Monday, March 19, 2007

WiiQuest : Conclusion

Sunday morning began for me at 6 AM, after a mere four hours of sleep. I got showered, filled a thermos with hot chocolate, scraped a layer of thick frost off of my car, and headed to the Toys R Us that had promised me Nintendo Wiis in stock the previous evening.

It was still pre-dawn when I arrived at about 6:50 AM. There was a car alredy sitting there with two guys in it, and they noticed me pulling up alongside. They did not get out of their car, however, when I got out and walked to the entrance to the store. It was about 26 degrees outside when I sat down on the cold cement.

Since they had arrived first, I decided to offer no objection to them getting in line first if they choose to do so. Then a strange thing happened. Another car pulled up, and when it did, the two guys from the first car got out and approached the new car. The driver got out, too, with a boxed Wii in his hands.

Apparently, from what I could eavesdrop, the seller was a Toys R Us employee who had purchased a Wii a few weeks earlier and no longer wanted it. He had seen the two guys camping out(they had claimed to have been there since 2 AM), and offered to sell them his Wii. When their transaction was completed, both cars sped away, leaving me alone in the freezing dark, but first in line. By now it was a few minutes after 7 AM and the first glint of the coming sunrise was appearing in the eastern sky, which I was facing.

A few minutes later a pickup truck pulled up and a young guy got out and sat down next to me. He confirmed that I, too, was trying to get a Wii. We talked a few minutes about the whole thing, and it turned out he was a college student from Cincinnatti who wanted one for his upcoming spring break. We were now officially a line.

At about 7:15 the store manager shows up and walks over to us to confirm we were camping for Wiis. He made a joke - "What would you do if I told you we didn't have any?" - before confirming that they in fact had around thirty Wiis to sell that morning, and that he would be giving out tickets for them to the prople in line.

This was great news. Now it was just a matter of waiting. The conversation with young guy died down and we both just sat there freezing for awhile. The sunrise seemed to stall out for the time being, with the same glint of light not getting any brighter on the eastern horizon.

At about 7:45 another guy joined the line and I told him about the ample supply the manager promised us. He seemed relieved, as he was hoping to get one for his son's birthday tomorrow. The three of us only conversed briefly and then went back to waiting. The new guy messed with his PDA for awhile, and I tried to play some Phoenix Wright : JFA for a few minutes, but the bitter cold made it impossible to concentrate. I was beginning to regret not wearing two pairs of socks, as my toes were getting numb.

I stood up and walked around in place for awhile to keep my feet from freezing. The sun had finally decided to come up and join us, but its warmth had yet to make a difference. I rationed out my hot chocolate, enjoying a cup every half an hour or so.

At 8:45 another person joined the line, a younger guy with a shaved head, wearing a Matrix-style long coat and glasses. He thought the store opened at 9 AM, but his disappointment at learning he had a longer wait than he thought was offset by hearing that there were plenty of Wiis for all of us. The conversation between the four of us kicked up again. He was there to buy one for his pregnant wife, who had wanted one after they had played Wii Sports at a friend's house. I thought pregnant women craved pickles and ice cream, not Wiis. We live in a strange new world.

At 9:00 a mother with a nerdy overweight son joined our line. The sun had finally began warming things up a little bit, and the fact that we were in our last hour of waiting helped my mood. At 9:20 the floodgates opened and people were joining us on a regular basis all the way up until the store opened at 10 AM.

The manager came out and announced to the line - about sixteen people at my last count - that they had about thirty Wiis, that he was going to hand out tickets, and that once you had one you had a Wii, as long as you used the ticket up by 2 PM. He also said that if you purchased a game with the Wii you would get a thirty dollar Toys R Us gift card. I thought about getting either Marvel : Ultimate Alliance (they were showing commercials for it back at Christmas where the player was using the Wiimote to throw Captain America's shield), or Elebits.

I was first, so I got my ticket and proceeded to the videogame section, where there were two clerks waiting. It was here that I found out that the real deal was that if you purchased only the game Sonic : The Secret Rings with your Wii did you get the gift card. Not wanting that game, I instead opted to get the extended protection plan for $24. I jokingly asked the clerk after my sale if security was available to escort me to my car with my precious Wii, and he laughed, saying I wouldn't need it.

As I left, I passed the others in line and held up my Wii above my head triumphantly, making a fool of myself in the process, no doubt. Last in line was Matrix-guy, holding a game, and I stopped to tell him that the deal was with the Sonic game only. He thanked me and went to put whatever game he had choosen back on the shelves.

