Farewell to the Wii: Returning to Nintendo
I was a Nintendo fanboy as a kid, but then again, what child of the 80’s wasn’t? I obsessed over the secrets of Mario’s games, fought against the forces of evil with Mega Man, and had my first addicting RPG experience with the original Final Fantasy. I devoured each issue of Nintendo Power when it arrived at my house, and had a complete freak out when we got a Super Nintendo for Christmas one year. I fought with my cousin (who probably couldn’t care less) about why the SNES was superior to his Genesis, and had my mind blown by games like The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Final Fantasy III, Super Metroid, Super Mario World, and Donkey Kong Country.
All that changed with the next generation of consoles.
I stood by the big N as best I could. Friends would ask me when I was getting a PlayStation, and my rebuttal was “I’m not! I’m waiting for the Ultra 64! I don’t want loading screens, scratched disks, and silly save cards!” All that changed when my brother borrowed a PlayStation from a friend of his, hooked it up to the TV, and fired up Final Fantasy VII. We picked up Sony’s platform and a copy of the game within a month.
I couldn’t believe it. Final Fantasy, the franchise I loved, was on another platform, and it was amazing.
That wasn’t all though. I played Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time, and GoldenEye over the course of that generation and didn’t like any of them. First person shooters on a console? Pfft, I have a PC with Half Life thank you very much. When did Mario become a game about collecting stars? What on earth happened to Zelda? Why is it in 3D? I don’t like any of this! Where’s Metroid? That game would be amazing in 3D! How could they skip that?
My world was shattered. The gaming company that dominated my mind for over a decade had been trumped and my inner fanboy had been silenced. I became a hardware nomad from that point on, going with whichever platform held the most promise. Playstation, then Xbox, then Xbox 360. I still bought Nintendo’s portable systems and sang their praises above all else, but the Nintendo 64 and Gamecube never held a place in my living room, and never would.
When I moved out of my parent’s home a few years ago I had a roommate who owned all 3 current gen systems. Admittedly, I hadn’t been paying much attention to the Wii, and was of the school of thought that it’s motion controls were gimmicky and generally pointless. I still harbor some resentment against the Wii’s emphasis on waggle, but I was able to extol the virtues of a few of the games I played, most notably The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. What really got my attention was the Virtual Console and the ability to play a lot of the games I loved as a child again without the hassle of hooking up the dusty old systems to a modern TV.
When my roommate moved to California to pursue a career in the video game industry, I was left without a Wii. I was OK with it at the time and Microsoft’s platform kept me busy with a steady stream of games to play, so I didn’t really miss the little white box. My brother, however, had been paying attention to my discussions about the Virtual Console, and decided to give me a black Wii bundle for my 30th birthday. I started looking through the system’s library and picking up games and discovered something interesting: Nintendo still makes really great console games.
Since then I’ve picked up a lot of Wii games for both myself and my kids, (who were given their own Wii by someone else the year before.) Super Mario Galaxy, New Super Mario Brothers Wii, The Metroid Prime Trilogy, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Xenoblade, The Last Story, Muramasa: The Demon Blade, and Donkey Kong Country Returns were all fantastic experiences. Along with those games, I’ve been able to take advantage of the system’s flawless backwards compatibility with the GameCube to play some of the games I missed out on like Baten Kaitos Origins and F-Zero GX, and I look forward to fleshing out my GC library further.
So did the Wii replace my Xbox 360? No, and it honestly isn’t capable of replicating the experiences my 360 provides. Like the PlayStation that stole me away from Nintendo in the 90s, the Xbox 360 provides a modern, adult experience that only the PlayStation 3 can compete with. What the Wii does do is play Nintendo games, and what was true in my childhood remains true today: Nobody makes games quite like Nintendo does.
When I was just starting out on my own, I only owned an Xbox. During that time, I honestly almost gave up on gaming. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something was missing. Owning a Wii showed me what it was: Nintendo. I often find myself becoming tired and jaded with the popular, modern gaming experience, and popping in a great game like Super Mario Galaxy recaptures what it was about gaming that made me fall in love with the hobby. It’s honest, pure, and simple, and emphasizes gameplay above all else, relying on that and that alone to make it work.
I still don’t know exactly what Nintendo does to make their games so special, but their titles have become a necessary part of my gaming diet. They are intelligent, inviting, approachable, and most importantly fun. Like a good, home cooked meal, they have an undefinable flavor I unconsciously miss and crave. I’ve been looking for these qualities without even realizing it, and now that I’ve found them, I can honestly say it feels very good to have them back.