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Nintendo Disappoints with the Casual Gamer Console, the Wii
Jan 31, 2012 (Updated Jan 31, 2012)
by Jason Haskins
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Some great games, price, Virtual Console
Cons:No HD, bad selection of games
The Bottom Line: I expected more from Nintendo after being the innovators for so long and I'm left with a console I'm disappointed in because of the lack of games or hardware.
Nintendo’s Gamecube was released alongside Sony’s Playstation 2 and the original Microsoft Xbox to warm reviews, a ton of great games, but produced a staggering defeat for the once great company who gave us possibly the best game console ever made: The Super Nintendo. Their follow-up to the Gamecube was nicknamed ‘Revolution’ and had gamers eagerly anticipating the next big thing in terms of the future of gaming.
Recommend this product?
The re-titled Nintnedo Wii was released in North America on November 19th, 2006--right at the time that I was taking a little bit of a break from gaming and it wasn’t really in my radar until 2007 to be honest. Everyone was talking about it--it was the casual gamer’s console where they could play a ton of games that weren’t really for the Playstation 3 or Xbox 360 hardcore crowd.
It wasn’t until fall of 2007 that I purchased the Nintendo Wii as a gift to my girlfriend for Christmas (a hard time to find it, mind you—think Jingle All the Way). This was under the premise that she, a sort of casual gamer who grew up with Nintendo’s older systems, would embrace the ‘casual technology’ and have fun with games like Wii Sports and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.
The console was great for a while until we got tired of playing Wii Sports…and then she got stuck on Twilight Princess and gave up…and so on and so forth over the years with the other games I got for her and now she digs LittleBigPlanet on the Playstation 3 and strictly only plays the Just Dance games on the Wii. Moral of the story? Just because a console is billed towards the casual or family doesn’t mean it will be used efficiently or that it has the lasting power of other consoles that are more evenly spread in terms of games offered.
The Wii system is available in a few different colors like light blue, white, black, and red. I own the white version of it, which looks quite slick, to be honest. The design is very interesting—it can stand either upright on its stand or sit on its side with a disc drive, memory card drive, and hidden Gamecube controller slots available. It’s about the size of a book and has a small motion device that you can place on top of your television. There we have the biggest draw of the Wii: motion.
While the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 have the Kinect and Move devices respectively, the Wii was the one who pioneered this aspect with games focusing on the idea to use motion as a gameplay technique. When you play a Legend of Zelda game you actually wield and use your controller as a sword to kill enemies instead of simply holding it on your lap and braining out. This is also used extraordinarily well, I’m sorry to say, in the Just Dance series where you hold the remote and dance in front of your television as the motion device captures what you are doing and can tell if you are doing the correct moves.
This technology isn’t new, but it was definitely a large leap for Nintendo to put all of their trust into this gimmicky sort of nature. I was a little hesitant myself, but found myself pleased with their newest innovation after the Nintendo DS handheld console with touch- and multiple screens--a gamble that actually paid off. The trouble with this motion control aspect is that it doesn’t really do much to enhance gameplay as much as make for frustration and is only used well in more mainstream games like the large example of Just Dance where you stand and use it in front of your television. I found the controls very hard on Super Smash Bros. Brawl--a game that’s rarely been touched in my household because of it.
The controller is a big innovation where it doesn’t resemble a controller at all--but a remote control. If you were to place this somewhere ten years ago someone would mistake it easily for a remote control for their television, but rest assured it’s a controller with a nun chuck that plugs into the base of it, which has a directional pad and shoulder buttons. There’s a ‘Home’ button like on the Sony and Microsoft devices, which takes you to a central hub if need-be where you can also check the battery power of your controllers and do other things like stream movies from your Netflix account, hang out in a lame community with your Mii character (an avatar you create for your console), or look at pictures via the Wi-Fi capability of the unit.
One of the biggest draws of the Wii for me now, personally, is to be able to purchase older games through the Virtual Console application on the device. Think of the Playstation Network and how you are able to buy older games to download to your console and you’ll be familiar with this concept. You just purchase points towards a game upwards of ten bucks or so and you have a ton of games at your disposal from multiple different consoles like the original NES or play the games you missed from the Super NES.
There are also add-ons you can buy like classic NES controllers to plug into your console that are even more nostalgic, but putting your Wii remote on its side works wonderfully (especially in modern games like New Super Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong Country Returns). The Wii is backwards compatible with the Gamecube as well so aside from the standard 12cm discs you insert into the console you can also put the tiny Gamecube discs in and hook up whatever GC controllers you have lying around. This is a great part of the Wii as none of the other consoles offer the same sort of compatibility with their prior consoles.
There are some really good games on the Wii, but there’s no real variety to them. If given an opportunity I would say there are ten good games worth buying…but that’s really all I can say. Of course, these are all established franchises and sequels thus showing that this system isn’t as big of an innovation as it could have been. The two Legend of Zelda games (Twilight Princess and the recent Skyward Sword) are pretty good, as are Donkey Kong Country Returns and New Super Mario Bros. (both very difficult!), and I really enjoyed the Super Mario Galaxy series.
After that the first-rate titles start to dry up. Kirby: Epic Yarn is fun as is the newest Metroid Prime game and a new Mario Kart, but you soon start to realize that all of the original properties are nowhere to be found. Okami was a very interesting game both visually and gameplay-wise and nothing really comes close to that on the Wii--not to mention the complete lack of RPGs on the console as they are being held up in Japan for some reason by Nintendo, which has hurt their image quite a bit to Western fans. It seemed like they were averaging one great game a year and a few mediocre ones and a majority crap kids’ games and movie tie-ins, which bulked up the amount of bad games in their arsenal.
To be honest, the graphical upgrades of this console versus the Gamecube aren’t that large to me. Out of the Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony units the Wii has the least powerful prowess as all of the development focused on the motion controls and design rather than the future of the market in terms of graphics and high-definition televisions. A lot of the graphics look downright shoddy on high-definition televisions regardless of the 720p or 1080p and is a far cry from the Sony and Microsoft counterparts. This definitely weakens the graphical achievements seen in games such as Okami and most recently, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, which would have looked a million times more beautiful if the company had tinkered and cared for high definition graphical units.
All of that aside I have experienced some great games on this console, but my library of Wii games definitely isn’t as extensive as my ones for the Playstation 3 and 360. I’ve devoted more money to older games via the Virtual Console than anything else and I think that’s really where the console succeeds in making me happy. I don’t think I’m a hardcore gamer, but I’m looking at this console as a source of entertainment and I just don’t get as much entertainment out of it as my other consoles.
My girlfriend uses it principly for Epic Mickey and the Just Dance series whereas I play with it when I’m bored because there’s no games that truly immerse me. If you’re looking for a powerful console with a fat stack of varied and interesting games I would look somewhere else…but if you want a kid-friendly system and endorse this type of motion control gimmick--the Wii is all yours. To be fair, it’s the cheapest of all the consoles at around $200. This is an average console that I think will be forgotten in time most likely and definitely doesn’t offer the amount of quality games seen on the Gamecube.
© Jason Haskins, 2012
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