The Lament of the Hardcore Wii owner
I own a Wii. And I am growing Dissatisfied. First I should probably define my terms a little. By "hardcore" I don't mean that I wait in front of stores the day before a game releases, or have an online handle like "AssAssAssin" and scream profanities at ten year olds. I don't hang out with other video game people or talk to other video game people on the Internet. I'm kind of embarrassed by other video game people in fact. No, by "hardcore" I mean that I like games that are, you know, "good." Technically I'm more of a lapsed hardcore gamer. Although I've owned something like 10 systems in my life, I stopped playing video games entirely for a few years - perhaps not coincidentally, a period in my life which saw a marked improvement in my odor and ability to talk to girls. It was at this time that I began to view the hundreds of hours I poured into various electronic worlds with a certain amount of regret. "Wow, my time really wasn't very valuable back then," I said, clucking my tongue. "Stop hitting yourself, loser," I'd add, hitting myself. It was fucked up. So as a lapsed gamer, I had no burning desire to get back into it in a serious way when the current generation of systems rolled around. In fact, aside from a genuine passion for the Grand Theft Auto games, and a passing interest in a couple others (Bioshock, Fallout 3) I look at the top games for the Xbox360 or PS3 and I shrug. It's all just racecars and space marines, you know? I feel like I've played it all already. I got my merit badge in Space Marinery 15 fucking years ago. Which I guess is the main reason I bought a Wii. Finally there was going to be something new. The low-res graphics didn't matter to me either, and frankly I think you're kind of an idiot of you say they matter to you. The correlation rate between gorgeous graphics and good games isn't terribly high - especially when you take games from previous generations into consideration. That's not to say I'm a complete low-fi snob - high end graphics can be used to create useful game features. The foliage in Far Cry for example, or the natural staining effects in that last Leisure Suit Larry game. But those sorts of revelations are few and far between. And that fancy new controller, the one that promised to open up whole new worlds of video game design. How did that work out? Well the highlights include Resident Evil 4, Metroid Prime 3 and Mario Kart Wii. All those games are fucking rad on the Wii, and I couldn't imagine playing them with tiny little nipple joysticks. Seriously, pointing at something and shooting it is fun. Whip-sawing a little plastic wheel back and forth is fun. Screw you guys with your beards and your smoking jackets and your dual analog sticks. I'll be over here having fun. But just about everything else on the Wii has barely used the Wiimote's abilities. Even games like Wind Waker and Super Mario Galaxy. I honestly can't remember what the Wiimote was used for in those games. I recall wiggling it around a lot. (You get a lot of that on the Wii actually.) But at least Zelda and Mario were good games - they are in pretty limited company. The number of games on the Wii that meet my personal sniff test as "good" is something like a half dozen. Even for someone with a pretty limited appetite for games, I find that a little lean. Unlike apparently every other Wii owner I have no interest in cooking games or surgery games or whatever the fuck they publish for the Wii these days. Games about sewing? Yoshi's Hair & Nail Salon? Wii Animal Husbandry?
It's not exactly surprising that the Wii has had very little triple-A games released for it. Three years ago, absolutely no-one in the industry expected the Wii to be a success, most predicting the exact opposite. And seeing as it takes around three years to make a high end game, that's a pretty good explanation why the Wii's cupboard remains so bare. Not that that makes it suck any less to be a Wii owner. __ So what do I want? I mean, other than to bitch and complain that is. Let's start with: A decent first person shooter. A racing game without blue shells. A game where you can swing around a lightsaber and it is
That thin wedge at the bottom represents the Wii's sales, a figure so small that I believe it's dwarfed by the number of copies of the game eaten by raccoons during shipping. If I was a third party developer I'd look at this graph, and decide to never devote another cent to Wii development for anything that isn't a Dora the Explorer fishing game. Hardcore gamers don't buy games for the Wii. Apparently I don't exist. On the other hand, the size of the Wii's install base is well past the point where it can be safely ignored or disregarded. Even if a sizable portion of the Wii's owners have no interest in playing anything besides the cow-riding game in Wii Play, that still leaves millions of Wii owners out there who do. And that's how crazy shit like this can happen:
Yes, that's a Wii game outselling Halo 3. Sure Mario Kart is a venerable franchise, and all games made by Nintendo sell well, but still. A game on the Wii is outselling Halo. So as for the likelihood of more "good" games coming out for the Wii in the future, I dunno - there's factors either way. I guess the reasonable thing to say is that "it can't get any worse than it is," because currently the only thing my Wii is doing is keeping a couple DVD's elevated an inch or so above whatever it is the Wii is resting on.