REVIEW BY QJ
Some relationships have always been meant to work, no matter how strange or off-beat they may seem at first. But is the union between the Headplay Personal Cinema System, a neat little gadget that lets you play your games in an entirely different fashion, and the Nintendo Wii, an awesome little console with a similar approach to gaming as well, a match made in heaven or a tragic love affair? This is the article that hopes to answer that question. This is the QJ.NET review of the Headplay Personal Cinema System when it's hooked up to the Nintendo Wii.
Now before we start things off, a little backstory on how I went about writing this review: I played four major Wii titles of differing genres (Super Mario Galaxy, Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles, Soul Calibur Legends, and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption), with the HeadPlay Personal Cinema System serving as the visual media port.
HeadPlay Person Cinema System - Image 1
The controller I used is a bog-standard Nunchuk and Wiimote setup, with the sensor bar's Sensitivity set to 2, the position setting to Above The TV, and the sensor bar itself perched on top of a stand in front of me. I was in the typical eager gamer position - sitting while leaning forward slightly, on a very comfortable couch.
And as per my tendency to be motion-sick quite easily, my editors were kind enough to supply me with a handy bucket, in case I felt the need to deposit my breakfast where it clearly didn't belong. As for how long I played each game, I made it a point to at least start at the beginning of a level and play it to the end, up to the level boss. This took me around thirty or so minutes of game time with each title, with a ten minute break between to rest my eyes and get my bearings back.
How did it all turn out? Well, read on, dear reader, and see how four major Nintendo Wii titles matched up to the HeadPlay Personal Cinema System.
Super Mario Galaxy - Image 1
What game is it: Super Mario Galaxy
What's it like: It's Nintendo's legendary next-gen platformer starring none other than Mario, with crazy gravity effects and spherical world physics. Players can use the Wii's motion-sensing mechanics to make Mario execute his spin move, as well as pick up Star Bits by using the Wiimote as a pointer. Player movement is handled by the analog stick, the Jump is bound to the A button. Simple and fun.
How it plays with the Headplay Personal Cinema System: This was the first title I fired up with the Headplay Personal Cinema System on, and while it took some getting used to (there's a visual disconnect when you try to pick up the star bits, as you can't see where you're pointing the Wiimote), it was actually quite fun. Every gravity-defying jump, spin and leap that Mario did felt like an entirely new visual experience, and I found myself moving my head in time with the on-screen motion. I'm also glad to report that no gags or dry heaves were forthcoming during my time with the game, and not once did I even think of reaching for the bucket.
Super Mario Galaxy - Image 1
Super Mario Galaxy - Image 2 Super Mario Galaxy - Image 3
With that out of the way, there's something to be said about the Headplay Personal Cinema System not having speakers of any sort. After all, half of the gameplay experience of Super Mario Galaxy - or any game, for that matter - lies in the sound department, and it's a bit disappointing that the Headplay only takes care of the visual side rather than both. Perhaps the next iteration could have earphones? It'd certainly be a welcome addition, rather than relying on a separate set of speakers all the time.
Is it Headplay worthy: Very much, yes. If you manage to snag a Headplay System, a Nintendo Wii, and Super Mario Galaxy, then you're all set. Just be sure to hook up the sound cable to your speakers.
Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles - Image 1
What game is it: Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles
What's it like: Think House of the Dead on-rails shooter that's set in the Resident Evil universe. Also with tougher zombies, monsters, and a lot more weapons. Vastly more difficult than your usual on-rails light gun shooter, at that (enemies have small weak spots that you have to exploit).
How it plays with the Headplay Personal Cinema System: Playing zombie shoot-'em-up on the Wii with the HeadPlay on is quite the experience. Unlike First Person Shooters, the computer handles all the camera work - all you need to do is point and shoot.
Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles - Image 1 Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles - Image 2 Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles - Image 3
Yes, once again the visual disconnect's a bit off-putting but once you're past that, everything's as smooth as honey. Not to mention that the mild annoyance of bats, leeches, and monkeys flying into your face become survival-horror chocolate when you've got the HeadPlay Personal Cinema System on.
Leeches on your face, man. You haven't lived until you've gone through that.
Is it Headplay worthy: Very, but not if you plan on playing Co-op. That's just being selfish, hogging the screen to yourself.
Soul Calibur: Legends - Image 1
What game is it: Soul Calibur Legends.
What's it like: Your favorite fighting game that involves sharp objects turned into a hack-and-slash title from a third-person perspective. A lot of fun, it not for the fact that it utilizes the Nintendo Wii's motion-sensing controls in such a way that Carpal Tunnel Syndrome ceases to be a funnily-named condition and becomes an all-too-real (and painful) inevitability. At least you get to cut up monsters.
How it plays with the Headplay Personal Cinema System: Cutting up monsters with big swords is awesome, playing Soul Calibur Legends with the Headplay Personal Cinema System is not. Besides being broken not only camera-wise and control scheme-wise, it's really hard to like Soul Calibur Legends - with or without the HeadPlay on. There's also the deal of the Wiimote making a slashing sound every time you swing with the wiimote, even though your on-screen actions don't reflect as promptly as the swishes do.
Soul Calibur: Legends - Image 1 Soul Calibur: Legends - Image 2 Soul Calibur: Legends - Image 3
This makes the visual disconnect issue an even bigger one and is downright annoying. Not to mention that the game's lock-on system chooses to lock on enemies the farthest from you, and cycling through them is an absolute nightmare, with the camera sometimes swiveling to bring your target in view and sometimes not. Combine this with the Headplay Personal Cinema system and things start getting a bit nauseating. Yes, at about 3/4ths of this Headplay Wii Extravaganza did things start going from awesome to food regurgitation. And that's a bad thing.
Is it Headplay worthy: I wouldn't recommend playing Soul Calibur Legends with the Headplay device. It may seem fun at first, but playing it even with the Headplay Personal Cinema System doesn't change the fact that Soul Calibur Legends itself is a broken title. Add to that the motion-sickness gremlins bound to work you over a few minutes into the game.
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption - Image 1
What game is it: Metroid Prime 3: Corruption
What's it like: You're Samus, legendary female Hunter in a suit that's gotten more than its share of "bad-assery." Played entirely in the first person perspective, you shoot down aliens, overcome devious puzzles, and transform into a ball. It pays to be flexible.
How it plays with the HeadPlay Personal Cinema System: This game, while an absolute joy to look at and play on a normal television set, isn't as good when played on the Headplay Personal Cinema System. The visual disconnect (not being able to see your Wiimote) is blatantly more obvious here, as you not only use it to shoot or aim, but also to move your view around. Granted, it gives you that extra sense of "being there," but it really bogs down aiming or moving when all you have for a visual cue is the targeting reticule. But it's not to say that it's worth trying out at least once - just that doing so would have you feeling a bit queasy.
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption - Image 1 Metroid Prime 3: Corruption - Image 2 Metroid Prime 3: Corruption - Image 3
Is it Headplay worthy: I'm a bit hesitant to say that Metroid Prime 3: Corruption isn't worth playing on the Headplay Personal Cinema System. After all, FPS games and any device that does what the Headplay can is a winning combination. It might be just my being prone to motion-sickness, or that I'm not a big FPS player as I'd like to be. Final verdict would be to try it out for yourself and see what works.
Four games played on the Headplay Personal Cinema System, each with different results. What does this mean for the potential Headplay Personal Cinema System buyer, then? It means that while the gadget itself offers an entirely new way of playing games, your favorite titles might not jive with it as well as you want it to. Of course, that doesn't rule out the fact that it has to be experienced at least once.