Remembering the Wii Brand

The Nintendo Wii and its’ successor were monumental consoles for the big N but for very different reasons; one of them ranks among the companies’ most successful consoles ever while the other ranks among the least successful. But, in my opinion, neither was insignificant. Both were severely underrated in various ways. 

The build up to the launch of the original Wii was a strange and exciting time. Originally known as the “Revolution”, Nintendo was shockingly quiet about everything regarding the Wii console. That’s not to say that they were especially vocal about new consoles prior to the “Revolution” but this was different. The companies’ previous console, the Gamecube, was hyped nearly a whole year ahead of its’ release thanks to a stellar showing at Nintendo’s own Space World trade show in 2000. They boasted about the technical prowess and how games like Mario and Zelda would benefit from the added power. It was, by and large, an impressive show. Then, in 2001, the console launched and suffered slow sales for the duration of its’ life. I believe this is likely what prompted Nintendo to change its’ tactics with the “Revolution”, a.k.a. Wii.

The Gamecube's Zelda demo sure was impressive at the time.
The Gamecube’s “Zelda demo” sure was impressive at the time.

Many gamers, including myself, were curious and excited to find out what kind of system Nintendo would have to compete with the then-new Xbox 360 and the upcoming Playstation 3. Up to this point, Nintendo would release a seemingly traditional console with some major innovations packed in. The NES had the directional pad, the SNES had shoulder buttons, and the N64 had the analog stick. Expectations for the “Revolution” were sky high. Then the reveal came and, well, it didn’t actually reveal much. Nintendo simply showed off the console itself with no controller in sight. It was impressive due to its’ small size; Nintendo even touted the size as being “three DVD cases stacked together” and said practically nothing more about the console. This initial reveal had everyone wondering what kind of hardware this tiny machine was going to use. And details on the “Revolution’s” hardware would never come to light. Not from Nintendo anyway.

The late Satoru Iwata during the "Revolution" reveal.
The late Satoru Iwata during the “Revolution” reveal.

Mere months before the launch of the console, Nintendo unveiled the systems’ new, strange name, the Wii, as well as the new-fangled motion controller. It naturally stirred up a great deal of excitement but something was missing. “Why didn’t Nintendo unveil the specs of this new system?”. This was something many people were curious about and the launch was only months away. Then people started to notice that the games shown during the launch trailer didn’t exactly look “next-gen” nor did they look “HD”. And this was about the time that some crafty types set out to figure out the specifications of the machine themselves.

Red Steel turned a lot of heads but ultimately revealed that the Wii was not an HD system.
Red Steel turned a lot of heads but ultimately revealed that the Wii was not an HD system.

We all know how that turned out. The system is essentially a Gamecube 2.0 with a motion controller. Even worse is the stigma attached to the console these days: A “gimmick” console with “nothing but shovelware” games and “so-so” motion control. But I don’t buy into this perceived stigma! This is why I want to talk about the massive amount of great core-gamer-style games on the system! No, I’m not kidding! The Wii had so many gems that could be found if one were to simply looked beyond the “shovelware”. And that motion control “gimmick”? Simply put, many of the Wii’s greatest games simply wouldn’t have been as great with traditional controls.

"Wii would like to Play" - the famous tag-line that sold millions of consoles.
“Wii Would Like to Play” – the famous tag-line that sold millions of consoles.

The Nintendo Wii stands as one of my all-time favorite consoles and my game library for the system is hovering around forty titles (at the time of this writing). Most of the games in my collection are truly great games and that is why I am going to start a new editorial series focusing on the greats. Some of the games will be well-known, landmark titles while others will undoubtedly be hidden gems.

Do you have fond memories of the Wii? What games stood out most for you? Let us know in the comments!