Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
Published October 2nd 2012
When my interest in the Playstation 2 waned, I considered finishing my console gaming career. I wasn't interested in getting a Playstation 3 as I hadn't heard very good reviews and it seemed excessively expensive compared to its predecessors. I had also tried out the X-Box at various conventions and could not get on with the controls; I found them too big and clunky, and confusing to use.
But then I heard about the Nintendo Wii. Apart for its silly name, I liked the idea of a more interactive experience. The ability for a computer game to be played with motion sensors sounded one step closer to Star Trek's holodeck. The adverts on the telly got me even more excited, so with my birthday money I bought a bundle pack, which included Mario Kart.
I had never played a Mario game before, let alone Mario Kart, but I am familiar with the cartoon racing format with power-ups and treacherous bends that send you falling off the face of the Earth. I knew that Mario was popular, so was really interested to see how the game held up. Well it got a double thumbs up from me. I love that the game comes with a wheel that you use to drive round the tracks. Instead of just fiddling with an analogue stick, you actually get to feel like you're behind the wheel.
The graphics are beautiful, the music sticks in your head, and the characters are fantastic. My favourite character to play is Yoshi (for some reason my dad always chooses to be Princess Peach), and my favourite track is Yoshi Falls. The tracks increase in difficulty as you unlock them; while I managed to ace Moo Moo Meadows quickly enough, that Rainbow Road will be the death of me. I still haven't managed to get 1st place with it on the 150cc tournament.
As well as the racing, you can do time trials. If you connect to the internet, you are not limited to challenging the computer top scores, but can challenge those of people from around the world as well. That's where the multi-player aspect really comes into its own. If you don't have anyone to play with at home, then just set up a wi-fi connection, and you can race against someone on the other side of the world (and not get distracted by a split screen).
My favourite from the Mario series is Super Paper Mario, most probably because it incorporates the interactive Wii remote controls into a retro 2D scroller. That's the format that I loved so much on the Playstation 1. The storyline differs from most Mario games. Rather than Mario having to save Princess Peach from Bowser for the umpteenth time, the enemy in Super Paper Mario is Count Bleck, who uses the Chaos Heart to open up a black hole that will destroy the universe. Mario flips between 2D and 3D with help from his pixilated friends, collecting pure hearts to save the world.
There are dozens of other Mario titles that are a huge success. I enjoyed Super Mario Galaxy and New Super Mario Bros Wii, but I am only a casual gamer, and I found some of these levels too tricky for me. Mario is basically the overlord of Nintendo, but there are plenty of other games available.
My dad bought Link's Crossbow Training for my birthday once, and it is super addictive. It is a shooting game that comes with a Wii Zapper that you aim at the screen like a real crossbow in order to shoot targets. There is no storyline, it is basically just shooting targets and gaining medals for beating high scores. My dad was very competitive with this, and was even more addicted to the game than I was. Once when I was visiting my grandparents, he set up the game by himself (something he never does), and played for eight hours, trying to beat my scores. The only reason he stopped was because he drained the batteries on both my Wii remotes.
When I saw the trailers for Donkey Kong Country Returns, I knew I had to get it. It was a platformer that seemed to follow the same formula as Crash Bandicoot, travelling from island to island as you complete levels. I was also hopeful about Rayman: Origins. I loved the first game, but was bitterly disappointed by the Raving Rabbids that seemed to invade his franchise. Those creatures are mad, senseless, and crude in humour. Rayman: Origins lived up to its title, and returned to the true origins of the game.
One game I can't miss out on my list is the RPG platformer, Epic Mickey. When Mickey accidentally creates a Shadow Blot, the world of famous Disney characters is sent to wrack and ruin. This world was the home of the once loved Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, but now he and his black & white friends have been forgotten. With paint and thinner, Mickey tries to clean up the mess he's made and defeat the Shadow Blot once and for all.
The game is a bit like one of those 'create-your-own-stories', where the decisions you make affect some of the outcomes in the game. None of the decisions are critical to completing the storyline, and are mainly just for side quests, but it does add an extra dimension to the story-telling, and means you can play the game again and see how different choices determine what happens.
Like Super Paper Mario, the game switches between 2D and 3D. You get to travel through nostalgic 2D environments from old cartoon shorts such as Steam Boat Willie and there are unlockable features such as old Oswald Rabbit cartoons. I look forward to Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two with great anticipation.
The Wii is not only about gaming, but also about lifestyle. Non-gamers can also benefit from the console by using the Wii Fit. It is a way to get exercise in the comfort of your living room, get weighed, track your BMI, and play fun mini games at the same time. With the Wii Fit Plus you can also count the calories you're burning, and now with the Wii U coming out, there will be even more options, like a pedometer that counts how many steps you make throughout the day.
The Wii is certainly a new style of video-gaming. Is it a style that suits you? If so, which games do you think best work for the Wii?