Editorial: A Candid Wii Opinion
No, I don't own a Wii and yes, I'm Editor-in-Chief of a PlayStation-oriented website. But at my age and with my permanent philosophy of "just play great games, regardless of the system," I think I'm perfectly capable of forming a candid, honest opinion of Nintendo's effort this generation. Just bear with me.
First of all, let me just say that I applaud Nintendo for accomplishing what they did with the Wii. I was one of many who counted them out in this generation after the GameCube fell short; most simply believed Nintendo couldn't compete in the literal power struggle between Sony and Microsoft. Ah, but instead of fooling themselves into believing it, Nintendo decided to say, "to hell with it; we're just gonna target a brand new demographic: just about every hardcore gamer who wants something fresh, and every casual gamer on earth." And they did just that. This system appealed to - apparently - the entire damn planet, and that's impressive regardless of how one views the situation. Yes, I did believe the motion sensing thing was a gimmick, but who cares if it's a gimmick that works? On every possible level?
With the Wii and the DS, Nintendo owns the lead in the current generation, and deservedly so. Numbers don't lie; the world loves the Wii. But all this being said, I firmly believe both Microsoft and Sony will finish ahead of Nintendo yet again this generation for two big reasons: 1. consumers are fickle, and 2. the seemingly unending lack of "AAA" software. Let's deal with the former first. While everyone was enamored with the new-look (and new-feel) video game console at first, I can tell the fascination is already beginning to wear off. And why? The gimmick hasn't blossomed beyond what it was when the system launched, and gimmicks need some form of growth or innovation in order to keep the fickle consumer fat and happy. Furthermore, there's the problem with the software...I feel like this is the GameCube, Phase 2. Why is Nintendo doing this? Again? What could possibly be the reason?
Now, somebody will say, "dude, the Wii has tons of games!" Yeah, no it doesn't. Look at 2008. List off all the Game of the Year candidates. Hell, I'll let you list 20 or 25 if you want. Then, do the same thing of your most anticipated games for the first six months of 2009. ...done? How many on that list are on the Wii? Any? Look, we all know that GTAIV, MGS4, DMC4, GT5: Prologue, Gears 2, Resistance 2, LittleBigPlanet, and others will lead the pack in 2008, and I'm looking at God of War 3, Killzone 2, Heavy Rain, Street Fighter IV, and more in the first part of 2009. I always want to play the best of the best, as do most avid gamers out there, and we didn't pass on the GC just because we don't like Nintendo. I'm not passing on the Wii because I don't like Nintendo. I LOVE Nintendo. They're responsible for my current passion and the SNES was my favorite system of all time. But since then, I haven't owned a Nintendo console and there's a reason.
There just always seems to be this permanent lack of must-have software. Yes, I know the Wii will have its standard mascots in Mario, Zelda and Metroid lead the way, but that's nowhere near enough. Not with the likes GTAIV and MGS4 slaughtering the competition in the first half of 2008 and Gears 2 and Resistance 2 set to do the same thing in the second half of 2008. Perhaps the casual gamers will stick with Zelda, Wii Sports, the new Smash Brothers, and Super Mario Galaxy, but that's not even enough to compete with the current PS3 exclusives! Look, there's no doubting the appeal of the Wii: it's by far the most affordable option, it's great fun for all ages, it's incredibly reliable, and there is a bit of diversity in the library. But as the PS3 and 360 begin to really show the technical lacking in the Wii with each passing year - good goddamn; MGS4 compared to anything on the Wii is a joke, IMO - and Nintendo still refuses to come with enough great software...well, I think the jig is up.
Unless this changes, Nintendo will lose their lead eventually. It may take a while, but it will happen. I don't necessarily want this to happen; I want Nintendo to finally give me a reason to own a Wii. But they haven't done it yet and looking down the road, I feel myself transported back to the days of the GC. I looked down that road then, too, and again, I saw very, very little. Sorry, but that's just the way I see it.
8/29/2008 Ben Dutka