So, I excitedly collected my Nintendo Wii last Sunday, sometime around midnight, joining a lovable rag-tag group (Panic and Otherwise, even my sister came along for "fun") at our wonderful Pioneer Place ElBo. (Entering the mall at midnight is unsettling — as Steve noted, it was hard to shake the feeling that a horde of hungry zombies was waiting right around the corner! "Year!"). Nick, Manager Of The Year in my heart, cheerily greeted us at the door, we all waited in line for a bit, an awkward but nerdfelt countdown began, Steve cut in line, and then we all went home with our magic boxes and slept.

I should note that before even receiving the system, I was struggling with how to cover it here: I could do an elaborate video review, which lord knows would be fun, but it's a much harder thing than a Nintendo DS to "film" in a satisfying way, particularly when your professional video solution is a tiny digital camera. And sure, I could also take lots of pictures and short screens of the menus and such but, really, is there anything you guys don't already know about this system? I mean, really. So, I was stumped.

Then fate stepped in: my Wii broke.

Stop laughing. Almost immediately, it stopped ejecting any DVDs. Actually, it only successfully worked once. Zelda is now forever stuck inside the system. It's not the physical eject button itself — pressing it will instantly wake up the system when first plugged in — but rather, I'm assuming, the slot-loading drive mechanism. It just doesn't want to eject. I can't eject. No eject.

You might say, "Cabel, surely having a permanently-Zelda gaming system for all time is not the worst of fates!", and you'd be mostly right. But you must know me — I couldn't comfortably play the system knowing in the back of my mind that it's broken and, eventually, I'm going to have to send it in. Stress.

Thus, my Nintendo Wii has been sent in for repair.

I shipped it overnight (hooray, it fit in a FedEx box, with room for bubble wrap!), and Nintendo received it on Tuesday — 11/21/06. That's right, two days after launch. Yes, I'm crying as I type this. As of yet, there's been no status update on how the repair is going, which does not instill confidence. 12 days was the maximum quote, and I'll keep all of you posted. This should be an interesting test, if nothing else.

What I Can Tell You

While my Wii is being lovingly and gently brought back to life (snek snek!), I might as well throw out my first impressions into the great overflowing sea of internet bullhonkey.

There's only one negative. Owning an Xbox 360 and an LCD TV has kind of ruined me for high definition signals, and I do wish the Wii could go higher-res, any native widescreen signal will do. It's not even so much while I'm playing a game, to be honest, but the freakin' text — the menu text, the Wii Shopping channel text, etc., all blurred out and fuzzy and faux-squashed at the source and re-stretched on the TV. It's not really Nintendo's fault, as I completely understand why they did it, and it's way easier for me to blame Microsoft for supporting these damn high definition signals, bastardos. Still, I dream, and I'm sure I'm not alone.

Other than that?

I haven't had this much fun playing a game console since my parents drove up in the station wagon to pick my sister and I up from school and pulled back a blanket in the back seat to reveal a shiny new Atari 2600 that we played non-stop for months and months and that my grandmother (bless her sweet soul) continuously referred to as "The Guitari".

Everything about this system is a joy. The controller is so stunningly natural as a pointing device, and as a gaming device, and is so comfortable to hold with such great build quality and industrial design that it really does feel like you're using the future. On-screen typing is fast, navigating the menus is instant, everything just flows and pours from your hand into one screen to the next.

We spent hours — really, hours — just screwing around with creating our Mii's (tell me, why is this fun!?), then sending them to our friends and writing funny notes to each other over the internet, then using the photo browser to pop in memory cards and so very very quickly checking out our latest photos, then decorating said photos with goofytarded drawings and also sending them to each other, and all of that good stuff. And we hadn't even played a game yet.

