Wiikly WiiWare Releases For 5-26-08

authorBucky | May 27, 2008

Dr. Mario® Online Rx (Nintendo, 1-4 players, Rated E for Everyone, 1,000 Wii Points): The doctor is in! Marioâ„¢ takes a break from his adventuring ways and once again dons his stethoscope for a new generation of germ-battling mayhem. In addition to the classic mode of using vitamins to exterminate viruses, you’ll find two battle modes and an online multiplayer mode where you can hone your skills against players from around the world. Feel like challenging a friend who doesn’t have Dr. Mario Online Rx? Then the WiiWare-exclusive Friend Battle Demo is just what the doctor ordered. Or maybe you’d like some help taking on those nasty viruses? Try out Virus Buster, where four players can simultaneously move capsules simply by pointing at them with a Wii Remoteâ„¢ controller. Any way you look at it, Dr. Mario Online Rx is a prescription for fun that everyone can enjoy.

Family Table Tennis (Aksys Games, 1-2 players, Rated E for Everyone, 500 Wii Points): It’s time for some good old family fun, and what’s more fun than table tennis? Just like a real family, choose your character from a cast of four, which includes Daddy, Mommy, Sarah and Billy. There are four table tennis-tastic stages where it doesn’t matter if you’re an indoors or outdoors table-tennis player. Pick your poison from a gymnasium, a forest park, a beach or even an amusement park. Choose from Single or Versus mode, or select a minigame to play. In Versus mode, you and a friend can play against each other to see who is the better table-tennis player. And if Single and Versus modes aren’t enough, select between three minigames, which include Target Table Tennis, Thrilling Table Tennis and Matching Table Tennis. The appealing cell-shaded graphics and endearing music, on top of the super-fun game play, will have you and your family playing from morning till night. Get your paddles ready.

Virtual Console Games For 5-26-08

authorBucky |

City Connectionâ„¢ (NES®, 1-2 players, Rated E for Everyone - Comic Mischief, Tobacco Reference, 500 Wii Points): Based on the arcade hit, a young man born in California sets out to tour famous sites and cities around the world. As he drives the highways surrounding these locations, the road is painted white as proof of his visit. Only once all sections of the road have been painted will he move on to the next location in his world tour. Not surprisingly, the local police will chase the driver and do their best to stop him from completing his goal. In addition, cats roam the highways and spikes lie in wait for unsuspecting drivers. To combat these dangers, the driver’s customized car can jump, fire cans of oil and collect balloons to warp to a new stage. It’s the ultimate road trip.

Metal Slug (NEOGEO, 1-2 players, Rated T for Teen - Blood, Violence, 900 Wii Points): Released in 1996 by SNK, Metal Slug is a side-scrolling military-action game. Players control Marco and Tarma, both members of the special-ops force Team Peregrine Falcon (commonly known as Team PF), and battle their way through stage after stage of intense action. The goal is to try to overthrow General Morden and win back the stolen weapon, the Metal Slug. Players must blast through waves of enemies and machines (while also jumping over any obstacles in the way) to advance through the stages. It’s not as hopeless as it might sound, though—weapons such as heavy machine guns, shotguns, rocket launchers and flamethrowers, as well as the Metal Slug itself (which appears frequently in the game), will make the battle easier. Take on General Morden with a friend to lighten your load and ramp up the excitement even more.

If the Wii is a kid, the industry’s a sandbox

Since the days of its inception, the Wii has often been misnomered as a “kiddie” system. The idea that the Wii would thrive as a playground for shovelware from money-hungry third party publishers became commonplace in the world of gaming. Gamers were ready to tag the labels on all of their favorite next-gen systems, with Nintendo continuing its reign of family-friendliness.

After much scrubbing, the labels can be removed.

The Entertainment Software Rating Board has worked to give out little letters that tell us who’s hands certain games belong in. Parents, when aware (or sane), can use these ratings as an indicator to tell what games their children can play.

To date, the ESRB has listed 425+ titles that appear on the Wii with ratings of E (Everyone) and E10+ (Everyone age 10 and older). Don’t snicker yet, well over 200 of these listed games are on Nintendo’s Virtual Console, many dating back to the NES.

These Virtual Console titles don’t count when considering the aspect of appearing on the Wii. The mislabel of the Wii as a “kiddie” system amongst others especially comes from the remote-waggling abilities of its motion-sensing features. Since Virtual Console games don’t utilize these features, not to mention they debuted on many previous systems, they don’t appear in this count. And since the data was pulled prior to the North American Wii Ware release, Wii Ware titles aren’t included, either.

Regardless, that leaves us with close to 180 Wii games that are rated E or E10+. Seems like a lot for a young system.

But it is more fun to divide games up by what systems they appear on. All of the titles obviously appear on the Wii, but do they do so exclusively?

So the Wii-exclusive titles and the multi-platform titles need to be divided up:

A total of 61.45% of these “everyone” titles for Wii are non-exclusives. At this point, expect a voice to cry out, “What about the DS? Everyone knows that these E-rated Wii shovelware non-exclusives are just Nintendo exclusives, like Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games!” Fair enough.

