Wii Fit Plus is a fantastic piece of software, a $20 upgrade to the original that fixes its most annoying flaw. In the original Wii Fit, exercises lack flow. You choose one from a menu, work at it for a minute or two, then have to click through screenfuls of text and a high score list before getting dumped back to the menu where you must choose another exercise. (Sometimes it will suggest a follow-up exercise based on the one you just did, but infuriatingly, leaves it to you to paw through the menus to find it.)

You can still use Wii Fit Plus that way, but you can also instead use it to build up a custom regimen either from individual exercises or thematically linked blocks of three. You can also just say "Gimme N minutes of exercise" and the Wii will oblige you. I find that after working through a Wii-scripted regimen, I actually enjoy spending a few more minutes poking around the full menu in the old style, just to wind down. And then I'm done for the day.

I've been hitting the balance board every other day for a weeks and I feel super duper, working muscles that I ordinarily barely use. Even though some of the yoga poses cause my belly to become twisted or pinched in ways so unfamiliar that my guts misconstrue the context, and then I have to actively resist the urge to retch. Downward-facing BLARRGGHHFFF!

Anyway, if you own Wii Fit and are disappointed with its not-quite-thereness in the way that I was, please go pick up this update. You will like it.

Wii Fit

Sunday, 21 December 2008 11:28
[livejournal.com profile] classicaljunkie and I got Wii Fit as an early Xmas prezzie. It's nice! I recommend it if you have a Wii but lack a solid exercise regimen. I'm skeptical about the game's longevity, but it is teaching me some new, worthwhile stuff. If nothing else, it's like a super-interactive exercise video, with feedback.

It's a bit too interactive at times, though. It needs a mode where it leads you through a workout of several linked exercises, rather than letting you choose exercises one-by-one until you feel like stopping. Not only do I not always want to choose, but the break of a minute or two for menu navigation and (unskippable) high-score-list admiration feels artificial.

Sometimes it does suggest a good follow-on exercise after you complete something, but instead of offering you a "Hey great let's do that" button, it leaves it to you to find where in the menu-maze that second exercise is, and start it up yourself. How could they miss this?

It'd also be nice if you could navigate the menus using only the foot device, a la DDR, rather than having to pick up and put down the Wii Remote all the time, often just to press the A button. Really, would puttting an extra A button in toe's reach on the board have been that hard? (It already sports a toe-friendly power buttton.)

And, too bad about the BMI, which everyone (even my doctor) seems to agree isn't a very useful metric, at least in terms of presenting a normal/overweight/obese range that hardly applies to all humans. But we knew about this deal ahead of time, so we're not taking it too seriously. We laugh as the Wii performs its initial judgement on new players, which is invariably HELLO YOU ARE ENORMOUS followed by ploomp ballooning up the player's on-screen Mii, who is like "WTF". whatever

World of Goo.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008 10:58
World of Goo is a brilliant game. If you have a Wii, you owe it to yourself to drop $15 on downloading it.

I'd classify it as a cross between Lemmings and a Tinkertoy set. On each level you need to guide cute little critters ("gooballs", in this case) from a starting point, across variously hostile terrain, and then to an exit. But where Lemmings had you assign various worker-roles to some of the critters in order to make a path for the others, Goo has you using them as building material.

The gooballs like to be picked up with the wiimote, and if you drop one near two or three of its buddies, they'll reach out and link up as a lattice. Thus you construct towers, wedges, bridges, and various other structures that non-linked gooballs can walk across to the exit. The game uses a full-bore 2D physics engine, and the things you build act like "real" (in a Flatlandish sense) structures of their shape would, if made out of a rubbery material. A lot of the puzzles involve figuring out how to use up as few gooballs as possible to build stable supports for the up-reaching ones, and it's a real joy to play with.

This is surely the best Wii Ware game published yet, and worth every penny. Go get it. (Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] queue for the rec!)

Very short review

Saturday, 14 June 2008 19:02
"Defend Your Castle", one of the very first WiiWare titles, is totally worth five bucks. Stupid fun for you and up to three of your fellow couch-monkeys. If you have a Wii you should go download it now. That is all.

Brawl

Saturday, 29 March 2008 12:21
I didn't think I'd like Super Smash Bros Brawl, and I'd surely like it a lot less if [livejournal.com profile] classicaljunkie and I didn't live around a lot people who love to play chaotic button-mashy fighty party games, but we do, so I do. CJ might dig it more than me, actually, since she's also into the single-player modes and the trophy-collection hook.