Of course, Wii Sports is a genuine killer app, and the perfect pack-in title — the only title for the system that really makes good on the promise of what we might be experiencing consistently a year from now. Sure, the sports games are dead simple, and sure, they're about as "hardcore" as "Barbie Horse Adventures II: Totally Horsin' Around Specifically In A Paddock". That doesn't stop these games from being freakin' fun. Bowling is the true star here. Mike gets very serious when he plays. I like the tennis. Zelda — well, the first two hours, anyway, before I sent the system back :( :( — suffered a bit from some janky game design in the opening tutorial town (who fished what with the slingshot in the monkey basket now?), but once I was running through a field, swinging — swinging my sword, instantly aiming my slingshot, defeating weird enemies, and getting a touch of that Zelda Magic, I knew it was going to be amazing, and it makes this damn repair all the more unbearable.

Put simply, this system is pure fun in a beautiful tiny box.

The Help Cat

Everything beautiful about the Nintendo Wii can be summed up in one embodiment: The Help Cat . Living deep within the Photo Channel, this is my 2007 vote for the greatest, weirdest, most terriblewonderful User Interface Design idea of all time — contextual help you have to catch. Something about this is so totally Nintendo, totally ridiculous, and totally a great use of the Wii Remote. While we're easily amused, make no mistake, people: we spent five minutes having fun just trying to catch a cat that gives you help. What more can be said about the Nintendo Wii?

So, here's hoping my Nintendo Wii comes back from repair soon, at which point I'll get down to some serious winter time Zelda gaming.

Until then, I'd love to hear what you think of the system — I'll live vicariously through your vibrant tales.


When you get your system back, please make a video review, I loved the DS ones so much.
Anonymous William Wilkinson 11/25/2006 10:02 PM  
Zelda before you become a wolf is good, but nothing incredible. The parts of Zelda after you become a wolf are life altering.

I can't wait until you get a chance to try it and write up your impressions.
Blogger Carl Johnson 11/25/2006 10:17 PM  
Really sorry to hear that your Wii broke.

But at least you got to see The Help Cat! I'm pretty sure I saw a Help Dog, too (though my eyes were super tired last night). Who knows, Nintendo might just have an entire pet store inside the Wii!
Anonymous Michael 11/25/2006 10:17 PM  
Twilight Princess is amazing. You haven't gotten to any of the good parts yet, like when Midna reveals her power to turn pumpkins into carriages, or the treasure of the Sewage Temple: The 1000 Year Potato.

Please tell me you at least got some Wii Play temporary tattoos. I got about 80 of them. :D
Anonymous Anonymous 11/25/2006 10:21 PM  
Anonymous タイラー 11/25/2006 10:26 PM  
I definitely agree on the HD thing, I ordered the component cables the day after I got my Wii just because I wanted the best possible picture out of the little thing.
You have those cables, don't you? How much of an upgrade is it?
Anonymous Ajay 11/25/2006 10:32 PM  
Haha - I haven't even tried the cat yet. I love Zelda though. Carl Johnson is dead on. The game has a slow start, but after you get through a few areas... Incredible. I just played three straight hours and got nowhere storywise. It's just that fun.
Blogger ShadowMarth 11/25/2006 10:35 PM  
Gee, thanks for the spoilers, anonymous.
Anonymous Anonymous 2 11/25/2006 10:42 PM  
Hey, you live on 21st and Glisan right? I think I used to live in your apartment building.
Anonymous jollus 11/25/2006 11:00 PM  
Still trying to get a Wii. I camped out, didn't get one, and have been trying ever since. :(
Anonymous Anonymous 11/25/2006 11:17 PM  
Dear Cabel,

You are my favorite blogger on the entire internet.
Blogger Paul 11/25/2006 11:20 PM  
That was... the greatest review of anything that anyone has ever written ever.
Anonymous Scott Stevenson 11/26/2006 12:22 AM  
Sorry to hear about your Wii Cabel.
You are one hell of a blogger. Love the Help Cat Video!
I grabbed my wii evening of the launch day and I flew back home (overseas) the day after. If I come across any mishaps with my wii (Thank God I haven't yet), I'll be doomed since it'll be near impossible for me to send it back to the US.

