Sunday Thoughts: 24/01/10

Last night, in a desperate attempt to find something to actually watch on television, I noticed PlayTV’s gorgeous EPG informing me there was a ‘Wii Special’ on one of the shopping channels.  I’m not going to say which, but suffice to say that as far as I’m concerned the way the non-gaming public (and media) perceive the Wii has now officially become a joke.

Let me preface all this by saying that I’m Nintendo’s biggest fan.  I’ve owned all their consoles (import and UK), hundreds of games and bought the Wii (as I did with the Gamecube and N64) on day one.  I loved it – the innovate control methods were fun, inutituive and were sure to open up all kinds of new avenues for hardcore gamers.  Except that never happened, did it, and Wii went all ‘Family’.  And that’s where everything went wrong.

I’m not sure at which point this happened (and some may well say it was always like this) but apart from the last couple of weeks when I splashed out on some second hand titles I’d been completely neglecting the Wii (it was even boxed up and in the loft, for Heaven’s sake) because I was perfectly happy gaming on the PS3 and the 360, along with my portables.  But promise of a new Zelda and the fact that Mario Galaxy is still awesome meant it was due an unpacking.

Decent ‘gamer’ games on the Wii are few and far between, and my library of 15 or so games probably covers most of the good ones.  Madworld, Brawl, Metroid and the aforementioned Zelda and Marios, alongwith the usual crop of Mario Karts and such probably means that unless I’m interested in shovelware (or games available on other consoles) there’s little point hunting the shelves for something to give me a bit of a challenge.

Why is this?  It’s because the fluff sells – and it’s probably due to the way the buying public sees the Wii, not helped by the way it’s sold on these TV channels.  I kid you not, last night I witnessed a grown man laid stomach down stretched out on a sofa with his arms and legs akimbo pretending to ‘skydive’ by waving his extremities around whilst holding the Remote.  “It’s exhilerating, it’s like real life” he said, his female counterpart egging him on.

No, it’s not.  And making a fool of yourself by lying down whilst you do it isn’t going to make it any more realistic, and besides, he was clearly playing it for the first time and doing terribly.  Whilst all this was going on, amidst the whoops and wails from the presenters (this is all live, by the way) the sales were ringing in – people wanted to be part of this nonsense and for £269.99 (the pack included 3 games and some plastic ‘accessories’) who could blame them?

Analysts are beginning to come around to think that the Wii has already hit its zenith, its peak, and the sheer saturation of crap for the format isn’t helping the few decent titles that the publishers make a gamble on.  The Wii public doesn’t want Madworld, or No More Heroes, it wants to pretend it’s bowling and I’d imagine there’s a decent proportion of Wii owners that never actually buy another game after Wii Sports.  To them, bowling is the Wii.

I like my Wii, I like the few hardcore games I have for it and the ability to play classic old NES, SNES and N64 games on it is a godsend.  But with a mix of Ant and Dec and the likes of last night’s home shopping episode highlight the fact that whilst Nintendo can take all the initiatives it wants with classic brands and decent games, the majority of the stuff on the Wii is, in my opinion of course, tat – and it’s not going to change anytime soon.

Holding out for Zelda, then, is the only reason it’s not back in the loft.

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