December 5th, 2006:

I’m Wii-lly Excited!

wii.jpgFriday is the day that home console gaming changes forever. Friday is the day that the most revolutionary console in recent times is released in the UK. Friday is the day that 1000s of people will be queueing to pick up their pre-orders and others will be left disappointed. Friday is Wii Day!

Nintendo’s new console, the Wii (pronounced Wee), is quite unlike any console available but certainly the kind of machine that only Nintendo could get away with. Unlike the 360 and the PS3 it isn’t all about cramming in as many processor cycles into a box as possible and being graphic focussed. It’s about having fun.

wii-sports-tennis.jpgThe Wii remote, or wii-mote, is a completely new type of controller, seemingly very basic to look at, it has motion sensors hidden within that makes Wii games a lot more interactive than anything seen before. Wii Sports, the game that comes bundled, includes several sports including tennis and basically you hit the ball by swinging the remote like a racquet. You can hit hard, soft, lob, apply spin, anything really by mimicking what you would do with a real life racquet with the remote.

An additional controller, the nunchuk, connects to the wii-mote and gives you a controller in each hand. This is used in a basic level in Wii Sports Boxing with each controller representing a hand of your boxer allowing you to punch with left and right hands. Bringing both remotes up to your face will cause your on screen boxer to guard his face. It really is very intuitive.

twi1.jpgThere are so many games due out for launch that it would be easy to get bogged down among the sheer number. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of poor games likely to make the launch, but some very good ones. Madden ’07 with the wii-mote will bring a whole new dimension to the long running series, Wii Play gives you a free controller and 6 mini games including pool and shooting, and there are numerous others. Perhaps the stand-out game though is Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess which is currently being bought by 80% of Wii owners in Japan and the US. Reviews for this are suggesting an instant classic.

Technically the Wii is not as impressive as it’s peers but then it costs a lot less, isn’t really aimed at the same market and does have a lot of innovative features – notably the built in wireless capability bringing instant multi player gaming. This feature will also allow you access to the Virtual Console, a mode that will allow you to download old games on-line for your console. Classics such as Mario 64, Sonic and a huge number of others are available. These games are likely to cost you between £7 and £3 a go.

I really haven’t done the console justice in a few short paragraphs but I suggest you buy one. You’ll be Wii-lly excited too.

The Death of English Cricket II

ashes_fire.jpgFollowing this mornings horrific capitulation in the Second Test I propose we retrieve the bails and cremate them to signify the death of English cricket. Perhaps we could put them in an urn and call them “the ashes” or something.

It baffles me as to the kind of spirit and mental strength is running through a team that can basically hand over a test match so spectacularly. To go from 69-1 to 129 all out when you’ve managed to score over 550 declared in the first innings is just unacceptable.

Refusal to pick your best spinner and probably wicket keeper on the basis that the replacements might score a couple more runs is a bad idea. And when these two players contribute 36 in 2 innings you really do realise your plan has backfired. Key players missing (Jones, Vaughan, Tresco), key players out of form (Harmison, Strauss) and other players just coming back from injury with no time to find form (Giles, Freddie) – the entire selection has been a cock up from Day One.

Hopefully the third test will see some changes and we’ll at least make a fight of it. Glenn McGrath’s 5-0 prediction isn’t looking quite so stupid this time however.