Daily Archives: April 22, 2009

Two Years of Wii

A little over two years ago our Wii was finally unboxed and set up.

I am not much of a console gamer when it comes down to it.  I get a new gaming console every 15 years, and while I really enjoyed the first one (Atari 2600 – 1977) I ended up being rather indifferent when it came to the second (Sega Genesis – 1992).

But the Wii promised to be different, and that is what made the sale for us.  The Wii’s Seventh Generation console competitors, the Sony PlayStation 3 and the XBox 360, were not even under consideration for us.  They were expensive and pretty much seemed to be a rehash of the last generation, only bigger, faster, stronger.  Only the Wii offered something new.

So it is not without a certain amount of irony that I list out what I estimate to be the games we have played the most, in order of popularity, since the Wii showed up.  They are:

  1. LEGO Star Wars – The Original Trilogy (GameCube)
  2. Mario Kart Double-Dash (GameCube)
  3. LEGO Star Wars – The Complete Saga
  4. LEGO Indiana Jones
  5. Mario Party 8
  6. Super Mario Galaxy
  7. Wii Sports
  8. Pokemon Battle Revolution
  9. Pokemon Ranch
  10. Mario Kart 64

The first two on the list are not even Wii games, but Nintendo GameCube games that we play with GameCube controllers plugged into the Wii.

Numbers three and four are not Wii exclusives and make little use of the Wii’s unique controller system.  They are gamepad games translated to the Wii controller.

Five, six, and seven all make use of the Wii remote’s motion sensors in various satisfying ways and are Wii exclusive.

Eight and nine are popular with us because they are adjuncts to the Pokemon games on the Nintendo DS.

And finally, number 10 is from the Wii Virtual Console.

So half of the list we play with, or effectively with, game pads.  I do not suppose that is a ringing endorsement of the Wii.

On the other hand, not a lot of games, in my opinion, make good use of the Wii’s unique control system in general and the motion sensor portion specifically.  Certainly Wii Sports does, but since it comes with the Wii, it had better.  Wii Play, Marble Mania and the mini games in Mario Party 8 and WarioWare Smooth Moves also go places with the Wii remote.  I love the one in Smooth Moves where you have to drop the controller; better have your wrist strap on!  SSX Blur is also worthy of mention in this area.  Although it does show a bit of its gamepad roots, it makes good use of the motion sensors.

But otherwise most games on the Wii seem to be well suited for play on a gamepad.  Mario Strikers Charged, Super Mario Galaxy, and all of the LEGO games feel like they would work just as well with any competitors controller.

But that isn’t necessarily an indictment of these games.  The gamepad today is the culmination of 30 years of game controller design.  There are aspects of it that are no doubt very good, very strong ideas.  Certainly Nintendo acknowledged this by making the Wii remote plus nunchuk controllers work together to give you most of the gamepad functionality.

So, for the most part, the Wii isn’t that unique when it comes to the games available.  But the games that do take advantage of the motion sensor aspect of the Wii controllers are a lot of fun.  I know a couple that bought a Wii and just play Wii Sports.  They haven’t bought another game, they just enjoy that one.

Of course, with all of this, the real question is “How often do we actually play games on the Wii?”

The answer is, not very much of late.

The first year the Wii was here, it got a lot of play time.  But then other things started to show up.  My daughter started playing games on the computer, such as WebKinz.  And then a Nintendo DS showed up for her.  So these days the ranking for play time looks like:

  1. Computer
  2. Nintendo DS
  3. Wii

For me, that is weighted heavily in favor of the computer.  For my daughter the computer and the DS are closer to a tie, or would be if it wasn’t for World of Warcraft on the weekends.  The Wii generally gets fired up when we have friends over.  But that is fine.  It is a good social game machine.

So the Wii has found a place in our home, but it is not the center of attention.  But I am not a console gamer really, so it probably gets as much if not more use than an Xbox 360 would.

And what about my wife in all of this?  Well, she bought herself Wii Fit for her birthday.  But that is a tale for another post.