You know a console has completed its run when no more are produced, and that’s exactly what has just happened to Nintendo’s Wii console.
According to their japanese site, the Wii console (both black and white) are now listed as ‘discontinued’, a month after Nintendo announced plans to halt production. Fitting, perhaps, that the new era is just around the corner too.
With that in mind, I figured now was a better time than ever to look back at the era that was waggle control, when HD was just a figment of a Nintendo fan’s imagination and when the face of interactivity changed forever. Nintendo Wii … this is your life.
November 2006. I remember lining up at a Myer store, waiting impatiently in line with I think around 20 other people (eventually) to pick up my pre-order of Nintendo’s next big thing, the Wii. Bare in mind, this is back in the day when I didn’t even consider being a journalist, though I’d dabbled in it here and there, so my Nintendo fanboy hat was on BIG TIME. I was excited to finally get my hands on Zelda: Twilight Princess, having seen all the videos and watched demos at EB Games stores. In my eyes, it was a thing of beauty.
My little bundle of joy came home with the extra ‘waggle’ controller, Zelda, Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz and the packed in Wii Sports, which in the end was the first thing I played.
Setting up the console was a breeze and soon enough I was playing tennis and golf like a pro, before diving into the new Zelda experience. Just like Nintendo promised, even family members were interested in the console, as I soon found myself playing tennis and bowling against both my Mum (who’s now an avid Professor Layton fan) and my sister.
Over time, my love for the console did slip away, though there were two factors associated with that. The first and most obvious was money, I simply couldn’t afford to play everything that Nintendo released. The second point, one that continues to haunt Nintendo to this day, is the fact that the only games I played on the console were created by Nintendo themselves. Rarely did I venture out to try a third party title, especially since I had an Xbox 360 (and eventually a PS3) that played them.
But despite my waning interest in Nintendo’s console, I still have fond memories. Picking up Super Mario Galaxy and playing it through to the end still stands as one of my most cherished gaming experiences. HD aside, I still marvel at its beauty and elegance, proving once and for all that the Wii had the potential to be something special.
Its sequel, Galaxy 2, had much the same impact (I’m a bit of a Yoshi fan after all), along with Mario Kart Wii and Donkey Kong Country Returns. I’m sure we all have our favourite moment, in fact, since we’ve all probably tried the Wii console at one point. Whether it’s at a friends house playing Warioware or Wii Party, random Raving Rabbids, the frenetic fun of Just Dance or the competitive natured Super Smash Brothers and New Super Mario Bros. Wii.
And then there’s the virtual console. The opportunity to relive some classic moments or play the games you missed during your youth was ahead of its time, even when compared to the early days of Xbox Live Arcade. Yes, it didn’t live up to its name as much as fans wanted it to, but there’s no doubt that its impact influenced the way developers considered the past. Since then we’ve had HD remakes, countless bundles, classic titles given the online treatment and more across all of the consoles of the past generation (3DS included). There’s no question that the future will still flash back to the past too.
The Wii will go down as a technical achievement against all the odds. No-one expected it to sell as many units as it did worldwide, never mind keep up with the modern and flashier tech available on rival hardware. Though its last few years tailed away into Just Dance and not much else, its early success not only maintained Nintendo’s presence within the market but gave it a whole new lifespan and an even bigger support base.
Having said that, there are elements of the Wii that Nintendo are now starting to repair or replace, such as the lack of true online features and DLC (don’t get me wrong, the Wii had it, but it simply wasn’t good enough). More importantly, they have also learnt not to talk down to its audience, having designed games that had built-in hint systems or characters that could finish levels for you. As much as it aided the younger generation, those kids are now teens waiting for the next big adventure and they are far more intelligent than people (and developers) give them credit.
The Wii U is in its infancy, there’s still time for it to grow in the same way the 3DS bounced back from an early loss. But if anything, Nintendo should look back on the Wii as a console that allowed them to branch out into new territories and share its gaming lore with a whole collection of new faces like no other piece of console hardware (portables aside) has ever been able to do since … well … since the Nintendo Entertainment System itself. Who knows what the future may hold for the Wii U, but there’s no doubt in this writer’s eye that the Wii left an important and creative mark on this industry.
One way or another, the Wii will never be forgotten.