Tales Of A Couch Potato In The Wii Jungle Of Doom

I have had a crazy-busy summer so far. Class is winding down, though, which means I can finally devote some time to The Film Frontier.

I have missed this place. I did manage to blog a bit for my class. Setting up a blog, making posts, and commenting on others’ posts were actually part of one of our class projects. It was fun and also gave me a chance to try out a different blog provider, WordPress. I will probably stick with Blogger for now, but I think the ideal platform would be a combination of the two.

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It has not been all work this summer, though. Last month, my wife suggested that we buy a Nintendo Wii. I do not think many wives out there suggest that kind of thing, so I was not about to nix the idea. She is also looking forward to seeing The Dark Knight next weekend and even watched the first five minutes online somewhere. What can I say? I am a lucky man.

The thought of buying a Wii had never crossed my mind, though. To the extent that I have played home video games at all, I have always been more of a PC gamer. The PC game market seems to be almost gone, though.

I also enjoy playing 1980s arcade-style video games, like 1942. My first and only video game console purchase was in 1999. I bought a Star Wars Racer version of Nintendo 64. The high of seeing Star Wars: Episode I-The Phantom Menace, which, call me crazy, I actually enjoyed, convinced me to buy a Nintendo just to play a podracing video game.

It was a fine game, but I never finished it. I also never bought another game so the unit mostly collected dust over the years. My brother-in-law took pity on me and donated a few of his old games, though, which helped rekindle my interest for a bit.

The Wii is another story. After all of the effort that it takes to actually find one to buy (sorry eBayers, I’m not taking part in your speculation attempts), you pretty much have to play it. I was lucky in that the hot item at Best Buy that morning was actually the Wii Fit rather than the console itself. They still had one or two consoles left after my purchase, and I did not even make it to the store until five minutes after they opened.

Included with the console is Wii Sports, a collection of five sports-themed games on one disc. Wii Sports is much more active than your typical video game. I am a guy who blogs about movies, DVDs, TV shows, and the occasional comic book. I am a couch potato if you ever saw one.

Despite this status, I always seem to favor sports video games. Perhaps it is my way of living vicariously. In fact, of the games I have loaded on this computer right now, the one that I have played most over the years is Madden NFL 2004.

Anyway, the Wii actually has a wireless remote/controller. I thought perhaps this was to make it easier to sit on the sofa while playing the game, but actually you have to stand up and swing this thing like a bat if you are playing Wii Baseball. That was definitely my favorite game in Wii Sports. It is limited to only three innings, though. Another drawback is that though you ostensibly “pitch” the ball by winding up and swinging the remote forward. The pitching aspect is very rudimentary.

Wii Bowling is also a favorite. You can actually bowl a full ten frames. Again, you use the Wii remote as the “ball” and swing your arm down and release a button to “throw” it. Like all of the Wii Sports games, it has a multi-player option. My wife is extremely competitive, so this offers a bit of fun for me. She claims it is not fair if I “practice” too much on the Wii when she is not around because it makes it easier for me to beat her.

If you really want to work up a sweat, Wii Boxing is the way to go. For this game, you actually hold the Wii remote in one hand, and the supplied Wii nunchuck in the other. Trust me, this is the perfect game after a stressful day at work. It is limited to three rounds, but that is about all this Rocky-wannabe can take! The better you get at it, the tougher your opponents. I have gotten so good that I am afraid to play anymore for fear that I will lose my undefeated status. Yo, Adrian! I did it!

My quest for a more intense baseball game led me to purchase Major League Baseball 2K8. I made the mistake of buying this game without checking for reviews. As a Wii game, it is disappointing. The controls are cumbersome, requiring both the remote and the nunchuck – making for an uncomfortable bat-swinging experience. For 2008, the graphics are also less than stellar. As baseball games go, I pretty much hated it.

However, all was not lost in my quest for a Wii baseball game. Based on great reviews, I next bought MLB Power Pros. Though made by the same company (2K Sports), this game is tons better. It is a 2007 game, so I paid about $30 less than I did for 2K8. Maybe it evens out.

Power Pros has a Wii mode where you can bat and pitch using just the Wii remote. This is limited to exhibition games and a homerun derby. To use most of Power Pros‘ features, though, you will still need to hook in the nunchuck or a classic controller (sold separately) which facilitate play while sitting down.

For me, Power Pros‘ game play options strike a great balance. I can pretend that I am a great baseball player and swing and hit home runs without leaving our family room, or I can play seasons and seasons’ worth of baseball in the old-style, classic controller mode on the comfort of my native environment, the couch. No matter the mode, control of the game is much smoother than the extremely clunky Major League Baseball 2K8.

Power Pros features cartoony versions of the various baseball stars, which is one of the reasons I avoided it at first. They grow on you quickly, though. I would love to see an add-on where you can field a team composed of the Peanuts gang, and a particularly strong hit back at Charlie Brown on the pitcher’s mound will knock his socks off.

Also from the budget rack, we have tried Hot Wheels: Beat That–using a snap-on steering wheel for the Wii remote. We have actually found it easier to steer using the standard controls rather than the wheel, though. I guess they will improve that sort of stuff for the next generation of Wii. Hot Wheels is entertaining, though I will probably be seeking out cheat codes soon in order to unlock upper levels and try out some of the different environments. I just do not have the patience to earn points by accomplishing various mission objectives. I am horrible at video games. I just want to race, man.

In my quest to ensure that Steven Spielberg remains a rich man, we recently purchased his first video game, Boom Blox. We have only scratched the surface of this game (the repetitive action of flinging the Wii remote gets tiring after awhile), but it is definitely fun so far.

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I hate to cut this entry short, but all this talk of baseball makes me want to play a game or two. Have a happy Friday!