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Why The Wii Failed

Do I have your attention yet? I thought so. Let me start by saying that this article is by no means intended to be a dig at the evolution of consoles, nor the legions of fans that swear by the Wii. Rather, I aim to look at how Nintendo managed to shun a large majority of its gamers by creating a casual, and ultimately boring, next-gen system.

Come with me as I attempt to uncover how a corporation with such an esteemed history could shirk its obligations to its fan base. Let’s find out just how the Wii became a “what could have been” console.

To answer your question: yes, I do own a Nintendo Wii. Since January of 2008 it has been in my possession, and since July of 2008 it has been in the same Aldi shopping bag, sitting by my television cabinet, and only occasionally enjoying the sweet, pulsing sensation of electric life.

I am a Sega man at heart, and have been for more than 15 years. Despite this, I’ve always had a soft spot for Nintendo. Its ability to create innocent, yet incredibly engaging video games has always struck me as a sign of genius. There is still nothing quite like busting out the old SNES and spending hours immersed in Chrono Trigger or Secret of Mana.

Throughout the 90s and early Naughties, Nintendo continued to develop its art. The 64 gave us two of the greatest multiplayer experiences of our time in Perfect Dark and GoldenEye 007, and even the much maligned Gamecube produced a few unforgettable titles. Nintendo was always going in a different direction to Sony and Microsoft, but it was that uniqueness and ability to please its followers that ultimately allowed their consoles to succeed.

Why The Wii Failed

Fast forward to November 2006. The three giants of the console gaming world are preparing for the ultimate next-gen battle. Microsoft has already enjoyed a year’s head start with its sequel to the big, black Xbox, while Sony is hoping that its faith in Blu-ray technology will not be unfounded.

Enter stage left: Nintendo. We’ve all heard about it; we’ve even seen the demonstrative adverts woven into our favorite television programs. We’re all anticipating Nintendo’s genius will pay off once again, and we’re all willing to fork out several hundreds of dollars to experience “true, interactive gaming”.

Yet something doesn’t seem quite right. I, in my thoroughly pessimistic state of mind, purchased a 360 instead. I went with Microsoft as the “safer” option, and decided to test out Nintendo’s new baby through my wealthier friends.

It’s a weekend evening, and I’m drinking at my mate’s house. We’ve just tightened the Wiimote straps around our wrists, and are preparing to do battle: Wii Sports-style. As we run each monotonous event into the ground, I find myself with merely a half-smirk upon my face. “This is fun,” I tell myself in a less than convincing manner. “But I’m sure the real Wii games will be better.”

It was a peculiar optimism that stayed with me for several months – long enough to buy my own Wii, in fact. But it was an optimism that was entirely based upon blind hope and expectation, rather than simple facts and research.

As the months drifted by, I made a promise to myself that I would keep my faith in the Wii: for every 360 title that I purchased, I would hire out the latest and most praised Wii game. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and more recently, The Conduit, all came and went from my little Nintendo, yet all failed to leave a lasting impression upon me.

Why The Wii Failed

Of course, it all comes down to personal taste. What I want from a gaming system is, almost assuredly, on the opposite end of the spectrum to what a twelve-year-old wants from his or her console. I am a mature adult, constantly seeking entertainment from first-person shooters and role-playing games, and for a time, I was content with replaying Resident Evil 4 and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. But is it truly fair of Nintendo to only offer the hardcore gaming community a handful of mature, high quality releases? Including the two aforementioned titles, I have yet to come across a Wii game that is even close to being in the hunt for “Game of the Year”.

And the actual games are only a small piece of the overall disappointment. While Wii MotionPlus has irrefutably created a more realistic, and therefore visceral, gaming experience, the lack of premium releases almost makes the entire machinery redundant. Why create such innovative technology if there is no enjoyment to be gleaned from the games?

Despite my most obvious criticisms of the Wii, I find myself, frustratingly, still on the lookout for new titles. My pessimistic nature tends to guide my choices, yet I cannot abstain from hoping that, one day, an inventive developer will be able to create some truly extraordinary titles for the Wii.

Perhaps it is my Australian heritage: always root for the underdog. And while on sales figures alone the Wii is by no means an underdog, it is, in my opinion, Nintendo’s greatest blunder.

