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A Look Back at the Wii

Perhaps Nintendo's Greatest Home Console to Date

By Matteo EverettPublished 6 years ago 3 min read
Oh you sleek beauty

It's easy to scoff at the Wii.

Its primary launch title was a pre-packaged compilation of family-friendly mini-games which packed a punch but ultimately lacked the complexity to keep anyone in the primary market for video games (for the sake of simplicity, over-15s and under-50s) entertained for much longer than the Christmas weekend. Later in its life it would be plagued by a mass of ports of last-generation titles (including, inexplicably, an army of GameCube games which were already playable on the console); and, most importantly, its controller was, well... something called a Wiimote.


A surprisingly comfortable and versatile controller, despite the fact that batteries were already outdated in 2006

But while the Wii might have been branded as a games device for non-gamers, it is important to remember that it was host to arguably the best first-party games of any Nintendo console since the SNES, and its backwards compatibility (every GameCube disc could be played on the system, and everything from the NES onwards could be downloaded at a reasonable price) made it the essential console for Nintendo lovers everywhere.

Mario Galaxy and Mario Galaxy 2, Zelda Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword, Metroid Prime 3 and Other M; Brawl, Mario Kart... there was no shortage of hard-hitting Nint-y staples for the obscure little rectangle still gathering dust in your parents' living room. While some of these, truth be told, may not be the most-loved in their respective franchises (though no doubt in five or so years we'll see game critics claiming that Skyward Sword and Other M are the undisputed magnum opuses of Zelda and Metroid), so many of the other iterations perfected the formulae that came before.

Galaxy and its sequel were aeons ahead of Sunshine and 64, and, due to their linearity and simple level design, remain more fun and playable than Odyssey. Twilight Princess (yes, I know it's technically a GameCube title, but did anyone actually buy it for that?) may have introduced a some-might-think-unnecessary gimmick in Wolf Link, but the majority of its core game-play sharpened that of Ocarina of Time; while Metroid Prime 3's brilliant use of the pointer controls meant that the previous two entries in the series were re-released for the system.

Still as fun and fresh as it was the day it was released

While the lack of Star Fox and F-Zero titles is still jarring (not that these franchises have really enjoyed the light of day since the end of the Wii's life span), the GameCube backwards compatibility meant that the underrated Adventures and beloved GX could be played directly on the console. But really, it was easy to overlook the absence of certain beloved franchises, due to the magnificent return of 2D Mario platforming on a home console (before the NSMB series got tired), and much-anticipated titles from dormant beloved franchises in Kirby's Epic Yarn and Donkey Kong Country Returns.

And as for those less-loved, 'kid-friendly' games. In an age where big-budget Hollywoodesque games with sprawling solo questions dominate the market, it is easy to forget what the video games industry started out as: simple bouts of entertainment housed in dusty arcades, with the intention of bringing people together at the cost of a few coins. Nintendo, an entertainment company since its genesis in the 19th century, has always understood this, and arguably saved the industry from its decline in the 80s with one simple cartridge, packaged with one simple console: Super Mario Bros for the NES.

Remarkable in its simplicity, world-renowned for its in-built tutorials which taught the player what to do without ever making them feel like their hand was being held; challenging enough to ensure players would return to it, while never too challenging to be fun; pick-up-and-play in a way which encouraged two or more gamers to share a controller—so many of the Wii's titles returned to this vital spirit, putting fun back at the forefront of the industry. Wii Sports and Wii Play truly were 'games' rather than interactive movies, and Nintendo continued to experiment with the future of the medium with Wii Fit and, later, by perfecting the motion console USP of the system in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.

And, as much as more 'hardcore' gamers might scoff, it worked. The Wii is one of the best-selling video game consoles of all time, and while Nintendo itself may have come quite far in the dozen years since its release, the lack of backward compatibility in the Switch (as well as the sheer price of the console) means that the Wii is still deserving of a place in any gamer's set-up. Because seriously, who would even bother with the far-clunkier, less-stylish, utterly-devoid-of-essentials Wii U?

For those still not convinced, the humble system introduced the world, for better or worse, to Miis, and let's not pretend that we all haven't spent hours trying to make our siblings look as ridiculous as possible through this endlessly charming app.


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