On the very first post of this blog, I complain about the Nintendo Wii, as well as the “gimmicks” other Nintendo consoles have used. As a lifelong fan of the company, due to some unfavorable decisions in the early 2000s, I had a “falling out” with them, and prior to writing the article, I had taken my Wii out of the closet, booted up Skyward Sword in an attempt to play the one Zelda game I never got a chance to enjoy, got frustrated with the motion controls, put it all away, and then wrote the article. It’s a bad piece, but the point of mentioning this first is that it’s been five years later, and here we are. I tried playing my Wii again.
Recently I have taken quite a liking to a YouTuber who goes by the name Scott the Woz, and his channel consists of videos primarily about Nintendo, in some way or another. He mentions a lot of Wii games, talks about the history of it, and for some reason, I decided I owed it to myself to give it another try. I took a look up at my game shelf; a handful of titles that from what I’ve always heard, are excellent! And yet I’ve barely played any of them, all because I couldn’t stand the thought of using motion controls again.
I booted up Super Mario Galaxy, fully anticipating a rage-quite within 15 minutes max. What I found in there surprised me, because somehow, it put me right back mentally to the days of Super Mario 64. Specifically it was the music in one of the levels that borrowed from the original 64 soundtrack. I’ve kept playing it, and I decided that I wanted to chronicle what hopes to be my final and successful attempt to enjoy playing my Nintendo Wii. I’m calling it: The Nintendo Wii-try!
But before I get into that, I want to tell the story of why the heck this matters to me in the first place. Why am I so weirdly attached to this thing, anyway? Why not just move on, why do I need to like this system? Well….
I don’t remember what I was doing on November 17th, 2006. I don’t know what I was doing on November 20th, either. But on the evening of November 18th until the early morning of November 19th, me and my buddy Mike and I camped out outside a Best Buy, numbers 14 and 15 in line, to buy a brand new Nintendo Wii.
It was an amazing time to be alive – pre-modern Internet of yelling and anger, social media was brand new and just a cool little thing to do on the side, and heck, smart phones wouldn’t even become a real thing until a few years later. I was in my second year of college at the time, and I just had to have the new Nintendo System!
We sat outside in the cool November weather overnight, to the tune of 14 total hours sitting outside, before the doors opened and welcomed us in. This was apparently before the concept of the midnight launch was invented, or so I want to assume, so an 8:00am opening was pretty standard. We were all let inside in an orderly fashion, and filtered through a line of those pop-up tables they’d use near the front of the store.
The word on the street, or I guess I should say “the side of the building” kept changing tune throughout the previous evening, night, and early morning: “I heard they’re only getting 5 consoles,” “I heard they’re getting 50,” “I heard they only have 20 but all the employees get first dibs,” but all my buddy and I knew was that as long as they had a decent amount of machines, considering how early we showed up and our number in line, we would be set.
Upon waking up the next morning around 6:00am, I can remember that the line of 50 or so people had now completely wrapped around the building and the whole scene was started to feel mildly chaotic. I mean, the excitement was absolutely palpable at this point – if you’ve never been to a console release around this time, you know exactly what I’m talking about – but everyone was oddly quiet, and you could tell everyone was wondering precisely the same thing: am I going home with a Nintendo Wii today? There were easily over 200 people, and I would later learn that this particular Best Buy actually only got a few dozen Wiis. Hard to imagine these days that the same console that would go on to sell over 100 million units and can be found absolutely everywhere was ever rare, yeah, but there were a lot of people that day who went home empty handed.
Back inside the Best Buy, the employees had this little line for the “Wii people” as we were referred, organized into little stations. You’d get your Wii console box, already bagged and ready to go, and then you could add to the bag, buffet-style, accessories and games. It was all as seamless as could be and the employees (all gamers – you can just tell they were as excited as we were) were super friendly. They were available for information about what to buy, advice on games, and of course to check you out. It was like having your own sommelier, but for a Nintendo Wii!
As a broke college student at the time, this was all going on my credit card anyway, better known as the “Plastic Rectangle of Infinite Funds,” so I opted for another JoyCon/Nunchuck combo. My buddy did the same, and also grabbed a copy of Red Steel, which also looked incredibly fun in the E3 demo.
But the main reason I was here, the whole point of this journey, was to get a copy of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Those of you who may have read my stuff before may remember that Twilight Princess is what I consider, the *perfect* Zelda game, and one that encapsulates everything that the series is. Of course, I didn’t know that at the time, and as you’ll soon learn, it took me many years to realize that….
It’s hard to remember this far back these days, but the first thing I think I actually played on my brand new Nintendo Wii was Wii Sports. As it was packed-in with the Wii, for whatever reason I decided that the first thing I wanted to try (particularly as I had just recently moved into my fraternity house in college) was a multiplayer game, to check out the motion controls.