If I put it in short words, this is one perfect fun machine! It'll even get funner with more channels in near future.

Did you know Wi Sports (besides the 5 sports games) have a training section as well as a "Wii Sports Fitness Age" game a la Brain Age DS? That is soooo cool! I didn't realise that until the other day. My first fitness age was 58. Eeek!
Anonymous Berke 11/26/2006 1:18 AM  
Now, if the Help Cat and the Dogcow had a baby...
Anonymous Peter 11/26/2006 5:26 AM  
Having this Wii around has been so fun. Besides the hours of Zelda by myself and everyone ever loving Wii Sports, my favorite surprise was leaving it turned off and coming back later to see the drive pulsing because my friend had sent me a Mii. Awesome!
Anonymous Jeff 11/26/2006 6:30 AM  
I know we have to put up with delayed launches, rip off prices, poor PAL conversions and the like but at least in the UK if something breaks within the first 28 days they have to give us a replacement or refund - none of this waiting for a repair after only having it 2 days.
Anonymous Dave 11/26/2006 7:29 AM  
I'm gonna have to agree with William Wilkinson, you definetly need to do a video review of the Wii. Your video reviews of the DS Lite are what brought me to your site, and I'm sure you'd do just as good of a review with the Wii.
Anonymous Anonymous 11/26/2006 7:39 AM  
That's the saddest story ever, Cabel.

I drove around town trying to secure one last Sunday morning and came up empty, but I somehow managed to get in on the very brief availability window at Amazon.

I am in complete agreement on the system--it's the most fun I've had playing video games in the last 20 years. The text bugs me, too, but my component cables should arrive tomorrow and I'm hoping that things will improve.

Best wishes for a speedy Wii-covery!
Anonymous Anonymous 11/26/2006 8:47 AM  
Hey Cabel, you know you can set your wii to wide screen mode right? I too own a High Def set, and when in wide screen nothing is stretched whatsoever, and all the text is clear. Once i receive my component cables, I'm sure 480p will make it a bit more sharp.
Blogger Nijle 11/26/2006 8:56 AM  
Sad. You have many things to take care of in Zelda, so I hope it's returned soon. Wii well wishes!
Anonymous Ryan Dotson 11/26/2006 9:00 AM  
Cabel, the fact that my wife and I are now very happy Wii owners is due in large part to your enthusiasm for Nintendo's platform. I have never been much of a console gamer, but I couldn't be more excited about the Wii and the possibilities of the Wiimote/nun-chuck controller. How refreshing, too, to find that it connects to our wireless network right out of the box, too. I hope that the designers out there are as inspired by what Nintendo's done as I (we/all of us) are. There's also just something cool about being able to turn on the Wii with a power button on the remote.

As somebody who still owns a SD TV, I'm somewhat glad that Nintendo didn't go HD (although it would be a great excuse to go for a nice HD LCD). I would be willing to bet that decision had a lot to do with keeping the price down, both in output chips and the GPU/CPU requirements.

Finally, here's hoping they get a handle on that disc mechanism and get your Wii back to you in good time!
Anonymous Adam Preble 11/26/2006 9:40 AM  
Dude that is terrible that your Wii broke. Thank god you can get it fixed or trade it in for a new one.

But, good review. I can't wait to get my Wii for Christmas
Anonymous Leafmealone Webmaster 11/26/2006 11:16 AM  
Actually, I hear Rayman is basically a demo for the Wiimote and more fun that sports.
Blogger vortech 11/26/2006 11:57 AM  
There was something positively Patton Oswalt about that help cat video...
Anonymous gb 11/26/2006 12:27 PM  
Cabel - Things like brully small text are fixed with component cables. Plugging them in immediately made small text in games (Trauma Center for instance) totally clear and legible. Of course it also made colors more vibrant while at the same time preventing them from bleeding.

