Wii tennis

I decided yesterday to try to work out how the computer-operated characters in Wii tennis get such vicious side spin on the ball. After a lot of experimentation, I have a much better grasp of how it works, but trying to concentrate on how I was moving the remote completely hammered my timing and my score dropped by about 1000 points, enough to make me lose my Pro status.

It’s much more subtle than it initally appears; when you first start playing it seems to be all timing, but actually you have quite a lot of control over your shots. What it’s not is much like playing tennis.

I find the way wii games use the controller quite interesting; it measures tilt and acceleration in multiple directions, so it has a lot of information to play with. But it’s not magic; it measures relative movement but it doesn’t actually know the position of the controller. The ideal tennis game would be able to measure the entire shape of your stroke and the angle of racket at the moment of contact and use that to model the shot. If they could do that, someone who played real-world tennis would actually be able to just pick up the game and play all the shots they wanted. Instead, although it uses all the information available to subtly vary the shots, it doesn’t manage to create the illusion of really playing tennis.

It’s still a fun game, though.

Mii and Wii

I’ve been hobbling around like a geriatric today after my long sesh on Wii sports. Sad to say, I don’t suppose I’ve burnt many calories – just strained a bunch of muscles that normally get to lie around slothlike. Perhaps that should be hang around slothlike. Anyway, I played The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess instead, the latest installment in what is probably the greatest video game series of all time.

I’ve only played three or four hours so far, so I can’t offer a final conclusion as to its place in the pantheon, but here’s a good sign: normally in these games the plot exposition is a tiresome interruption when you really want to get on with solving puzzles and killing monsers, but I found the story so engaging in this that I was almost sorry to get to the first dungeon. It feels like being in a real narrative, a novel or a film. Even if it doesn’t manage to sustain that feeling for the whole game, it’s made an impressive start.

I’m stuck at the moment. Not surprisingly, since the basic dynamic of video games is that you are stuck most of the time. If I wasn’t stuck I’d no doubt still be playing, tiredness be damned. Hopefully a night’s sleep will help me see how to get past the current impasse.

Wii by gum

I got my Nintendo Wii today. For those who don’t follow these things, the distinctive feature of the Wii is that it has a motion-sensitive remote controller. So for example, it comes with a game called Wii Sports, and to hit the tennis ball you swing the controller like a racket; similarly with baseball, golf and bowling.

It’s actually quite physical. After a long session of bowling and baseball my shoulder was so tired I could hardly lift my pint of ginger beer shandy. Anyone who’s done some gaming is used to getting a bit of thumb-strain, but this is the first game that could give you tennis elbow. Amusingly, there are lots of in-game warnings about making sure you’re not standing too near anything or anyone fragile, in case you hit them over the head while going for a big forehand.


Well, I’ve pre-ordered my Wii and a copy of the new Zelda from Amazon. Which I think is exciting, even if none of my readers do.

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