The Wii and Me

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.

Dewy's Adventure was particularly insidious Wii game, showcasing the lack of ambition and abuse of the term "motion controls" that plagued many Wii games

Dewy’s Adventure is a particularly insidious Wii game, showcasing the lack of ambition that plagued many Wii games.

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.

Let's be real tho, Xenoblade is worth ten great games. Classic.

Let’s be real though, Xenoblade is worth ten great games. Classic.

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.

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6 comments

  1. themancalledscott

    I have long found most people who criticize the Wii as being, well, to put it bluntly, pretty stupid. Their so-called “critiques” are mostly grounded in an undeserved sense of elitism. They claim the Wii to be too “kiddy” and “casual” and other such stupid terms that I guess help make them feel important for spending more time in front of the TV than the average person. But when you look back at the early history of games, they were largely made with mass appeal and children in mind. If anything, the Wii just brought things full circle.

    I’m going to go on record and say that if you go by today’s standards, both the Wii and Wii U are better consoles than the N64 and GameCube. I know, I’m not supposed to say that because “teh N64 was teh last time Nin10do cared about teh fans” and “teh GameCube was hardcore.” But aside from Mario, Zelda, and the Rare platformers, time hasn’t exactly been kind to the N64, and the GameCube only had a small handful of classics to begin with. Yes, the Wii had a lot of shovelware, but it seems oddly convenient that the Wii and Wii U are the only consoles judged by their shovelware. If that’s how we’re to judge a console, than the PS2 must’ve outright sucked, considering all the crap that made it onto that console.

    But that’s not how we normally judge these things. When discussing the PS2, we talk about the Shadow of the Colossuses, the Okamis, and the Grand Theft Autos (I may not like them, but objectively I know many people love the series). Yet when it comes to the Wii, people conveniently act like it had no good games, call it a “dust collector” and other BS. A lot of people like to use the “no AAA third-party titles” argument, but such an argument is bogus for two key reasons. The first is that it suggests that all those AAA third-party titles are worth their hype, when in reality only a handful of them are. The second reason is that it seems to deny the quality of first-party titles. Sure, lacking third-party games is’s a good thing, but if a console has a lot of really good first-party titles, then it still has a lot of really good games. Is the status of being “third-party” supposed to magically make a game better than a first-party title? The irony being that the majority of the most acclaimed games from any given generation tend to be first-party titles.

    Besides, if you count the Virtual Console, then by the end of its lifespan, the Wii had the single greatest lineup of games in console history.

    Anyway, I’m rambling. I should probably just write my own blog on this. 😛 Simply put, if someone hates the Wii, chances are they themselves are plenty hatable.

    • veryverygaming

      Agree with you on pretty much every point, and the video I posted here is one of those prime examples of double standards at work when it comes to the Wii. Ultimately it all comes down to taste but when it’s presented in this “objective” style I find it painful to listen to.

      The only thing I would say on the third-party support is that I love playing a variety of games, and that’s what third parties can do for a console line-up. I’m a big Nintendo fan, but there are games, genres, aesthetics, and designs that I enjoy, and that they don’t do. That’s not to say that first party games don’t count – as you say, they’re often the best games on any given console – nor am I saying that so-called AAA third party games on other consoles necessarily live up to their hype. But, as a Wii-only gamer during that generation, with a few notable exceptions the third-party games I played often felt constrained by lack of budget, or ambition, while the equivalent titles on the other platforms didn’t lack for those same qualities. Early in the generation especially, if it hadn’t been for the Virtual Console I might have felt the need to buy a second console to fill some of those gaps.

      To me, the Wii is this crazy, bizarre console that introduced so many unique features and trends at once it was totally baffling for everyone – publishers, developers and players alike! From the 2D platformer mini-craze with the horizontal Wiimote, to pointer controlled FPSs and puzzlers, to traditionally controlled RPGs, to motion-based gestures and actions in everything… it’s practically dizzying, all those different control styles, interfaces, gameplay types. And out of all those options I got a lot of good and a little bad.

  2. moresleepneeded

    I can see how the Wii can be considered as appealing to non-gamers, the self-improvement games (such as the Brain Academy and Wii Fit games) as well as games seemingly intended to play at a party, rather than provide a story (such as the Wii Sports and Wii Play games). I am not sure if the release of these games are bad though. I agree with the statement about family-friendly games not being bad, I, personally, find some family-friendly games more enjoyable than adult games because they prioritise the player solving problems, rather than shooting enemies. Despite the family-friendly games, the Wii did seem to allow the player to play more adult games than previous Nintendo consoles. I remember versions of the late Tomb Raider and Manhunt games were available on the Wii, I do not remember if similar games were available on the Nintendo 64 or Gamecube.
    I have always felt the Wii remote was a good controller and allowed the player to play games in an unique way and have more control over the games.
    I have enjoyed Super Mario Galaxy, I also liked Metroid: Other M, Red Steel, Goldeneye, Okama, Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings and the Legend of Zelda games.

    • veryverygaming

      Personally, I loved stuff like Wii Sports, Wii Fit and Wii Play. My family have long enjoyed competitive high score games, ever since the Amiga days, and the Wii brought that competitive spirit back, with a vengeance. Link’s Crossbow Training, Let’s Tap and Geometry Wars: Galaxies were great too. As you say, there were also some “mature” games (Madworld comes to mind), while the Gamecube, and N64 especially, had very few.

      I like your list of games. I just finished Other M a few weeks ago and I wish I had played it earlier, what a fantastic game. Okami is another great game too, I got that when it came out and still haven’t completed it!

  3. YvoCaro

    That video is not good for my blood pressure!
    Though I’m mainly a handheld gamer I still hold dear memories to my Wii, the only device that I had to wait months for to get because of the shortages in stock. Maybe you’re right, and there were a lot of mediocre games. But it had some great titles too, like you mentioned. Rune Factory and Little Kings Story are games I played and loved. But even the mediocre games made the console loved by a wide audience. I mean, MySims isn’t exactly breathtaking, but those games brought a lot of people who wouldn’t otherwise have gamed at all to the Wii. That’s what the system was brilliant for, getting people gaming who would have never dreamed about such pastime. Unfortunately for Nintendo those audiences aren’t your loyal fans: as soon as Sony marketed their PlayStation to include a Blue Ray player, or when XBox brought Kinect, the crowds switched just as easily.

    • veryverygaming

      Hi Yvonne, thanks for your response. it’s taken me a long time to respond partly because I’m trying to sort out my own thoughts on the Wii! Although I understand where Maya’s coming from with her take on the Wii here, I have a slightly different perspective. For me, the Wii’s accessibility (what people refer to as “casual”) meant something very special: gathering round the TV night after night with my family to compete for the best scores in Wii Sports, Wii Play and many other games. That’s not something I’ve had the pleasure of doing since I was a child, so I’m very grateful to Nintendo on that front.

      But I know that Maya isn’t into high score, or multiplayer gaming – it just doesn’t appeal to her. That’s why I notice her lists (both the “good” and “disappointing” sections) are comprised exclusively of singleplayer games. So, given her tastes, I can understand why she’d feel slightly letdown by the Wii’s selection, especially compared with the PS1 and 2.

      At the same time, we’re with you 100% about making gaming accessible. I think that’s why the guy in that video comes off so badly, he comes off as a massive snob, wanting to keep gaming the preserve of “the hardcore”, whatever that means. Funny thing is if game developers never tried to bring in new people, chances are none of us would call gaming a hobby – himself included!

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