I had no trouble on the way to my car, and raced home to hook it up. At home, I got my tooklit and my other Wii items out of storage - a copy of The Legend of Zelda : Twilight Princess, my extra Wiimote, my 2000 WiiPoints card, and the classic controller. I began by carefully unpacking the Wii itself. The packaging was nice and organized, and I looked through everything before I began the setup.

Once I found the quick setup guide, it was easy. Sensor bar, then the usual power and video cables. I had to make a choice at this point. My switchbox only has five channels to it. I currently have a DVD, a VCR, PS2, X-Box, and Gamecube hooked up to it. One of them had to go to make room for the Wii. The logical choice would be the Gamecube since the Wii is backwards compatable with it. There's just one little thing, though - the GameBoy Advance player on the GameCube. I actually use it more than I use the X-Box, so the X-Box gets unhooked. I didn't pack up the X-Box though, so if I decide I want to play it again, I just need to switch a few wires around. No big deal.

I powered up the system and set the switchbox to the right place and had the startup screens. Next was the Wiimotes - I put the batteries in them and synched them up to the Wii. They are little marvels. They feel right in one's hand and they vibrate a little bit when something on the screen is highlighted. My concern that I would constantly get the two of them confused was alleviated when I found that the pointer for each one on the screen had the controller number in it, and little blue LEDs on the controllers themselves indicated which one they were. Brilliant.

The main screen has a bunch of little screens indicating the various channels available. The first one is whatever disc is in the drive. The second one is the Mii channel, where one creates a little avatar of themselves for various uses such as Wii Sports and other titles yet to come. Third is a photo channel, where a regular SD memory card can be inserted into the Wii so that you can look at your pictures. Next is the Wii store, then the Weather channel, then the news channel.

To access all of this I needed to connect my Wii to the internet. Fortunately, I had long ago purchased the Nintendo USB Wi-Fi adapter for my computer, which I used occasionally to play Nintendo DS games via Wi-Fi. The setup was relatively painless, under Wii's settings menu. Like the DS, though, I still have a problem with my firewall blocking it even when it's set up to allow it. I cannot figure it out for the life of me, so I have to drop my firewall when I connect either the DS or Wii.

Once my Wii was connected, I ran a test and it downloaded a patch for it that took a few minutes. Wow, I patched a console. That felt weird. Freshly connected, I decided to check out the Wii Store and see what I could get for my 200 Wii points. They had a small selection of games from the NES, SNES, N64, Genesis, and Turbografx 16 systems. Under the free section, though, I found a free trial version of the Opera internet browser, so I got that first.

Before long I was surfing the net from the comfort of my living room sofa. I got a few website addresses off my PC and typed them in and added the sites to my favorites. Typing things in with the Wiimote is slow, but is helped by a process where, after you type the first few letters of a word, it presents a few possible conclusions for you to select from to finish the work quickly. These choices appear in a bar above the keyboard. Type "th" for example, and the words "the" "this" and so forth appear in the bar.

I even updated my blog with the previous article using this process. I also was able to go to YouTube and watch my Ultima X Odyssey video. Very cool. While surfing you use the + and - buttons on the Wiimote to zoom in for clarity. The Opera browser has some issues with strange fonts, though, and converted some of my personal website fonts to Arial, messing up the page.

I put in Zelda but only long enough to create a save file. I played a round of Wii Sports bowling with my freshly-minted Mii character. I purchased the Turbografx 16 puzzle/maze chase game Fu Man Chu for 600 Wii points and played it awhile. By this time it was late afternoon, and my fiancee' was set to return from work soon, so I took a brief nap.

When she got home we went out to catch a movie we'd both been wanting to see - 300 - and it was an amazing epic. We spent some time together that evening, running a few errands, before heading home. It was her turn to cook, so she put a pork roast in the oven. While it was working, I helped her create a Mii of herself, and we played a round of bowling (she won), a few rounds of baseball (one of which I won with a grand slam home run which caused the game to end because of some mercy rule thing), and a game of tennis. It's safe to say we enjoyed the baseball most of all.

We had dinner, and although I wanted to stay up all night playing with the Wii, I was exhausted. It was a big day but my effort had paid off. My quest fulfilled, I slept like a log, content in the knowlege that while she was at work tomorrow, I would be off all day - and free to sink my teeth into The Legend of Zelda : Twilight Princess at long last.

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