Friday, January 29, 2010

A Dislike of the Wii Part Three: Games

Now we have the games of the Wii: including a look at what could’ve been.

Hopes for 2006
Initially the 2006 line-up for the Wii looked great. The last of the “original” E3, Nintendo made a bang with its game lineup.

There was Super Mario Galaxy, the first true sequel to Super Mario 64 (Super Mario Sunshine doesn’t count).

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, and Super Smash Bros. Brawl were announced. There was Red Steel, a third-party game that involved using the Wii controller as a gun or a sword. Wii Sports was simple yet innovative. Wii Music looked fun, and some new franchises from Nintendo, Disaster: Day of Crisis and Project H.A.M.M.E.R..

The best games were yet to come. And yet, they didn’t.

Super Mario Galaxy, Twilight Princess, and the new Metroid game, were all released around or soon after launch and garnered positive reviews, with more expected to come. Red Steel also was released but got mixed reviews.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl was released nearly a year after the Wii and got great reviews. But instead of being a start of a great year, it was a disappointment. Wii Music was delayed for the longest time and ended up being a very simple Guitar Hero-type knockoff. And Disaster: Day of Crisis and Project H.A.M.M.E.R. were unceremoniously forgotten. Remember the GameCube’s Raven Blade? It was never released. As 2008 and 2009 dragged on, no “great games” were released for the Wii. Meanwhile, Nintendo went after the “non-gamers”, including senior citizens and the moms who once rallied against Nintendo, but ignored their original demographic completely.

By late 2009, the battle was practically lost. Despite the Wii’s profitability and ease-of-use, the Wii market was crammed with non-games (Wii Fit knockoffs and other not-quite-games...see your local GameStop for what I mean.)

Meanwhile, what I predicted what would happen in 2006 couldn’t of been farther off the mark: the PlayStation 3 got its act together and put its screaming power to good use. It now has a bunch of games that Nintendo will probably never get its hands on. Plus, it has a Blu-Ray player. Very cool. The third parties did NOT join up with Nintendo (or, God forbid, ABANDON others for Nintendo). No “real” Final Fantasy, Grand Theft Auto, or Katamari Damacy.

The Wii just couldn’t get a hold on good games. Why?

1) The nontraditional default control scheme (see previous entry)
2) The graphics are inferior to Xbox 360 and PS3. That never stopped the PS2, though...
3) Marketing and Nintendo’s behavior completely ignored “hardcore” games.

Right now, we are in early 2010 and it is painfully obvious that despite a promising start, the Wii is not the “hardcore gaming device” and certainly not the PlayStation-killer we all thought it was. But it’s just Nintendo. How did they get themselves in this situation? The answer starts in the early 1990s...but that’s another story (and another blog!)

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