Who Plays Wii? Nintendo Wii Sucks - Console Game History Redux
The Nintendo Wii game system might have been viewed as the "best" last generation console, beating PS3 vs Wii units sold worldwide by 18+ million and Xbox 360 vs Wii by 12.5+ million units as of November 4, 2008, but that does not mean it was the twist gaming world was waiting for. I'm not arguing that Sony or Microsoft should be crowned for the last gen round either, far from it, but Nintendo really pulled off a tricky stunt that everyone fell (and continues to fall) wrist over arm for.
Slam 1 - Wii Hardware Specs
Nintendo proceeded "undercutting" next gen competition by not allowing gamers to compare hardware specs. We did know that the Wii followed the same basic architecture as Nintendo's GameCube with about 1.5 to 2x more processing power - that's about 1 Ghz at the most for processing, maybe 250 Mhz for graphics, and 512 MB flash memory. I know I'm not listing all the details, but this just provides a rough comparison. The PS3 came with a 3.2 Ghz processor and 550 Mhz GPU. Xbox 360 contained 3 cores running at 3.2 Ghz and 500 Mhz GPU. I don't even need to provide the additional cross comparison differences, the Wii might as well have been a previous generation console.
Wii also didn't come equipped with other features of the two competing systems:
Hardrives - provide faster load times, space to download content, and eliminate the need for memory cards.
DVD Playback - I mean, last gen DVD playback bit the big one, but if the system uses DVD discs for its games, Nintendo might as well allow it to play DVDs as well. And even CDs for that matter!
HD Support & 1080p Resolution - I know not everyone made the HD television switch right away, including myself, but it's came and Nintendo should have been prepared. Why waste the gaming potential of last gen's systems? Of course... unless Wii possessed limited potential in the first place.
Blu-Ray - I know, I know, a Sony exclusive. Well, not anymore! Blu-Ray won and the forced people to switch from DVD. It was one major hardware advantage the PS3 garnered over the Wii and the Xbox 360.
Yes, at least the Wii came equipped with Wi-Fi. But few games really utilized it, few people can handle the agony of interacting with Nintendo's online interface, and Nintendo still hid in the dark about all the promised online features of the system. Like "instant on" - what really used that? And to what end?
The Wii also offered the most user-friendly development kit... and I wonder why?
Lets face it, the Wii already belongs in a museum. We don't need to follow Cartman into the future and fight talking sea otters to realize that.
But wait! What about Wii's unique controller, the Wiimote?
Slam 2 - Innovational Retrograde
Sure, the Wiimote uses a sensor to allow movement detection and different ways to interact with the game. Well, remember Duck Hunt? Super Scope 6? I could shoot things on those devices too and with my NES and SNES no less. But now we can bowl, and box, and play tennis in the comforts of our living rooms. Or we could just bowl, and box, and play tennis out-doors, requiring real physical activity... playing the real game. And guess what, playing sports the way humans intended actually proves to be more fun, more interactive, and more challenging. Will everyone mindlessly join together to celebrate Nintendo downgrading our old pastimes?
Genuine innovation requires more than mediocre replacements for sports and some kiddy games where the family can fling their arms around and hope they don't fling their Wiimotes into the face of a loved one.
Nintendo also ignored the passing of time and Sony and Microsoft's adaptability. Consoles designed to be upgraded, to evolve. PS3 already somewhat utilizes movement in its controller and soon will be unleashing its own brand of true motion sensor features. We're talking about Sony, an electronics powerhouse who already worked on numerous prototypes for gaming, including movement sensor arrays that could coordinate physical movements with fighting games - without a remote or controller. Microsoft, although the controller might involuntarily explode in your hand, can easily do the same. One day, the Wii's "innovation" will be mimicked by the other two systems, leaving it with little but its exclusives and platform games on a dwarfed machine.
Slam 3 - Cool Wii Games?
The Wii hosts all best sellers from the traditional Nintendo library - Metroid, Mario, Smash Brothers, Zelda, and Mario Kart - but these same games might as well be close sequels to their GameCube predecessors. Again, very small upgrades, some not even needing to use the Wiimote at all. Super Smash Bros. Brawl actually works best with the GameCube controller and Mario Kart's wheel should be considered a joke.
The rest of the Nintendo catalogue offers a plethora of disappointing third party titles that ineffectively use the Wiimote, if at all, and cross platformer titles that the system can hardly do justice to. Take for example the stripped down Wii version of Rock Band, similar to the PS2 release (ah, last gen). No world tour, no new downloadable content, less character customization, no fan building. Every new addition Harmonix added on to Rock Band to make it progress beyond the shell of Guitar Hero will be eliminated from the Wii version.
As for the backwards compatibility... Nintendo might as well of released its new platformers on the GameCube to begin with. And concerning all the downloadable retro games, a nice touch... but aren't we supposed to be moving forward? Progressing? Sounds like Nintendo thinks the best way to innovate would be to take a step back... way back.
The Wii Debunked
Nintendo Wii sucks and it will an interesting mark on console game history. I would not go so far as to call the Wii a novelty and I am glad Nintendo finally found a way to jump into the market after releasing the N64 too late and not switching to discs, doing the same for the GameCube and not offering enough of a powerhouse along with ignoring the importance of third party companies. However, this time I think Nintendo focused too much on the short term, and while the differences of the three systems may not seem so great right now, and the Wiimote keeps casual gamers entertained, in the near future Sony's and Microsoft's games will start to push the limit of their systems. With more effort from gaming companies, the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 could possibly appear to be several generations ahead of the Wii and that sounds like a huge leap in the wrong innovational direction to me.