Friday, November 17, 2006

Long Time No Wii

Sorry for the long dry spell between posts-- I've been pretty busy as of late, and I haven't had much to write about besides posts of the usual "Yay Wii, Boo PS3!" variety. Which is what this is, incidentally, as this upcoming weekend is the one that I've had marked on my calendar for months: the PS3/Wii launch weekend. Wii enthusiasm and PS3 opportunism have both been building to a fevered pitch, and it's all now coming to a head. After months of argument and speculation about both consoles, gamers will finally be able to get them in their hands and decide for themselves. Although if they want to get their hands on a PS3, they'd better break open their piggy banks and head over to EBay. Zing!

This morning was the PS3 launch, which has been an unequivocal disaster, although that's hardly news. Inexcusably low launch totals have been repeatedly slashed over the last year, and, although there's been no official word yet, independent estimates put the final North American number at somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000. These numbers have prompted global re-sale fleecing, with the large majority of purchasers intending to resell their PS3 at inflated prices. Three days before launch, gamers could find Japanese PS3s (the disastrous Japanese launch was last weekend) for sale in New York's Chinatown for ~$1000 each. Lines have been building for up to a week in some instances, as reports came in from across the continent of gamers (and anyone looking to make a quick buck on EBay) camping out in the cold outside their local electronics retailers with tents and sleeping bags. Surveys and interviews with the members of those lines revealed a common theme in every instance-- only a very small percentage intend to keep their PS3s. In fact, in some instances literally noone could be found who was planning to keep their system. Easy money is never as easy as it seems though, as these people soon found out.

The mood was generally pleasant among those who lined up days in advance, given the novelty of the situation and the likelihood that they would receive a console, but as midnight last night approached, the situation in many locations began to get ugly. Where before there were only a handful of hardcore line-sitters, now there were mobs of people, growing in both size and anger by the minute, fighting for places in line and knowing full well that there were more people than PS3s. In many of the more crowded locations, whenever there was a disruption (like traffic or people cutting in line) or an attempt by officials to relocate one of the lines, everyone would suddenly surge forward, shoving and jostling for position in a dark game of musical chairs. The night was marked by scattered reports of violence, including a shooting, an armed robbery, and a small riot. I found this account the most disturbing though, perhaps simply because it felt a little more personal. So, suffice it to say, the PS3 launch was not pretty, and really brought out the worst in people. Had Sony released the damn thing six months from now when they had actual units to sell, as common sense would have dictated, I suspect things would have gone a lot more smoothly. It all makes sense, though, once you remember that Sony hates you.

Meanwhile, the Wii launches this Sunday with what is rumoured to be five times as many consoles available. I already have mine preordered, and EB assured me that they received enough to honour their preorders, so the pressure's off. I was advised to show up at 2PM to avoid the rush when they open at noon, but it's just doesn't feel like a console launch without at least a little waiting in the cold, so I'll probably show up at around 11AM. In addition to the console itself, I've preordered lots of games and accessories, I'll have a full set of four controllers and nunchaku waiting for me (plus one classic controller), as well as copies of Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, and Wii Sports (strangely, EB hadn't yet received their shipments of Trauma Centre: Second Opinion or Red Steel as of last night). Once I've collected all of that, I'll cart it all home and spend the rest of the day putting my new console through the motions. ;-)

The news isn't all good, though. Yesterday, Nintendo announced that their much-touted yet little-appreciated online functionality wouldn't be up and running for launch day. I mean, yes, the weather and news channels are silly, but I still planned to sit down and play with them a bit after hooking the thing up. Now I'll have to wait until December and January respectively. Also, although they haven't specified when precisely the browser will be available, it won't be day one, and they put the timeframe in terms of weeks. Again, I don't know how useful that browser would be, but I was looking forward to giving it a workout. Finally, although the virtual console launch lineup really doesn't look that bad, the Japanese lineup looks much nicer, and it turns out that N64 games won't rumble (which was one of the N64's most notable features). Oh well-- with all of the games I'm buying, I'm sure that I'll have more Wii stuff than I will time to enjoy it anyway.

As far as the games go for both new consoles, the early reviews indicate that the PS3's launch lineup is underwhelming, and that the Wii's launch lineup is a generally positive mixed bag with some specific bright spots. The PS3 launch titles are mostly cross-platform releases (some of which are apparently better on the 360), and the few that aren't generally suck. The only bright spot is Resistance: Fall of Man, which is easily the best of the bunch. Meanwhile, people seem divided on the Wii's pack-in, Wii Sports, although general consensus seems to be that the overall package is worthwhile, and, more specifically, that bowling rocks and boxing sucks. Other than that, Trauma Centre and Super Monkey Ball are both apparently good arguments for what the Wii is trying to do, while Excite Truck and a few other launch titles (generally the non-Ubisoft third-party titles with tacked-on Wii controls) fall a bit short. Also, no reviews have hit yet, but buzz is that Rayman: Raving Rabbids may be the best of the bunch, and I'm going to try and pick up a copy, although I don't have it preordered. And, of course, everyone loves Twilight Princess.

So, in summary: Yay Wii, Boo PS3! I plan to spend a lot of quality time with my new Wii this coming week, and I'll try and post my impressions next Friday. Until then.

8 Comments:

Blogger Darcy Cameron said...

We had a list of people at Blockbuster waiting for a PS3 incase we got any, but in their infinite wisdom Sony is sending a whopping forty PS3's to be distrubuted throughout every Blockbuster in Canada, so we won't be getting any.

Saturday, November 18, 2006 1:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Kim said...

Four full controller sets. Monkey ball marathon at Christmas and I better be invited!!! Yay Wii!

Saturday, November 18, 2006 5:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Travis said...

I'm going to have to get myself a Wii. Twilight Princess seems like a good selling point, as does not being reemed by Sony.

Saturday, November 18, 2006 8:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Kim said...

I believe we all know that Kim's household will have a wii before too long. Not at launch or anything but hopefully in the not too distant future. After all, Mario's coming out soon!

Sunday, November 19, 2006 10:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Aiden said...

Might I say Wii! Today was a very fun Wii party with some good games, and a few hard to control ones, while it did run late (not that quite a few of us had to get up early) i enjoyed it. I cant wait to see what else will become available for it.

Monday, November 20, 2006 3:13:00 AM  
Blogger Jordan said...

Yeah, my Wii launch party was fun. I definitely have some reservations after logging some time with it, but I'll wait until my next post for those. Man I'm sore. To quote a recent e-mail I sent:

"I think my arms are hungover. They just kind of hang uselessly at my side, and any attempt to move them that is not slow and gentle causes pain."

Not to mention the self-inflicted Wii-mote blow to my temple. At least I don't have a shiner today as I feared I might.

Monday, November 20, 2006 11:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous (Vintage) said...

tough weekend? (or would that be spelled Wii-kend)? Good thing the controller isn't shaped like a sharp axe or knife.

Is this game system Weight Watchers approved?

Monday, November 20, 2006 1:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Craig said...

Is this game system Weight Watchers approved?

It's probably negative points!

(inside WW joke).

Monday, November 20, 2006 5:02:00 PM  

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