It's time for babbly barely coherent late-night fanboi ranting. As mentioned earlier, I got my Wii today, and spent most of the day trying it out with friends.
It represents a number of firsts for me:
* First time I've bought a non-handheld console on launch day.
* First time I've spent nearly a thousand dollars on a new console, games and accessories without feeling the slightest hint of buyer's remorse after getting it home
* First time I've been able to just hang out for hours with a console operating system without feeling the need to fire up a game or "play something".
If you happen to have a Wii, it's well worth making the effort to get it connected to the internet. For those who invested in the USB Wi-Fi dongle for the DS, it's a pretty simple process, as the Wii can connect through the exact same peripheral. Otherwise it's going to involve setting up wireless access points or waiting for the forthcoming release of the LAN adapater.
I'm happy to report that the Virtual Console shop does actually sell more games in Australia than previously reported. I've secured copies of both Golden Axe and F-Zero from its pixellated clutches, and they're just as much fun as I remember. Both are a little overpriced, coming out to about $12 AUD each. (Bear in mind that Golden Axe represents a grand total of 40 minutes of play from beginning to end.)
Making your little virtual avatar, or Mii, is great fun, and it's even better if you have a ton of friends around to get in on the process. My Mii Plaza is now populated by little virtual facsimiles of most of the people I know. These little hooligans become the playable characters in Wii Sports and Wii Play. Miis you're not using appear in the background and in crowds. I don't know of any third party software using them yet, and it's a little hard to see how you would outside of chatroom avatars, but I hope they don't get completely ignored by forthcoming releases.
The Wii uses friend codes, much like the DS, as a measure to stop random strangers stalking children and suchlike, but they're implemented a lot better than on the DS. Instead of having a unique code for each game, you get a global code for the system. Swapping friend codes with someone (which can only take place outside the Wii environment) will allow you to exchange mail, send your Miis visiting their console, and (presumably) eventually allow you to select that person as a preferred opponent in multiplayer titles. As the Wii is ideally always left on, there's a lot of scope for interaction with your friends list to take place here. I've already received a ton of Miis from the household of Wuffie in Perth. (Damn you, miniature Karlski, why are you always bowling in the lane next to me?)
You can get so involved in sending mail and playing with Miis that you can forget to play any games entirely. Which says something about how friendly, engaging and easy to use the Wii interface is. It really feels like Nintendo telepathically read all my subconscious disappointments with the PSP and made me a little white console to cheer me up.
The feel of the controllers really varies from game to game. Tennis, which is included in the Wii Sports pack-in game, is incredibly addictive and an absolutely perfect four-player introduction to the system. Rayman Raving Rabbids also delivers a fantastic experience from the unique Wiimote controllers. On the other hand, the boxing and gold components of Wii Sports are an exercise in pure frustration that could easily turn off new players. I guess it's like any controller - it's only as good as its software support.
Anywho, I'm going off to sleep now because I have a busy day tomorrow. If I'm up to it, I'll put up my impressions of Casino Royale in the morning. (Short version: just because it's probably the best Bond film ever doesn't mean it isn't full of disappointing pacing and story problems.)