“We gave you DS, a new Gameboy and new games to play on them. And now you say, you want a revolution? Well, we’ve got one.”
Satoru Iwata had exclaimed at E3 2005 as he proudly held above his head Nintendo’s next console.
On the 19th of November 2006 the Nintendo Wii got its release to North American audiences.
The gaming revolution
The Wii presented something gaming had been needing for a long time – inclusivity. The intuitive, but easy to learn, motion controls, coupled with the wide-ranging catalog of games, meant that anyone could be a gamer. Nintendo had brought a revolution.
It’s been ten years since that little white box was released and the number of broken TV sets had received a sharp spike. What legacy did the Wii really left behind?
The Wii would be described by some as a gimmick. The motion controls often felt as if they were getting in the way of gameplay. Many of Nintendo’s biggest games barely needed any motion control and games such Zelda: The Twilight Princess and Super Smash Bros. Brawl could be played without moving anything but your fingers and your thumbs.
The implementation of the motion controls brought about the biggest flaw that this console has: the out of date hardware. Whilst its competitors, the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3, had improved hardware from the previous consoles, the Wii had barely improved from the GameCube and its 480p native resolution was shocking for the time. This understandably left many developers frustrated. Someone even joked that it was just “two GameCubes duct taped together”.
What does the Wii mean for us now?
In 2016 it’s easy to forget the impact the Wii had on gaming. Nintendo’s follow-up console, the Wii-U, had highly disappointing sales which left a sour taste in people’s mouths and with the Switch being announced it seems like Nintendo are entering a new age. They are now moving far away from the motion control that the Wii revolutionized. All these things considered the Wii should be becoming a distant memory.
Yet I constantly find myself coming back to this console despite its shortfalls. I still play it with my friends and I still enjoy using it. The Wii excels in one area in particular which, in my opinion, overshadows all its negative aspects. The Wii is very good at being fun and that is why its legacy still lasts today.
A fun console
In looking for an example of this kind of fun you need not look further than Wii Sports. A relatively simple game where you enact sports with motion controls. Whether you were swinging a virtual tennis racket or bowling a digital bowling ball, there was lots of fun to be found in this game. These kinds of games – ones also including Mario Kart, Warioware: Smooth moves, were what made the Wii so fun. They were a testament to what it could achieve that its rivals struggled with.
The gameplay console
As well as bringing inclusive fun the Wii also brought some brilliant gameplay experiences, with some of my favourite games being Wii exclusives. Super Mario Galaxy is the first game that comes to mind. It was the seminal re-imagining of the red and blue clad plumber set in the depths of space. I went back to this game and it is still just as good as the first play through. The tight controls, gravity defying level design, the awesome visuals and beautiful musical score all tied together to make this masterpiece of a game. It was accessible for anyone to play but had enough extra depth for the serious players to enjoy it.
This is what defined the Wii for me. A fun engaging gameplay experience that is for everybody and anybody. Whether looking to play casually or seriously this platform can cater for you. This is why ten years on the it still is such an important part of our gaming culture. It had sent waves through popular gaming, becoming one of the interesting platforms ever created.
With the rise of VR and better motion controls it seems inevitable that it will be forgotten. But for now, ten years after its release, the Wii still reverberates with me and many others. I still am relying on Mario Kart Wii to entertain my guests and I still find the magical universe of Super Mario Galaxy entrancing. It has made a place for itself in gaming history and whether you love it or hate you cannot deny the impact it has on the video game landscape of today.
The Nintendo Wii brought the gaming revolution 2006 needed and ten years later the Nintendo Switch’s release is just around the corner. Will Nintendo bring the revolution again?