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Teh Ted's blog

11:20 PM on 03.03.2009

Thoughts of a New Wii Owner

I JUST bought a new Wii; I've been officially part of the 'Next Gen' (current Gen? Some would say Last Gen) for about two weeks now. I've been fairly impressed with the Wii so far, but it's definitely been an adventure. I'm probably due a post about the 'why' of my purchase too; but that's probably tangential - the current generation is far enough along that you pick what you pick knowing pretty darn well why.

What is interesting to me is the state of the Wii platform right now. There are GOOD games on the Wii; I finished Okami (the first video game I've finished in years), and just started on Resident Evil 4 and Twilight Princess. My first ever 'online' game purchase was World of Goo, which is a LOT of fun. Wii Sports, in and of itself, is probably enough reason to buy this console, and between all the 'reloaded' lightgun shooters of yesteryear, so-called 'casual games' and the virtual console, there's plenty to do.

And yet...why does it feel so empty?

Because although there are some great games available for the Wii, there has been an (considering the popularity of the platform) amazing lack of true video games developed for the Wii. Of the five games that are usually considered the 'cream of the crop' for the Wii (Okami, Super Mario Galaxy, Super Smash Brothers, Twilight Princess, Resident Evil 4 Wii), we see 3 games that were originally released on other, older platforms and two Nintendo first party games. There is something faintly disturbing about that; it's great that the Wii has developed into such a 'tent' of gaming, but having to rip games from failed systems in order to provide a reason to play doesn't seem like much of a long term solution.

The other really interesting thing about the Wii's place in the market right now is that it's essentially a niche product; to genuinely develop a game for the Wii, you have to develop EXCLUSIVELY for the Wii. The major titles that achieve true market saturation (I'm thinking of Madden and games like Marvel Ultimate Alliance, pretty much all movie tie-ins, ect.) release their products for the Wii...but they are still essentially completely different than the products being released for the XBOX 360 and the PS3, with about as much in common with the versions on the other major consoles as it has in common with the cell phone port.

It all comes back to the progeny of the big three. When Nintendo chose to go with lesser graphical power and with more of a reliance on unique controls and immersive gameplay, it set itself apart from the XBox and Playstation, but to this point in the console's life cycle it's been sort of a mixed blessing, at least as far as game libraries. Without the 'common core' control scheme and graphics capabilities that define the 'other' Next Gen consoles, the Wii has basically fallen off the map. It's a unique beast as far as developers see it; game concepts that work on other systems don't work on the Wii, and the stuff that DOES work on the Wii doesn't work on other systems. Attempting to bridge the difference (I'm looking at YOU Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop) results in a markedly different 'feel' to the gameplay that isn't always a good thing.

There have been a couple of very interesting games for the Wii so far (No More Heroes, Madworld looks like it will be in this category too) but they've been gimmicks; something different and usually kind of weird. Is this the way it's going to be with the Wii? Rather than fighting the other consoles where it will invariably lose (graphics) are we going to see a steady stream of these 'different' types of games? Is that the way forward for the Wii? Or is there something that Nintendo should do to lure in new developers? What kind of games do YOU think would fit on the Wii that won't work on a 'traditional' console?   read

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