The Nintendrone: Volume 1: Why I <3 The Wii
Hardcore gamers are a strange bunch. They form allegiances with a certain piece of hardware or software and instantly dismiss everything else the industry offers. If they’re a Battlefield fan, Call of Duty is the worst series of all time. If they’re a Microsoft fan, the Playstation 3 is worthless. If they’re a Sony fan they’ll tell you about the friend they knew who had to repair a bajillion red ringed 360s.
Due to their myopic view of the gaming world, gamers often cut themselves off from great experiences. This brings me to the point of this article, and indeed this column. My name is Justin and I’m a Nintendo fanboy. I love Nintendo, and I love the Wii. I think Nintendo has done, and continues to do, some very impressive things, and it’s unfortunate that many gamers have missed out on these achievements due to their own bias. Whether you’re a rabid Nintendrone like me, or a staunch defender of the HD consoles, hopefully you’ll give this a read. Who knows, maybe you’ll even give the little console that could a second chance.
If you follow gaming websites, which you do if you’re here, then I’m sure you’re well aware of the Wii’s flaws. The online is horrible, the graphics are sub HD, and everybody hates friend codes. While hardcore gamers and journalists alike carry on about the Wii’s faults, few seem to acknowledge or perhaps even recognize the advantages that the Wii has over its competitors. Here are the top reasons that I stand by the Wii.
Motion Controls Are Actually Pretty Cool
Way back in 2005 when the Wii was announced, people assumed it would be a short lived fad. Fast forward 5 years later and Microsoft has released its own motion control peripheral, and Sony has blatantly ripped off Nintendo right down to the nunchuck. Why are motion controls so popular? Because, they’re pretty damn fun.
There is a simple joy in seeing your motions replicated on a screen, even in a limited fashion. Imagine that Bald Bull is charging at you in a round of Punch-Out!!! You can hold your controller NES style, and counter his attack with a simple press of the 2 button. Or you could pull your fist back, wait for just the right moment, and throw a jab to his stomach a split second before he launches his deadly uppercut. Functionally, there is no difference between throwing a punch with your Wii-mote or pressing a button, but in practice, the former is way more fun.
Red Steel 2 is another game that shows the potential of motion controls. In Red Steel 2 your hero can knock an opponent into the air with an upwards slash, jump up, and slam him down to the ground with a downward strike. I’ve performed similar moves with Dante in Devil May Cry hundreds of times, but using motion controls adds a sense of visceral satisfaction that simply isn’t possible with a traditional controler.
Motion controls have vastly improved games like Resident Evil 4. In the Gamecube version, shooting down enemy projectiles was a difficult task that required as much luck as it did skill. On the Wii, I was shooting down throwing knives without missing a beat. Even in games like Super Mario Galaxy, simplistic motion controls greatly improve the experience. I’m not ready to trade in my dual stick controller just yet, but variety is always a good thing.
Oh and as for the Kinect and the Move? Neither of those has the amount of games or the quality of games that the Wii does. I’ll get to those guys in a later column though.
The Wii has at least one fan…
As Cheesy As It Sounds, It’s Fun For the Whole Family
Games like Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort appeal to almost everyone, and games like Kirby’s Epic Yarn and New Super Mario Bros. Wii are perfect multiplayer games for new gamers. With the Wii, you can play video games and spend time with your significant other. Beats the hell out of watching Desperate Housewives.
If things go well with the Wii Sports, you and your girl may have a kid of your own someday. Mazel Tov. If this happens, you’ll want something to do with the young ones, and there’s no better console than the Wii to entertain children. Games like Mario Kart, Kirby’s Epic Yarn, New Super Mario Bros, and Super Smash Brothers Brawl are some of the rare games that appeal to kids while also offering something for adult gamers. For the family man trying to spend time with his kids and enjoy his favorite hobby, the Wii is a god-send. On a personal note, the Wii has been great for bonding with my brother, who is 14 years younger than I am.
Disclaimer: Yes I know that some girls actually do love games like Call of Duty or Uncharted. If you have one of those, hold onto her like grim death.
It’s Good to Play Together
This brings me to another point. In an age where you can play multiplayer games across the globe, it’s shocking that you can’t always play games with someone right next to you. There are a ton of games on the HD Twins that eschew local multiplayer altogether. Recent Need for Speed games and Skate 3 have no local multiplayer, even though their predecessors do. Mass Effect 3 will enable you to join up with players around the world to save the galaxy, but not the person sitting next to you on the couch.