Splitting up that 61.45%, we find that only 8.38% are Wii-DS exclusive titles. That means that 53.07% of kiddie Wii games are very multiplatform. In fact, one of the most common systems a Wii game would appear on is the PS2, in fact.

So one thing can be clear; kiddie-shovelware is a multi-platform thing. Companies (like THQ, for instance,) don’t just aim for the Wii to fish for a parent’s unknowing wallet. Publishers try to get more bang for their buck.

Think of the common marketing executives at big-name publishers that still refer to video games as “toys.” In using mediocre games to get money, a marketer will try to make the game appeal to a larger audience (E ratings,) and reach a larger community by spanning multiple platforms. This is assuming that all E-rated games are bad.

Based on our next set of data, that isn’t too far from the truth.

Quantity in games is never as important as quality, all gamers can agree to this. Examining the same data as before, the quality of these games can provide another angle to this issue.

Using GameRankings, a popular site that averages credible review scores in order to help gamers in their purchasing decisions, the average review scores for the E/E10+ rated Wii games helps determine the quality of the Wii titles in question.

What does this tell us? E-rated Wii titles tend to do better when they’re not alone (unless they’re made by Nintendo themselves, who is infamous for developing quality titles).

The worst of the bunch is precisely what would be expected: 3rd-party Wii exclusives. Though only a few percentage points behind the other catagories, games in this section are made by the companies that bring you Action Girlz Racing, Offroad Extreme, Hooked! Real Motion Fishing, and Monster Trux Arenas.

With roughly 3% between Wii exclusives and Non-exclusives, there isn’t much of a difference between the two in terms of quality on Nintendo’s platform. It is mostly a pile of stink. Nintendo proves in their own way that games for “everyone” can be good.

As seen in the data, certain companies are contributing to the exclusive stink. Conspiracy Entertainment are responsible for most of the Wii-exclusive shovelware, accounting for roughly 20% of the games with an average score of 30.92%. Destineer has 16% of the exclusives with an average score of 23.5%. Notably, no other company has put out more than 4 titles for the Wii exclusively. Big players like EA, Konami, Tecmo, and Capcom have put out 1-3 games each, and their average scores are well over 70%. Almost all of these “few gems” are retreads on older IPs as well.

In scouring the databases for game ratings and scores, not every game could have a score accompanying it. The reviewers can’t be blamed for not regarding Cocoto Kart Racer or My French Coach as games worth reviewing. In terms of the data gathered, they simply aren’t accounted for in the ratings spectrum. Interestingly, there were (as of this data being pulled,) four Wii-exclusive games and 11 non-exclusive games that didn’t have review scores.

And roughly all of them will appear in the $9.99 bin at Wal-Mart. Just keep walking, you can save some cash and get the Wii Zapper or some points for the Wii Shop to pick up a brand-new Wii Ware game.

This also begs the question, are kids not as picky about games nowadays? I rocked the Mega Man X games and F-Zero all the time on the Super NES. To be honest, I also spent plenty of time with Ren & Stimpy: Veediots and Hook, both being pretty unforgiving, relatively low-quality platformers. Do kids really like Wing Island?

Overall, the best way to take this data is lightly. If you’re reading this, you may not be into E-rated games regardless of what system they appear on. And if you’re a Wii gamer, know that you don’t have to. More developers are taking risks on the Wii with games like No More Heroes, but publishers need to follow suit. Kids can be risky too (I fell out of many a tree as a youngster, I was a risky one).

And if we want to follow the little kid in all of us, there are plenty of places to find the games that appease that.

Wii Fit = Mii Tired

authorTimothy W. Young | May 23, 2008

I’ll be honest, when Nintendo revealed Wii Fit at last year’s E3, I was anything but excited. However, once my wife saw the footage — a woman who hasn’t played a video game since Tetris for the Gameboy came out — she immediately said, “We should buy that.” I should also point out that we didn’t even own a Nintendo Wii at this time, so I couldn’t help but raise my ears a little bit.

I know the excitement that comes on the day a game is going to launch, but my wife has never had such a feeling. In fact, it’s probably safe to assume that she could never understand why I got so excited about such a thing in the first place. It is, after all, only a game.

Then came Wednesday, May 21.

My gym-loving wife had already called a few stores and purchased Wii Fit, all before lunchtime. She told me afterwards that she finally knows why I get excited on launch day.

Wii Fit is a great supplement for anyone’s workout routine. Using the slightly heavy and durable Wii balance board, Wii Fit tracks a user’s weight and BMI (Body Mass Index) by measuring the user’s weight and height. After some calculating, the game will tell you if you are underweight, ideal, overweight or obese. Be prepared to hear the truth. The balance board doesn’t lie. In fact, it will go as far as making your preset Miis larger or smaller depending on the result.

From there, the game’s calendar allows you to track your progress as you work towards your goal of becoming more fit.

BMI Chart

While Wii Fit may look quite simple, the techniques employed in the game can be quite laborious for people who have never done them before. Players will have the option between various Yoga poses, strength exercises, aerobics and balance mini-games. All present a good level of challenge, even for those who regularly exercise. An exercise trainer is built into the game to offer tips, encouragement and even suggestions as a means to maximize your workout.

