next day. I purchased Wii Ski which uses the Balance Board, but I haven't had a chance to try it yet since I can't get the girls off the damn thing. I went into this thinking that it was going to be another gimmick, but I have come away impressed. I don't think it will replace a good gym or trainer, but it's a good way to get people up and moving around while having fun at home. Oh and Nindendo? It's on now suckers! We'll see who is normal...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Have the Halcyon days passed?

I have posted before that I have been a gamer for a LONG time. I fully expect to be a gamer for an even longer amount of time. There is a period of time about 8 or 10 years ago that is one of the most memorable in my gaming life. Back then I was managing an Electronics Boutique and I had quite a few people to play and talk about games with. Multiplayer was just starting to kick off as a phenomenon. When a new game came in one of the first questions we asked was: "does it have multiplayer?" We are talking about modem gaming here folks, not the low latency high speed internet stuff we have today. It felt almost as if we were completing some sort of arcane ritual punctuated by the death of an innocent. I remember rollicking games of Age of Empires, Outlaws and Warcraft II (the best in the series in my opinion). The point is that back then we were all on the same page in terms of what game we were into. It was usually the latest game that offered fun, workable multiplayer.

Fast forward to now and the ease of multiplayer makes this sort of gaming easy (except if you are using a Wii). The problem is that there are all too many options for people. I guess this is a good problem to have, but I am rarely on the same page with my friends when it comes to what we are currently playing. It started out with MMOs. Yeah, we played the same game, but we were usually vastly different levels and the game offered no mechanic to allow us to group together without one of the parties suffering. I have tried going on to Xbox Live and getting random online games. It isn't pretty. Nine times out of ten the experience is ruined by a bunch of assholes being either elitist, racist or just plain stupid. I actually played a session of COD 4 where everyone on the server punctuated every sentence or expression with the word "yo". As in, "take out that sniper, yo" or "Call in a helicopter strike, yo" or "dude is a pussy, yo." You get my point.

I guess I have come full circle. In the early days gaming it was a solitary experience with little to no access to multiplayer. Now the option to multiplay is in Nintendo DS games for Chrissake. Yet most nights I sit there and play solo. I guess I miss the old days and my friends who shared the great experiences we had. Things are looking up a bit. I found a great site called Gamers with Jobs. They have matchmaking forums for specific games and the community seems on the whole to be very fun and mature. I'll report back after I have had more experience. In the mean time if you aren't a dick send a friend invite to Flying Norseman on Xbox Live.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Gaming Thoughts: Larry King Style...

  • GTA IV is not as fun to play when your Fiance is sitting next to you on the love seat playing Nintendo DS.
  • Age of Conan seems to be doing ok with their launch. I will still pass though. Keen and Graev have some thoughts at their site.
  • I decided last night that Gamefly is not worth it. With the turn around time and the fact that I have so many games that I own to play, the 20 + bucks a month is not worth it.
  • Penny Arcade Adventures releases this week. I think I will get the Xbox 360 version. Gabe and Tycho are hip to what gamers like so, I am pretty confident the game will be fun.
  • Speaking of GTA IV, I really like this game. Having not played any of the previous incarnations for any length of time, I came in with a clean slate and I am having a blast. It's easy just to fire up and do a couple of missions or raise havoc and then sign off.
  • Deca Sports is getting disappointing reviews. Hey developers, it isn't rocket science. Take Wii Sports and make each event into a coherent game.
  • Speaking of the Wii... I am so over the motion controls at this point. The realization comes when you can sit back on the couch and just waggle the Wiimote a bit and accomplish the same thing that someone standing up and flailing around can do.
  • I played against my Fiance in Sega Superstars Tennis on the Wii this weekend. When we used the easy "flail" controls it was pretty even, but when I switched to using a controller, I kicked her ass. All that training came in handy I guess.
  • Problems persist with LOTRO and SLI. I seriously don't understand why they can't iron this issue out. The game performs worse with SLI enabled than without. I can see if it didn't have any effect at all, but worse performance? Come on!
  • The hunt is on for a dart board for Man Room 2.0. The one I have from Halex is a piece of crap. I can't read the LED and it is very cheaply made. I have read of some that have a laser toe-line. That sounds cool enough to investigate.
  • I am on the fence about whether to get Mass Effect for the PC. I have finished it on the Xbox 360, but all of the new features on the PC version are tempting. I could make that kick-ass female Soldier that I wanted to make. Plus, I could support their effort to make DRM less of a hassle.
  • Bill Harris over at Dubious Quality has a console post where he uses logic and truth to illustrate how much the Wii is kicking ass over the Xbox 360 and PS3. How dare he? I mean, the Internets weren't made to be a repository for truth and logic!
  • I made a pact with myself that I would finish several of the games I own before I buy any new ones. With the exception of Civilization Revolution, that is... I need that game.