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Darrell Huckaby - Welcome to the wonderful world of Wii

Well, school is back in session and not a moment too soon for me! I don't know when I have had a more active summer and to tell you the truth, I am just about worn slap dab out!

We went on vacation at the end of May, to Walt Disney World, in Florida - and ever since we got back it's been one thing after another.

Golf, tennis, bowling, baseball, shooting, hand ball, table tennis - you name it and I have been playing it this summer. And it is addictive, too. I mean, once you've played Pebble Beach with Tiger Woods and bowled 12 games in one night and hit 17 homeruns in one inning of Homerun Derby, it's hard to find something to do for an encore.

What? You thought Tiger was recovering from knee surgery?

Not in Wii World, baby.

Wii, for the uninitiated, is the 21st century's answer to my generation's infatuation with Pong.

You remember Pong, don't you? It was the first video game that most of us knew anything about. It hooked up to your television set and you and a friend would sit for hours and watch a little beam of light bounce across the screen while you tried to hit it back and forth with a little "padle" that you would control by turning a knob.

That's all it was and that's all it did.

Pong gave way to Pac-Man and Space Invaders, of course, and those games gave way to more sophisticated ones and we had Nintendo and Playstation and Xbox and I don't know what all until, finally, Pong has evolved into Wii - the game I have spent all summer playing.

I had heard of Wii for a while, but had never seen one and, sort of like the purple cow of children's verse, I never really hoped to see one. I don't do video games, understand. They lost me at Super Mario Bros. I could get across the road in Frogger if the cars and trucks weren't coming too fast and I could hang with the Sega Genesis version of Aladdin until I had to ride the magic carpet through the fiery cave, but after that, I was pretty much incompetent.

But Wii, they told me, was different. It is not all about the thumbs and small motor manipulation. In Wii, they said - they being my children - you hold the control in your hands and imitate the real actions - you swing it like a golf club or baseball bat or tennis racquet or point it like a gun - and the lifelike character on the screen reacts to your movement as if he - or she - were an extension of your movement.

If your swing is sweet, my kids told me, your tee shot will fly straight and far. If you twist your hand just right, your bowling ball will curve right into the pocket and if you time your overhead smash just right you'll kill your opponent on the courts every time.

I still wasn't convinced and told myself that it was just an attempt to get me to buy another $300 game system that I couldn't figure out how to play.

And then I saw Denny Crane playing Wii racquetball against his best friend Alan Shore and, suddenly, I had to have a Wii.

Denny Crane and Alana Shore are characters, by the way, on Boston Legal, which is one of my favorite shows. On one of the last episodes of the year - who am I kidding? On one of the only episodes of the year - Denny and Alan were getting all dressed to play handball. They had on their white gym shorts and white T-shirts and wrist bands and head bands and the whole nine yards. The next minute they were whacking away at invisible balls while two little men on their television screen played a heck of a game of racquetball. I was hooked. I had to have that game.

Did you know that Wii game consoles are still as scarce as hen's teeth? I couldn't find one anywhere - at any price.

But then we were on our way home from visiting Mickey Mouse and stopped at a mall in Gainesville, Fla., of all places, to eat lunch. Right across from the Chick-Fil-A was a game store, and as we ate our sandwiches we watched a clerk in the game store unload a whole shipment of Wii games. Miraculously, I still had a little bit of cash left after a week in Walt's World. I rushed over and bought one of the games and for the rest of the summer it has been game on.

Laugh if you want, but don't knock it if you haven't tried it. Wii is more fun than a barrel of monkeys and, while it may not be completely realistic, it's as close to real life as any game I've seen and as much fun as I've had in a long time.

And I am really excited this weekend because now we have a Guitar Hero to go with our Wii, and if I get past 17 more songs, I get to try and play Sweet Home Alabama with Lynrd Skynrd.

Who needs real life when you've got Wii?

Darrell Huckaby is a local author and educator. He can be reached at dHuck08@bellsouth.net.