A Nice Holiday Break

Posted on November 27, 2006

Tamarah, Nova, Glenn, and I just returned from the 4 day weekend… and man was it nice. Now that my home is “the office” there was more an appreciation for leaving than I’ve had in the past. Most important I only did about 2-3 hours of work while on vacation, which was nice.

Interesting highlights include seeing Happy Feet with the kids, the first movie we’ve taken both of them too (Nova’s first movie experience was The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy) and spending a lot of time with my brother-in-laws Nintendo Wii.

A quick review of Happy Feet: Propaganda Crap. Seriously, I kid you not. This G rated film that looked awesome in trailers is not the cute and fuzzy romp you expect, the stuff you see in the trailers only accounts for about 5% of the film and that part is really cute and funny. Toward the end of the film there is a scene in the UN! Seriously. I don’t care about the specifics of the issues raised in the film, nor how you fall on them, the point was to go and see a cute and funny film to escape the real world, not be beat over the head with political issues while my children chuckle at the cute penguins. If you think I’m kidding search Google for “Propaganda Happy Feet”. So, anyway, just be aware of this before seeing the film. Your kids won’t pick up on any of this stuff but you might want to bring an iPod or book to read after about the first 20 minutes or so.

Much more exciting was the Nintendo Wii! Pandora, my bro-in-law, stood in line at the LA release party for almost 12 hours to get one! I was fortunate to enjoy playing it on his gamers-dream Sony Grand Wega 52″ DLP, which he bought solely for gaming, he doesn’t even have cable.

The included Wii title, Wii Sports, its a ton of fun to play. Like many of you, I read the reviews of the Wii for months but was reserving judgement on the new revolutionary controller untill I tried it for myself. Wii Sports definately shows off just how powerfully enjoyable the system can be. The graphics are PS2 grade at best but who cares!!! Honestly, its massive fun. I’ve become addicted to both Wii Sports Golf and Bowling.

Most interesting of the various sports games was Boxing, in which you attach the “NumbChuck” controller (its wired and plugs into the primary controller, you hold the Wii controller in your right hand and the NumbChuck in your left) so that you box with both hands. Jab with your left, punch with your right, and you block your face by holding the controllers together in front of your face. The result is a very interactive and enjoyable gaming experience. The graphics don’t matter because your part of the action and dealing with the game play not just staring at pixels.

One unforeseen aspect of the Wii, that I’ve seen others comment on since its release, is that you do get some type of workout playing. After 2 hours of bowling I had to take a break and rub my forearms for a bit. This isn’t a knock on it, rather a great sign of an immersive and energetic game play experience. Games might actually being enjoying calisthenics or other forms of real world exercise to help them improve their game play. Of course its electronic and can be fooled, such as in boxing you can stop throwing real punches and just flick the controller forward, but its not nearly as much fun.

I also played ExciteTruck, a really fun and fast paced racing game inspired by ExciteBike of yore. When playing you hold the Wii controller sideways, gripping it on both ends like a steering wheel and then you literally steer the truck by rotating it. It might sound a little odd at first but you completely forget the size of the controller and just drive much more naturally than you would with a D-pad or joysticks.

And so, I give the Wii two massive thumbs up. Absolutely revolutionary and innovative. Nintendo yet again takes the world of gaming forward in a massive leap and just passively holding a controller with a D-pad and joysticks in your hand just seems totally boring. Looking at forthcoming titles like Call of Duty only further pushes me toward the inevitable conclusion: for $250 this is the best console on the market and worth every single damned penny. PS3 might have nice graphics but has no interesting games and my current game of interest is FF XII which was released last month for PS2. Save the $600 and go for the fun console that you’ll enjoy playing. The only little warning is that if your like me and have a lamer CRT television thats sub-36″, you’ll probly get sick of that thing really fast when your interacting with your Wii. Once you plop down that $250 for the console be ready to budget for a TV upgrade.