As we’re opening the new year with a new console, the PS3, it’s natural to look back and reminisce. And why not focus on the legacy of one of my most well-used consoles, the Wii. Released in 2006, the Wii was instantly a huge commercial success. Partly because of its mainstream appeal, it became controversial for the 0.00005% of people who identify as “hardcore gamers” and considered Nintendo traitors, or some such BS. However, perhaps surprisingly, I have come full circle on my opinion of the Wii’s library.
I was always an ardent defender of the Wii primarily because I don’t care if a console has a reputation for accessible/family friendly games. In fact, I think that’s a wonderful thing! As long as there are games that cater to my tastes and a couple that manage to “wow” me, I’ll be satisfied.
However, recently, I’ve realised one of the main reasons I like the Wii is because I really dislike the critiques like those offered in this video. That makes no sense, but I’ll try and explain.
The above video illustrates some of anti-Wii propaganda circulating on the internet til this day. The game critic describes the Wii as an expensive “dust collector”, “one of the worse consoles of all time”/”doesn’t even qualify as a console”, criticising the motion controls and a lack of “hardcore games”. To prove these points he discusses some of the first few games released on the Wii – an unfair way to test *any* console. It would be like judging the PS3 on the basis of Lair, or the XBox 360 on Perfect Dark Zero.
He also says some rubbish about how “true gamers” have to be a certain age, because anyone who didn’t grow up in the 16-bit generation cannot possibly understand what he’s talking about (timestamp: 12:30).
Anyway, I decided to make a list of Wii games that I count as brilliant or life-changing, and then some that I found disappointing or underwhelming. The good: Xenoblade Chronicle, Trauma Team, Rune Factory: Frontier, Little King’s Story, the Mario Galaxy games. As for the so-so: Dewy’s Adventure, Rabbids Go Home, De Blob 2, Disaster Day of Crisis, and Harvest Moon: Animal Parade. This selection shows an underlying trend of Nintendo supporting its own console well, whilst third party publishers treated the Wii as something of a gimmick – a console not worthy of well-thought out game design and attention.
My point is that games-wise, the Wii wasn’t an earth shaker – it doesn’t have the variety of the PS2, or that sense of excitement and innovation of the Dreamcast, or the “comeback kid” quality of the PS3. To be blunt, in the years following its insanely successful launch, the Wii was rarely inspiring, with many games missing some key ingredient or element that would take the experience from good to great. It was a commercial giant, supported by a plethora of “OK” or “good” games, and doesn’t have enough of those landscape-changing experiences to justify “classic” status. This (among many other reasons) sealed the fate of the Wii U. From a marketing perspective, the Wii is comparable to putting all your mediocre eggs in one basket, selling out, then turning up the next day with a new basket of shiny, potentially awesome eggs (the Wii U) and wondering why no one is buying.
That being said, the Wii will always have a special place in my heart for getting me back into gaming after several barren years where I only played the DS occasionally. And for that I will always be grateful. But, for now, I’m happy to retire my Mii and turn to the next generation for some gaming inspiration.