Man, time really does fly when you’re having fun!
The fun, in this case, coming from our beloved 7th Gen gaming consoles. In case you all missed my last post, this is the second in a string of 3 posts that wax poetic about the systems that have kept us all so entertained for the past decade.
Last time, I covered the Xbox 360 and all its ups and downs, rights and wrongs. Today I’m taking a fond look back at arguably the boldest, most innovative of the 7 Gen consoles: the Nintendo Wii.
‘To Boldly Go Where No Gaming System Had Been Before…’
As the console’s original code name (‘Revolution’) suggests, when the concepts behind the Wii were first released, it was considered a huge step forward for the gaming community. Never before had the use of motion controls been so adroitly implemented, and while the move was risky it was also novel and exciting.
After its big reveal at E3 2006, the Wii hit stores later that fall, reaching American retailers by late November. Eager to get their hands on this revolutionary new gaming system, gamers flocked to stores across the country on the night of the system’s release. As a result, Wiis flew off the shelves and even sold out in many locations nationwide.
This new motion control gaming certainly was a huge, HUGE hit. Titles like Wii Sports, Wii Play, and Rayman Raving Rabbids were immense commercial successes, and gamers both young and old became immersed in this new kind of gaming.
I mean, if THIS lady could play the Wii, I’m pretty positive anyone could.
All that glitters ain’t gold…
Unfortunately, even the ripest fruits eventually fall from the tree. As the novelty of swinging your Wii Remote (let’s be honest though, we all call it a Wiimote) began to dwindle, so too did the allure of the more casual games that comprised the majority of Nintendo’s launch titles.
That’s not to say that the Wii didn’t have its share of exemplary titles. This is Nintendo, after all. Super Mario Galaxy was a revelation; The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, while a dual release with the Gamecube, was best enjoyed with the Wiimote and Nunchuck; Super Smash Bros. Brawl was an exciting, well-received addition to the series. And that’s just a few on the list of great gaming experiences that the Wii offers.
That being said, these titles were too far and few between. Sure Super Mario Galaxy was an awesome game, but it was one of the few gems among slews of shovelware and garbage games. If only there had been more Xenoblade and less Ninjabread Man…
The mechanics weren’t the only problems, however.
On top of the waning excitement over the motion controls and a sporadic selection of games, the Wii also suffered from some other system issues. For one, its graphics weren’t anything close to what the PS3 or 360 could put out. Now, I’m not saying that better graphics equals better gaming, but especially amongst the most hardcore of gamers this does present a problem. In a gaming world where super-realism reigns supreme, the cartoonish, “artsy” stylings of so many of the Wii’s titles could come off as unrefined.
What’s more, the Wii’s internet connection is far and away the least cooperative out of all the 7th Gen consoles. Xbox Live and The PlayStation Network are not perfect, but in comparison to the Wii’s online service they seemed like some cutting edge stuff. As a result of its cumbersome nature, online play was, at least by my calculations, much less common on the Wii than on the 360 or PS3. I know online play isn’t exactly Nintendo’s niche, but it is nonetheless a huge gaming market and would have proven immensely financially beneficial for the company.
What I’m really trying to say here is that the Wii is a lot like Adam Sandler.
No really, just think about it. Adam Sandler is one of the most well-known, beloved comedic actors around, right? Well, wasn’t the Wii one of, if not the, most beloved console in its prime?!
Okay, that’s kind of a stretch, I’ll admit. But consider this: didn’t Adam Sandler initially build his fame off of some great, albeit somewhat formulaic films–a la Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, The Waterboy, et cetera– only to go on to give the world such, shall we say “less fortunate” films as You Don’t Mess With the Zohan, That’s My Boy, and who could ever forget the indelible Jack & Jill? Doesn’t that KINDA mirror the way the Wii started off with some fun games built around some exciting new mechanics, only to have those same mechanics be what bogged the system down so late in its career? I mean, Adam even had some real classics like Punch Drunk Love and Reign Over Me where Nintendo had the Mario and Zelda franchises.
And let’s not forget the financial side of it. Just as Sandler is, somewhat contradictorily, one of the least critically acclaimed but financially successful actors in Hollywood, so too was the Wii generally derided by critics while still being the fiscal winner of the 7 Gen gaming arms race.
I mean, really now. The resemblance is uncanny.
So, in conclusion, I say to you this:
The Wii was definitely an exciting and engaging game system. For all its quirks and problems, it still was well-worth the couple hundred bucks I forked over to get it almost ten years ago. There are a lot of great titles out there hidden in the heaps of drivel that Nintendo produced over the Wii’s lifetime, and if you’re willing to search I guarantee it’ll be worth your time!
Next time: The Final Curtain, The PS3