Fortunately, the Wii has tons of local multiplayer games. Games like New Super Mario Bros, Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Wario Ware Smooth Moves, Wii Sport’s Resort, the Raving Rabbids series, Boom Blox, and the recently released Rhythm Heaven offer hours of multiplayer fun. Of course, if you’d rather get teabagged by an anonymous 15 year old, you can do that. As for me, I’d rather play with people in person.
There is no denying that the two HD consoles blow the Wii away on a technical level. However, the massive horsepower of the X-Box 360 and PS3 has come at a price. Many of today’s best game designers are locked in a competition to see who could create a more realistic war torn city. Vibrant color palettes have been replaced by hundreds of different brown hues. Charming character designs have been replaced by anonymous gruff soldiers. Vibrant fantasy landscapes have been replaced by endless ruins, on a literal and metaphorical level.
Some people absolutely love realism, and I’m not immune to its charms either. I can certainly appreciate a realistic looking game, but I don’t need realism in every single game I play. Playing Rayman Origins on my X-Box 360 was a frustrating experience. Rayman’s whimsical worlds were jaw dropping, its character animations were mindblowingly smooth, and the entire hand drawn game looks utterly amazing in high definition. Playing through that game was a sharp reminder than the PS3 and 360 are capable of so much more than rendering every wrinkle on a character’s face.
In contrast the Wii’s limitations have forced developers to use creative visual styles. For my money, Kirby’s Epic Yarn is one of the best looking games ever, right up there with Uncharted 3 and Crysis 2. Even with its low resolution, I far preferred Skyward Sword’s impressionist inspired world to the technically superior graphics of Skyrim. Wario Land: Shake It looks like an interactive cartoon, and Red Steel 2’s cel shaded old west is a joy to behold.
PS3 and 360 Are Redundant
I finally broke down and bought a PS3 this year, and I’ve regretted the decision. This isn’t because the PS3 is inferior to the 360. On the contrary, if I could only keep one of my HD systems, I’d go with the PS3. I regret the decision because the PS3 doesn’t do much that my 360 doesn’t. Aside from Uncharted 3 and Infamous 2, I haven’t played anything that I couldn’t have played on my 360. The handful of exclusives each year don’t justify owning both systems, particularly now that Microsoft has given up on releasing non-Kinect exclusives. The two HD consoles offer a nearly identical experience.
The Wii offers games that you simply wouldn’t find on other consoles. While sidescrolling games have been relegated to downloadable titles on the 360 and PS3, the Wii offers great retail quality 2D games like Muramasa, Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Wario Ware: Shake It, Donkey Kong Country Returns, and of course New Super Mario Bros. Wii. The Wii is really the only system that offers a good selection of party games like Mario Party, Wii Party, Raving Rabbids, Rhythm Heaven Fever, and Guilty Party. Neither the X-Box 360 nor the PS3 have a good selection of simplistic arcade style sports games like Mario Sports Mix, or the incredibly addictive Punch Out!!!
Who Has Time For Games These Days?
The Wii also has an incredible selection of pick up and play titles. The HD consoles specialize in grand, involving, and often time consuming experiences. Games like Skyrim, L.A. Noire, GTA IV, Gears of War 3, Mass Effect 2, Bioshock, and even Call of Duty’s multiplayer mode, are not all that enjoyable in half hour bursts. I feel like I have to put at least an hour or two into most of my PS360 to really have a fulfilling experience. Within a half an hour, I can tackle a circuit in Punch Out!!! or grab a few stars in Super Mario Galaxy and feel satisfied. I love having my HD consoles for when I have the time to really dive into a game, but its also great to have something for when I’m trying to squeeze a little bit of fun into a busy day.
Wii Want Something Different
What it comes down to in the end is variety. If you asked me if the Wii was the best home console, I’d reluctantly swallow my fanboy pride and say no. If you asked me whether or not the Wii deserves a spot in any gamer’s home, I’d say hell yes. Just because you like hot dogs doesn’t mean you should shun cheeseburgers. If you like Coke you don’t have to condemn everyone who prefers Pepsi. Even if you like brunette girls, you could find room in your heart for the occasional blonde.
Likewise, just because you like to get lost in the world of Mass Effect 2 doesn’t mean you can’t play a round of virtual tennis with your lady. Just because you enjoy sniping noobs doesn’t mean you can’t have fun bouncing around the colorful world of Mario Galaxy. Just because you like spending hours crafting iron daggers in Skyrim doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the excellent motion controls of Skyward Sword.
Well, that’s why stand by Nintendo and the Wii, and why I’m looking forward to what Nintendo comes up with next. Incidentally, the Wii U will be the focus of my next article. How do you feel Nintendo did with the Wii? Let your opinion be heard below.