Saturday 16 April 2011

Today's Review: The Nintendo Wii

I saw an advert tonight with a woman showing the audience how much weight she's lost while playing Wii Fit. That has to be the final straw for me. Nintendo are dying slowly, and i've just sat back and watched for too long. Let's start at the beginning.

Well, not quite the beginning, I didn't actually own a proper console until I got the N64. But my word, how amazing it was. Mario 64, the Zelda games, Donkey Kong, Smash Bros. Nintendo were at the top of their game, and this had built up from a vast former library of awesome games. I've gone back and played all the classics, and it's so good. Nintendo games were a force to be reckoned with, they were game changers. Even though the GameCube was not the most successful venture, there were still some great games on there.

But then came the Wii. Everyone was excited about it, after they got over laughing at the name. Motion controls, ohmigod! Think of the possibilities. Nintendo were about to rise to the top once again. But not in the way we all wanted them to. We wanted new Zelda, we wanted new Mario, and sure, we got those, and they were great, but they have been buried by an unmitigated avalanche of total crap.

It all started with Wii Sports. It's the highest selling game of all time, but only because it comes with every Wii. Basically, it was a tech demo, which showed what the controls could do. But since it sold so well, everyone thought "Wow, these puny little mini games where you swipe your arms around could make us a lot of money", Nintendo included. They also noticed that whereas their key market before was large sweaty nerds, now old people, nay, whole families were getting in on the action. Not only on the Wii, but the DS too! Nintendo had hit a jackpot, creating a home console and a handheld that appealed to everyone. And they jumped all over it.

So now we have Brain Training, we have Wii Fit, we have another Wii Sports, we even have Mario Sports Mix. I dont blame Nintendo, they're making a shit load of money. But they've abandoned we hardcore gamers in the process. I bought a Wii on release date, I loved it at first, but after the novelty wore off I went out and bought an XBox because I was scared of missing out on proper, awesome games like Dead Rising and Gears Of War. And while the XBox and PS3 market has settled almost exclusively on Call Of Duty style multiplayer games, there are still some seriously good title that a real gamer can get involved in. That's the trouble with gaming becoming more mainstream. You get these casual gamers, who want nothing more than to wave their arms around for a couple of hours or spend days shooting people over the internet and then swearing at them.

Nintendo occasionally lure me back. I loved both of the Mario Galaxy games, they made me more frustrated than I have been in a while by Nintendo. They were challenging, they were great. But for every legitimately good Nintendo game, we have hundreds of others that suck balls. Nintendo have opened up the floodgates, and the old school gamers are left swimming through trying to look for treasure in a shipwreck, or something else that's a better metaphor. Nintendo have even managed to screw up some of their greatest franchises, Metroid: Other M is considered a pretty poor outing, but then they went and made a Kirby game where you don't eat people.

I respect Nintendo in a way. They shied away from the specification aspect of the console wars and opted to make something revolutionary that forwent amazing graphics for gameplay. But it was too soon before it was massively abused and the market was flooded with shit. Trouble is, Nintendo got caught up in it, so now we're treated to crap like the aforementioned "I played Wii Fit and now i'm thin!" ad. But when they have stuck their neck back into the classics and provided us with respectable games, they've even moved away from motion controls, even making some playable with the GameCube controller. We want more of that, Nintendo, we want some great games that don't involve us sweating after half an hour. We play games because it's our hobby, not to lose weight, and you've almost lost sight of that. But with the potential announcement of a new HD Nintendo console on the way, perhaps we're gonna get what we're looking for. Or maybe they'll just use it to enhance the sweat on your Mii's eyebrow. Only time will tell.

My rating: 2/5

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