I have had an Xbox 360 for about three months. Under normal circumstances such a short period of time would never be enough to wear down the novelty of this fantastic new toy. However, about three weeks ago tragedy struck. (No red circles were involved, the box works fine). I accidentally deleted about 25 hours worth of progress in one of my all time favorite games: Culdcept. The second I realized what I had done, I almost vomited from grief. I had gotten more than halfway through the game collecting about 300 of the 500 available cards, and all of it went up in smoke with a simple misclick. For the following week I could not bring myself to play another game. I could not even look at my Xbox without feeling a pang of regret. I almost picked up reading again, like some sort of a caveman. But, after some minimal contemplation I decided that instead of sulking, buying a Wii would cure all my ills. I figured that the time I would spend waving my arms about in front of the TV would heal my Culdept wound and eventually lead back full circle to my 360. (360°… it’s a joke. Get it?)
So, I walked up to the counter at my regular Gamestop and without any pretense said: “I’ll take one Wii, please.” Well, after the usually friendly salesnerd reined in his gale of laughter I was informed that there was a severe shortage of Wii’s. I am sure this will come as no surprise for the well informed hardcore gamers, but I just play games about 4 hours a day; I don’t live and breathe them or follow any gaming news outside of release dates for games that interest me. So, I was surprised and disappointed, especially after I found out, upon further inquiry, that not only could I not reserve a Wii from their next delivery but that I would have to call them every morning around 10:00am to see if they had gotten a shipment at all, at which point I would have to leave my job and speed to the store in order to have a chance at snagging this enormously popular machine. Forcing my outrage aside, I actually tried this for a week. I was ready to lie to my boss about how my girlfriend had just called me and needed me to take her to the emergency room, when instead I’d be driving recklessly to satisfy my leisure bug. Alas, every morning they told me the same thing: “no Wiis.”
I went to my second option. The good folks at Best Buy informed me that my best bet was to monitor newspaper listings to see when they were scheduled for the next shipment of Wii’s. After I finished bating my eyelashes at them in indignation they mentioned the possibility of a shipment that Sunday; but I would have to be at the store two hours before opening. Here, I briefly contemplated buying the console on e bay but prices online were as high as five or six hundred dollars for half-assed bundles that counted Wii Sports as 6 games. Now, I had not stood in a significant line for anything since I left the former Soviet Union 14 years ago, but that Sunday I got my ass out of bed at 9am, grabbed a folding chair and a blanket (it’s cold in Chicago) and went to sit in line at Best Buy.
The line itself was a microcosm of the now infamous Wii demographic. Out of about 50 people there were only two teenagers. The rest were middle-aged guys, Mexican women and a Japanese businessman in a suit that resembled the characters from the Wii commercials so much that I was momentarily confused. I bummed a smoke from the 40 year old guy next to me and he told me that Best Buy had gotten exactly 65 Wii’s this morning as a gesture of support for the launch of Super Mario Brawl. Unwittingly, I had gone to the store on a good day. After all, with an overwhelming number like 65 my chances were good. I was number 20 in line but I did not relax until a dour faced employee finally gave out the tickets guaranteeing that we would get a Wii.
Five minutes after the doors slid open under Best Buy’s golden letters I had my Wii. Although, I must say I was a bit miffed that with the second Wiimote and Nunchuck the price came to $340.00, a $90 cry from the psychologically satisfying number of $250. (After all, my 360 had cost me $380). And since I’m on this subject, let me mention here Wii’s heavy concentration on accessorizing. In order to play Gamecube games on my Wii (and I simply had to play FE: Path of Radiance before FE: Radiant Dawn) I have since had to buy Gamecube controllers and a Gamecube memory card. $20×2 and $18 respectively. So, when you add everything up, including the second Wiimote and Nunchuck, my current Wii set up cost me a hair under $400. Of course, I realize that I did not have to have this exact set up and could have settled with the inconveniences of the standard package, but why should I? I’m just saying folks, if you do the Wii like you should, just as with the two next gen HD systems, there are hidden costs.
Along with the Wii, I bought four games: Super Mario Galaxy, Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, RE4: Wii Edition, and Zack and Wiki, of course. (Let me add my voice to Pat’s and say that if you own a Wii without owning Zack and Wiki we can’t be friends any more) I have been playing these games for a couple of weeks now and I have been flailing my arms around a plenty. And let me say, the thought of going back to my 360 has not occurred to me yet. I am sure when the call of more mature games becomes stronger I will return to it. As a matter of fact, every once in a while as I’m aiming at a hungry Yuma in order to feed it, I hear the siren call of my third game of Mass Effect. And I’m fine with that. I have two distinctly different machines now: one that concentrates on more social games, full of childlike wonder and fantasy; and the other that concentrates on individualism and my desire for a more authentic interpretation of reality. They compliment each other fantastically and now I can happily say that I am finished with this generation of consoles.
Oh, but what about the PS3 you ask? Well, I’ll tell you this: FUCK THEM. Fuck the PS3. Fuck it with a big infected rubber dick with nails and eyeballs in it. Fuck the gaming branch of Sony for making me buy a Microsoft product by producing a ridiculously inferior product. Fuck them for dropping the ball so spectacularly after the wonder that was PS2. Fuck that bulky monstrosity of theirs that has virtually no quality games on it. If someone gifted me the PS3, I swear I would decline it. I will buy a PS3 only when the next three conditions (listed in order of importance) are met: 1) they put out more than five good games for their console, 2) they lower their price to human levels, and 3) they redesign and shrink that gargantuan shell of theirs. All three of these have to be met in order for me to even give PS3 a second thought. (And that’s right, I care about the aesthetics of my electronics. It’s my rule. You don’t have to like it.) Since none of these things are likely to happen in the foreseeable EVER, (ok, so they did drop the price, but I wrote this article before that and besides the other two conditions have yet to be met) I can once again proudly say: I am finished with this generation of consoles. Wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii….
And speaking of which, let me end on a positive note for the Wii…
The other day I came home from a very frustrating day at work, tired and irritable. I walked into the house and saw my girlfriend playing Mario Galaxy. She was at Mario’s base, so when she got up to give me a hug the absolutely delightful waltz that accompanies that part of the game kept playing in the background. We hugged for a second but before we disengaged, we naturally launched into a waltz right in the middle of our living room. I had not even taken my coat off yet. And you know something, I liked it. It was good. Both of us will probably remember that. And we’ll remember how afterwards we played the game together and tried to have one of us control the movement while the other aimed. And how we failed and laughed about it. And if you combine that with all those times my friends got drunk and tried to play Wii tennis at the detriment of every piece of furniture in my house, one thing is undeniable: The Wii is good for memories and that is something you can’t put a price on.