It’s been a memorable year for the Wii – from Nintendo’s demonstration that Nickelback aren’t actually the worst band in the world at E3 to the success of Boom Blox and de Blob at retail, there certainly hasn’t been a lack of things to discuss. Here’s the very best and worst of the Wii’s 2008.
It’s clear that Nintendo now regard E3 as a chance to showcase their most accessible software due to the attendance of the mainstream press, but that still doesn’t justify their awful showing this year. From the now infamous live demo of Wii Music to the complete lack of core game announcements, the whole presentation was an enormous let down. The backlash from the hardcore was so great that Miyamoto was forced in interviews to repeatedly assure fans that the next Mario and Zelda were on their way, and prematurely announce a new Pikmin without even a scrap of artwork, let alone footage. Yes Nintendo, the mainstream press does cover E3, but no-one knows how to complain quite like angry gamers.
Nintendo’s software for the Wii since it’s release has been strong and consistent, but their output since this summer has noticeably diminished. It seems in their rush to release Super Mario Galaxy, Super Smash Bros Brawl and Mario Kart Wii within months of each other, they forgot to arrange their Christmas ’08 lineup. Traditional gamers have been left a simple choice: Animal Crossing or nothing. It didn’t have to be quite this bad – if Fatal Frame IV and Disaster: Day of Crisis had been translated for a North American release, they would have papered over some very large cracks.
Lack of progression
This year’s solid updates to Mario Kart and Smash Bros. were arguably just that: updates. Apart from Mario Kart’s excellent online component, neither game made any great strides in their core gameplay in the same way Super Mario Galaxy or even Super Paper Mario did. This may have been easier to ignore if it weren’t for Animal Crossing: City Folk; which apart from the edition of Wii Speak, featured very little new content or gameplay. The only truly revolutionary game Nintendo produced this year was Wii Music – a game that seems to have been utterly rejected by core gamers.
There are many ways in which the Wii’s hardware is lacking when compared to the competition. All but one of them can be explained by Nintendo’s desire to keep the cost of hardware and software development down, and to make the platform attractive to a wide audience. The only truly crippling hardware flaw the Wii has is its meager and unexpandable 512MB’s of internal memory. WiiWare is starting to bloom as a platform, and it’s success is a great credit to Nintendo, but the inability to quickly and easily store downloaded software also highlights their extreme shortsightedness.