Behold: The Wii
by Branden Hart
I'll get right down to it: the Nintendo Wii lives up to all the hype that's been heaped upon it like so many mashed potatoes with gravy. White gravy. I can't stand that brown gravy. Does anyone really like that brown gravy? Or is it just cheaper to make? Maybe Wii'll never know. Which brings me back to my original point: the Wii is fucking awesome.
During early development of the Wii, Nintendo called it the "Revolution." Indeed, this little, relatively cheap machine (compared to its next-gen Microsoft and Sony counterparts) marks a true revolution in home gaming. The idea of active gaming, where the player is required to move to perform actions in-game, isn't anything new. I remember going to comic conventions back in the day and playing "virtual reality" games in these big ass helmets. The games looked like shit, but you actually had to move around inside this little podium they set up to play. Then arcades were hit with a storm of skiing and snowboarding games, where you stood on a platform and could manipulate it with body motion that mimicked the act of skiing or snowboarding. Next was Dance Dance Revolution, which took active gaming to the fat-burning level. Kids actually lose weight doing this stuff—I shit you not. Integrating physical action into the video game experience is not an innovation—it's been around for quite some time.
What is an innovation is the way the Wii executes this integration. It uses motion-sensing technology to interpret the movement of the Wii-mote and corresponding Nunchuk into real-time actions on-screen. This means exactly what you think: endless possibilities. Upon unwrapping your brand new Wii (or slightly used Wii if you go on eBay like I did) you'll find a copy of Wii Sports (unless the guy selling the slightly used Wii is a complete fucking cheapskate and keeps the copy of the FREE fucking game for himself and slips an old Bananarama CD into the sleeve so that at a polite glance it looks like the game is there. The bastard) which contains a collection of sports simulations including golf, baseball, bowling, tennis, and boxing. Bowling is the most fun, hands down. You swing the Wii-mote in the exact same way as you would bowl a bowling ball. You use other buttons to adjust where your shot is going. You can put spin of any kind on the ball. It's simply amazing.
I'll be honest, I haven't played much else. I started The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, but haven't gotten too far because I usually start it after ten or twelve games of Wii Bowling, and I'm pretty drunk by then, because it's like a rule or something that you have to drink while you bowl. I don't know, I read it somewhere. Anyway, in Twilight Princess, you can use your right hand to slice with your sword, and your left to use your shield. Think of how many times kids in our generation (that's kids born between 1976 and 1986 for those older FTTW readers (and editors)) dreamed of being able to do something like this. And now, here it is.
The big downfall of this system is the launch lineup. Not too impressive. Trust me—you'll find plenty of games that will make investment in this machine well worth your while. But there are simply too many licensed titles. Every cute movie from Happy Feet to Open Season has a spot on the Wii lineup. While these games appeal to children (which has been Nintendo's target market for its machines for years) I worry that Nintendo isn't paying enough attention to the needs of long-time gamers (not the same as hard-core gamers) and that it will hurt them in the end.
True, the Wii isn't a system for hard-core gamers. People who worry about frame rates and HD need to go with the 360 or the PS3. The Wii is a system for everyone. As I type, my girlfriend is playing Wii tennis. And this broad HATES video games. But this is the second time a product from Nintendo has enticed her to spend substantial time playing video games (the first was the handheld DS). We're waiting for two friends to come over so we can play a few frames of Wii bowling. The Wii takes video gaming back to its roots, when entire parties could be built around video games (and I'm not talking about LAN parties—I'm talking about real parties with chicks and beer (no offense to folks who have LAN parties with chicks and beer)). I know for a fact that the next time my mom is in town, she'll be surprised and probably even enjoy playing the Wii. It's that good.
Wii is a great name. It lends itself easily to branding, and has already been used cleverly within the system setup (avatars you create to represent you or other players are called Miis). But Revolution would have been the best name to describe this machine. It will change the way the world views video entertainment forever. Who would believe you if, seven years ago, you said that Nintendo would one day make Microsoft and Sony its bitch both at the same time? Only crazy people and drug addicts—that's who.
It's been so exciting, I have to recall the moment I got my hands on other systems from days of yore. There are three I can remember as monumental:
1. Nintendo Entertainment System
This was the first year I decided I didn't believe in Santa Claus. I was seven years old. I woke up and my parents took me into the living room. I walked in and saw the opening screen to Super Mario Bros. Fucking magical. I just looked at my folks. I had to say thank you. Because Santa, you're cool, but I know who really got this for me. And that's when my love affair with video games began.
2. Nintendo Gameboy
Wait—I can play Final Fantasy in the car?!?! Oh, it's just dull green pixels. Wait, here come accessories! A LightBoy! Now I can play anytime in the car—even if it's dark! The original Gameboy, while not really great on the eyes, was the first time my generation really got our hands on a worthwhile portable gaming system. I spent hours with this machine, mostly on Final Fantasy Legends. It saved me from boredom in so many situations—long drives, going with my mom to trade shows, even sitting on the toilet was transformed into an ass kicking experience if you had your Gameboy and plenty of batteries.
I didn't drink in high school, so when I graduated, some friends and me went to a party, made fun of the drunks for awhile, then went back to my buddy's house for the night. I played a card game called Booray all night with his older brothers. Even though I had no fucking idea what I was doing, I won about $200. The next day, I went out and bought a Playstation. This was a great system, no question. But the reason it means so much to me? Final Fantasy VII. Those of you who have played it know what I'm talking about.
So take this time to share your video game memories. And feel free to ask me questions about the Wii. But I guarantee you, this is the first game console in years that appeals to gamers of every level, and maybe the first console ever to appeal to people that aren't gamers. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to kick this broad's ass in Wii baseball.
Uberchief giggles like a schoolgirl every time he says "Wii"