It was a chilly night on November 18th, back in 2006, where money was tight and time was in glorious abundance. Essentially the inverse of where I find myself in 2015, depending on paycheck proximity. I should clarify that it was slightly more chilly than normal, as I was sitting in a chair outside a Best Buy, camped out to buy the hottest new console ever, released by my favorite company in the world at the time, Nintendo. I’d spent a whole summer carrying golf bags to save up the money to pick up this brand new shiny white rectangle, along with some controllers, with a decent chunk of cash for games.
14 hours later, Best Buy opened it’s doors, and being that I was the fifth person in line, the sense of expectation downright palpable. Had anyone even tried this thing? So sold that we were, that throwing down $400 plus Uncle Sam’s tip (ever notice how prices for anything seem manageable, and then your brain adds taxes and suddenly it’s not affordable anymore? What the hell is with that?) seemed like the most obvious thing to do. This was revolutionary!
That morning, along with my Wii console and Wiimotes (the things cost $50 a piece. $50!), I also picked up Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, and a game called Red Steel. The concept of playing a first person shooter, coming off the heroin-high of Nintendo 64’s Goldeneye, Perfect Dark, really absolutely anything in the genre, the promise of an FPS with MOTION CONTROLS (!!!) was too much to turn down. Hell, Red Steel even had sword fighting, allegedly!
Fast forward a few years. Red Steel was terrible. I probably played it for two or three hours before just shutting it off. I never beat Twilight Princess, because I couldn’t get used to the clunky controls. Imagine my surprise when the console I thought would provide me with hours of entertainment ended up being a $250 bowling simulator. I love bowling as much as the next guy, but man, Wii Sports was 99% of the console use.
Years later (earlier this year, actually) I went back and beat Twilight Princess. The GameCube version. I couldn’t stand using the Wiimote, and I had beat two temples before I said, screw it, and loaded up the GameCube disc and started over. Flailing around like a retarded person trying to conduct an orchestra of recorder-playing ferrets is not how I want to relax.
I actually purchased a DS Lite at some point during this chain of disappointment. The gimmick was definitely present, what with the touch screen and the pen, but it worked perfectly! Nintendo harnessed the capabilities of the console rather than shoe-horning situations into games that forced you to do asinine things.
One of the highlights of the DS were on two games in particular, Final Fantasy IV and Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. Using the top screen as a reference for maps and items worked extraordinarily well.
One particular moment in Phantom Hourglass required you to make a copy of a map. What you were supposed to do is close and re-open the console (as if you were making a physical copy of something in real life). I thought this was brilliant. Another good use was blowing into the microphone to simulate wind.
Now we go back to the Wii. Recently I took up playing Skyward Sword. I ordered the Wii MotionPlus, skeptical but left without choice when I couldn’t even get to the main menu without having one plugged in. I’ve since picked another one to be able to play Wii Sports Resort (the epitome of motion controls, but it works).
That being said, I decided to take a break from the game, and I wasn’t even halfway through the first dungeon. I honestly got too frustrated to even spend a few more minutes playing, instead opting to start Banjo-Tooie on N64. Poor framerates and pixelated, dated graphics aside, the awful controls of the Wii turned me on more to a console that came out almost 20 years ago.
I’d love nothing more than to check out some of the games being released on the Wii-U, but the gimmicks ever-present in all of Nintendo’s products have pretty much done me in for the time being. I hate to be the get off my lawn type in my more recent years, but for god’s sake Nintendo, we love you. Please give us a normal controller!
I didn’t love the controls in Twilight Princess, but I got through it. Red Steel was pretty awful. However Goldeneye and Conduit did a great job with motion controls. I really enjoyed Skyward Sword.
I really think the Wii had a lot of promise, shown by games like Wii Sports, and eventually the others I mentioned. But if people can lazily become rich, they are going to do that, and unfortunately I think that’s what happened.
Thanks for the comment. The controls on Twilight Princess, I’ll admit, were not abysmal. Upon the completion of this article I fired up the Wii and loaded my saved game out of curiosity, and I had in fact gotten to the last temple before calling it quits and never finishing. I do recall having some issues but it wasn’t terrible.
I agree with your last sentiment too, gimmicks worked for Nintendo and helped boost sales back up, and they appealed to a wider audience rather than the nostalgia-lensed twilight folks like myself.
I checked out your blog and was surprised by your latest post that you’re also in the midst of beating Majora’s Mask! That’s pretty nuts, I’m simultaneously beating Majora’s Mask and Banjo-Tooie, two games I never actually finished. Look at that!
Skyward Sword though, ohhhh Skyward Sword! Couldn’t do it man. I’ll have to try back after I go back and beat Majora’s Mask.
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I never played Banjo, but I plan to correct that when that Rare collection comes out.