Being in college at the time of the Wii launch was freaken great. Every dorm room had a Wii by the end of the year, and people who didn’t even own a Wii had a JoyCon in case they stumbled upon an impromptu Wii Bowling competition. It was absolutely everywhere.
When I finally did pop in Twilight Princess, I was simply blown away. Sure the graphics looked amazing, but you have to remember that Twilight Princess followed The Wind Waker and the accompanying cartoonish graphical style. This return to form was a huge deal – while we look back fondly at Wind Waker and it eventually moved into the good graces of the general public, the stylistic choices had veeeery lukewarm reception upon reveal. Changing back to the classic look was a huge deal and it was felt.
Here was the thing though – the Wii had a major gimmick, and come hell or high water, it was going to forcibly insert that gimmick into every major title. For some games, it just wasn’t great, and I always had some trouble with the control scheme, feeling like I was conducting an orchestra rather than just playing a game.
In fact, something about it became extremely annoying to me. Sure, it was great for playing Wii Sports, but that was all I ever really played. No one in my social circle was paying attention to anything else coming out on the system, no one was even talking about Twilight Princess. When I tried Red Steel, it was just dreadful. In fact, the motion gimmick grew tiresome by the end of the Spring semester (so around spring-summer of 2007), and I was discovering the magic of PC gaming again, something that had been slowly creeping into my console gaming time.
The Wii’s lifespan had proven to be a bit short for me. After the initial obsession with everything Wii-related, the “wow” factor of the motion controls and bowling and accidentally putting yet another hole in the wall after a Wii Sports Home Run Derby swing went awry had faded, for me at least.
This would signal a long, long hiatus from everything Nintendo. You can can read about that here.
Here we are – it’s 2020, and something hit me the other day. My wife is currently 36 weeks pregnant, and we’ve been doing a nightly ritual where we play some kind of music, or read a book. Sometimes our baby girl can be a little shy to let us know she’s okay in there, so I’ve been playing relaxing video game soundtrack music. I found a mix and let it play – but for once I didn’t realize where it came from. I looked at the song list, and it was none other than Super Mario Galaxy!
Confession: I am a lifelong Nintendo fan, primarily specializing in all things Mario and Zelda, but I have never played any of the Wii Mario games. But, a couple of years ago, I thought ahead to pick up both Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2, complete in box, for $20 total. So they’ve just been sitting on my shelf, unplayed for years.
Even Twilight Princess, the Zelda game that would emerge to be my favorite, I actually completed on the GameCube version. I never got past the final dungeon on the Wii, and even that was a playthrough that spanned multiple years as I attempted to resume where I left off.
Now that I’ve gone ahead and started to play Super Mario Galaxy again, I’ve realized that something great was sitting right up on my shelf, waiting years for yet another attempt to play it. And I’ve been having a blast; I can’t believe I waited so long to play these games, and they’re still blowing my mind with zero nostalgic connection.
Despite the lack of love for Metroid: Other M, it’s a title that has always fascinated me, and one I needed to try out. The game looks gorgeous and while it didn’t quite resonate with me in my hour or so of gameplay, I fully intend on pushing forward on it after Galaxy. For the record, I have an HDMI-out converter for my Wii which fixes all of the ugly stretching, as well as cleans up the anti-aliasing quite a bit. I mean, look how nice this looks on my 46″ 4K TV:
It’s a really strange feeling, not playing a system that you camped out for, have countless memories of playing, and yet while sitting on a collection of literally all the best games for the console, I’ve barely played any of them. I’ve had all these unplayed games in my favorite franchises sitting right under my nose the whole time! I’ve played nearly every console I’ve ever cared about so long that the solders are probably starting to weaken, yet avoided playing a pile of highly recommended games, purely because they were only available to play on the Wii. Well, I look forward to correcting that.
To go alongside all of that, however, I’d like to chronicle my experiences with the Wii games that I own, but have yet to play:
- Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2
- Metroid 3: Corruption
- Metroid: Other M
- The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Yep, I’m even going to attempt Skyward Sword again.The black sheep of the franchise. I just ordered a legit copy off eBay and everything! Since I’ll be a father in a few short weeks, this will probably take a while, but consider this article a segway into a new series where I chronicle my first real efforts through the aforementioned titles, on what feels like a “brand new” console, the Wii.
It’s still hard to believe I’ve owned these games for years but never really played any of them, but now it’s time to get crackin’! I’d like to keep this going as a running series (hence the “Part 1”) that details my playing of the aforementioned games, but for now I’m got some Super Mario Galaxy to finish up.
What are your fondest memories of the Wii? Do you have any hidden gems that impressed you back in the day? I’d love to find a new title to potentially add to my collection. Let me know in the comments!