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The Nintendo Wii Gets No Love: Reader Response

by Travis Harvey | January 19, 2010

A few weeks ago, you may remember a video titled “The Nintendo Wii Gets No Love”.  The video got quite the response and while what makes the best console is truly relative, it’s hard to ignore the endless debate.  One notably and seemingly passionate response comes from J.W. out of Germany whose take stems not from living the Nintendo explosion but one of modern day gaming where Nintendo’s deviation from the hardcore gamer has become increasingly apparent.  Check it out below and share your thoughts in the comments.

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Hi, Jon. You might wonder why I’m writing you this wall of text. It’s because, a 500-character YouTube comment wouldn’t be nearly enough to describe why it’s difficult for me, and many others, to love the Wii. A comment on TechnoBuffalo.com would be way too long, too. That’s why I decided to write you this letter.  (Also, English is only my second language, so forgive me if you find mistakes.)

First, let me introduce myself. I was born in 1990, so I’m one of the more-or-less young gamers. I became a gamer at the age of 7, at the very end of what people like to call the “Bit Era”. I’ve never experienced the Sega VS. Nintendo console wars. I don’t feel something resembling nostalgia when I see an old 8- or 16-bit game. I just see and outdated piece of entertainment, something that was significant way before my time. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t help it and I’m sure those games are just as awesome as you older gamers say they are. And some of them, I really like, timeless games like Super Mario World and Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. So please don’t view me as a brat who doesn’t know what gaming is about. I’m just young.

I’m telling you this because my reason not to own a Wii is plain and simple – the hardware. I think this is easier to understand for a gamer who hasn’t experienced many games that came before 1996. I think it’s harder to understand for someone who started gaming way before I was born.

First of all, let’s clarify what I think the Wii really is hardware-wise. Many Wii defenders – I assume, the ones that are not much into the tech side of gaming – claim that the Wii, aside from not being capable of outputting an HD resolution, is on-par with the Xbox 360 and PS3 in terms of hardware. That is, of course, incorrect. I’m sure you are aware of the fact that the Wii is little more than a slightly improved Gamecube with Bluetooth, WiFi and motion controls; Little more than a system that was released more than 8 years ago, hardware-wise. And it shows.

I’m not saying that a Wii game cannot look great. Mario Kart Wii, Super Mario Galaxy, Metroid Prime 3, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and a number of third-party games, do look good enough. But hardware performance isn’t all about graphics. Take, for example, physics – games like Little Big Planet prove that it’s really fun to play with a modern physics engine. Same goes for Pixel Junk Eden and Pixel Junk Shooter, or Trine (or Rag Doll Kung Fu, a less popular game on PSN, you could call it a Smash Bros. clone, but I enjoy it a lot). Physics have become a gameplay-defining element of videogames long ago. Of course you can have more simple physics engines, or gimped versions of popular physics engines like Havok, for the Wii’s lackluster CPU, but it’ll never break the boundaries, reach new heights, like Xbox 360, PS3, and decent gaming PCs do. At best, a developer would achieve physics that are almost as good as what you can expect as a standard in games on more powerful hardware. Just imagine how the well-known Nintendo franchises like Smash Bros., Zelda, Super Mario, or Mario Kart would be with a stunning physics engine. If you think about it, anything that can be done on the Wii – in terms of technical achievement – have already been done better, and already been done a dozen times over, on the Gamecube, PS2, and Xbox. Several years ago.

Outdated physics engines are just one of the bigger problems that come with weak hardware, but I’d like to talk about some of the minor issues that prevent me from buying a Wii. As much as I love my Bravia, I don’t care too much about HD, because even a 19-year-old brat like me knows that gaming was awesome way before HD became popular. I don’t care about DVD playback, there are plenty of other devices which do a terrific job at that. Same goes with all other forms of media playback. But, as I said, the minor issues…

Why can’t I have an ethernet port on the Wii, why do I have to buy an add-on to connect an ethernet cable to the console? Sure, it makes no difference if you have a wireless access point near your gaming place, but if you don’t have wireless internet at all, or the access point is too far away from the Wii to provide a good connection, the only way to get your Wii online is to use a cable. That’s when you start to think. Why haven’t they integrated an ethernet port? Is there a reason not to have one? More people would have a good online experience with the Wii, so they would recommend it, and that would be better for Nintendo, am I right? (I don’t care how much money Nintendo makes, I just want an ethernet port) So, why not?

My uncle is a huge retro gaming fan. He has a Wii, and naturally, he bought a whole bunch of Virtual Console games on the Wii Shop Channel. Super Mario Bros., Super Mario World, The Legend of Zelda I & II, Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time, Star Fox 64, F-Zero, Mario Kart, Golden Axe, Sonic the Hedgehog, a variety of TurboGrafx16 games, and many more. (He even imported that SNES-replica classic controller from Japan; a true enthusiast) Eventually, the internal storage of his Wii was full, and my uncle’s enthusiasm came to an abrupt halt. Why doesn’t the Wii have a hard drive? Those things aren’t expensive these days, and I wouldn’t even need a “massive” 120 GB hard drive for a few dozens of Virtual Console or WiiWare games. 10 GB would be plenty – but there is no hard drive. Why? Is there a reason not to have enough storage space? Hardcore Wii Shop consumers wouldn’t reach the limit too fast and they would be able to buy even more games, and even downloadable content would be made possible with that, which means more money for Nintendo, am I right? So, why not?

Even though I could go on (why isn’t there a real online network, why do I have to deal with this friend code stuff, why isn’t there some primitive form of in-game UI), I think this is enough. Sure, Nintendo have made an innovative console, with plenty of appeal to non-gamers, and children and their parents alike, and it’s a terrific party toy – but besides from that, Nintendo didn’t do a decent job at creating a new system, in my opinion. They didn’t manage – at all – to provide us the bigger, better gaming experience we expect from a new generation of consoles, the motion control aside of course, which is undoubtedly a double-edged sword. All that makes it painfully obvious that this system wasn’t made with gamers like you and me in mind. That doesn’t make it hard for me to play it, and enjoy it the way it was intended to be enjoyed, but it makes it incredibly hard for me to convince myself that the 200 € for a Wii would be worth the money.

That’s some of the reasons why the Wii doesn’t get my love. