Wii: How are the games?
After all, a video game system is only as good as its software...and Wii delivers the goods.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Typically, when a new video game system launches, it proves to be anticlimactic. The thrill of seeing the machine boot up the first time is very real - and the first time or two you play a game is always fun. But before long, you start to realize that the titles that came out alongside the system aren't as entertaining as you initially thought.
Happily, that's unlikely to be the case with the new Nintendo Wii. What the system lacks in technical achievements, it makes up for in the quality of its games. With "The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess" leading the charge, the Wii's launch titles offer nice diversity.
Shooter games are usually the bulk of a system's launch, becasue hardcore gamers love them. But the Wii leans more in the direction of action/adventure, with titles like Zelda, Konami's "Elebits" and Ubisoft's "Rayman Raving Rabbids," all set to appear in the first month or so.
"Zelda: Twilight Princess," which will be on store shelves when the Wii goes on sale Nov. 19, is everything fans of this long-standing franchise were hoping for. It's epic - with Nintendo vowing more than 70 hours of gameplay. It's beautiful - boasting its own unique art style that just feels right, even if it doesn't measure up to what Sony or Microsoft's machines can produce.
And it's captivating. Like most Zelda games, you don't start in the thick of the action with "Twilight Princess," which might be off-putting to some, but once the story really starts to kick in, you'll be mesmerized. The controls aren't immediately intuitive, but are very easy to learn and quickly begin to feel natural. And innate curiosity about what happens next will drive on even non-traditional gamers.
The sports genre is fairly well represented, which shouldn't be a surprise. Sports games bring in casual players, so they always are touted when a system launches. The real question: will people be intrigued enough to buy a Wii copy to play the game a different way?
Let's face it: Fans of Electronic Arts' (Charts) "Madden" series probably already have their copy of the game, whether it's for Microsoft's (Charts) Xbox 360, Sony's (Charts) PlayStation 2 (or 3) or their handheld gaming system of choice. Normally, there wouldn't be any reason for them to consider buying a copy for Wii.
But "Madden" for the Wii is an entirely different game. Want to pass the ball? Don't worry about which button to press, just grasp the controller and mimic a pass. Bullet pass? Fake-throw it faster. It's intuitive, fun and physical. You might actually work up a sweat before you're through (which seems rather fitting for a sports game).
"Wii Sports," which comes bundled with the Wii, is a good introduction to the system and controller. It's not advanced - and not all of the games are fun (boxing was something of a letdown) - but it's an ultimately addicting group.
Driving games are another staple of system launches, though there aren't as many for the Wii as there are for other systems. The best of the bunch is Nintendo's own "Excite Truck," which reinvents the 'big air monster truck' game. You'll send your truck soaring off a cliff as you race against five computer controlled opponents (or one human one). The object is to land with all four wheels on the ground. To do that you'll have to tilt the controller back and forth away from you to stabilize the truck as it soars through the air. It's a frenetic, fast-paced title that seems to freshen the genre.
Of course, what I loved, you might not. Meta-review sites like Gamerankings.com are often a good place to get an overview of what critics have to say and can be an undecided buyer's best friend.
And while Nintendo has some good games at launch, it's also worth looking a bit down the road as you consider the console. The company has pledged that in 2007, it will release games from several of its major franchises, including Mario, Metroid, Wario Ware and Super Smash Brothers.
Nintendo, you see, is playing to win this time around.
More video game suggestions? Check out the 10 best gifts for gamers.
How's the Wii hardware? Read our review
Morris is Director of Content Development for CNNMoney.com. Send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org