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Ugh, stop twitching
games Posted 2006-05-12 01:39:01 by Jim Crawford
One of the demonstrations during the Nintendo E3 press conference was of Shigeru Miyamoto, Satoru Iwata, Reggie Fils-Aime and Lucky Contest Winner playing a doubles game of Wii Sports Tennis. They were all getting into it, miming their hearts out. The sound effects helped a lot. It was a real crowd pleaser; the Quarter to 3 board's commentary thread (“threadcast”) had a stream of messages to the effect of “Sold.” It looked like a lot of fun to me too, and I generally don't play sports games.

Then I saw a negative post on a different forum by an E3 attendee that basically said that all you really control is the timing of your swing. It's obvious that you don't control your character at all, but according to this guy, all the control you get is when you flick the controller. Flick it at the right time, and you hit the ball. This set off a huge chain-reaction of disturbing implications in my mind. What that means is that the presenters -- including our beloved Miyamoto -- were involved in a sham to make us believe that Wii Sports Tennis actually matched your in-game racket to the position of the controller in space. And by implication, that the Wii was capable of sensing these subtleties.

By destroying the sham, if it is in fact a sham, he has destroyed my impression of what the Wii controller can do. I have seen no demos of precise control aside from the ones where you're pointing the controller at the screen. The IR transmitter -- hell, I didn't even know it was an IR transmitter until now -- is at the pointer end of the controller, meaning they're probably just doing some sort of special case detection for when the controller is pointing right at the sensors. Remember last post, when I wrote disparaging remarks about Sony's motion-sensing controller? I'm not so convinced it's that inferior now. For all I know, the Wii's tilt sensitivity is just as crappy.

If I'm right about this, then the light-saber game that everyone is clamoring for is not going to be feasible. It would explain why the sword fighting in Red Steel and Twilight Princess have boring controls, though admittedly there are other reasonable explanations for this as well. It would mean that “mouse-style” FPS control would not work. Red Steel and Metroid Prime 3 both use edge-scrolling rather than locking the targeting reticle to the center of the screen.

The worst implication, though, that Nintendo could be willing to give us false impressions of what the controller can do. Since they became the underdogs, Nintendo has always been -- or at least given the impression of being -- a reputable, forthright company. And at least since the late 80s, they've always been very stringent about the quality of a product they're willing to let out the door. Before Nintendo announced it, I wouldn't have expected something like the Wii controller could've been done well any time soon. After they did, I bought into it immediately because of their reputation of quality. Now, the controller is looking more and more like another Power Glove.

(I convinced my mom to buy me a Power Glove for Christmas. I don't think I ever even used it. I probably shouldn't feel bad, I mean, I only scammed myself out of presents I would've actually enjoyed, but I am seriously guilt-tripping about it right this second.)

Then, I saw an interview with Shigeru Miyamoto in Eurogamer in which he described the tennis gameplay as “surprisingly deep.” That is in direct conflict with what Forum Guy said. Shiggy wouldn't lie, would he? Could he be fooled himself? Could the Wii-mote be fantastic after all? I'll find out for sure whether my world has collapsed come Q4 2006. I just wish I were one of the lucky ones who waited 6 hours in line at E3 to find out today.

That said. New Super Mario Bros is coming out in a week or so. They announced three new Mario games at E3: Super Mario Galaxy is coming out for the Wii “within 6 months of launch.” Super Paper Mario is in development for the GameCube and Yoshi's Island 2 is in development for the DS. Four true Mario games -- platformers -- coming out in the next year or so. I am excited as hell.

I'm also looking forward to the emulation feature of the Wii. And that's solved tech, they're not going to fuck it up. Even if the Wii-mote sucks, I will have good times with this machine if it kills me.
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