  1. Haha you used my image :D I should explain that I made it several years ago as a joke.

  2. Some great points there Simon. I put my Wii down too after borrowing some games off a friend.

    I played through Star Wars: The Force Unleashed on the Xbox 360, I then took a shot at the Wii version, in the end I was sitting down, flicking my wrist to swipe an enemy and basically just playing with a controller all over again, it did not feel interactive at all.

    I really hope that Project Natal is going to be truly interactive, looks like it but then again, looks can be deceiving.

  3. What disappoints me is that there’s a cache of extremely well done mature titles on the Wii, yet they aren’t getting the sales they deserve because Nintendo is placing so much emphasis on casual gaming.

  4. The next Metroid game is the only thing keeping me from selling my Wii. I find the Wiis online gaming most disappointing.

  5. avatar MANnnnn

    The wii is for hacking, get the homebrew going, homebrew browser grab some emulators. Fuck Nintendo

    • avatar Robert

      / If I were a Wii character, I’d dentifiely be Lara Croft! Her prowess beauty with charm, and her very strong personality is a classic example of lethal combination. She fights villains with tremendous intensity, but still maintains her grace and poise in the process. I just adore the character so much that I feel I’m becoming her little by little each day! =) As of the moment, she wants to sing her heart out and try playing the Wii at Redbox sooooo bad! =)Now, who can ever resist making a Lara Croft win? =PCharms last blog post..

  6. avatar Doc

    Only think i use it for is playing ROMS via tha homebrew channel. Otherwise it sits there.

  7. avatar wampdog29

    Good article. I just don’t get why you start off by saying you had a soft spot for Nintendo’s games, then you back that up with Chrono Trigger and Secret of Mana???? Those were Square Soft games…

  8. avatar MidnytRain

    after begging my parents 4 a Wii and getting it 4 xmas i realised i was missing out on a lot o good titles that the Wii couldn’t run. Feeling betrayed, I got a 360. After about a year i heard about Uncharted 2 and MAG i knew i had 2 get a PS3 ( I’m a little spoiled but not a brat ) plus after hearing about all the cool online features from my friends it was the choice 4 me. I didn’t want 2 have to pay $100 4 an adapter ( my room is a good distance from the living room ) then another $50 2 play online. I’ve been loving my PS3 ever since. In fact, I’m using the web browser to type these words = P

  9. The only reason I have a Wii to begin with is because my brother, upon hearing that I had landed a gig writing for a gaming website, donated his to me. He used it like crazy for about a month, and then realized that the Wii wasn’t that cool (he bought it mostly cos he’s a complete technophile in the first place). I’ve put it to decent use, but even then, it’s far outclassed by all my other game libraries, and over 50% of my Wii games are Virtual Console titles.

    Not gonna lie, though – I’m hella looking forward to New Super Mario Bros Wii!

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    • avatar Bella

      By , May 9, 2009 at 12:54 amI’m 17 going on 18 & I feel like that already! I was in a big hurry to grow up, to begin my life, & I still want to, but what about the tnighs that I missed out on as a kid?! I could have had that life that I’m referring to as a kid, but I chose not to. That life being a social life

    • avatar Sri

      Lol at Jayme. I recently wecahtd the movie Babies (focus features). That movie follows the life of four different babies born in four different areas of the world and man, I was reminded at how much we have! I grew up outside the US and was often surrounded by friends in poverty- or what we might consider poverty (dirt floor houses, lack of computer, lack of phone, lack of personal transportation)- and yet, so many of my friends or people I knew were happy. They had enough love in their lives and that was what was important to them. I hope I can instill that into my children whether they have a wii game or not. What a great activity for you to do with your son! You’ve inspired me to do the same.Thanks!-CK

  10. avatar jim

    The Wii fills a niche, not everyone is a hard core FPS person. I have all 3systems and love them all depending on my mood and when my nieces and nephews are over the Wii is used a lot. Its not for everyone but it has its place in my gaming world.

  11. avatar Tabitha

    What should Nintendo call the Wii U crnlootler?The Wii’s crnlootlers are called wiimotes (or Wii remotes, if you’re lame), and the NGC crnlootler’s were called wave birds (only true of the wireless ones, I know).What should Nintendo call the Wii U’s crnlootler?I’m thinking the WiiTab, or WiiUTab, but what do you think?

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