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Homebrew Channel

Games

I personally think that Nintendo screwed up with the Wii. Sure, it has a revolutionary interface, but the possibilities for end user experiences with this console were endless. If they only could have released a Youtube channel, a movie trailer channel, ... It would have lifted the Wii up from the simple game console it is now, to a multimedia Home Theater interface that could have been a smashing success. But instead, Nintendo chose to reinvent Mario Bros for the 10^6th time; Virtual Console ? Come on, Nintendo, was this all you could give us ?

So maybe your Wii has been resting too much time at your TV side too ? Do you want to give it a second chance ? Then the Homebrew Channel might be something for you. It is an application loader to run unofficial Wii software, which behaves as a separate channel. Most of the software provided are simple games, but with some, you can transform your Wii into a FTP or web server or transform it into a home theater solution with MPlayer CE, which runs on top of a slim Linux distribution.

Unfortunately, the Homebrew Channel isn't delivering what Nintendo failed to do : I would love to see Youtube support get provided as a simple application, or get better integrated into the MPlayer CE app. And most of the gaming applications are emulation softwares for eg Nintendo64 or Sega games, which mostly provide ... Mario Bros games. Sigh...

A word of warning before you head over to the HomeBrew website : it uses hacks and bugs in the Wii software to run these kind of softwares, and with the installation, there might be a slim chance that you brick your Wii.

Frets on Fire

Games

Allways been jealous about your Guitar Hero playing friends but too cheapskate to buy a Wii ? Fear not, here's Frets on Fire, an open source implementation. Songs can be imported from Guitar Hero; using your keyboard as a guitar, you'll be looking as silly as if you were playing GH self.

Wii Fit

Games

Ik heb mijn vrouwelijke kant weer eens laten gelden : blijkbaar is dat de doelgroep voor de Wii Fit. De Wii vond ik zo'n fun-factor hebben, dat ik het nieuwste Wii gadget dan maar ook gekocht heb. De Wii Fit is een hypermoderne weegschaal (sorry : Balance Board) die je kan aansturen door je gewicht erop te verplaatsen.

De software begint met het opmeten van je gewicht & BMI. Daarna heb je de keuze tussen 4 hoofdcategoriën van spellen : Yoga, Power training, aerobic- en evenwichtsoefeningen. De laatste 2 categoriën lijken wat op wat je op Wii Sports training terugvindt. Yoga en Powertraining zijn grafisch uitermate triestig. Wel grappig is dat het Balance Board 'auw' roept iedere keer je erop stapt :) De tijd die je spendeert aan de verschillende oefeningen wordt netjes bijgehouden, en naarmate je meer tijd spendeert, krijg je toegang tot meer soorten spellen. De piggybank, die deze opgespaarde tijd symboliseert, is wel nogal onnozel, en mocht voor mijn part gerust ontbreken.

De spellen die bij de Wii Fit geleverd zijn, vallen ergens tussen Wii Play en Wii Sports. De graphics zijn matig, ongeveer vergelijkbaar met Wii Play, maar met een grotere fun factor dan dit laatste. Door het ontbreken van de competiviteit die je bij Wii Sports wel hebt, is het spel iets minder verslavend.

From now on, you can call me Kristof Wiilen

Games

When playing games, having fancy graphics ain't enough : I had the chance lately to play a game of Quake 4. I didn't like it : after 15 minutes of gameplay, you just know that there's a monster after every 5th corner, the weapons suck and are uninspired, and the pauses in which you get new assignments just break the gameplay and get on my nerves. Seems that ID tried to create a Doom 4 clone, and failed miserably. No, then I prefer Alien Arena on Linux : a crossing of Quake 3 and Unreal Tournament. Graphics and sound are shite, but still fun to play somehow.

Fun factor is where the Wii really shines : the interface with the Wiimote is indeed revolutionary, and this alone boosts the fun factor that the Wii is. Even my wife likes it alot, which is a remarkable achievement. The fact that the console includes Wii Sports gives me the extra excuse of working out while playing games :) I really like the tennis game, but still have to try the others.

I was surprised how easy the Wiimote interface really is. It took me a minute to get used to it, but using it as a pointing device in the excellent News channel ('just' a neat RSS reader) really feels natural. Unfortunately, getting a Wii is a difficult task : it's everywhere out of stock, and when some are released into the wild, most stores get a limited supply of 10 to 15 consoles. So I missed the lot that was on sale in the Makro, but luckily I noticed the promotion in the Fun toy store. The store already contained a warning message that the stock was really limited, but luckily I got one. Finding an extra Wiimote for dual playtime will be the next task.

The Book of Quake

Games

Quake was the first true 3D game; therefore the game graphics engine was a revolutionary piece of software. In the online book Ramblings in Realtime, Michael Abrash describes the theory, techniques, and the generally working atmosphere at ID while programming on Quake.

If you're interested into graphics programming, do take time to read the Black Book of Graphic Programming, by the same author.

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