Hands-on with Wii

The final tech demo was a fairly simple table tennis sim. You couldn't strike the ball off the table or add any sophisticated spin, but it was while playing this demo that we finally got to grips with the Wii remote and learned what types of movement got the best on-screen responses.

The graphics were simple enough - the paddles hovered in midair above each end of the table - and these moved in relation to the movements of the remote. To retrieve a ball that is hit to the right, you simply reached right and made a swatting motion with the remote. At first it was difficult to hit the ball, but this was primarily because we were treating the remote as a controller that would activate scripted responses. It was only when we thought of the remote as the on-screen paddle that we started to have some success in returning the ball.

Instead of making dramatic movements, it was all about making controlled motions, concentrating on the on-screen action and letting your reactions just flow. Once we grasped that every subtle movement would be replicated on-screen, we forgot about holding the Wii controller - as soon as we got into a rhythm and flow, we were unbeatable.

Our experience suggests that Nintendo may be wrong in thinking that Wii can just be picked up and played easily, as there's a definite learning curve involved in interacting with games in this way. The good news, however, is that once you get your head round what Wii wants you to do, it really is a remarkable and unique gaming experience.

May 16, 2006