Wow. Ten years already, huh? Time sure does fly when you’re having fun. It seems like it was only yesterday I was first waggling a Wiimote furiously to hit a tennis ball. Anyway, let’s take a look back at the Wii and what made it a game changer!
Before the Wii was revealed to the public, it had a codename: the Nintendo Revolution (much like how the Nintendo Switch which was codenamed the NX). The Wii was a revolution of sorts in the gaming industry at the time because with it Nintendo was attempting to do something that no other video game company was trying to do: change the way you play. Since console gaming began, one of the biggest challenges was input, or in other words, the design of the controller.
Now and then
If you look back through the years, you’ll see that each new age of consoles would have a different design for their controllers. Some had really simplistic designs, like the Atari 2600 from the late ’70s and the Nintendo NES from the ’80s, while some had arguably complicated and bulky designs, like the Nintendo 64 and the original Xbox controllers. Those earlier controllers were drastically different from the ones that we use today. Nintendo’s new controller, the Wiimote, looked more like a small TV remote and touted motion controls. It was a drastic change from the tried and true formula, and it had completely polarized gamers. On one hand, motion control for video games was something that a lot of us had only dreamed about, and it was pretty exciting. Still, there were gamers who saw the motion controls as nothing more than a cheap gimmick, and felt that Nintendo was pushing its core fanbase away in an attempt to appeal to a more casual gaming demographic.
Nintendo was targeting a wider demographic than it had before with the Wii. Reggie Fils-Aimé, the President and COO of Nintendo of America stated in a USA Today interview back in 2006 that, “Our focus is interactive game play, a whole new way to play, that puts fun back into this business. It allows everybody to pick up and play and isn’t focused on the core gamer.” The Wii was a roaring success for Nintendo, and the company accomplished its task of appealing to a wider audience. This was a huge risk for Nintendo; it was going into uncharted territory by diving head first into motion controls, and there was no guarantee it would succeed.
Even with the controversial Wiimote, the Wii went on to sell 101.63 million units worldwide, making it the highest selling console of that generation by a large margin. This was no accident on Nintendo’s part. The company made sure that it gave its new console the spotlight and helped people get their hands on it as much as they could. Nintendo had created Wii Experience booths, which is something that I personally remember having fun with at a Six Flags park. It was a great way to get people excited about the new system.
What the Wii brought to the table
The Wii had the support of Nintendo’s IPs throughout its life, which gave gamers more incentive to invest in one. Games like Twilight Princess, Super Mario Galaxy, Super Smash Brothers, Metroid Prime, and many others really helped sway gamers who were on the fence about picking up the console.
The Wii introduced the Mii avatars, a feature that would become a staple for Nintendo platforms in the future. The system also did something that no other Nintendo console had done before: backwards compatibility. This allowed owners of the GameCube to feel more comfortable about a transition to the Wii since they could still keep and play all of their favorite games – and it even had ports for the GameCube controller so that you could play those games and even some new ones with it. Even though the Wii was unorthodox in its design, it had a lot of software to support it. Admittedly, I was one of the naysayers, but I can admit without any hesitation now that I had a blast playing games on the Wii when I first picked up one myself.
The Wii has earned a distinct place in the history of video games not only for its tremendous sales numbers, but also for its innovative technology. Nintendo took a huge risk by making the main input device for the console a motion control device, but that risk paid off. Its success even made competitors Sony and Microsoft scramble to invent their own motion control peripherals, the PlayStation Move and the Kinect. With some great games and an exciting new technology, the Wii dominated the console market for years. Hopefully for Nintendo, the Switch will be an even bigger hit.
And on that note, “Wii” would like to wish the revolutionary Nintendo console a happy 10th anniversary!
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