October 16, 2006 4:03 PM PDT

Hands on the Wii

A correction was made to this story. Read below for details.

reporter's notebook SAN FRANCISCO--I'm sitting in a conference room here at CNET Networks' headquarters, playing a baseball game on a Nintendo Wii in which the players look like little more than rudimentary Lego people.

Still, I'm having a good time, swinging (and mostly missing, I'll admit) at pitches, but once in awhile smacking a hit.

Mostly, I'm having fun because the mood of the game, thanks to the Lego figure players, is silly. And I'll admit it: The Wii's innovative new motion-sensitive remote controller and secondary nunchuck (an ancillary controller specific to the Wii) is easy to use, especially for someone like me who has always had a little trouble with traditional console joysticks.


Thanks to Nintendo product testing supervisor Sean Egan, I've have about 90 minutes of solo time on the Wii as part of a road show Nintendo's putting on for the console in advance of its Nov. 19 release.

My test has cemented the feeling I had at the E3 game show in May, where I got about five minutes of Wii play time, that for players like me who aren't hard-core gamers but enjoy good game play, Nintendo's next-generation console will be a lot more fun than Microsoft's Xbox 360 or Sony's PlayStation 3.

Egan and I begin the road test with some mini game demos that are part of "Wario Ware."

The idea behind these very, very simple games is to teach players how to use the controller. For example, players jump rope by simply moving the controller up and down in time with the rope onscreen. Swinging the controller like a hammer hammers in a nail.


And sure, even with that level of complexity, I still manage to screw up a few times. But Egan humors me and keeps telling me I'm doing a good job, even when it's obvious I'm looking foolish. Ah, flattery.

The thing is, the mini games, no matter how simple or pointless they are in their own right, do just what they're supposed to: teach players what the heck is going on with these newfangled controllers. And that's important, because as easy as they are to use, they are unfamiliar.

Even so, by the time we move on to the next demo, a fishing task built into "The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess," I'm already feeling like a Wii pro.

To fish, Egan explains, you pull back on the pole--the remote controller--and cast off by throwing your hand forward. Happily, the nunchuck makes a satisfying fishing reel noise as the "fishing line" feeds out. Then, when you hook a fish and are pulling it back in, the built-in speaker makes just the clicking sound a reel would make if it was real. I enjoy the feedback.

Each demo Egan gives me is aimed at furthering my Wii controller education. Each game works on a slightly different element of the controller's functions, and fortunately, one or two false starts each time aside, the demos do their job: By the end, I feel like I have a handle on what I'm doing.

One thing that does occur to me, however, is that being in a room with another person who is casting "a "fishing rod" with this controller might look a little silly. It may take some time and some really good friends for me to not feel that way. After all, the controllers are rather small in your hand and it looks a bit like you're just gesticulating wildly.

I think it's something I would get over eventually, though. And Egan doesn't appear to be too self-conscious about it.


Correction: This story gave an incorrect price for the premium version of the Xbox 360. That version of the console is priced at $399.

See more CNET content tagged:
Nintendo Wii, controller, Nintendo Co. Ltd., LEGO Co., console


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Good review, one inaccuracy to correct.
I enjoyed the review. Sounds like a great gaming console, even if
the graphics aren't Xbox 360 or PS3 worthy. The author did,
however, give some incorrect information. The top of the line Xbox
360 costs $399 -- not $499. That's for the basic PS3.
Posted by mettle1 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
seems like a slam-dunk
Practically every scrap of information released about this system has been alarmingly positive. Seems that Nintendo really nailed it, which is all the more relevant when you consider the company's philosophy of quality over quantity.

Plus, it's almost an important fact when you consider a 'casual gamer' machine that costs less provides a more fun environment than the grossly overpriced PlayStation or middling XBOX 360's software.

It'll be nice to have Nintendo be # 1 again. They deserve it.
Posted by kuguy3000 (21 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Doesn't sound very interesting for experienced gamers
The descriptions of the Wii controller is exactly what I was afraid of. Seems overly simplified and something that will entertain well for a short while...but get old real quick. The simplicity also only seems to apply to very simple games...but the controler is not good for more "complex" combinations.
Posted by deitiphobia (16 comments )
Link Flag
Seems more like a failure to analysts
Practically every scrap of information released about this system has been alarmingly positive because it's a Nintendo console. If it would be from Microsoft or Sony, the controller would be considered ridiculous and its power underwhelming. As simple as that. No console wins the war just with positive impressions before the console is even released. If it would be like that Xbox would've sold more than PS2, which everybody knows it didn't by far.
Regarding your biased comment about Microsoft Xbox 360's software, what "software" among Gears of War, Halo 3, Project Gotham Racing 3, Splinter Cell, Fable 2, Forza MotorSports 2, Dead or Alive 4 you consider middling? Maybe it would be nice to have Nintendo be #1 again, as you say, but I doubt they even come in 3rd, and that's exactly what analysts are predicting, with the last forecast predicting 30 million PS3's, 27 million 360's and only 13 million Wii's by 2009. I agree that Nintendo deserves to be #1, but so does Microsoft, IMHO, given the amount of money and resources they spent to build a good powerful console with good exclusive games and good services like Xbox Live.
Posted by Ryo Hazuki (378 comments )
Link Flag
PREMIUM XBOX 360 is 399 NOT 499 as stated above
just wanted to correct the article. The premium XBOX360 is $399.99 and the premium PS3 is $599.99. yes thats a 200 dollar difference! and no you wont see much of any difference except PS3 has one of the two High Definition DVD formats(Blu-Ray and HD-DVD). PS3 has Blu-Ray built into every PS3 and XBOX HD-DVD will be out this November(2006) for 199.99 as an add on, if you would like it...
Posted by Zupek (85 comments )
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its 500 dollers in canada
just to tell it is 500 dollers in canada for the premium one and 400 dollers for the core pack xbox 360
Posted by superman9956 (15 comments )
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Since I'm boycotting both Microsoft & Sony this is great news
And it's cheaper.
Posted by slim-1 (229 comments )
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did the reporter forget his photographer?
cause game pics would be nice. as would pics of someone actually PLAYING a wii.

ive not been actively searching for them, but i cant recall seeing either.
Posted by Yukimi Konomi (48 comments )
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Going to get one
As a 40 year old who has avoided the Play station and X-box I am looking forward to getting one of these, sounds like fun and not-so hard core.
Posted by johnhaggard (10 comments )
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Getting one
I'm also 40 years old and haven't owned a game console since the Super Nintendo. I'm not a gamer, but this seems like something my kids and I could enjoy together. Though I'll probably wait until next year to get one.
Posted by kgforce (2 comments )
Link Flag
Price corrected
The story has been fixed to give the top-end Xbox 360 price as $399. Thanks to the TalkBackers who pointed out the error.
Posted by Jon Skillings (249 comments )
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can't wait
I'm a father of two and haven't been a gamer since PS1. I'm looking forward to this, cause it seems tailored to us casual gamers and I bet I could get my wife to take a swing at it.
Posted by alaaji (7 comments )
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before there was the wii...
...nintendo actually made regular old cardboard and plastic toys, some of which are really cool. check this collection of <a href="http://squirl.info/collection/show/465">pre-1980 nintendo toys</a>.
Posted by jmcgrath35 (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
To Ninten-do or Ninten-don't
I like what nintendo's doing with their consoles especially in regards to controlling the game.

Still I don't see the killer application that will make me open my wallet...

Zeldas and Marios are good franchises but I've had enough of those since I bought the SNES.

They should really consider something new, like what they did with the DS and Nintendogs. That was a welcomed gust of fresh air.
Posted by georgemark (7 comments )
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