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Opinion – Doug Thompson

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Wii, now what?

Now that you’ve braved the crowds and bought a Wii for the holidays, what do you do with the thing?
That’s apparently not a rhetorical question. The Nintendo game console’s famously the most in-demand toy this season. Software sales for the console, however, are tepid.
In the interest of full disclosure here, Santa hasn’t delivered at the Thompson house yet. The recommendations that follow are based on reading reviews and so forth. We don’t own a Microsoft Xbox 360 or Sony PlayStation 3, either, but we’ll give some free advice on those, too. Isn’t freedom of speech wonderful?
If you own a Wii, you already own the most popular Wii game: Wii Sports. This little demonstration tool for the console’s motion-sensing controllers turned into the most popular Wii game to date. It mimics, baseball, bowling, golf, and boxing — several games in one.
Gamespot, a review site, gave Wii Sports a 7.8 out of 10. Tellingly, readers who gave a rating gave the game a substantially higher 8.4. It’s an illustration of what my college-age daughter once told me about the Wii. A bad game on a Wii is more fun than a good game on a regular console.
Then there’s “Super Mario Galaxy.” Critical reception for this game is rapturous. By a very, very close margin, it missed becoming the greatest video game of all time according to the scores averaged by the “Game Rankings” website.
Again, I haven’t played it. The customer rankings at “Metacritic,” another averaging website, give it a 9.4 out of 10. Therefore, this is not just some critics’ darling.
A manic collection of short games called “Warioware: Smooth Moves” is next on the best available Wii game list. You can’t miss the hot pink box in stores.
On the dark side of life, there’s the violent shooter “Resident Evil 4” for the Wii. It’s a remake of an earlier, acclaimed Gamecube game with Wii motion controls. The adaptation is extremely successful by all accounts.
Nobody buys a Wii to play the games of its notably unsuccessful predecessor, the Gamecube. However, the Wii is the only fully backwards-compatible console of this generation. You have to have a Gamecube controller, however, so there’s no motion control of older games.
With that said, one of the most bizarre but critically praised games for the Gamecube is “Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem.” Its rated “M” for mature and deserves it. I’ve played some of “Darkness” but it’s too Gothic for my tastes.
Stocking stuffers for the Xbox 360 is pretty easy. The console has the best game lineup.  Those willing to buy violent games should checkout “The Orange Box.”
If games were music, the “Half-Life” series would be the Rolling Stones. The “Orange Box” would be the boxed set. It includes a new game called “Portal” that is, I’ve heard, spectacular.
There’s a professional cynic who makes a very funny and quite rude (and profane) web comic video series called “Without Punctuation.” His forte is mocking games and finding fault. He says “Portal” is fantastic, fully aware of the damage this will do to his reputation.
On the PS3, the best entertainment option might be a Blu-Ray movie. The PS3 is still struggling, with few exclusive games. The “Orange Box” is an option there too. So is “Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction,” which would be a million-seller on any other platform.
In what may well be its capping humiliation, the PS3 was outsold by everything this Christmas. Even the PS2 — the seven-year old console the PS 3 replaces — outsold the PS3 during the last full week of November.
All three new consoles can connect to the Internet and download older games for a bargain price. You can get old favorites like “Donkey Kong Country,” for instance, on the Wii or “Alien Hominid” on the Xbox 360.
Finally, there’s old PC players like me. The latest games require a lot of power, so the best gift option might be to ask what upgrade your PC gamer wants. Otherwise, the winner is — the “Orange Box.” Not only is it a great game, it doesn’t have the massive hardware requirements of the newest ones.

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