First impressions and a mini review of the Wii U (and a few games)

I picked up a pair of Wii U’s on launch day. I ordered a few more when I thought I would be able to cash in and make a quick buck. As it stands right now, I’ll barely break even – auctions on eBay for Wii U consoles aren’t going much higher than retail, and by the time you throw in a game and offer free shipping to make your auction enticing, you’re not doing so well. Prices may go up as we approach the holiday, but this isn’t about whether or not I make a dollar, this is really about what Nintendo has to offer with their early lead in to the “next generation” of consoles.

Because I have a lot of positive things to say, more than most people, I think, I want to get the negative out of the way, first. Continue reading

It's Wii U Weekend!

The Wii U launches on Sunday. The Deluxe Model includes Nintendo Land. Of course, I’ll be buying New Super Mario Bros. U, and feeling like a kid on launch day (and then remembering exactly how much I hated having to turn my game off so my dad could have the TV to watch football, as I have a “prior engagement” for Sunday Night Football). And although I don’t have stars in my eyes and I’m not excited for this console as a gaming console, I’m excited to see it as someone who has owned every console Nintendo has ever released – I’m excited to see it Nintendo mature, to see what is going to come next. I’m excited to see if, this generation, firmware updates will be for more than combating piracy (and failing miserably at even that).

I’m almost anxious, but the feeling, with a little more than 48 hours to go, is nothing like 1996 when I knew there was a Nintendo 64 in the house, but I couldn’t have it until Santa delivered it. It’s certainly not like 1992, when I DIDN’T know there was a Super Nintendo in the house and was blown away to open my Super Mario World / Mario Paint Super NES Super Set. It seems like a life time ago.

To prep myself, mentally, I read up on the latest offering from Nintendo: Iwata Asks: Wii U: The Console. I have to say I’m not floored – we’ve already seen how the hardware barely holds up against the Xbox 360 and the PS3 – it basicall brings the Wii in to the HD era, but it is still sweating itself to be that much more than the Gamecube. Perhaps there is hidden potential to unlock, and I think I’ll have more to say on that next week – but I still have that “new console” buzz going through my mind. I wonder if I’ll get any sleep Saturday night?

A Parents' Guide to Gaming


Today, according to the American Library Association, is National Gaming Day at your Library. As a person who has grown up gaming, I see the confusion in some parents’ eyes as they try to determine what games are right for their children.

Your kid already knows what they want – but just because it’s a game doesn’t necessarily mean you should cave in, especially if you’re the type of parent that pays close attention to the movies your child watches or music they listen to. Why should video games be any different?

So today, I’ll be at my local library presenting, for parents who wish to attend, A Parent’s Guide to Gaming. I will be discussing ESRB ratings, as well as how the individual consoles handle their parental controls. For those unable to attend (the extreme majority of the people who view this website), I’ve prepared a few links that might help you.

Below are videos from the Entertainment Software Association of Canada – now these videos are a little old, but the majority of the information is still the same. I wish I had the ability to record today’s demonstrations, which will all show case the latest revisions of the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii. Since you can’t attend, below the videos are also step-by-step guides from the manufacturer’s themselves, describing in detail how to manage the Parental Controls of each console, with their latest updates.

Video Demonstrations
Configuring Parental Controls video for Microsoft Xbox 360
Configuring Parental Controls video for Sony PlayStation 3
Configuring Parental Controls video for Nintendo Wii

Written Guides
Setup Parental Controls step-by-step guides for Xbox 360
Setup Parental Controls step-by-step guides for PlayStation 3 (PS3)
Setup Parental Controls step-by-step guides for Wii

The Backorder: The Conduit (Wii)

When I first got my hands The Conduit for the Wii, I was excited for all of the great things I had heard about it. Core gamers were supposed to be pleased, hardcore gaming had finally come to the Wii.

Maybe it shouldn’t have been surprised when I was let down in the end. Maybe my expectations were too high all along. But there was so much build up, hype, and even the screenshots made it look glorious! I thought I finally had a reason to dust off the Wii and get excited.

Let’s talk story: it uses every single Sci-Fi stereotype, rehashed and retold stories for about the ten thousandth time. Ever seen an episode of The X-Files? Good, then you’re up to speed. The characters do nothing to make me care, instead it even feels like the game is trying to hrry me through the storyline so that I won’t notice just how bland it is.

Graphically, the game looks about right fo the hardware specs of the Wii. People hate adding “…for a Wii game” behind every other line of their articles, but the fact remains that the Wii is not up to par with other current generation systems. If this game were competing with a PS2 title, hands down it would look fantastic, but the generic enemies and redundant environments did nothing to wow me.

I thought the ssound effects would be the game’ saving grace, and while many weapon and environment sounds were impressive, the terrible voice acting was inexcusable. In a post Uncharted era, the bar has been set.

The game itself has interesting play mechanics, and I did not feel as though I as being forced to ‘waggle’ my way through the game. It was intelligent use of the control scheme, although I still was hoping for something just a little different. More people want to see a shooter on the Wii that doesn’t force the crosshair to go all over the screen, but remain centered as it does with other first person shooters. so far, the best entries to the Wii-Shooter category, The Conduit and Red Steel, both had you shooting all over like a generic light gun game.

I don’t do a lot of multiplayer, but since the experience was supposed to be so unique, I wanted to give it a try. Unfortunately, my first spawn in to a multiplayer match placed me either directly over top of another player or in a wall, or something. I was completely unable to move. I have not returned to the multiplayer menu since.

Maybe if I get Dead Space Extraction on the Wii, soon, I will have my faith in the Wii restored. but right now, rather than suffer through what should have been a better game, I will return to the game I know is laughable, but still fun: the House of the Dead combo pack with the Nyko perfect shot attached to my Wii Remote. It’s like i’m standing in the movie theater arcade all over again!