Sick as a dog yesterday. Headache, cold, aches, no good. I was rooting through a bunch of my old shit to see if I could find something fun to do. Over the last couple of months I have been studying Japanese; an activity that takes up a majority of my free time. Because of that, I hadn't touched a video game, at least not any that weren't in the language, so I thought it might be fun to sit down and play something new. Or at least, something that felt somewhat new.
I noticed the Wii sitting there in the cupboard, perfecting the art of saving the rest of the room from dust collection by sacrificing itself as a powerful magnet for the stuff. It looked so sad and alone; why hadn't I played it? Well, the PS3 came along and took away it's rightful spot on my TV stand for awhile. Ultimately though, I got tired of DLC centric games, the dark and gritty, and the heavy focus on cinematics. Apart from Rayman Origins and Little Big Planet, every other game I owned was a grey, joyless affair; not necessarily bad, but nothing I was in the mood to touch feeling all sick and sensitive. I mean, I cried during Finding Nemo once when I was sick. I'm a real soft guy when plagued with minor afflictions.
Beside it was a massive stack of games; games collected since 2006, with Super Monkey Ball 2 for Gamecube on the top of the pile. It was the only Gamecube game I owned, one I had kept from when I owned the console just for nostalgia. In the TV stand I scrounged around and managed to find a copy of Wii sports and a Gamecube memory card near the back, caked in dust. And then of course, the search for the controllers came next.
I had played the Wii a bit in recent times, namely when Xenoblade came out. But it's tough to find time for games with a baby when they aren't on a portable system. My PSP has gotten more use than ever, but the Wii has suffered. And the PS3 and Xbox?
The Playstation is a glorified Netflix player. The Xbox exists exclusively for my copies of Espgaluda 2 and Mushihimesama-futari, two bullet hell titles by Cave. Why, Cave; why do you insist on releasing your games on Xbox? It makes so no sense. Apart from those things, the consoles are attached firmly to a downloadable game lifeline. I have a ton of downloaded games for the Playstation, and whatever I could afford to put on the Xbox without breaking it's fragile, pint sized memory. I look at the Kinect with sneering contempt. What it was meant to do for me, I still can't figure out. I find a slip while rummaging; an online code for SSX. I crush it in my hand with rage at the fact that it actually replaced the manual that my EA games used to come with, on the rare occasion when I would actually subject myself to their bullshit and put up with their shoddy marketing schemes.
I was a man who could not take it; the focus on ultra realism, on the creation of a new kind of medium, one that was not games or film but a bastard child of both, a rotten singularity. Where multiplayer is king, and where companies willingly ignore the joys of a single player experience in exchange for mindless, endless, pointless online violence. Where game companies can charge once for the title, and then ten times more for the rest of the "experience", as vapid and junk food like as it is. It's an age of long dead joy, where real "fun" has to be found hidden in corners and nooks, away from the prying eyes of greedy giants who would try to suck it dry with oily proboscis.
A little melodramatic, I know. But in the midst of all of it was the Wii. I plugged it in, in all of its standard definition glory (I still use a CRT TV in my bedroom, that's how I roll) and just took some time to check things out. Mega Man 9 and 10 were still installed, along with Kirby's Dream Course, and Harvest Moon; all games which had sucked up way too much of my time. Mario 64 and Waverace were there, and even Sin and Punishment. I would have never had a chance to play Sin and Punishment if it hadn't come out on the Virtual Console, and it's sequel is one of my favorite Treasure games of all time. I missed the main menu, the cheery music, the clean yet joyously bubbly interface where everything you hover your little hand over seems to have tactile response due to well placed rumbles. I missed my Wii!
For such a long time I had looked for something better, some reason not to play it; it wasn't in HD, and we couldn't have that. The online experience was lacking, but when I got a PS3 and Xbox, I didn't play a single game online. There isn't even much memory on the thing! I mean, sure, I haven't downloaded nearly enough to come close to filling it, but still, that's a problem, right? I'm not going to stroke Nintendo's proverbial shaft too much; they are damn near Imperialistic in their unwillingness to budge in the face of changing consumers, and a lot of people have gotten sick of their general "sameiness" over the years. But when the two main competitors are neck and neck in their drab, grey approach to damn near everything, their insistence on pushing online experiences and extra content nobody with any valuable time could possibly want, Nintendo seems like a diamond in the rough. Their unwillingness to evolve whatsoever or cater to anything but the casual crowd actually makes them seem unique and different.
They are using just-barely post PS2 technology still, they are no longer really releasing any games. Yet Xenoblade was the most rewarding game I had played in two years, yes, I daresay even above Dark Souls. Little Kings Story is a title I barely touched when I bought it, but which I am rabid for now. Sakura Wars is the kind of game that is embarrassing to play with anyone in the room, but that is a completely engrossing guilty pleasure if you let it be. Try to find me a platformer that comes anywhere near the level of perfection Mario Galaxy 2 achieved, just try it. Hell, the entire library of Gamecube games is available on the Wii if you own the older model, and I can't imagine not having games like Metroid Prime, Pikmin, or of course, Super Monkey Ball to kick around. And don't try to tell me it was on PS2 as well; game sucked compared to the GC version.
I guess as I get older, I am not looking for more adult, realistic experiences. Gaming has become so sparse for me, such a thing of limited time, that the quick and easy, and sometimes childish, are the only things which seem to satisfy me. For me, the console war was won in 2006 when the Wii came out; I just forgot how much time I spent with it, how much fun I had, and kept trying other experiences because everyone else told me I was missing something. It wasn't until I figured out that what I was missing was stuff I never wanted in the first place that I realized how much I STILL like the Wii; and that is why I pulled a literal all nighter on it, playing games, and reliving old times. I actually went back 6 years in Nintendo play reports to see everything that the console had seen in that time. I was reminded of many real life events just by relating them to the games I had played; the day I moved in with my girlfriend and her parents, the day we found our first apartment, the day I got my job in Security, the day we found our new apartment, and yes, even an extended Super Mario World session a couple days before the birth of our daughter.
You can give me all the objective, empirical evidence in the world of how the Wii "failed", or how much it "sucked." At one point I would have agreed with you for no other reason than that is what the rest of the world felt. But for as much as I have criticized Nintendo, there is a reason I have always gone crawling back, why I have never been without a Nintendo system, why I usually have multiples, and why I will also be taking the plunge and getting a Wii U; because it's fun. Consistently, and thoroughly, that is the one thing Nintendo has always done right, and there is no reason to think that should change.