Flags at half-mast and a 21 gun salute; Wii is dead. Well, dead is maybe a strong word; let’s say instead, Wii is shuffling off to the retirement center. With production of the system now halted in Japan, the Wii’s run is officially coming to a close. What a run it was, too, as Wii will remain a true paradox in the modern age of videogames. Not a powerhouse by any means, and limited in its online capabilities, Wii entered the fray against two vastly technologically superior competitors in the XBox 360 and PS3, and won. Amazing. Nintendo’s rationalization that people preferred fun games above all else was proven right with the runaway success of Wii and its resultant legacy has indelibly changed the landscape of the videogame industry.
The most obvious innovation Wii brought to the table was the introduction of motion controls. I can vividly remember when I finally played Wii for the first time. My aunt bought a Wii a few months after its debut at the beginning of summer. My sister sat back as I set up the system, and when I finished we immediately put in Wii Sports. What an incredible, smart move on Nintendo’s part to include that game with the system. Wii Sports was insanely fun, intuitive, and downright charming. I was stunned at how realistic all of the motions felt, as though I was genuinely bowling or swinging a tennis racket. I truly believe that if Wii Sports wasn’t made a pack-in game, Wii wouldn’t have been the revolution it was.
The other half of Wii’s legacy is how it helped firmly establish the casual gaming market. While established gamers were amused by Wii’s interesting new motion controls, entire droves of new players found their way to videogames because of them. Suddenly everyone from women to elderly people, a demographic who generally didn’t play videogames, were golfing and karting and loving every minute of it. It’s amazing to me how dismissive some people can be towards the casual crowd, as the larger and more inclusive this medium becomes, the better it will be. Movies aren’t limited to summer blockbusters, and videogames shouldn’t only be defined by shooters; the more diversity, the more legitimate the industry becomes. While a great deal of the crowd that jumped on with Wii have moved on to mobile, games like Angry Birds and Cut the Rope owe a nod to Nintendo for opening the minds of players that might not have been so willing to play before.
So goodnight, Wii! Thank you for the creativity! Thank you for the fun! Thank you for the waggle!