By June 5, 2007

Wii were disappointed

I purchased my Nintendo Wii shortly after Christmas last year, ending a very long and multi-store hunt. I reactivated my GameFly account and rented quite a few Wii games. I purchased Rayman Raving Rabbids, the new Monkey Ball, and WiiPlay. Overall, I was unimpressed. I was hoping for the next-generation GameCube but wound up with a product that tried so hard to be different that its games were gimmicky and one-dimensional. I sold my Wii today on Ars Technica, and here’s a rundown of my six-month experience with the Revolution-ary white console.

  1. Most of the launch games were of inferior quality to the point that I wondered if they were actually finished or tech demos. About half of the Monkeyball games were unplayable. Rampage was critically broken; sometimes your character would wander into the background and it was very difficult to get him to return to the foreground. Red Steel’s camera control would freak out sometimes, and I’d spin around pointed at the floor or ceiling. No, this wasn’t me. I didn’t have this problem with Call of Duty 3.
  2. I want to get online to play friends, not to see the weather or take polls. The Wii doesn’t currently have any games that allow for online play. Multiplayer modes left a lot to be desired. Why didn’t Elebits have a co-op story mode? Trauma Center would have been more fun if you could have an assistant that handled some of the medical tools. “Scalpel?” “Scalpel.” “Suction?” “Suction.” Excite Truck was uninspired in “local” play. Split-screen? Is this the 90s? The only thing that could have been worse was some sort of bullshit hotseat mode. Call of Duty 3, one of the few full titles that I actually liked, would have been dynamite co-op with a friend.
  3. The Wii’s better games have limited replay value. After finishing Rayman I couldn’t really see myself playing it again, or doing too many of the mini-games with friends. When people came over, they wanted to bowl or play tennis on WiiSports or get it on with the toy tanks in WiiPlay. I enjoyed Rayman a lot, but would have felt better if I hadn’t spent $50 on it. I said the Wii games were too expensive when the game pricing details were announced, and I stick by that assertion. I didn’t see Red Steel, CoD3, or Trauma Center, all other games I played, having a lot of replay value, either.
  4. Gimmicks to the max. Most of the Wii games I tried had unnecessary gestures that served only to justify the Wiimote’s spatial capabilities. Elebits was fun until I had to twist the Wiimote just right to insert a piece of bread into a toaster. Rampage definitely did not need the foreground/background feature; it seemed added in just to check off a box on the product development chart: [ X ] Use Wiimote 3D capability. Does it make sense? Who the fuck cares, ship it, suckers! Most of the Monkeyball games were broken due to this feature. I groaned any time in Rayman when I had to push or pull anything. The whack-a-mole minigame could have been a lot of fun, but damn moving forward and backwards was really difficult. The only parts of Call of Duty 3 that didn’t work 100% of the time were the motions of planting an explosive charge and fighting a Nazi off in hand to hand mode. Sometimes I’d crank the controllers and the charge would be set almost instantly. Other times I’d repeat the motion over and over again before it “took.” Did anyone test these games before they came out?
  5. Out of all the games I owned or tried, my favorite disc of all was WiiPlay, which got mostly negative or neutral reviews. I found that most guests wanted to play pool, the fishing game, or the aforementioned toy tank game. I enjoyed the Duck Hunt remake and found the accuracy to be pretty damn good. Runner up favorite game goes to Rayman. I laughed a lot at the mini-games, and felt that it had the most thought put into it out of all the games I tried.
  6. The online architecture/buddy system the Wii employs is unforgivable. Instead of emulating the successful Xbox Live! user name-based network used by the 360, the Wii follows the handheld Nintendo DS code-based model. Each console has a unique machine code. In order to be added to your friends’ address book, this machine code has to be input by hand by your friends. This is akin to entering a computer’s MAC address and makes no logical sense. Furthermore, the address book itself only scales to 200 friends. Compared to the “user-centric” system of the 360, wherein you input a friends’ user name, the “numbers-centric” approach of the Wii is not very user friendly at all. Big minus.

For the record, here are the games I played:

  • Call of Duty 3
  • Elebits
  • Excite Truck
  • Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
  • Rayman Raving Rabbids
  • Rampage: Total Destruction
  • Red Steel
  • Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz
  • Trauma Center: Second Opinion
  • WiiPlay
  • WiiSports

I believe that the Wii will swing around, just like the Nintendo DS. In another six months to a year I predict that game developers will stop trying to get “gee whiz” stuff into their games and will start making more robust, full-featured titles. Hopefully the online-capable games will come out in that time frame, I have a new Mario Kart Double Dash on my wish list. After seeing the proposed game release schedule, I doubt it will come out in 2007, however.

I know that some people are still trying to get their hands on a Wii console. Don’t give up, more and more are starting to show up on the used market. There were two other units for sale when I sold mine on the Ars Agora, at or below sticker price. I highly recommend starting a GameFly or similar game rental account. Spending $20 a month or whatever for two games out at a time seemed like a bargain after I played Rampage and Red Steel. Those games were absolute stinkers, and would have cost me $90 otherwise.

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4 Comments on "Wii were disappointed"

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  1. Stomper says:

    Hmmm. Good to know but not good. So does that mean you’re leaning even more heavily toward the Xbox 360? And are you happy with it and the games like Settlers? Have you tried it? Just curious.

  2. drfaulken says:

    I haven’t spent any appreciable time with the 360, so I can’t answer your questions about being happy with the console in general or Settler in specific. However, after talking with people who own them, including roclar and Bond, to name just two, I think the console (and its online approach) will fit my needs better than the Wii.

  3. Callaway (bond) says:

    I agree about the 360 fitting your needs better. As long as you still have a GC for the classics, the 360 has TONS more to offer you, especially in the arcade area.

    I’ve only played 2 Wii, yours being one, and found them to be a giant gimmick due to the current games. If they can create some “next gen” wii titles that take advantage of the amazing controller, then it may be a wii-nner.

  4. The Nintendo Wii isn’t a next generation console in the respect that the graphics capabilities are not as good as the Xbox 360 or PS3. It’s only down to it’s innovation of gameplay and it’s aftermarket wii accessories.

    Nintendo have always been a console for ‘non-serious’ gamers and it’s style of games have got to be taken with a pich of salt. You can’t get any more light hearted than Wii games.

    I think people who want to experience next gen graphics need to buy a 360 or PS3. If Nintendo release a better version with far better graphics capability and games for the serious gamer,then it may not be frowned upon by SO many people.

    There is definately a divide when it comes to the Wii.

    Andy