So yeah, while component cables won't turn the Wii into a 360, it'll certainly make it much better than it is now. The composite cables look like absolute crap in comparison and I wish component cables were so difficult to come by at the moment.
Anonymous Anonymous 11/26/2006 12:52 PM  
David and I have been enjoying our Wii's as well and I have to say that Wii Sports is my favorite so far of Zelda, Rayman and Monkeyball. The tennis is simply one of the most satisfying games I've played on a console for a long, long time.

Zelda is good, but I'm not terribly impressed yet. I've played about 6 hours and the game is totally linear. Wind Waker and Ocarina were not linear. Does this improve as the game proceeds? It also seems ridciously easy right now, although I'm told it gets much harder. I really hope so.

If anyone wants to trade Mii,s here my console number - 8059 4174 6015 0025.

Hope you get your console back soon Cabel!
Anonymous Gedeon Maheux 11/26/2006 1:14 PM  
Cabel, that Help Cat video is possibly the most hilarious thing I've seen in a long time. Not so much the fact that you need to catch a cat to get help, but your running commentary on the antics that occur.

You're brilliant. The Wii is brilliant.

I'm just so emotional right now. Gah.
Anonymous Nick Atkins 11/26/2006 2:24 PM  
It is quite sad to hear of someone who is without their Wii! I've been trying to convince everyone I know that they should get one. I didn't even notice the help cat. As soon as we're done watching this episode of Pokémon on the PVR, I'm going to try to chase it.

I look at the Mii Channel a few times a day to see if anyone new has arrived in the Mii parade. My wife has probably created 30 Miis by now. She's played it nearly as much as the games. I was playing Madden 07 on an XBOX 360 demo station, and it was better looking, but laggy in the menus and pressing a button to throw just seems dull these days.

Okay, chasing the help cat. That's awesome! He's telling me things I would have had no clue to look for, but not making them clear. Now I need to load some movies up on the card.
Anonymous Ryan 11/26/2006 2:40 PM  
Two-player help-cat catching is one of the best non-games ever.
Anonymous Anonymous 11/26/2006 3:49 PM  
Yes. I admit it... I tried to fish for the monkey.

...And the beehive.

Sad thing is, I can't catch any real fish. Darn lost cat, perhaps catching the helpcat will be more fun.
Anonymous Andrew 11/26/2006 5:33 PM  
This sounds bad, and I'm really quite nice (ask my wife!), but your story makes me feel better about my own misadventures in trying to obtain a Wii. I, stupidly, did not pre-order. Thus when Wii-day arrived, I was left in the dust. I tried again this Friday (dreaded evil blacketh day of lucifer!@!#) to land one at the inhumane hour of 6:30 AM (at the GameStop in Gateway, and again 10 minutes later at the GameStop at Lloyd Center) to no avail. Today I put a deposit down on one at Game Crazy so that I might actually have it in my hands by Christmas, but even that isn't guaranteed.

Hope your fixed (or new) Wii arrives soon!
Anonymous Chris B. 11/26/2006 7:45 PM  
Very sad to hear about that, Cabel. Hopefully your Wii will come back in perfect condition, very soon.
As for me, I didn't preorder one. But luckily, I didn't come up empty-handed. Apparently in my town, camping at the local Wal-Mart for 9 hours will guarantee you a console. Fifth in line, baby!

So right, I only managed to snag Twilight Princess unfortunately. But it's no biggie because it can keep me entertained for the rest of the year, for sure. And that's on just exploring and the sidequests alone! (Fishing=pure awesomeness)
Maybe I'll eventually get around to beating the actual story...maybe.
Oh, and Wii Sports is awesome. Tennis FTW!
Anonymous Jude H. 11/26/2006 9:36 PM  
Hey bummer about your Wii. I feel for you man. Just wanted to say thanks for your Nintendo reviews. Your DS lite reviews are largely what got me to buy one. And ever since then I've been thoroughly impressed with Nintendo's innovation in the gaming arena.

