Wii Played

It’s more than a little embarrassing that I bought a Wii back in April of 2007, when they were really quite hard to find, and then didn’t really play any Wii games until earlier this year.  I mucked around a little bit with Rayman, which is the game I bought with the system, tried out the Nights sequel when it was released, and, well, mostly used the thing to play Gamecube titles.

By the way, I do have a perfectly functional Gamecube.  I even have the component cables for the thing, so I can’t even justify the Wii as “well, at least I can play Gamecube titles in progressive scan mode.”

Anyway.  So, I played Klonoa and Oneechanbara earlier this year, bringing my “games completed” record to, uh, 2.  Not a great record considering the cost of the system and spare controllers and so on.

Oh! And of course we have a Wii Fit that’s been hooked up once.  I think that’s traditional.

So call it $400 for the system and accessories, or $200 per game played.  Not good economics, unless you’re a Neo Geo collector.

I brought that down to $80 a game today by finishing three games AND even played a bit of a fourth.  Go me!

In order, I finished Muramasa, played through Octomania, and finally finished Rayman Raving Rabbids, the game I – as previously noted – bought WITH the system.

Muramasa is a really spectacular game to play – and I’m not just being swayed by Kongiku’s huge tracts of land.  There are parts of the game where you’re running through beautifully painted countryside scenery, and as you run along, the screen gets an aged-silk filter over it and it adds vertical lines so you look like you’re actually running through a painting. It’s a stunning effect.

It does re-use backgrounds and enemy sprites a lot.  That’s understandable, considering how much work each one must have been to create, but it does stand out pretty sharply after you’ve spent a couple of hours at it.  On the other hand, the repetition of background elements lets them do some neat tricks.  For one example, there’s a town background you run through quite often, it’s all lights and festive lanterns and the silhouettes of partygoers being seen through windows.  You get awfully used to this town background, and then they throw the same background at you again – only this time, it’s dark, decrepit, rotting, abandoned.  It comes as such a contrast to the “town” you’ve seen over and over again, it has quite a bit of impact.

I finished the “Momohime” chapter, and I’m counting that as “beaten”, but I may go back and play the other character’s story soon.  I understand that there’s a ton of duplication between the two characters, so I think it needs to rest for a little bit.


After finishing Muramasa, I switched gears and tried Super Smash Brothers: Brawl, the latest in Nintendo’s rather popular line of crossover fighting games.  It’s the first time for me trying any title in the series, and I have to say that it didn’t really stick.

I’ll put it like this:  I played a few matches in the 1P vs. CPU mode, and that went all right, and then I started the “Subspace Emissary” mode that represents the story mode for the game.  I played through 7 or 8 levels of “Subspace Emissary”, and then I got a Disc Read Error.

I walked over to the Wii, reset it, and then just didn’t feel like going back to the game.  To sum up:  I wasn’t annoyed that the console had locked up and I wasn’t annoyed that the previous users of the disc had abused it to the point where I got a read error – I just didn’t have any emotions one way or the other.  I could have kept playing, and probably would have if the game hadn’t glitched on me, but on the other hand I didn’t feel any motivation to get back to it.

Fortunately, I didn’t pay anything for the experience.  For reasons I can’t quite fathom, my college library actually has quite a few videogames in their collection, and students can check them out as if they were, well, books.  Of course I find this out AFTER I spend $25 to buy Batman: Arkham Asylum, when I could just have checked it out of the library, but I will chalk that up to a learning experience.

So after that, I went through the Wii games and pulled out Octomania, which is pretty much a archetypal example of the “quirky Japanese puzzle game” genre – your character is a cute if clumsy magician, the game is a “match x of y color” game with a story revolving around Takoyaki, you face off against various wacky foes, it’s all done very dramatically…

I think I’ve realized that I no longer really care for the genre.

That’s a bit harsh.  I’ll temper it a bit.  I think I no longer care for the genre on traditional consoles.  I think it’s perfectly suited to portable consoles, but it seems a waste to just sit down, at home, and shuffle multiple Octopi of similar colors onto takoyaki grills.

It’s a little sad, because I got hooked on the genre through PuyoPuyo on the PC Engine, but I think I’ll restrain my purchases of similar titles in the future.

I did play through the arcade mode, largely thanks to the game being very generous with powerups after you lose a fight and have to retry it, watched the ending credits, put my initials in the high score table, and popped it out of the Wii.  I think it will be a good vs. game for when I have a friend over, but I doubt I’ll go back to the 1 player mode ever.

As I was putting Octomania back, I was shuffling through the dozen or so Wii titles we have, and that’s when I realized that I still had the Rayman game, that I’d had it since April of 2007, and that I was probably pretty close to the end of it and that I should buckle down and give it a go.

It turns out that I was quite close.  I needed to play through four days’ worth of challenges, which took a couple of hours, and then I got a fairly unsatisfying ending followed by some frankly hilarious credits.

My disappointment at the unsatisfying ending is assuaged a bit by the discovery that there is no “Good Ending” – it’s possible that one exists, but there are bugs in the game that prevent anyone from scoring high enough to find out.

I’m not at all surprised by that.  When Ubisoft was making the game, the Wii was a bit of an unknown – and honestly, most people expected it to fail.  Nintendo hadn’t had the best record with home consoles, and it was coming out in the same Christmas season as the Playstation 3.  Ubisoft can be forgiven for maybe not throwing very many resources at the project.

Bugs aside – and also putting aside the occasional minigame that was not very well thought out – I really enjoyed the game.  I’ve never played a “Rayman” game before, and I doubt I’ll make an effort to seek any of them out; the stars here are the Rabbids and I suspect they’ve supplanted Rayman in the mascot department at Ubisoft.

Awfully productive day for cracking away at the ol’ backlog.  Amazing what you can accomplish when school’s out for a couple of weeks.  🙂

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