The Nintendo Wii: 3 years on

 

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It’s the biggest selling console in the world today and loved by gamers of all ages, but has the Wii really lived up to the expectations it set on its spectacular arrival?

When the Wii was first released back in 2006, it was a phenomenon. When compared to other contemporary consoles, the Xbox 360 and the PS3, the Wii was totally different and something new in a rather predictable market. Whereas Sony and Microsoft had continued their hardware battle, trying to outdo each other with better graphics, bigger hard drives and generally more power, Nintendo had gone down a different path, and created a console that was completely out on its own. The Wii was all about the fun, and together with the revolutionary motion detection technology, it was the perfect console for the casual gamer. But now that the Wii is approaching its third birthday, it’s worth reassessing its success, and asking whether or not, despite its huge sales, it has been the massive leap forward it was marketed as.

Let’s start with the famous launch at the 2006 E3, where the Nintendo Wii stole the show. The critics at E3 awarded the Wii with Best of Show and Best Hardware, along with a never-ending stream of accolades and praise from journalists and gamers. During the months before its release, and the release itself, the Wii was draped in awards from every major corner of the press, with most heralding the Wii’s arrival as the most important step in video gaming history. Late in 2006 the Wii console and the motion gaming it showcased was considered to be the future of gaming, and the Wii was expected to lead the way for this technology and gaming as a whole. But has this really happened? Today, is the Wii still viewed as the top console, or at least the most advanced?

Let’s look at the motion technology; that on its release was considered to be the biggest leap forward since the introduction of the 16bit cartridge. This motion software has gone on to become a regular feature on a whole host of electrical devices. The iPod, iPhone, the Sony Yari and countless others now use the motion technology the Wii first developed, and Microsoft are working on a similar system for the Xbox 360, albeit far more sophisticated. The Wii’s motion technology has been a great success, but has it changed gaming like it was supposed to? Apart for the Wii, no other console has truly embraced motion gaming yet, and it is still considered too underdeveloped and numb to be used as a serious replacement to the trusty control pad. What was expected to become the future of gaming has rather faded with time, although whether motion gaming will finally take off in the future is yet to be seen.

 

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Games-wise, it’s fair to say that developers haven’t really got fully behind the Wii, and some have openly admitted to having rushed through releases to coincide with the hype the Wii generated. Where both the PS3 and Xbox 360 have rich catalogues of games, with very few bad releases to speak of, the Wii’s bag is more mixed. There are some superb games out there, with titles such as Super Mario Galaxy, Zack and Wiki, Boom Blox, Mercury Meltdown Revolution, de Blob and of course the obligatory Wii Sports all being worthy of anyone’s money. But sadly, these titles are suffocated under a smouldering heap of garbage games, that were only made to make a quick buck off the back of the Wii hype. Apart from Wii Sports, has the Wii really had that many big titles to get behind? Perhaps it has, much too often, been forced to suffer the type of games that honestly shouldn’t warrant a stand alone release.

Another problem is that major games rarely make their way to the Wii, and if they do, they are usually lazily modified from the original version. The top 3 games last year (in no particular order) were Grand Theft Auto 4, Fallout 3 and Gears of War 2. These titles were massive successes for the 360 and PS3, but not the Wii, as they were never available on this platform. This is partly due to the fact that, apart from the Wii having graphically inferior hardware to the minimum these games would require, Nintendo have always targeted their games at the family market, and let’s face it – your Granny won’t enjoy Fallout 3. But saying that, Madworld is one of the nastiest games you’ll ever see, and that’s only available on the Wii.

A lot of the Wii’s success and the way it is viewed are also due to the way it is marketed. As I’ve said, Nintendo have always aimed their products at the family market, and with the Wii they have pursued this avenue further than with previous consoles. The adverts for the Wii have always featured a wide span of age groups, from the pre-school child to the grandparents. At no point has the Wii been aimed at the hardcore gamer, the type of gamer that has a PS3 or 360 for example. As a result of this, the Wii has always had a stigma as a console for the casual gamer, and as such has never been taken seriously by the hardcore of gaming.

There are a number of reasons why the Wii, in today’s high tech world, is not consisted to be the console of the future. If anything, these days it is considered as a bit dated, and if anything more of a gadget than a games console. To be honest, the Wii isn’t really taken that seriously anymore. With a catalogue of inconsistent games, most of which are very poor, and a fan base that although large, is mainly made up of young children or older adults. Sadly the Wii is seen more as a party toy, or a gimmick, which is a shame because the Wii is a fantastic console (albeit majorly unsupported by software) that has sold extremely well (52.62 million consoles have been sold worldwide and it has outsold the PS3 and Xbox 360’s shared sales, with sales of 24.6million and 21million respectively). The Wii has produced some exceptional games and has reintroduced a large percentage of the public back to the joys of gaming. But overall, could you honestly put the Wii above the Xbox 360 or PS3 as the leading console? Sadly, I’m guessing your answer is no.

 

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Scott Tierney

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One Response to “The Nintendo Wii: 3 years on”

  1. Thank you for these kinds of a fantastic blog. Where else could one get this kind of information written in this kind of an incite full way? I have a presentation that I am just now working on, and I were seeking such information.

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