A Farewell to the Wii

This past week, the gaming industry said goodbye to another good friend.  Nintendo quietly announced recently that the production of the Wii would finally come to close.  In essence, does this mean that the Wii is finally and truly dead?  There are hardly any more Wii games in production, and who needs new ones anyway with the backwards compatible WiiU on the market?

For many people, the Wii has pretty much already been dead for a while– whether since its arguably over-hyped release in 2006 or in the past few years with the release of swan songs Skyward Sword and Xenoblade Chronicles.  For me, this final particular nail in the coffin is the true death of the console, and I for one will fondly miss it.

I've loved my Wii since day one.  I still love it now.

I’ve loved my Wii since day one. I still love it now.

I was always a fan of the Wii, ever since it was first announced as the Revolution all those years ago.  In my younger days, I definitely thought it was going to change the world.  I even bought some of that weird Wii branded merchandise before the system even came out– yes, I do in fact own Wii lapels.  Once I actually managed to get my hands on the system way back in high school, it was actually my first “next gen” console.  And I stuck by it since day one… that is, until I got my PlayStation 3 about two or three years after.

I had always been pleased with the Wii even past its release.  Getting a PS3 was not a sign of my jumping ship, but rather just my true passage into the next generation of high definition and achievements.  Coincidentally, I had gotten a PS3 at about the same time that the Wii experienced probably its biggest drought.

I remember when there was almost an entire year where it felt like almost nothing came out on the system.  People were starting to lose faith in the drive of the system after the release of blockbuster Super Smash Bros. Brawl.  Sega was ironically putting out some of the best games on the system, and the biggest highlight of the entire year for me had been Mega Man 9 which was a multiplatform release (though many will argue that the Wii version is the best and true version of the game).

There was about two years where I cheated on my Wii and barely played it if even at all.

There was about two years where I cheated on my Wii and barely played it if even at all.

From after I got my PS3 up until into my passage into college, I did fall off track with the Wii for an extended period.  When it came time to choose which system to take to school with me, the PS3 made the cut, but the Wii was left to sit at home, in silent dusty solitude.  About a year or two later, I made a point to pick it back up again.  What game did it for me?  Probably not the one you might think.

Most people returned back to their forgotten Wii’s in order to pick up the new Zelda game, Skyward Sword.  For many gamers, it seems like a natural born right to play every Zelda title as they come out and not to miss a single one.  Not so much for me.  What brought me back to the Wii was Rhythm Heaven Fever.  I adored the first two Rhythm Tengoku games (as you readers will soon come to learn of me), and it only seemed natural that I HAD to pick up Fever.

And see, for me, I think Rhythm Heaven Fever represented the best and strongest suits of the Wii.  Later on in its lifespan, many of the games on the system felt like capitalizations on nostalgia for older games.  Games like New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Kirby’s Return to Dreamland, and Donkey Kong Country Returns are great examples of some of the best games in the second half of the console’s life, but they also are essentially modern remakes of their NES and SNES counterparts.

I actually only just played Donkey Kong Country Returns recently, and I gotta say, it's really good.

I actually only just played Donkey Kong Country Returns recently and I gotta say, it’s really good.

On the other end of the spectrum were games like Super Mario Galaxy, Kirby’s Epic Yarn, and Super Smash Bros. Brawl, which definitely followed in the predecessors’ footsteps, but instead of reminding you why Super Mario World and Kirby Super Star were awesome, these games decided instead to take the foundations those game built and expand on them in a way to make something new and fresh for a modern audience.

I always felt like that’s what the Wii sought to achieve;  to try and give us a new way to look at games as a medium.  That both the games and the people who play them can be something more than what we already expect to be.  After all, I do believe it was Miyamoto himself who once said this:

What if everything you see is more than what you see–the person next to you is a warrior and the space that appears empty is a secret door to another world? What if something appears that shouldn’t? You either dismiss it, or you accept that there is much more to the world than you think. Perhaps it is really a doorway, and if you choose to go inside, you’ll find many unexpected things.

When you are confronted with the mysterious door to something new, what are YOU going to do?

When you are confronted with the mysterious door to something new and unexpected, what are YOU going to do?

The Wii really was that doorway that Miyamoto was talking about. That wacky controller got more people playing games, whether it was just for a single round of bowling or even if it actually made a gamer out of someone for life.  I mean, hey, your grandma might not be playing Gears of War 2 right now, but then again that wasn’t going to be the game to get her to play anything in the first place.

I absolutely admire how the Wii also got developers thinking about games in an entirely new way again too.  Button presses were not just the only modus operandi for interacting with a video game anymore.  Let’s not forget that there actually is a game on Wii that you play by placing the remote on a cardboard box and tapping the box itself.  Even more practical uses came out of the incredibly ergonomic Wii remote as well.  To this day, I am upset that we may never get a chance to play a third-person-shooter that controls as beautifully as Resident Evil 4 did on the Wii.

And while we’re at it, let’s not forget how developers really learned how to rock within the constraints of the system– 2D games flourished on the Wii since they tended to look and work better than high-end 3D games (and admittedly this was the only major place I feel the Wii would’ve benefited from HD video support).

It's been a fun seven years, old friend.

It’s been a fun seven years, old friend.

In the end, the Wii was a fantastic console, and even though its final production will go out in silence among the greater gaming public, I hope history looks back fondly on it.  I hope all gamers look back fondly on it.  It truly was a unique and innovative console and there were so many great games on the system.  So many, in fact, that this feature could have just been a list of fifty great games on the system you have to play, and it still would’ve been substantive.  But I think a console that has done so much for us and that I love even more deserves much more than a cookie cutter “top whatever” list.

I hope this writing essentially sends out the farewell I’d like to send.

Good-bye, Nintendo Wii, and thanks for everything.

It was fun while it lasted.

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