I excused myself from work today and headed down to Atlantis Pavilions at Ontario Place to participate in the Wii Public Preview. I think this is the only event of its kind since I couldn’t find much more info about it. Anyways, the instructions said the the lineup starts at 11AM, with the doors opening at 1:30PM. I headed down and started lining up at noon, and the line wasn’t too long. There were a variety of people there, kids, adults, and students like me. Everyone brought their DS with them and they were playing wifi something.

While in line, I saw lots of people leaving. There was a press version of the event in the morning and so all sorts of TV stations, magazines and random people came out with a Wii bag (apparently with a t-shirt) and other swag. Some Nintendo people also came out and tossed a couple of impossible trivia questions for prizes (I think they were head-of-the-line tickets). Do you what Ganadorf’s last name is? I don’t. People walking by also took some videos of the people in line, so I might appear on the web somewhere in the next few days.

So two and a half hours later, at 2:30PM, I finally made it in. There were 25-30 Wiis setup with various games on them, some multiplayer. They let in about 100 people at a time, so you never had to line up for very long. The first game I played was Boxing. For Boxing, you strap the Wiimote in your right hand (and they were adamant about this, maybe they saw heard about what happened at IGN), the Nunchaku in your left (or whatever your jab hand is), and use them as if they’re boxing gloves. So to punch, you actually punch your hands, and you can move your hands up to block your face, and etc. I got the hang of it in a few minutes and it was pretty fun. I was wondering how they could detect movement in both hands if only the Wiimote had a sensor. I think I have it figured out.

Next I moved on the Rampage because there was no one there. This game was pretty dumb, with the only Wii benefit being that you can swing your Wiimote around to do special moves. I moved on to play Zelda, and again this was pretty boring. I think the problem was that the demo was situated within a village so all I did was walk around, talk to people, and climb ladders.

I played Wii Tennis next. This was pretty basic but fun. Like boxing, you never have to use any of the buttons so you just move your Wiimote around like a racket. Your player avatar automatically moves into position to hit the ball, so all you have to do is hit it at the right time. Unlike Virtua Tennis, when you hit the ball, it’s not guaranteed to land in the court; so timing is essential. I did one crazy serve that smoked my opponent so there is some intricacies for gosu-ness in the game.

Next, I lined up for Ultimate Alliance since it was a game that featured all the heroes in the Marvel universe. I watched the guy in front of me play for a bit and it seemed pretty dumb; just like your normal adventure game. It seems to me that the release titles (aside from the sports) are using Wiimote actions like additional buttons rather than being intuitive (like the sports).

The last game I tried was Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz. I wanted to play this because I have Super Monkey Ball 2 on Gamecube. Visually, the game looks almost identical, although the levels I played had a makeover with more pink and flamingos. The controls are pretty basic, tilt down to speed up and up to slow down, tilt left to bank left and tilt right to bank right. Think of it as gripping a real joystick instead of the analog controller.

One problem I had with the Wiimote in general was that using it as a light gun to navigate menus was hard. The cursor would jump all over the place. The controls for Super Monkey Ball however were tight, which I could tell since I was familiar with the game and knew how to control my Monkey Ball. There was a new type of level where you would fight a boss, which was new (and difficult). I don’t think that upgrade would be worth buying this game.

I wanted to try a driving game (Excite Truck or NFS: Carbon) and a fighting game, but I didn’t have time. Baseball and bowling also seemed interesting, but judging from the other sport games I tried, I figured they would be pretty good/fun. In fact, I think the only game I would “buy” would be Wii Sports if I were to get a Wii; which means I should probably wait until better games come out.

The only swag that we received was a DVD describing the Wii (with a sticker on the front saying that the Canadian MSRP is $279.95). There was also a life sized sculpture of Link at the front which attracted a lot of photographs.