I'm kind of sick of the Sony/Microsoft cold war tactics of just stockpiling hardware to get the prettiest eye candy. I think at this point, even if Halo 3 is the freakin best game ever made, I don't think I'll buy a 360. The fact that Nintendo is innovating with the Wii, and all for $250, is awesome.

Hope your Wii-less stint ends soon, and I'm looking forward to any more impressions/reviews you do about Nintendo gaming goodness.
Anonymous Joe Golike 11/26/2006 9:43 PM  
>Zelda is now forever stuck inside the system.

Well, at least it's Zelda and not Super Monkey Ball :-)
Anonymous LKM 11/27/2006 12:32 AM  
I can't catch a goddamn fish. I hate my Zelda life, stuck in that stupid town with no goddamn fish and therefore no goddamn satiated shopkeeper cats.
Blogger Jake 11/27/2006 10:10 AM  
For the record I did not "cut in line", I was merely last in line BEFORE midnight and first in line AFTER midnight. I'm not even sure myself how it happened. I would like to say I planned it that way, but that would be giving me too much credit.
Anonymous stevenf 11/27/2006 11:56 AM  
Ditto Zelda and Rayman. Rayman is basically Wii Sports with better graphics. There is a bit of a story but its mainly just fun to pick up to pull worms out of a rabbit's teeth. Zelda rocks the entire universe. Twice. The first hour or so is definitely the weakest part. After the first trip to the twilight zone, it kicks in the afterburners.

It rocks so hard that the very definition of "rocking" might need to be altered in the future to preserve the meaning of the adjective for future generations.
Anonymous Anonymous 11/27/2006 12:48 PM  
Here's an account of getting the official Omni Group Wii, and some of my subsequent adventures with it:
Anonymous fetjuel 11/27/2006 1:41 PM  
On the plus side your Mii is perfect O:)
Blogger Toonhead_NPL 11/27/2006 2:05 PM  
It's weird that you had to send in your Wii without getting one in return. I've known of 2 people that had defective Wii's (stop laughing) and in both cases Nintendo sent them a new Wii and instructed them to send the defective one back in the box the new one came in.

I assume this is the case for all early adopters - you probably just had to ask.
Blogger Derek 11/27/2006 2:40 PM  
I'm afraid I have to completely agree with Nick Atkins. This is a ridiculously hilarious video about the Help Cat. The commentary is priceless. "Move away from the cat. It's the Help Cat. It's the Help Cat." Bahahahahahahahahahahaha.

Cabel: if you produced a video podcast, I would totally watch it.
Anonymous Simone Manganelli 11/27/2006 4:06 PM  
Cabel, if you made a video review of the Wii, I think everyone would love to see one! The DS lite reviews are what inspired me to buy one in the first place. I sure hope your Wii get's better soon! :P
Anonymous Anonymous 11/27/2006 4:32 PM  
I definately need to get my hands on a Wii now, thanks for the share Cabel!
Anonymous TannerC 11/27/2006 5:43 PM  
Quick word of advice on your Mii. Make the mustache as tiny as it can, and then move it down for a KICK'N soul patch.
Blogger PiratedTVPro 11/27/2006 6:05 PM  
Excellent build quality, with a broken optical drive mechanism on day one??

