Did Nintendo’s Wii really win the seventh generation?
To some, the Wii was a success – a success in that it broke into the casual market; a success in that it sold over a hundred million units; a success in that it has managed to shift the industry in surprising but interesting directions. It had earned its right of place in history as one of the most influential pieces of hardware ever created, and the white remotes used to control that little gaming machine are now pop culture icons. Yes, to some, the Wii was a success. However, in the eyes of many others – and by that I should say most – the Wii was a failure.
I saw this quote on one one of the comment section on IGN a while back. This young soul found him or herself in the middle of a petty fanboy fight, and in the heat of the moment spurted out something along the lines of “yes, the Wii did better than the PS3 and Xbox 360 in terms of sales, but does anyone really believe it actually won last gen?” It sounds dumb at first glance – why of course it won, just look at the numbers! – but it does bring up an interesting topic: is the Wii a winner in the eyes of the general gaming populace?
To be fair, the Wii does have its faults; denying so would only serve as ignorance. Early games used the Wii’s motion controls in bizarre and strange ways, often forcing the user to “waggle” rather than actually perform an action as intended. It was not very powerful in terms of hardware, and thus later games that were developed with the PS3 and Xbox 360 in mind skipped out on the Wii. It suffered from terrible online connectivity, using dated “friend codes” and an archaic online digital shop that did no good to help the console. But perhaps most importantly, it appealed to those other than gamers, and thus we as gamers decided that the console was not for us. Therefore, in the eyes of many, the Wii was never a success to begin with.
It is sad to me because I, for one, really did enjoy the Wii. I spent countless hours playing with my friends, dueling it out in Smash Bros., Mario Kart, and Mario Party. I loved every single moment of New Super Mario Bros. Wii, whether it was just me playing alone, or with my buddies. I spent over 70 hours on what I would say is the best JRPG of all time. It was those games, plus many more – the Mario Galaxy’s, the Zelda’s, the Kirby’s – that would make me remember the Wii for being a success, despite its obvious shortcomings.
However, will either of these opinions – both the apologists and the naysayers – stand the test of time? Perhaps those who feel that the Wii is a failure now will look back and remember such great titles it produced. Perhaps they will grow to appreciate the simplicity of Wii Sports, the grandeur of Xenoblade Chronicles, or the inventiveness of Skyward Sword. Perhaps they will see the Wii as its own entity, a being that paves its own paths, and thus will praise it for being what it was, not what it was not.
Alternatively, maybe it will be people like me – those who currently see the Wii as a success – who will flip-flop. Perhaps as years go on, we will lose our enthusiasm for the console. Perhaps we will begin to play a game like Mario Galaxy and realize that it was not as great as we had remembered. Perhaps we will pick up that controller, wave it around, and put it back down again without a care or a toot about how inventive that thing once was. Perhaps we will remember the Wii as something that had potential, but ultimately failed to fulfill it.
To answer this question, perhaps it would be best to look back at the other Nintendo consoles, particularly the Nintendo 64 and GameCube. Both consoles suffered issues not dissimilar to those found on the Wii: a lack of third-party support, software droughts near the end of the console cycle, a child-friendly approach to games, and so on. But many of us remember those two consoles fondly, some even going so far as calling them their favorite consoles of all time. Indeed, many would say that they wished Nintendo would go back to the Nintendo 64 or GameCube days, but would that feel much different than what we feel now?
I think also the fact that the Wii U is not performing as well as we had hoped is dampening our spirits. There is no doubt that this is a low time for Nintendo, and coming off the worst two years for the Wii, it is not doing anyone any favors. Rather, it is hurting our perception of the company as a whole, directing our thoughts to better times, and thus undermining the inherent value of the present. In the end, our negative perception of the Wii may be in fact due to its struggling younger sibling the Wii U.
One of two things will happen in the near future: either we all see the Wii as a success, or we see it as a dismal failure. What do you guys think? Will the Wii be forever remembered as a failure? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.