GameCrank: A Postmortem Wii Retrospective

Patrick

So, the WiiU is out. It’s been doing okay… I guess. It’s still a bit early to judge, so I’ll leave my commentary for after the Christmas sales stop rolling in. Then we can talk numbers. For now, I want to take a look back on this weird little white box that’s been decaying in the corner of my room for the last six years.

First and foremost, I should say that I haven’t been playing a whole lot of Wii games recently. Who has? The only game I’ve been playing consistently is “Super Smash Bros. Brawl,”  due largely to the fact that I do it as an afterschool activity every Thursday (and by the way, if anyone with guts is reading this, I’ll totally take you on. Games Club meets every Thursday at Mr. Buffum’s room in A317).

But I digress. The last Wii game I played was “Zelda: Skyward Sword.” The last one I bought, however, was in 2010: “Donkey Kong Country Returns.” My Xbox 360 collection has since outgrown my Wii collection by a 2:1  ratio, and I don’t see any reason to even the odds. I still use the Wii from time to time, sure, but I haven’t bought a game for it that was released beyond 2010. People have always groaned about the Wii’s tepid library, and I’ve always tried to argue against them. However, there’s no denying the fact that Nintendo dropped the ball after they released the WiiU. It seemed like they poured 100% of their resources into their upcoming system while they forgot they already had one out on the market.

But hey, I’m not here to trash the poor little piece of plastic. Actually, I sort of am, but enough has already been said on the Wii’s negatives. For once in my cynical career, I’m going to take a look at the positives.

I think it’s kind of a tenuous venture to judge entire game libraries. I don’t think  anyone is qualified to evaluate the collective quality of every single game released in the history of a system’s life span unless they’ve literally played all of them, and even then I don’t think their opinions should be universally applied to fit everyone’s tastes. I’m included in this; I can’t say whether or not I think the Wii had a quality library because I’ve played only a tiny fraction of it. This system has over 1200 games produced for it, and if you say with certainty that all of them are good or bad, then I’d say you’re quite presumptive.

That said, how many Wii games will stand the test of time? How many will influence the industry years from now? Of course, it’s impossible to see into the future, but quite frankly, I don’t imagine many games doing that. “Wii Sports” is undoubtedly the quintessential source of the casual gaming, motion-control, and minigame collection boom that we saw this generation, but what else is there? Honestly, as much as I love games like “Super Mario Galaxy,” “Smash Bros.,” “Metroid Prime 3,” and so on, I don’t think many of them have revolutionized the industry. The Wii has had many remarkable games, sure, but I’d say they’ll be recognized more for their polish than for their innovation. While the Wii itself was the most successful and game-changing (!) invention this generation, to me, its library of games hasn’t shown any decent signs of gameplay innovation outside of barely- or improperly-utilized motion-control gimmicks.

If there’s anything I can give the Wii credit for, it’s its exclusivity. People love to talk about how the Wii has a lackluster list of quality exclusives, but dispense with the subjective word “quality,” and you have, by far, the longest list of exclusives on the console market today. Of course, this can be attributed to the system’s graphical limitations and the Wii-mote’s unique control scheme that made multi-platform launches more difficult for 360 and PS3 games, but there’s no denying that there were more stand-out original games for the Wii than any other home console. Nintendo knows how to cater to its main audiences, and they released one of the most impressive first-party line-ups in history. Regardless of your personal opinions of these games, there’s no denying that the Wii offered this console generation’s most distinctive experience.

To wrap it up, here’s a list of a few 3rd-party Wii games that may be worth your time.

#1 “de Blob”

A funky little platformer where you control an amorphous blob named Blob who has the power to absorb paint and color entire objects just by touching them. I love the aesthetics; the soundtracks are full of unique jazz and funk and the whole game is bursting with color and style. It’s simplistic, so I’d recommend it more for the younger crowd, but it’s still got a lot of charm and I had a great time with it and its sequel.

#2 “Muramasa: The Demon Blade”

A 2D hack-and-slash side-scroller based on Japanese mythology. Again, the presentation is fantastic. I’m a sucker for hand-drawn art, and I couldn’t help but stop and marvel at the scenery from time to time, which is something I almost never do. The combat it fast-paced and really fun to watch, and the story, while bizarre, is interesting. It’s definitely got a foreign feel to it, so I’d recommend it if you’re into the whole anime-manga scene. I’m not, but I still loved it.

#3 “Klonoa”

A 2.5D side-scroller that was remade from the original 1997 Playstation title. It’s not the quickest in terms of pacing, but I found the stages and mechanics to be surprisingly well-designed and the story involving. I never expected to like this one, but I did.

#4 “Little King’s Story”

A “Pikmin”-style RTS where you play as a little kid who becomes a king. It’s kind of like “Fable,” only it’s not horrifically designed and overly pretentious. Okay, that wasn’t the most flattering description ever, but there’s not much more to say about that. Check out these games if you can and appreciate what the Wii did well!

GameCrank is produced by Patrick Pontes.

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