So, picture the scene. It's 8AM, and already a massive horde is forming to get into the press preview of this morning's E3. The biggest queue? The South Hall, where Sony and Nintendo are exhibiting right next to each other.
At 9, the doors open and there is a mad rush to be the first through the doors. bit-tech
is at the very front of the masses and we literally run to get to the Nintendo stand - to discover a line. Yes, Wii is being shown away from the main show floor - and other exhibitors
are already queuing to see it before the press get in.
Half an hour later, and we're inside those hallowed walls. People are playing Wii all around us. It's all here - Mario, Zelda, Tennis, Excite Truck, Red Steel - everything that we've read about and fantasised about for the last few months. People are swinging remotes, ogling over the hardware, and generally cracking up laughing. Everybody here is laughing.
So, we muscle our way through to play some games. And, holy crap, this thing is absolutely brilliant.
The Wiimote itself is nothing short of sublime. It has a great build quality and feels really good in the hand. The buttons are just where they should be, and a quick straw poll of nearby players suggests that everyone else thinks the same. We get the opportunity to play with the attachments, including the retro controller and the nunchuck. They're all awesome. Plus, check out that gun attachment. Mmmm.
So first up, we get down to playing the sports titles - golf and tennis. These involve swinging the Wiimote with the right velocity, at the right time. With golf, you've gotta keep the remote straight, and put the right amount of swing on it. Too much swing and you'll overshoot - not enough and, well, you can guess. Tennis is similar - you need to swipe the ball at the right time with the remote, and the sensors inside are sensitive enough to enable you to put topspin and slice on the ball, which is pretty neat. The titles were running at standard definition, and we expect that they'll be significantly prettied up before release.
Older readers might well remember the old Excite Bike on the NES. This Wii title takes the awesome physics and bouncy-vehicle gameplay and updates it. The truck is controlled by tilting the remote like a steering wheel - it feels very sensitive and, once you've got used to the weirdness, it opens up a whole new world of fun. Definitely a surprise hit.
Zelda: Twilight Princess:
Pretty spectacular. I have to preface this with the fact that I'm not a massive Zelda fan myself, but everyone else in the hall was absolutely going mental for it. I mean, bonkers. It looked like it worked very well, and the combination of nunchuck and Wiimote worked very well. The graphics look pretty neat, and the gameplay seems to benefit from the extra immersion of the remote, which is used for targeting your bow and arrow. This is coming out the same day as the Wii, and the general opinion was that the console could launch without anything else and still sell gazillions.
Playing the original Sonic on a Nintendo felt weird - but, as with Mario 64 and the original Mario titles that were on display, the games were exactly the same as they always have been. Pretty cool nostalgia.
All in all we came away from playing Wii with the most humongous grin on our faces. Nintendo has created a console that is not only graphically pleasing, but the most fun we've had in absolute ages. When Nintendo talks about getting non-gamers to play, and giving gamers now a whole new experience, it really is true. The Wii is accessible to newbies, but also totally involving for old hands.
Wii're excited. Has Wii's E3 appearance got you going? Let us know over in the forums.