Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Top Ten Reasons Wii Works

Ok, this is the point where I dip my hand tenderly into the chaos of fanboyism. As most gamers are aware, the three major consoles on the market are Microsoft's X360, Sony's PS3, and Nintendo's Wii. Each one has a host of soldiers willing to be slightly inconvenienced in the line of duty to protect their product's reputation, the games on said product, and the companies that support it. That being said, lets focus on the least complicated of the three, the Wii.

10. Hackers
I feel that this is worth mentioning: The console can now run arbitrary code under certain conditions (Still not ready for custom firmware or emulators yet). The Wii's remote has also been used for some interesting hacks as well, from changing your screen into a multi touch display to creating a 3d realm on any screen (See Johnny Chung Lee's other projects here). And while hacking is not a major source of pride for most manufacturers, if Nintendo listens to their fans, they could have great ideas GIVEN to them to work with. Should they listen, their console may become something very interesting indeed.

Video where they announced the arbitrary code exploit:

9. Competition
When the Wii initially launched a few days after the PS3, Sony's console was very expensive and in low supply, while Microsoft's was not cheap and required $100 to get wifi. It also helped when the Xbox 360 finally admitted to (at least) a 33.3% failure rate, and the PS3 had a new system to develop for slowing new game releases.

To put it simply, the Wii was easy to make now, and does not aim for a long lifespan. The console is typical of all Nintendo offerings: Low cost, fast production, and an aim at gameplay compensating for those two. Even if it had flopped after the first year, it still gained Nintendo a load of profit that could be used for a new console... and it doesn't seem to be slowing down just yet.

8. Social Norms
As the Wii was being launched, the gaming industry was looked at differently based on your age. Most children enjoyed them, while parents were horrified at the idea of their angels being violent, raging animals whom would eat human flesh for playing pacman.

I may be exaggerating to some extent, but the Wii used these fears to some extent. Almost all advertisements push for innocent, bloodless, sexless fun: Golf, bowling, etc. Things that the older generation knew, was comfortable with, and wanted to do with their children.

People confused and threatened by Katamari Damacy and their ilk finally had something they approved of, and could try out with no worries of subtle corruption and future cannibalism. Older family members could play 'golf' without the annoying bits (Walking, being outside, etc), and the younger guys and gals could finally box in peace (Can't put glass on the gloves though).

Speed run of Moon Level in Katamari Damacy

7. Target Audience
This relates to several items in this list actually. Nintendo decided that by only targeting hard-core gamers, they would be missing too much possible income and future users. So they targeted... everyone! Young, old, ancient, infant, etc, all were in the sights of the Mario company. Sure they sacrificed some of the depth in most of their games, but it worked VERY well at drawing in new blood. However, this did create a bit of an unexpected side effect. A good portion of new Wii owners only own the free Wii Sports game, and are satisfied with it. However, since the console itself is a profit device, all is well for now.

Baby, the true target of the Wii.

Public Image
As mentioned above, the Wii targets all with its wiggly might. The logo is filled with depth by itself: each I is a Mii, and the final two ii's seem to represent those two nice fellows who drive in the dinky mini car and challenge old people. Its flexible, squishy, bendy, and every other slightly sexual word that describes "Huggably soft" from Charmine. This leaves the customer with a deep sense of warmth and happiness, as if they had watched someone walk into a pole. A fluffy pole.

Case in point, just watch this.

5. Nostalgia
Ok, anyone remember a certain avian fox? Maybe a yahooing plumber? By including a virtual console, Nintendo really allows you to digg up those older, painful memories of trying to save Slippy and finding that LAST F'ING coin. Although this company ALWAYS remakes/resales games that everyone loved at one point, who can refuse a banana obsessed simian?

This kind of marketing works well, but only because of the games. If Nintendo would allow game modification, maybe we could use this wonderful Wiimote... Ah well, give me that old controller any day.

4. Low Complexity
This one may change at some point, but as of now Nintendo is keeping the majority of games on their console easy to use with few game elements (Recent games excluded for now, thanks). This is a strategy, as the Wii is slightly more powerful than the original Xbox, and more so than the PS2... you can theoretically have God of War 2 or FF12 on this thing, but they resist. This will probably change a tad as we get closer to the Wii's replacement, but it is a wise move.

Should the Wii ever release a game of God of War quality, then people will start making more and more comparisons with the 'next' gen consoles. Wii can not compete visual wise, so this is a nice way of avoiding the huge mess. The console CAN do better, but they will probably choose to avoid this with anything besides inside games.

3. Controller
Ahh, the Wiimote. Motion sensitive and proud of it, and very adaptable (See above, Hackers). This device has been the cornerstone of the Wii's platform, attempting to simplify games into intuitive real world actions rather than just using buttons. It is used to varying degrees of effenciy, from the sometimes flaky tennis to the rock solid game play of the Legends of Zelda.

The PS3 tries to steal this thunder to some extent (See: High Velocity Bowling), but it is not quite the same. Fun, but not same (You can play own music, but can't shut the characters up). There are also rumors of an X360 motion sensitive controller, which of course would be really sad if true, so I will ignore them for now.

Long story short, the controllers for the Wii are the major difference between it and older hardware, and the main draw for their audience (See: Wiifit). If they keep coming out with new ones, this hardware may last longer than most of us expected.

2. Cost
Come on, how many people own a Wii60? Or a PSWii? Or a PSWii60? The Wii is so low cost that people are buying it in addition to other consoles... if you can find one. At launch the console sold for $249.99, but try to find one now and you will see prices ranging from $350 to $900.

Each one sold is profit for Nintendo, and each one made is probably sold within minutes of being on the shelf. This desire has outstrip production horribly, forcing Nintendo to start selling "Wii Rain Checks" to people who couldn't find one during the holidays. If you have one laying around, you could have made quite a penny (And still could I wager).

1. Goofy Name
The puns, the jokes! When the "Revolution" was renamed to the "Wii", the world fell on its collective arse. The jokes were many and long, seeming to never end. Every gamer either verbally giggled or was in shock at the change.

No longer were we Part of a Revolution, now we are Wiiners? What about our pride? Well, the snickering helped get the word out, so that the whole world got a chance to play with their... um. To get a hold of a... hm. Well, let's just say Nintendo didn't get caught with their pants down.

There you go, the Top Ten reasons that the Wii will keep chugging along. Feel free to yell if you disagree, and if you actually make a good point or two I will make a note of it here!

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