The Nintendo Wii, 11 Years Later

How the Wii holds up, perspective from a 4 year old child and a 33 year old dad

The Wii, such a monumental leap in gaming. No the visuals weren’t great, the internals were far below the competitors, and the gimmicky nature made some people groan but something is to be said about bringing gaming to the masses en large.

Let’s think of it this way, not  only did I have it as a 22 year old in 2006 but so did my 65 year old grandfather. It broke down a generational wall and invited non-gamers in to play. That’s a big deal.

So 11 years later does it still bring the motion-sensing thunder?

Technology has changed, the Wii has not

The first thing you will notice firing up a Wii years later (I think I last played in 2015?) is that there is no HDMI port, going old school A/V red, white, and yellow prongs here.

No big deal. The modern TV still has the inputs.

Dad, what’s wrong with the TV?

Boot up. Oh yeah this thing runs at a 4:3 and not the now commonplace 16:9. Looks like we will have some gutters on our picture box view or opt to stretch the picture. 480p only goes so far.

That 480p? It is loooow res by today’s standards and frankly I think it was during the initial launch as well. No HD to be had here.

Startup and Controls

I will say this, I do like the simple Wii menu grid with its rounded edges and bubbly interface. In todays rather cold, sterile interface designs it is nice to see something “fun”. Even the little boops and bleeps add to the experience.

Is this thing is broken dad?

At this point I hand my son one of the mammoth control sticks complete with motion plus dongle and rubber case. He looks at it puzzled like a newborn examining its hand for the first time. He gets the hang of it as I explain how it works.

We pop in Wii Sports Resort and get moving on this journey.

Gameplay and a lesson on aging video game systems

I was hoping this would be an experience with as few hiccups along the way as possible, but nah. We have a tendency to forget the somewhat negative experience of vintage video game systems, basking in the nostalgia. The rose colored glasses are thick.

“Press A to continue”

This command got old real fast.

Starting up a game with 2 players was a chore to say the least, the steps you take to get into a single sport was painstaking and went a little something like:

  1. Main entry screen, press A.
  2. Choose game, press A.
  3. Choose players, press A.
  4. Choose event in game, Press A.
  5. Calibrate the controllers (WHY?) leave controllers sitting for a few seconds and hope no one sneezes, Press A.
  6. Go through drawn out tutorial for game with no skip, pressing A like you were playing Street Fighter 2.
  7. Game time! (press A to begin).
  8. Did I mention press A?

So yeah we finally got to the actual gameplay but wait what’s this?

Oh, that little motion plus attachment isn’t always the most reliable in terms of connections? Yeah let’s spend some time recalibrating that bad boy each and every time you swing the controller too hard.

To be fair this is an aging controller so the possibility of it not having the most secure connection it once had is very possible, but boy that shit got annoying.

Finally some gameplay. The sword fighting went very well and was incredibly entertaining to a 4 year old. Swinging the controller in real time on the TV through his Mii was in a word, awesome, and watching his dad’s Mii fall to the water was just as pleasing.

I defeated you dad! Hahaha look at my dance!

This is the sort of thing that made the Wii such a phenomenon at the time. Just about anyone could pick up a controller and get playing with little effort or know how. It was and is just fun. We played a few more of the sports options with varying degrees of enjoyment, but overall it was a hit.

Not all games are created equal

So this is where the Wii sort of falls apart. Game titles outside of the Nintendo stronghold can get a bit, well awful. The Wii had a good number of solid games associated with it but there was also an absolute pit of garbage created for it as well. Let’s dig into a few.

Wii Monster 4×4 Circuit

This one lasted all of 3 minutes. The controls and camera were a bit, off and for a 4 year old completely unacceptable. What is this garbage and where are the rad jumps?

This isn’t a fun game, I want some fish crackers

I don’t know son, I don’t know.

Star Wars Lightsaber Duels

This one hit the mark a bit more. The gameplay was fun and barrier for entry pretty low (swing that remote!). He enjoyed giving me a lightsaber whooping the likes a father has never been witness. Overall this one was a surprising hit.

Wii Game Party

What a monstrosity, even to a 4 year old at first glance knew this things was made to fail. It’s like they took all the rejected Wii Sports games, picked out the worst of the bunch, and washed away any sort of fun they once had. This one was just dead in the water as soon as we saw the box art alone.

So, how was playing Wii in 2018?

The Wii remains a fun, interactive gaming console that has yet to be replicated. Looking past the technological limitations and shortcomings the experience remains a fun one with the right games, regardless of age which is what made the Wii such an explosive success to begin with.

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