There goes a saying, ‘simplicity is bliss’, again unfortunately, it does not work out for the Nintendo Wii. From their avatars ‘Mii’, to their games, nothing about this console and its games are complex – absolutely nothing, and while that might be tolerable at the beginning, it gets more irritating the more I look at it. Nothing has a awe-level of detail in this console and gaming package, nothing at least to contend with the other consoles out there.
The first example is the Wii menus and channels. The layout is extremely basic, just a collection of boxes with some color in them. There are no options to customize the layout, nor are you able to edit the background of the Menu, it overall just remains a dull screen. Moving further, the channels themselves are quite simplistic too. There are no textures, often just the same white background or if not, replaced with a single color. The implementation of themes much like with the Xbox 360 would have looked fantastic, even having some pre-loaded ones, it would have made all this so much more attractive.
The second example is the avatars, referred to as ‘Mii’. Around the time of launch, these were the main selling points marketed for this console, but again, they are just too basic. The only real options available are to customize the facial features of the avatar, and while you can even go as far as to move around each of the features, it just looks too cartoonish. With limbs represented as cylinders for arms and legs and circles for the hands and feet, it follows through with this idea of minimalism. Sure, you can edit their height, weight and color of their shirt, but it all doesn’t prove itself as being impressive. Having now been available for two years, I would expect some updates to be provided to expand the options to customize their characters – but that is a large wish.
The third and final example, are the games themselves. Sure, there are some titles which have some decent graphics, but notice how none of them are being used to display these rendered and wonderfully designed levels and worlds? Super Mario Galaxy without a doubt looks stunning, but there isn’t the detail on the environments like say, the grass, walls and water in something like Perfect Dark Zero – as old as it may be. I guess this all enforces this idea of not being too serious a game for the market, and I will most likely tolerate it in this example, but there are only so many times you can make all your games too cartoonish before gamers expect something more.
Extending onwards from the idea of ‘simplicity’, this carries on towards the physical design of the console and its peripherals. Finally, a Nintendo console is able to play normal sized discs, but the option to play DVDs is not possible! The reason given by a leading engineer of the console was that most families had a DVD-player already and to add another in the console would be a waste, but then comes in the idea of changing devices to watch and play discs all the time – going only halfway to play games and not movies is beyond me.
There is also an issue with the Wii controller I found as well, and this ties back to the idea that the design is not as ‘free’ as we would like to believe. I am disappointed at the fact that the controller is sold in two pieces, when we all know that most games require both pieces and not just the one – I can only think of this as a money-making scheme from the company and that does pain me to say so, because if anything, I would have thought of Nintendo as the most customer-centered company in the industry. Also having them connected via a cable, and not having both utilize the motion sensor technology is somewhat confusing as well, as in many cases, the cable gets in the way.
The largest gripe I have with this console though, is how centered it is towards the casual gaming market, so much so that hardcore gamers are almost completely ignored. There are only a handful of games which offer excellent gameplay, and the rest can simply be described as B-Grade. Going further, we have titles like Super Mario Galaxy and Super Smash Bros. Brawl which are extremely well-polished games but on the flip-side, we have other games like Cooking Mama which are hardly worthy of a ‘Game of the Year’ mention – and even that game doesn’t work truly well with the motion sensors. Looking at all that, it makes me feel less about Nintendo’s latest incarnation – rather, its just a piece of machinery which game developers have abused to cash in on a ton of games which use the new features of the console, and which are guaranteed to make a quick dollar because of all the younger gamers the Wii attracts.
At the moment, it is the heavy-hitters which are carrying Nintendo along. Games including Mario, all the Wii-Fit/Sports and other unique titles like Brain Training are keeping the sales up, but eventually, Nintendo is going to have saturated the market and their sales will eventually fall – after all, casual gamers don’t rush out for the newest games each month like hardcore gamers do. If the company was able to target both markets, I think these views of mine would be entirely different.
With all that said, I’m no engineer, but I do have a collection of ideas which I feel would make the next console from Nintendo a whole lot accessible for gamers out there. For starters, the simplistic approach needs to be dropped completely. It has come to a point now where functionality is impaired. More vibrant colors on the menus and some sharper looking graphics can still retain the appeal towards casual gamers whilst not seem like the entire system is ‘dumbed’ down. Graphics also have to be improved with their games. Referring to previous points, not only will it attract titles like Call of Duty but it will also help to make the entire gaming experience a whole lot more enjoyable for Nintendo gamers. High definition settings should also be made available as more consumers and households switch to LCD and plasma televisions.
Features and technology also should be improved Too. Include a DVD-drive while the discs are as large, make the motion sensor device precise pre-launch and build-upon that innovation which Nintendo has made a reputation of doing for the past few years.
I often believe that a well-designed system and game take more than just longevity, graphics and features. Nintendo has honed the departments of gameplay and innovation, but aspects such as graphics need to be lifted all-around. If they are able to do this, not only will the company benefit from sales from the casual market, but also from the hardcore market as well, which is where continual sales are to be made. You must remember as I close this, that this article was not written to highlight the greater aspects of the Wii, nor was it written to compare it to other consoles.
I wanted to look at what was holding back this console, what made the Wii not as great as its predecessors, and what came together to prevent this console from becoming another great piece of gaming machinery for its time. I truly think, that if Nintendo was able to retain what it does well, and then improve upon what might be lacking, it could most definitely assist in continuing this great company for years to come.
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