Major League Eating: The Game
Of all the WiiWare titles on display, this one surprised us the most. Inevitably we had low expectations. How could anyone make an interesting game out of eating? [Choo choo! - Ed]
It's not just the belching and farting, or the power-ups you can use to attack or defend against an opponent. It's not the real-life MLE "athletes" or the wide assortment of food you can choose from. What captured our interest was the dexterity required to accomplish various motions - the digital equivalent of patting your head and rubbing your stomach simultaneously.
You have to flick the Wiimote to grab food - a slow flick transfers the food to your mouth efficiently; a fast flick results in a time-wasting toss into the air. Once in your mouth, a graphic depiction of the food appears in the top corner of the screen in between a teeth-shaped cursor that moves back and forth. Pressing the button at the appropriate time starts the mastication process, but pressing it early or late causes you to bite your lip and lose time. Meanwhile, a rising bile indicator lets you know when you are close to throwing up (does the ESRB have a content descriptor for vomit? Thanks to this we'll probably find out). To avoid the embarrassment, you've got to hold another button and shake the Wiimote vigorously to settle your stomach.
MLE: The Game probably won't attract any more of the core Wii demographic to gaming, but its humorous depiction of bodily functions should appeal to the adolescent boy in the rest of us.
World of Goo
It's hard to describe this game, which recently won two awards at the 2008 Independent Games Festival - for design innovation and technical excellence. Officially, it is a "physics based puzzle/construction game". Unofficially, it is Lemmings meets Archer Maclean's Mercury with a dash of LocoRoco as imagined by Tim Burton.
The concept is a simple one: manoeuvre animated balls of goo to help them reach a vacuum pipe somewhere in the level. As you grab one of the balls with the Wiimote, you'll need to position it close enough to other goo balls to create a node linking them. Soon, you'll find yourself creating all manner of polygonal shapes out of the goo balls, like some sort of oily erector set. The challenge is in using as few of the goo balls as possible to create nodes, allowing the remainder to enter the pipe, even as your constructs bend and sway to the laws of physics.
The charm comes in the form of the original music and a whimsical artistic style - not to mention the realisation that the game is the brainchild of just three people whose creation plays better than many titles done by teams that are ten times as large. As puzzle fans, this is probably going to be our first WiiWare purchase. Sorry, blag.
Strong Bad's Cool Game For Attractive People
Your correspondent is going to come clean here and admit he'd never heard of Strong Bad, the wrestling-mask wearing lead character of an episodic online cartoon. The Web is so big that the days when the entire world noticed whenever something new was put online are gone - like that dancing CG baby. So, pardon me for missing this one.
I - and, to resume royal duties, we - have, however, certainly heard of Telltale Games and know their track record when it comes to point-and-click adventures. The episodic nature of Strong Bad - not to mention its irreverent humour - certainly appear well-suited to the developer, which recently concluded the final episode of Sam & Max Season 2.
Here, the Wiimote directs Strong Bad around the environments and allows him to interact with various characters and items. Although there is a main story arc, there are also numerous small activities that can be performed such as using a computer to check email, making phone calls, collecting items, and so on. Strong Bad is also a fan of retro videogames, which gamers can play within the game, and that's good enough for us.
No pricing details were announced, for Strong Bad or the other WiiWare games, and neither did Nintendo officially announce which specific games would be available at the launch of the service next month. However, all of the games shown were clearly completed and ready to go.
These were just a smattering of the WiiWare titles Nintendo has in store, but if the initial titles are any indication, they are definitely on track to meet their goal of providing something for everyone. And if it isn't an indication, then we'll have to reconsider our belief structures.