The Wii: Almost three-years-old and getting more attractive
Thursday, October 22, 2009 3:12 PM
Adam Tingle dabbles his toes in the Nintendo Wii's hardcore gaming.
Nintendo has always been one for innovation and creativity. The original Nintendo Entertainment System shaped the idea of the modern video game console and now the Wii is shaping its evolution and growth. To put it short, Nintendo are an imaginative bunch of bastards.
Why must I use such coarse language? Well because they are too good; too creative; too inventive. Not only in one hand do they hold the attention of a casual mass audience, but in the other they also command legions of hardcore gamers who salivate at the mere mention of a first party title. I toss around the title "Devil" a little too flippantly, but still, Nintendo is surely an Eastern Devil.
As we progress through the era of seventh generation video game consoles, the Wii is the market leader by quite a margin. To many this is quite the surprise. The console doesn't command the greatest visuals, nor does it come with fancy gadgets such as Blu-Ray. The Nintendo Wii captures the imagination and that is why it is loved and loathed in equal measure.
Speaking as a hardcore gamer, I have in the past looked upon the Nintendo Wii as a glorified children's toy. It isn't as mature as the PlayStations and Xboxs of this world and its popularity also leads me to believe it's evil. At one point I even went as far to name it "The Console Which Must Not Be Named." Surely this is just blind prejudice?
The Wii is the acceptable face of gaming. It offers fun for all and contains that hidden evil of mass playability. We, the pathetic among the Human Race, posses the trait of hating the loved. If it's popular, it is sure to be hiding its true agenda, just look at Call of Duty 4 (this is one soul you won't devour Activison).
To my shame, my console prejudice seems to have been misplaced. After months of deliberation, I purchased a Wii. I kept telling myself it was a career choice rather than a gaming one. I felt ashamed and reluctant. What a fool I have been.
For all of its reputation of being a casual console, the Wii has a back catalogue of great games that appeal across the spectrum of game keen folk. Sure we have 'happy fun time party!' type games which involve nothing but screaming in joy and flailing your limbs, but we also have games such as Zelda and Metroid. Surely these titles alone are worthy of £170?
The major draw to Nintendo, especially for the wiser gamers amongst us, is the first party titles that we receive annually. Mario is probably incentive enough to shift all loyalties to Nintendo and deservedly so. The company has built a reputation of excellence and with developers such as Shigeru Miyamoto leading the charge, it is of no mystery as how it garnered such dues.
So what does the Nintendo Wii offer to the more serious gamer? Well this is something I struggled with for some time, until I finally took the metaphorical plunge and purchased the product.
Of course the Wii cannot graphically contend with its competitors, but where it fails to deliver the Grand Theft Auto's, Fight Night's, Uncharted's and Gears of War's, it offers oodles of exclusive Nintendo titles. Games that are so good that it equates to the Wii's must-have mantle, even though it requires year round patience to enjoy these titles.
To best describe the Wii would require me to ask you to think back to your gaming beginnings; that first time you reached for a game-pad and grappled with this medium. It feels so fresh and new, surely it is some sort of magical razzmatazz that Nintendo has achieved?
For all intents and purposes the wiimote looks like a DVD Remote; there's no skirting around the matter. It is neither aesthetically pleasing nor particularly cool looking. However, what this odd device does enable is new grounds of interactivity. It breaks down the fourth wall of video gaming. No longer will we sit twiddling our thumbs and stare blankly, we are now part of the action. Some call it virtual reality, I call it Voodoo.
Of course the wiimote has its flaws. It makes gaming far to strenuous for activity challenged people like myself. In all honesty I would rather slump back and jab at a control pad than stand to attention jerking about wildly and generally putting effort into my pursuit. Who needs creativity when I enjoy slouching so much?
Nonetheless, playing games such as Metroid Corruption and Resident Evil 4 really show off the Wii's controlling potential. In Metroid we are given unparalleled levels of accuracy rarely seen on a first-person-shooter outside of the PC format. In Resident Evil we are given inventive ways to play and interact with the environment. It makes for gameplay that is as much about enjoyment as discovery.
The wiimote and nun-chuck are genuinely revolutionary and influential; you only have to peer into the recent workings of Sony and Microsoft to catch a glimpse of their own motion sensing devices. The wiimote is not only brilliantly imaginative but also a trendsetter.
For many, however, the wiimote and motion sensor magic is simply not enough. To some degree this was my view of the Wii and to some small part, still is. The Wii is a brilliantly creative console, but it fails to really achieve the level of Sony or Microsoft's product. Sure, on the one hand we can have creative and inventive gaming, on the other though we can have dazzling graphics, a roster of ever-expanding great games and well, actually some sort of DVD player and multipurpose console.
A major problem with the Wii is that for all of the great exclusive games, there's a distinct lack of third party developers interested and excited about the Wii's opportunities. The amount of must have games for the Wii dwindles in the single figures throughout each year, even if when the Wii gets it right, it really gets it right. The added hindrance of having graphical capabilities of about four years ago doesn't help matters either.
The Wii is now fast approaching its third birthday. At launch the console gave ammunition to cast serious doubts over its gaming credibility. Casual games took precedent and hardcore games took to lurking in the background. Three years on, is this still the case? Yes and no. Yes we have a multitude of games that can quench the thirst of the most hardened gamer, but also no, because Nintendo refuses to grace us with such titles more than twice a year.
However, if you are serious about gaming then you should surely get serious about the Wii. The console has its flaws and failures, but it more than makes up for this in the quality of games and gameplay it offers. Take the time to discover the Wii's excellent titles: Mario Galaxy, MadWorld, No More Heroes, Metroid, Legend of Zelda and watch as your life sinks into rewarding and inventive gameplay.
The Wii may be for the kids and Ant 'n' Dec, but it's for me too. I hope someday you will join us and the world will live as one. John Lennon wasn't singing about a perfect world, he was singing about Nintendo.