And a help system that you have to "catch" is a top-notch feature? Help should, you know, be helpful - not annoyingly obscure (by running away).
Anonymous Anonymous 11/27/2006 7:19 PM  
I thought I was going to hate playing Zelda while I waited for component cables, but I've been surprised at how decent the quality is of the plain old composite video with widescreen mode on. It's not beautiful, but I don't notice anything from the couch with my glasses on. Maybe it depends on how your LCD does de-interlacing, but all the reports of fugly video on HD LCDs had me scared for no reason.
Blogger Wilson 11/27/2006 7:54 PM  
I wholeheartedly recommend Trauma Center. I've played just about every game out there for the Wii now, and I've never been so addicted to a game. Non-gamers love it, just like they loved Brain Age.
Anonymous Lester 11/27/2006 8:59 PM  
Your Help Cat movie just made my year. :)
Anonymous Anonymous 11/27/2006 10:26 PM  
Ever since I got my Wii a few days after launch I've been glued to it. I've been spewing out post after post with my thoughts on the system and Zelda as well (no spoilers included) on my site.

I'm really sorry to hear about your misadventure and wish you the best of luck in getting your unit back quickly. All those lovely hours of Zelda will eventually make up for this despair.
Anonymous Garrett Murray 11/28/2006 8:26 AM  
Hi Cabel,
I would like to see a wii video review. The ones i saw is not as good as the ones you do. And we are in Brazil, so there is no wii's nearby (only the rich boys do own one!)
So make a review, at least with pictures!!

Good luck with the returning.
Anonymous Ufa 11/28/2006 11:19 AM  
The help cat seems to be a kinesthetic training device. Your "help" is learning how to control your muscles with the remote to become proficient enough to catch the cat. Pretty smart.
Blogger jkoshi 11/28/2006 4:31 PM  
Hey Cabel first your xbox 360, now your Wii? Perhaps there is some strange otherwordly powers at work here, wouldn't you agree?
Anonymous Ryan D. 11/28/2006 8:27 PM  
Sorry to hear about your poor quality products, chum! My launch day PS3 has been working great since the minute it was unboxed.


-Steven's mother
Anonymous Anonymous 11/29/2006 12:07 PM  
The Wii has me excited, I say again, excited, about videogames in a way I haven't been in about ten years. I just posted my own little review today.

I hope your Wii comes back to you soon!
Anonymous Jonathan Dobres 11/30/2006 10:11 AM  
Dude! Awesome work with the Help Cat video.

Sorry you are living my biggest fear--I was so afraid something would happen to my Wii before I could play Zelda...

Everything you said is so wife is actually playing tennis and bowling with me. My brother-in-law and his girlfriend spent hours creating Mii's, and then playing Rayman.

Nintendo are isn't about the power or graphics, it is about putting fun back in the game(s). I feel like I am 14 again, only fatter and grayer...

Hope to see more of your reviews in the future!
Anonymous Chas 12/01/2006 4:19 AM  
being English with a capital E (the capital of England is E for you geographically challenged colonials) I find it difficult to express my admiration for your blog, the stiff upper lip is an impediment herein. Perhaps I can use your vernacular (notwithstanding you have an architecture that recedes no further than 200 years) and say "you da bomb", or some such.

Good stuff. Can't wait for the WII-moment when my three small boys unwrap it on Christmas morning. In no small part is my enthusiasm owed to your advocacy.

By the way, is it beyond coincidence that WII point of sale installations owe much to iMac design cues?

Yours, Pompous McPompous, Smugminster, UK
Anonymous Anonymous 12/01/2006 1:25 PM  
Cabel, have you got your Wii back yet?
Anonymous matt 12/05/2006 3:12 AM  
Nintendo pulled off a minor miracle with this system. Nobody played the GameCube because it was so similar to its competitors. Not so this time.

Zelda, after the third dungeon, becomes insane. Great game.
Blogger Mulliga 12/08/2006 3:27 PM  
Hope hope you get your Wii back soon.

Please post your console number when you do :)
Anonymous Aust 12/09/2006 12:04 PM  
I thought it was worth mentioning here that the Help Cat is back!

She's featured in the Wii News channel and has the added bonus of distracting you whilst the channel loads the news feed data.
Blogger matt 2/02/2007 4:47 AM  

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Name:Cabel Maxfield Sasser
Job:Co-Founder, Panic Inc.
Location:Portland, OR