Since the theme for this monthly musing was announced I’ve been thinking long and hard about the possible bias in gaming I could have (if any really, it's me we're talking about after all) and after excruciating effort I found a somewhat unexpected answer: the Wii, i know right? shocking! I’ll give you a few minutes to let the thought sink in… done? good, the thing is it was only after reading some interesting news, editorials and articles from both community members and editors I came to realize what is it that makes me so biased to that particular console: oldschool gaming values.
You see, as a guy that started gaming at the age of 6 with an Atari 2600 I’ve seen many changes come and go in the industry and while the majority have been technology related most of those were aimed at improving and add to the overall gaming experience and make better, more enjoyable and deep games, at least until this generation that is, from the cheap but faulty hardware of the X360 to Sony’s use of the PS3 to push the Bluray format with the consequence of a overblown price at the beginning of this gen most changes have been for the developers and hardware makers benefit at the expense of the consumer.
We’re all aware by now of the “mediocre shoehorned multiplayer” syndrome even "AAA"games seem to suffer these days but the issue that seems to have passed unnoticed is the gradual vanishing of the local multiplayer option in favor of online multiplayer only (something that now seems will become standard to pay for), personally I find this unacceptable in more than one way, economically since now you need another console, copy of a game and internet connection for each player instead of an extra controller and in a technical way considering how much the “incredible processing power" of the HD twins is touted left and right by both fans, devs and hardware makers.
Not gonna happen
This is especially more obvious to someone that enjoyed dozens upon dozens of hours of Super Contra co-op and even more time than that on the Goldeneye multiplayer in crazy 4 player matches with his best friends two console generations ago (and that if things turn out well will get to do that all over again once more on the Wii).
Now we come to the very defining feature of this generation (or in this post’s case the main problem), the ability of consoles to download content from the internet for various purposes such as upgrading it’s software to add features, buy/add new content to games, get patches to fix problems that went unnoticed during development and even offer a chance for smaller developer studios to display the results of their efforts in an equal ground to the big boys (shameless plug is shameless), all this aimed to enhance the gaming experience… or at least that was the intention, problem is this new feature in consoles has taken a generally negative twist in the various ways its used.
The system upgrades in the HD twins which are supposed to add or enhance features have turned into frequent, tedious, cumbersome chores (most likely due to poor coding) resulting in an extension of even 20 minutes from the insertion of a disc in the console and the start of the game, the increase of failure rates or even clumsily take away features instead of adding new ones, and while the Wii is certainly not exempt of this problem, it is also true that it is a far less common situation.
DLC began as an interesting idea to add value to a purchased game for additional fair price, and while it's true that some developers have followed that initiative it is much more common to see the concept twisted into a near rip-off situation where they shamelessly admit to removing content from full games to sell later as extras or charging for recycled content. I find it pretty ironic that what others consider a detrimental flaw or even an archaic design on the Wii is under my point of view a relief to my fears of buying a chopped game to be further nickel and dimed as a consumer later down the line.
The worst part is that not even what could be a saving grace on it's own of this feature, game fix patches, has been done properly or without taking a turn for the worse. The "buggy game" ratio during this gen seems to have drastically spiked, even development studios once know for their fine attention to detail and QA seem to have traded their "quality comes first" mentality for "let's release as is and issue a patch to fix things later", in some cases MUCH later. While in all honesty i have found myself really wanting this feature on certainoccasions on the Wii, on the other hand i've also found it very satisfying that developers taking the route of laziness have been forced to bite the bullet and face the music for their unprofessional conduct.
So am i biased to the Wii?, don't even doubt it, but still after all the previously exposed reasons what i find mind boggling is how it gets so much hate in contrast to other consoles mostly based on being underpowered in comparison, sure all consoles have in the past have taken flak at some point for some reason, but to me its incomprehensible that people that call themselves "core gamers" and that enjoyed the wonders delivered in consoles like the PS2, Gamecube, Xbox, PS1, Dreamcast, N64, Snes, Genesis, Nes and Atari 2600 can be so blindly critical to what could perhaps be the last console to offer a similar to it's predecesors, wholesome, pro-consumer gaming experience, why do i say this? because i'm also not deceiving myself and while i would like to believe that Nintendo's next home console will keep everything that made the Wii awesome in my eyes, i too have to face the possibility that Nintendo being just another company no different than the rest will embrace the new way of doing business and will design it's next home console to resemble or add features from the X360/PS3 architecture in order to appeal more to the old market. So while some of you keep shouting about the coolness of your 1080p definition, humongous harddrive size, online matches and DLC on your HD console of choice i'm gonna be over there playing with my Wii and having fun in the exact same way i've done for the last 20 something years, because this might be the last console i have the chance to do that before becoming a nagging old man reminiscing about the old days when games were about mad fun and not a popularity contest between companies that only care about raising their profit margins at the expense of their customers.
You know kids, when i was young i played the greatest game ever on the Wii, Skyward Sword, that was a real fun, long, awesome game, not like these 3 hour, 80$, 2048p, cookie cutter bloodfests with dumb stories they make nowadays