Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Complainer: Nintendo Wii

On the helpful tip of a message board denizen, I got my Nintendo Wii on August 17, 2007. I was impossibly excited to have it--so much so that I took a bunch of pictures to document the occasion, which is as lame and nerdy as it sounds. My initial excitement was based on a kind of dream achievement. Let me explain what I mean. I have dreams from time to time where some super awesome thing is just out of my reach. An album or videogame, super rare and expensive, is suddenly at a store near me and it's cheaper than it should be. But I never get there in time, they're sold out, or I just keep looking but never see it. Then I wake up. But in buying a Wii, a dream had been fulfilled. I chanced upon a hard-to-find piece of entertainment, lucking out where I never did in the sleep world.

The Nintendo Wii has been out for a bit over two years and we've already gotten all the usual Nintendo franchise players that show up every generation. With the Gamecube, these were staggered out over its lifespan. This works well for the casual gamer but it wasn't enough for me. And while I may not play games as much as a lot of people, I still find the Wii's library wanting even though it has a Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Smash Brothers, Fire Emblem, Paper Mario, Mario Kart, Mario Party, Animal Crossing, etc. Maybe I'm just getting tired of these games, but maybe there's something more to it.

Maybe they're little more than variations on the same games that were available on the Gamecube. Oh, wait. They are.

The only Nintendo title that feels truly unique and innovative on the Wii is Super Mario Galaxy. All the others are little more than Gamecube retreads with imperceptibly better graphics and slight tweaks. This doesn't make them bad games, inherently, but it does give me no reason to want to play them.

I may not be saying anything that other critics and pundits haven't been alleging about the Wii all along. But it's only in the past few months that I've come to accept that the Wii is, for all intents and purposes, dead. It's only fair, though. I am dead to Nintendo. Why else do they promise 'hardcore' titles and then talk about ports of Gamecube games with added Wiimote controls?? At least the Wii sequels had the good grace to be new games. Now they've degenerated into ports of Gamecube games?? Just who are they kidding with Animal Crossing, Wii Music, and Wii Fit?? Why even pretend that you care about anything but having a business model that caters to the mainstream/casual/family demographic?? Look back to the NES and the rest of their history: they've been heading towards it all along, anyway.

On a side note, they released Boogerman on Virtual Console. And it was the only classic game released that week. Really, Nintendo??

The sad truth about the Wii is that Nintendo is paying lip service to the games press and hardcore gamers while focusing entirely on the mainstream press and non-typical gamers. How else to explain the utter lack of care or thought put into the WiiWare service?? It could've been a decent rival to the game download stores offered by the 360 or PS3, but instead it's a joke. Would it be that much of a stretch to get Braid or PixelJunk Eden to run on the Wii?? What's more, why would Nintendo launch something like a download service and not have a Zelda or Mario lined up for it?? Even if it was a simplistic cash-in product, it'd be something. So on one hand, Nintendo is telling the games press that they're committed to digital delivery of games and Internet play, but on the other hand--let's call this hand "reality"--they don't care at all about digital delivery and they make Internet play as difficult to use as possible. The Wii's built-in HD is pitifully small and the only solution they've given to space woes is to delete content and re-download it. Meanwhile, their Internet play, while free, is infuriatingly obtuse and difficult to use because they have to keep it safe for families worried about their kids. There's no reason whatsoever that every game should have its own individual code you have to enter to play with the same people you're "friends" with in other games.

My whole point is this: Nintendo should just give up on the hardcore audience. They don't need us anymore and should stop pretending they can still satisfy us. I admit that I was a naive fool to fall for their lies, but I genuinely liked their games up until recently, so...fool me twice, shame on me, I suppose.

I mentioned in my Videogame Solipsist entry on the Gamecube that I always seemed to bet on the wrong horse in the console wars, only realizing my error a year or two into the race. It seems I've done the same thing with this generation.

I think I need a drink...

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