I used to play the previous game (Melee) at [livejournal.com profile] mrmorse's occasionally, and usually felt like I had little control over the action, whanging away at the buttons and making my character do random stuff. After a little bit of practice with my own copy of the game, my random-whanging rate's down to maybe 75 percent, and that makes a big difference.

Jmac tip for beginners: The first combo move to learn is the the up-special smash, which is (almost) every character's fall-recovery technique. When you can pull it off without panicking, you can save yourself from falling off the screen more often than not. Mess around in the Solo Training level for a few minutes to get the hang of it. With the standard remote + nunchuk controller setup, you trigger it by tapping up and pressing B.

We unlocked R.O.B. last night, and for whatever reason I'm very good with him. Also his green-metal look is quite attractive. Pikachu was my first good character, but whenever I bust him out among friends they all become venomous with anti-Pikachu hysteria, making me the biggest target. So Mr. P has transformed into my gutsy inviting-everyone-to-bring-it character.

I'd post my SSBB friend-code but my Wii is at CJ's and I don't know. Someday I'll get it together. I wish it were easier, but so does everyone else. This VGCats comic does an excellent job summarizing the three different consoles' approach to online play, with Nintendo's being especially poignant.
Anyone I know played No More Heroes yet? All the reviews I find are basically "OMG WII GIBS LOL boo texture pop". I wish to pat the reviewers on the head, they are so cute, but it doesn't really express whether it's worth an L-note to someone who wants a fun adventure game. Also how come nobody says "L-note"? Is it because it sounds a little dirty somehow?



Speaking of fanboys, if you aren't reading the Gameshelf Blog yet you should. A buncha Gameshelf folks answered the call to register accounts on it, and so far three of us are have made a handful of posts. If the blog averages one post a day over time I'll call it a win. For my part, I'm planning on posting future gamey thoughts to it instead of to this LJ, unless they're not Gameshelfy enough. (Such as my asking whether a super-new-hotness Wii game is worth playing.)
Because I felt like it: my BSG Miis, which I designed last spring.



Five More... )
My Starbuck Mii is winning now. Since you can only identify your uploaded Miis with initials - I used "K.T." for her - I have no idea how many people recognize her, versus just liking her looks. Not that I have a problem with that either.

I have to say that it was right neighborly of Nintendo to release a free toy like this alongside the big-big release of the new Super Mario game. Even though I'm flat broke I feel like I got something new and Wii-ish to play with.
Nintendo's "Check Mii Out" Wii channel is up for free download. I just dumped my BSG and American-politician Miis all over it, and they are now dancing amongst the 1,000,001 Chuck Norris/Darth Vader/Mr. T ones that others have already uploaded. The best of which are actually quite clever, and which I grabbed my own copies of. I laughed out loud at the ingenuity of the Robocop, Mr. Spock, Geordi La Forge and Some-Guy-With-a-Bear-Head ones.

Apparently, of my collection, my Bill Adama Mii has received the most "I like this" votes so far. It and my Laura Roslyn Mii are my two favorite creations. I think Laura is actually my personal favorite, but I can see any population of video gamers favoring ol' Bill. (In my version he is sporting his Flashback Mustache.)

If I knew how to link to my entries I would, but I'm guessing there's no easy way. Nintendo continues to favor the isolationist approach to online play. Meh!
I just beat Resident Evil 4 for Wii, and have been tooling around in its various "remix" modes. In the face of all of its gory headsplodey content, the game packs in a lot of charm, and the different play modes that open up once you finish the main storyline are a big part of it.

My favorite one is "Separate Ways", in which you replay abbreviated versions of the game's five stages as the femme fatale NPC. In the main storyline, she pops up occasionally to provide deus ex machina-style support for the hero. In this mode, you must perform those same ridiculous stunts yourself, pulling the main character's butt out of the fire before sashaying off to the next level. In the process, you build a sort of "secret history" for the main game, suggesting what was going on in the background while the main character was too busy running around blasting baddies to notice. I love it.

It also has the more common mode of letting you replay the main storyline, either at a harder difficulty level or carrying over all your equipment and power-ups from the last play-through. I have no plans to do this. The only game I've ever done that with was Ace Combat 4, because flying around in jet fighters is hella fun. But an action-adventure game about running around on a series of maps, that's the sort of thing I only wanna do once per.
OK, just won my first boss fight. I like this game, and recommend it to those who can stomach survival horror games.

