I was in New York today not following Steve Pavlina's advice, and I had a chance to stop by the Nintendo World Store (Flash mandatory, ugh) in Rockefeller Center and spend some minutes with the Wii. After braving the "crowd" (~15-20 people playing on about 10 Wiis), I finally got my hands on the Wiimote.
The first game I played was Excite Truck. This is your typical off-road arcade racer controlled by holding the Wiimote horizontally and tilting it to steer. Aside from it being a touch sensitive, it was very intuitive and the new control style made what I would have otherwise considered a standard racing game a lot of fun. The graphics were noticeably subpar (below even my lowered expectations), and were only made worse by the beautiful ~37" HDTV I was playing on.
After one race, I stepped over to the next Wii and played Madden. Again, after playing Madden on the XBox 360, the graphics failed to impress. The controls, however, made the game really fun. Snapping the ball and passing it with motion were a lot more fun than simply pushing "A". The run game also becomes much more interesting and intuitive when I can shake the nunchuk or Wiimote left or right to juke/stiff arm instead of having to remember whether it's "X" or "LB". The only trouble I had was getting the kicking motion down. Luckily the tutorial available from the pause menu helped me a bit (though it still took me 8 tries).
Finally, I got a few minutes on Call of Duty 3. I'm sorry to say that this was a complete disaster. I just couldn't hold the Wiimote at the right position in order to get the controls to respond the way I wanted. I was often spinning around in circles or looking at the floor or sky. I eventually turned to sensitivity down but that just made it impossible to respond to enemy attacks. Of the three games, this was the only one where I was completely disappointed.
It's well-known that the Wii isn't a graphical powerhouse. I didn't think this would bother me that much, but I've gotten really used to pretty visuals (or mediocre visuals in standard def). The motion-sensing part of the controls works perfectly, but the pointing aspect needs some work. Also, even though some controls seem intuitive once you learn them, because of all the hidden motions that are possible, you're gonna have to pop out the instruction manual or run through the tutorials. For better or for worse, button mashing is over.
Still, I think that the awe of the new controller will keep me interested in the Wii for far longer than great graphics and shallow gameplay ever could. See you all in line Sunday morning!