Will the Wii get a Second Wiind
Most people will remember the first time they played on a Nintendo Wii, and while hitting back the tennis ball or throwing the bowling ball down the alley were astounded that gaming had come so far. Standing on the edge of a giant new pool of gaming possibilities things were looking good.
But the problem for Nintendo, or any other company pushing the boundaries, is that for the current generation new technology very quickly becomes old technology, and what was once astounding quickly gets picked apart and becomes everyday. In the fastfood, get-rich-quick, google age, we want it all and we want it now, which meant that some more cynical gamers, myself included, began to see the boundaries, problems and limitations of the Wii remote, specifically the movement tracking capabilities.
I consider gaming to be a skilful activity and hence I want the ability the learn and hone skills within games, and the bulky, overt and obvious movement often required by the Wii remote far from satisfies this. My main problem with a lot of Wii games utilising the Wii remote in this way, is that in a lot of instances there really would not be much difference between swinging the remote, and just pressing A. I know myself when I'm being picky and choosy and have unreasonable requirements from hardware, but even so after it's initial honeymoon period I found the Wii Remote's motion sensitive features increasingly hollow. With unsatisfying motion sensitive controls within games, the discerning gamer is left with the pointing capabilities (admittedly good) and a host of party games with about as much depth your average puddle. These kind of issues have led to gamers wondering what exactly the future of the wii is going to be and if Nintendo and games developers can continue to cater for the casual games market without disenchanting and losing the loyalty of the real gamers.
Lets take a quick case study of swords within a couple of games. Red Steel, an early wii game had disappointing pre-set sword movements that were hard to replicate and even harder to enjoy. Zelda, one of the Wii's biggest titles so far had very limited sword capabilities, being confined to a simple shake which would have been achieved equally well by mashing a button on a standard control pad. Resident Evil 4's knife also comes to mind, among others, of a pointless use of the remote's motion capabilities. The dreams of wielding a Light Sabre and joining the Jedi have sadly not been possible in a meaningful way with the current Nintendo Wii remote technology.
These issues are not new but are coming to the forefront of gamers' minds as they consider the new MotionPlus as a summer gift for their Wii remotes. I think all gamers really need to take a look at the Motion Plus and how this is going to change the Wii into a more serious gaming machine with deeper gaming experiences. What the MotionPlus does in one (long) sentence: The MotionPlus captures and processes the user's 3D motion and reflects them more accurately and in near real-time via “a dual-axis tuning fork angular rate sensor”, compared to the standard Wii remote, allowing for more detailed and complex movements to be captured and replicated within a game. :-p
It obviously won't directly address the frustratingly large number of party games, novelty games, fitness-style spin offs and pointless use of the remote that we've seen too much of, but indirectly the greater control, depth and capabilities of the Wii remote via the Motion Plus should lead to a second-wind for the Wii, giving developers the option to bring out some really good ground breaking games that gamers can be excited about buying and proud to be playing.
The first of these we'll look at
(soon...) is Grand Slam Tennis with the MotionPlus, a new tennis franchise from EA which looks like it has the potential to take sports games on the Wii to a brand new level of skill, depth and long term enjoyment which may regain the interest and respect of the proper gaming community.