I found the initial pace a little choppy, having to peek at GameFAQs to make sure that the prologue - which lets you wade around a little, and then suddenly shoves you into the deep end - was actually winnable. I consider this a design flaw that could have been rectified by even a single line of monologue, the hero thinking out loud about the correct combat tactics to use. This would teach players that, yes, that's how you play this game, and you could let them fend for themselves from that point on. Since then, though, the pace has been smooth.

The controls really do make fine use of the Wii controller. Aiming and shooting with the Wiimote feels great. One of my favorite moments of play so far was running out of ammo while cornered, and surviving by wildly waving the Wiimote in the air, which causes your dude to mimic your actions in-game with his combat knife. I lived through that with one bar of health left. I think that's the moment when the game won me over.

There is a yuck factor. But once you're cool with the fact that most of the action seems to involve running around shooting crazy yelling old men in the face (but it's OK because they are crazy), and that you will be occasionally subjected to the sights and sounds of your own head getting chainsawed off, it's actually really fun and engaging.

Brawl

Wednesday, 5 September 2007 10:37
Looking through the official website for Super Smash Bros: Brawl, the Wii version of the wonderful game series featuring all of Nintendo's characters kicking the shit out of each other until everyone's bored. It's a good time, and I am sorely looking forward to its release. I should really just pre-order the sucker from Amazon now...

The website is high-profile video game launch marketing done right, by the way. Since the start of summer they've been adding a goodly amount of teaser material nigh every weekday, and the copy is written in an oddly charming voice of continual, stuttering amazement, allegedly from one of the game's implementors. All that's missing is an RSS feed.

They added an MMO-ey "pet class" with the "Pokémon Trainer" character, who attacks by throwing monsters atcha. This could be lots of fun. And my man Wario is there who attacks by fahtin so yeah. And there is a curry power-up.

But what does it say about me that I am sad that Samus Aran without her suit on is a generic-"hottie" skinny blonde? Who looks like she's like 19 years old? No, that is not a grizzled bounty hunter, I'm sorry. Please feel free to make her a lean, athletic woman, but I'd want to see more gamey than pneumatic. Linda Hamilton > Miss Teen Carolina. (Also, where the heck does she put her hair when her helmet's strapped on? And does she spend an hour brushing it back into shape in between bouts of mowing down space pirates? Furrfu.)

I like Zelda's character design much better, basically the same body type but somehow wearing it much better, and much less of an eye-rolling T&A showcase. See, you can have this morphology of female game character without making her into Lara Croft.

Weekend

Tuesday, 28 August 2007 01:18
Crazy weekend. There were the movies on Friday, then shopping and cleaning on Saturday (I bought nice new shoes, by god), and Sunday held more mini golfing and, finally, a video game party of the sort I've been threatening for a long time.

Golf was all right. It was kind of a cheesy course out in Billerica that [livejournal.com profile] dougo had happened across earlier. He, [livejournal.com profile] classicaljunkie, [livejournal.com profile] dianamp04 and I hit the greens, which were decorated with lumpy Fiberglas dinosaurs and bunnies and chipmunks. The holes were oddly cruel, relying heavily on subtle topographic twists to send balls into forsaken corners or even flip them off of the green entirely. We each maxed out the stroke limit several times, and I didn't feel that the course was clever or pretty enough (that the water was shut off didn't help) to justify its meanness. I like Kimball Farms' mini golf better, and still hope to play on a really nutty windmills-and-all course sometime soon. (Suggestions welcome.)

The video game thing went splendidly. Thirteen people mooshed into my apartment at peak; I went so far as to set up a table in the kitchen but it didn't get used because everyone was in the front rooms Wiiing, DSing, or playing board games. Several people were exposed to the Wii for the first time, and after lots of the mandatory Tennis there was WarioWare and Mario Party and Monkey Ball ahoy.

I am under the impression that half or more of my guests didn't really play video games at all until the recent advent of physically engaging home games, from DDR through Guitar Hero and on into the Wii. It is a Good Thing.

I got some comments early on that both my TV and my living room were kind of small, but I think everyone had fun. I certainly had fun being host! I don't do that very often.



Oh, what else... the client slid some work at me after I was like "dude?" at them, and I finished the Jmac's Arcade but will sit on it until I hear back from the band owning the music I like. Half of them did in fact write me back, and advised me to wait until the other half got back from vacation after Labor Day. In any other situation I'd just go ahead with what I have but since the thing's like five months overdue I may as well stick it out another week.

