Paige (and I) need a Nintendo Wii. Fortunately, for my pocketbook, none are available.
Nintendo has a six Wii strong demo kiosk strategically placed behind the children’s playground at my local mall. We passed it while wandering around the mall after Paige’s visit with a real-beard Santa (who thought she was telling him she was a good girl instead of really asking him for Groovy Girl dolls). After lunch, Beth, my wife, and I split up so she could shop for baby boy clothes at H&M and I could take Paige to play Wii Sports Boxing.
Rounding the corner to the kiosk, it looked like a large crowd had formed but they evaporated by the time we got there (it was hard to tug Paige past the play area). I asked the Nintendo rep if he had Boxing (I wanted to recreate this video of a spastic toddler with the right hook, left jab and fancy footwork). We followed him to the other side of the kiosk but Boxing wasn’t loaded on any of the machines (I think the Wii’s had weird demo discs with limited features).
We played Tennis instead (Paige insisted on calling it “baseball”). The rep was very careful to secure the vertical controller’s wrist strap to my daughter’s wrist (do they fly out of your hand easily? Yes. Is my daughter prone to breaking electronics? Yes.) Paige did not really get the Tennis game. I had to help her with every serve (move the controller up like you’re tossing up the ball), forehand and backhand (as in real world tennis). We could get a serve in but returning the ball usually went out because I was late with the hit due to Paige’s arm resistance. After a few games she lost interest and asked to “get in the boat.”
The next Wii over had The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess‘ fishing mini-game demo. I helped Paige cast the lure but she could reel the line in all by herself. The fishing game uses both controllers. You rotate the teardrop controller while flicking the remote to direct the lure through the water, genius. We never saw a fish. It didn’t matter as both Paige and I were amazed at the lure traveling back through the water in response to our natural motions (Paige got this game because she has a bath-time fishing rod and clicking reel).
While we were enjoying the Tennis game the rep took our picture with Paige staring up at the screen and me crouched behind her directing her arm. If we’re lucky we’ll end up in Nintendo promo material.
Zelda jumped out to a cinema of Link riding his horse through the lands. Paige wanted to play the horse but I told her it was just a movie. Fearing we had already missed our designated meeting time with Beth, we took off back to the mini dinosaur landmark.
I know it’s been said before, but the Wii’s controller is more next-gen than fancy new graphics for a WWII shooter or football game (the Wii’s graphics are not impressive, the jaggies on Link’s fishing pole were terrible on the little LCD flat panel). The high value of moving your arms in the real world to affect the virtual world cannot be underestimated. I think some clueless grandparent onlooker said it best, “This is some new kind of virtual reality.” Yes, that’s what we want the non and casual gamers thinking. It’s natural and active and much more fun than pushing buttons and pulling shoulder triggers.