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How to Review Wii Games

How to Review Wii Games

by T.J. GoforthJuly 19, 2006

Matt’s IGN Blog states the reviews that he and the rest of the staff have to consider in the Wii titles.  It will certainly be different then other systems, mind you. 

It’s slow. Really, really slow. Nintendo is being extra quiet on Wii and most of the third parties making games for the system are following suit. As a result, you’re not seeing a lot of breaking new content on our Wii channel, which is unfortunate.

That doesn’t mean nothing’s happening, though. I’m talking with a lot of studios about their projects and I’m beginning to unearth new details on games and hardware. I may whip up a rumor report today or tomorrow, which hasn’t happened in what feels like years. I’m not sure if Ed the Janitor will return, however, as he’s an icon of the N64 and GameCube eras, as far as I’m concerned.

Got Super Monkey Ball Adventure in for GameCube. Hooked it up to our new projector system and played some this morning. Pretty good. I’ll have a hands-on impressions update soon. One disappointment is that the framerate is not a rock-solid 60, as it has been for previous games. In fact, I want to say that the game runs at 30 frames.

Bozon leaves for Comic-Con today. He’ll be down in San Diego mingling with people who actually smell worse than die-hard videogame fans. Hard to believe, but apparently they exist. I guess Nintendo will be showing off some DS games, and companies like Activision will be on-hand with their comic titles. So he’ll at least have a few things to cover. Obviously, nothing Wii-related, though.

September is the month. Something’s happening then. A Wii-focused event, most likely. I expect we’re going to learn lots at this event and play lots more. Plus, we should get the final release date and price for Wii at around the same time.

All sorts of rumors going on about when this baby is going to launch. Some say late October. Others early November. But we know officially that it has to launch before Thanksgiving. Which puts it — at the very most — four months off. That is nothing, people. We’re going to be in Wii territory in about 120 days or, by some accounts, much sooner. And in another month and a half, we’ll start to post steady news and coverage.

I’m figuring Wii will launch with upward of 20 games. And this doesn’t account for the Virtual Console titles. I’ll be posting some rumors on how many of those to expect at launch, too. Bozon and I are going to be damned busy first previewing and then reviewing all of these games at launch and I’m really looking forward to it. Better to be swamped with content than to fight for scraps.

(Nintendo Wii; hot girl sold separately)

Tell you what, it’s going to be interesting. These launches are always potentially dangerous from a reviewer’s standpoint. We have to remain open-minded and level-headed as we go through the games and ultimately create a benchmark. It’s not always easy. Back in the day, I gave Luigi’s Mansion a 7.0 and in hindsight, I’m very happy I did. It was a fun game, but it was also a one-trick pony, and it was short.

For argument’s sake let’s pretend I was so charmed by the game that I gave it a 9.0 — certainly some outlets scored it much higher than we did. Would our ratings system have been flawed from the beginning? Could I with a straight face state that Luigi’s Mansion deserved to be in the same ratings tier as Metroid Prime, Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker and Resident Evil 4? I think we would have had a big problem on our hands.

In short, if you overrate in the beginning, you’re effed in the end. A more appropriate example of this philosophy may lie with rating the first Madden football game on any given console. If it’s spectacular and you give it a 9.8 from the get-go, what happens when three iterations later EA makes a truly revolutionary football game? Do you give it a 9.9 and say it’s leaps and bounds better than anything before it? Does a 0.1 review difference really illustrate that point?

You could argue that it’s not in the end number, but rather what you write in the review that should be considered, and that’d certainly be true. But it’s also highly unrealistic. Fact is, people love those numbers and — right or wrong — they use them as a scale by which everything else is judged.

The issue is further complicated for Wii reviews because we’re in new territory. When the Xbox 360 editors review the first iteration of 360 Madden, they can at least look to the last generation as a reference point. Right off the bat, the graphics are cleaner, but it’s lacking tons of major features. So of course it’s a fairly easy critique. But what about the upcoming Wii version? Can I really look to the GameCube version as a reference point? I don’t think so. First, the Wii build will obviously show improved visuals and we can note that, but as we all know, graphics are not the primary selling point for this version. Rather, it’s the new control method, and that cannot be compared to anything else.

Basically, when we review Wii games, we go in almost green, and we have to try to carve out a new benchmark. It’s both a little daunting and, for me, really exciting. I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’m looking forward to throwing away some of the more traditional qualifiers, too. For example, I highly doubt that any Xbox 360 game whose graphics are less than spectacular will score in the 9s or 10s. But can a really generic looking title like Wii Sports Tennis hit the mark? Honestly, it could, because we’re really putting gameplay first again and graphics second. For titles like these, gameplay is the primary qualifier, and that’s really refreshing.

(Do I think Wii Sports Tennis will get that high of a score? Based on my E3 experiences, probably not. It’s good, mind you, but I think it’s going to take a little more than that to nab such high marks on our Wii channel.)

Furthermore, it’s going to be really interesting to look at games that were more or less the same on GameCube, but now feature dramatically different control. What happens if the new controls actually make the experience worse? Would our critique of the game need to be that much harsher? I think Metroid Prime 3 will ultimately play better than its predecessors, but what if the new controls just stink?

Lots to think about.

About The Author
T.J. Goforth
I'm 25 and own my own home. I have one step child and a wife. I work as a Team leader at a restuarant about 50 hrs. a week. Otherwise, I surf the web or play video games.

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