In Volity-land, I'm in the process of insinuating the successful test-firing from two weeks ago (already? sheesh) into a branch of the volity.net website. It's tricky and I'm trying to do right by my future selves who will have to maintain what eventually comes out of it, the poor bastards, so I am not predicting that there'll be demos in August. Early September, I bet. As per my annual habit I'm retreating to Maine for the long weekend and plan on making a working vacation out of it.

Broke personal policy to make a post to the Looneys' "geeks" mailing list tonight, finding myself completely unable to keep my mouth shut after a thread with people wishing that there were some way to play Treehouse on the web. Well... uh, there still isn't! But there will be, this year, since the first thing we're gonna wanna do around the pre-beta phase will involve porting over our current games. I normally avoid writing about all the totally awesome stuff duuuude that I'm working on oh boy you'll be so impressed, a firm believer that the more you pump that sort of thing up the further from your grip it floats. But in this case, I really can't see a reason why it won't happen, lawd willing and the crick don't rise.
Mario Party 8 - After owning it for a few weeks, I must revise my earlier opinion and recommend this title, especially if you've got friends or family to play it with. The first couple of boards are boring - one, with a repetitive and unskippable animation, is especially painful - but the later ones are quite clever, and after you play through them once in single-player you can just stick to them in multiplayer.

Big disappointment in how irritating Daisy is, though. She's generally my favorite character to play in Mario games, but she sounds and acts like an annoying 4-year-old in this one.

Mario Strikers Charged - No sir, I don't like it. Playing it makes me feel like a transported caveman, confused and angry and not understanding most of what I see, whether I'm alone or with a friend. After many plays, it's still not clear to me why various things happen. This is not good.

Playing online against people who know what they're doing is even worse; I'm reminded of trying to play Hearts online, except that this would be a Hearts variant where everyone plays at once, and the cards sometimes explode. (But never on the person schooling you.) (Except that "schooling" doesn't really work because I honestly have no idea how they're doing that...)

And again, Nintendo doesn't know how to do online play right. The actual act of playing goes OK . and I like the presence of a worldwide daily leaderboard, but the UI elsewise is crap. You can see your own ranking, but you can't get meaningful context. And unless I missed something, there are no ELO-style ratings, even though they'd be entirely appropriate. Boo.

Bah. Probably I will ebay it.
Wrote a monologue for Jmac's Arcade yesterday, and hope to record it today. I've had the idea for this one since March, but then I did some Gameshelf work and then the webclient attacked and I haven't done any video work since.

However, last weekend I put together an aggressive but sane schedule of webclient milestones covering the next couple of months, and so long as I stay ahead of it I finally feel like I have time for my most neglected pillar. This is very good; I hadn't been been working by any schedule other than my two drop-dead deadlines (Sep 30 for live Tic Tac Toe demo, Dec 31 for full client), and that only gets me into work-or-feel-guilty mode. More fine-grained deadlines gives me a much more palpable sense of progress, and room to stretch in other directions.

Come Monday it'll be back to the Volity mines for another few days, though...

Dropped the Gameshelf crew a note last week about all this, too. I hope that producing another Arcade will whet my appetite to pick the show back up. Been considering sticking an audio news segment onto its RSS feed, just to keep it warm. We'll see.

Urgh, also in a stickyish situation coz the song I wanna use for this Arcade's BGM is by a local band (Rat Club) who hasn't updated their website since January and whose email bounces. They have a MySpace page and I'm tempted to get a MySpace account just to ask them if I can use the song. I'm further tempted to just try using the song anyway if I can't reach them, covering it with all appropriate attribution and hoping for goodwiil. It's pretty perfect for this piece.



Picked up Mario Strikers Charged a couple days ago, arguably the first "real" game (versus a discful of minigames and unlocks) for my Wii. It's a soccer game, and the followup to the original Mario Strikers for Game Cube that nobody heard of because it was for Game Cube. Haven't played enough to really get an impression of it yet; it's not quite as pick-up-and-go as Mario Kart but it isn't far off the mark either. The A button passes, B shoots, C fires off whatever power-up you just picked up, and everything else is an advanced technique that you can ignore at first. But it's not yet clear to me where the power-ups come from (it's nothing as obvious as running over "?"-boxes), and the action can get confusing pretty quickly.