The Yoga section allows the player to improve their balance, body control and posture through slow and focused positions. A yellow circle is placed on the screen and players must focus to keep a small red dot in the center of the circle for an extended time, all the while executing proper breathing and posture position. The exercise requires great focus and attention to the body’s center.

Yoga

Strength exercises have the player doing everything from push-ups to lunges. These exercises are meant to push the player’s endurance as they must perform the activities with precision along a monitored tempo. After four exercises, I was ready to call it quits and retire to the couch to enjoy some much needed rest. The strength building techniques work on all aspects of the body, including upper body, abs and lower body.

Leg Stretch

The aerobics section is meant to get the player’s heart rate up. There are several activities, including step aerobics, jogging and cooperative running to improve the player’s cardio. The step aerobics are very intuitive and players are judged by how precise their movements are. Jogging and running employ a Mii trainer for you to follow on your desired length of run. Players will need to utilize the Wii Remote by either placing it in a pocket or holding it in their hand while running.

The balance games are used as a way to mask actual physical training. Games such as using a Hula-Hoop, walking a tight-rope and slalom skiing are just a few of the games that players can have fun completing and unlocking.

Slalom

The game works on all levels. It not only provides an intense workout, but it is presented in a way that makes everything easy and inviting. The latter being the most significant for those who are apprehensive about working out. Exercising can be quite intimidating if you have never touched foot in a gym before. However, Wii Fit provides a very warm and inviting presence, allowing players to ease themselves into the game’s workout routine.

But there lies the rub.

Even though I was able to set a daily, weekly, monthly or even yearly goal, the game doesn’t provide any feedback as to how to actually go about completing your goal. The player is given the tools and techniques, but they are left feeling lost when it comes to actually developing a routine, which is perhaps the most significant part of working out. For people who have never exercised before, how are they supposed to know the frequency and order of techniques to work on? Sure, the game may say that you are obese, but how do you go about improving on your health? It turns into a game of blind darts, where players just close their eyes and randomly select a fitness technique to work on.

Charts

This is where Wii Fit fails. The game does a great job of explaining each and every exercise, but there needs to be some way to give people a set routine. Perhaps the game should have launched with preset routines that could be scaled in difficulty. Otherwise, the player is left feeling lost in a sea of fitness techniques, which is sorely the case.

So while Wii Fit provides players with the tools to improve their health, it doesn’t provide a direction for players to follow. It’s like telling someone they need to drive to Albuquerque, New Mexico when they’ve never been there before. The driver is given a car and a full tank of gas, but no map. The end result is a lost driver meandering aimlessly until he finally gets tired of being confused. The basic principle of working out is to develop a routine and stick with it, which Wii Fit fails to provide. Any gym rat will tell you that repetition and consistency is the most important aspect of having a successful and meaningful workout. I’m confident that Wii Fit works at its goal of making the player healthier, but how many people will lose sight and give up when they find out that they don’t have the proper direction and guidance in game?

Stretching

The Wii balance board then just becomes another useless peripheral that they shelled out hard-earned money for.

This is where I can see the Internet being a major player in the game’s success. By utilizing the Wii Channels, Wii Fit could sponsor an actual instructor to host fitness classes. This way, not only would the player have additional instruction on the techniques, but guidance on how to build a proper workout. Virtual Yoga classes, step aerobics classes and virtual marathons are all things that Wii Fit should be striving for if Nintendo really wants to revolutionize home fitness.

If the game can garner more direction, through the use of online sources, then Wii Fit can become a standard for any home exercise enthusiast. Until then… it just might be doomed to be another fancy paperweight.

Wii: The Green Machine

authormeeker |

So most people have always known that the Nintendo Wii is the most user friendly of the next generation consoles, but did you know that it’s also the most environmentally friendly as well? According to this great Power Consumption Guide by Carl Nelson over at hardcoreware.net, the Nintendo Wii uses about one tenth of the energy than that of an average gaming computer, a PS3 and an XBOX 360.
Power Consumption by Watts for the Wii, PS3, XBOX 360, and a Gaming Computer

While the PS3 often peaked at 199.7 watts, the Wii only peaked at only using 18.4 watts during game play. During idle the Wii uses considerably less energy  unless Wii Connect 24 is on. When it is on, the Wii uses more energy than both the PS3 and XBOX 360, but still overall is not that bad.

Another thing that I have noticed personally in comparison with my Wii and PS3 is that I have to charge my PS3’s controllers more often than I have to charge my Wii batteries. One of the things I attribute this to is that the PS3 does not have a timed auto shut off for its controllers that will turn them off if they haven’t been used in a while. Thus when I come back to my PS3 after work or school I will often find the controller dead because it was on the whole time.

So what does all of this mean for the Nintendo gamer? Well not only are they saving money on their electrical bill, but they are also helping reduce CO2 emissions that is produced for the electricity we use at home. Will playing your Wii over your PS3 or XBOX 360 help prevent global warming? No, but at least you can feel a little better about it if you are concerned for the environment.


GameStop, Inc. GameStop, Inc.

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