The console itself is heavy. Not something I've come to expect from Nintendo, with the 'cube and the 64 being so light. The overall look is very... Apple. ATi still has their sticker on the system, which I still say was the best marketing decision they ever made. The top opens nicely to hide controller slots for the classic controllers and/or GameCube controllers. Don't want your wires showing? Don't plug 'em in.
The only bother from the console itself is the length of the sensor bar cord. Having a projection TV means that the screen is on one side of the room, and the receiver, projector, and consoles all reside on the other. Our Wii is now hidden at the side of the couch, halfway between the screen and the rest of the setup. Even then, the sensor bar is not directly under the image, and it throws off the aim a bit.
When we powered up the system, the greeting was essentially, "Daddy, what's my name?" Yes, you name your Wii. I wanted to call it Richard, but in the end we went with something else. Enter the time and date, then it's off to the channel screen.
Now, at this point you may be asking, "I bought a game console, not a cable box!" You would be right in saying so, too. Think of channels as programs. You choose what channel (program) to run, and it runs it. Eventually you'll get your weather and news from your Wii, thus replacing the need for your favorite web portal (if you have the wireless internets, that is). For now, you can play your games, buy classic games, make a Mii, and send mail to other Wii owners or anybody with an email address.
Now, on to the games!
First up was Wii Sports. And excellent intro to the control system, we broke in the console with a two player boxing match, followed up by some good old baseball. For a rather low end game, the was excessively fun. The controls have you moving around, and swinging the bat is exactly that. you swing the wiimote like a bat, including stance, height of the swing, speed, and tilt of the bat. That game ended great, it was a 2-0 shutout for the Yankees (me) versus the Red Sox (him). When swinging the wiimote, it's hard to let it slip and go flying across the room. Neither of us has done so yet, and it seems you really have to just let it go for it to go flying. I'll still wear the wrist strap, though. More fun that way. A fun little feature is that the game uses the Mii avatar you made as your character ingame. Wii Sports Tennis is like ping pong +1.
Once we were familiar with the controls, it was on to Excite Truck. In this one, you hold the wiimote sideways and use it like a steering wheel. That's how you steer and adjust balance, the gas button is under your right thumb, and I suppose there's a brake button but who needs it? We're talking Excite Truck here, not Gran Turismo. What makes this game fun is the controls, plain and simple. Multiplayer is really lacking, but single player is a blast.
Next up was Rayman Raving Rabbids. Let me preface this by saying that I despise games compsed entirely of mini-games. As far as minigames go, it was more fun that WarioWare. The game has a great sense of humor. Would I play it if there was anything else to play? Nope. But that's because of the style, not the content. Just not my thing.
We quickly changed pace and landed in Hyrule, for the game everybody Nintendo fanboy has been creaming himself over for the past few years. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is OoT +1 in terms of terrain graphics. The character models are somewhat better, and (thank $deity) there's no Navi. Instead, you get a wise cracking creature of darkness bossing you around in a sadistically cute manner. After four hours of play, the first temple is down and I'm at the second pre-temple... area... thing. Play it and you'll understand.
An important note about Twilight Princess is the size of Hyrule Field. I was under the impression that the overworld was huge. Well, I'll put it bluntly: Hyrule Field is about the same size as my backyard. I live in the middle of Boston, and have no backyard. The field is frickin' tiny. It made me sad.
After getting our release from Zelda, it was onward and upward to Red Steel, the game that makes you wish you were a ninja. The graphics are marginally better than Max Payne. The story is so very linear that it's distracting. The controls are bulky and the game doesn't seem to like our projection screen. It may just be our setup, but the aim keeps jumping to the center of the screen and off to the sides, even after recalibrating it several times. The game has potential, but only in the same way replaying Half-Life 1 does. Also, this was the only game to crash on us when we made too many bullet holes in the walls.
Overall, the experience of the Wii is an amazing thing. More games need to come out like Wii Sports though, because that best utilizes the wiimote so far. The system has a new feature to Nintendo consoles called "loading time" that Sony gamers should be familiar with. The times are still lower than that of the competition, but they're there, and it's another thing to get used to from a Nintendo console. Flailing about with the sword in Zelda is extremely fun, and for the lazy you really only have to move your wrist slightly.
It should be noted that part of my Wii experience was waiting in line at the midnight release, playing the demo PS3 box. It crashed within 20 minutes and seems to have a feature called "Windows Media Player" for audio CD playback. Welcome to 8 years ago, guys.