The game encourages cooperative play, supporting two players to a side, and I look forward to doing some of that. Very interested in its internet play as well, so please let me know if you get a copy too.



I've been making coffee again, and generally eating breakfast produced in my own kitchen. Still hitting the Starbucks across the street for my afternoon jolt, though.

Star get!

Tuesday, 31 July 2007 19:42
Recording of someone playing the upcoming Wii title Super Mario Galaxy at E3 a couple weeks ago. It's not a punchily edited trailer, but just an over-the-shoulder view of someone playing for a few minutes, finishing up a level and fighting a boss.

It's like Nintendo's going after a Shadow of the Colossus vibe, while still keeping it firmly in Mario territory. It looks amazingly fun to play; can't wait to own it.

Wii Fit announced

Thursday, 12 July 2007 11:41
Wii sees your DDR and raises you by knocking you to the floor and making you do pushups.

The proof's in the pudding, but this could be pretty excellent. Check out the trailer at the bottom of that page. If it doesn't suck then it's almost certainly a must-buy for me.

The reviewer asks some pertinent questions about how friendly it is with larger folk (who are not featured in said trailer) and whether BMI is really the best scorekeeping mechanism... but if the device can function fine under heavier weights, both it and the Wii Fit software might be equally friendly for all kinds of body types, which would be even awesomer.



In other news I finally made a George Bush Mii that I'm happy with. It's hard to do without the ears. I wish it were easier to post one's Mii collection as images or I'd have already done it; I finished my BSG set long ago and have started in on politics, doing both Clintons and Obama last month and also making a little Cheney. My Miis. Let me show you them. (If you're a Wii-friend and you don't have any of these and would like em let me know, and I'll send them over.)
I look at screenshots for the upcoing Harry Potter Wii game and think: Wha? Why is it so washed-out and yucky-looking? Why do the grounds around Hogwarts look like they were sculpted out of soggy oatmeal? Were the other games in the series like this?

The Wiimote-as-wand system sounds cool, as does mission-based play, but the game's world just looks bland and depressing and I'm not sure I'd like to spend much time there.
Apparently, the changes I made to the Volity web client code to mollify MSIE also make Opera for Wii happy. The tic-tac-toe Testbench demo works great. Cool!

Media update

Tuesday, 5 June 2007 10:34
I am catching up on Leeorst. I have three or four more to go. As my friends insisted, it pulls way up out of its midseason dip. I even enjoyed "Exposé", the one-episode side-story that tasted like a mashup of Lost with Tales from the Crypt. One thing I do like about this show is that it doesn't go goofball too often, and when it does it succeeds.

Does Lost get in on the good side of Mo's Movie Measure? I think so. When two women are talking, the subject is a man maybe only half of the time. There's another third given to pregnancy or babies, and the remainder to monsters and Others and other Losty topics. Still, though.

Stalled on Heroes. I love watching it with [livejournal.com profile] classicaljunkie but the opportunity/mood mesh hasn't come up in a while. I'm not interested enough in it right now to watch it by myself.

I impulse-bought Mario Party 8 alongside some audio equipment with an Amazon order in April, and it finally shipped. Casual single and two-player play suggests that it's lame, repetitive and childish. (No, I hadn't played or even seen any Mario Party games before. I bet they're all like this.) I am not buying another Wii game until either some get cheap enough for risk-free(-ish) impulse buys, or the gamer Zeitgeist says go buy Game X right now.

As was the case with Odin Sphere, a PS2 game that I picked up last week. I finally give it a whirl last night. Yeah, it's pretty neat. It's also very hard, relatively speaking. Seriously, it's been a while since a game presented a fierce challenge from the get-go, the common case nowadays still being rolling, exploration-centric adventures, where battles serve more to pace the story than present you with true do-or-die situations. And this one does it well, with clever nods to some very old mechanics we haven't seen in a while; key to good gameplay is re-learning how to use the radar from Defender, for gord's sake.

The character animation is unexpected, for a video game. Does it remind me a little of Fantastic Planet, somehow? That may not be appropriate but it comes to mind anyway. OK, that combined with Flying Circus-era Terry Gilliam. Seriously. I'm thinking of the creepy and fascinating way it depicts the fast-growing plants that are (in the game's loopy world) central to powering up, with rustling vines and tumescing fruits growing in cardiac pulses, all looking like stop-motion construction paper sliding around under the hand of a master animator.

I foresee myself enjoying this game for a good while.

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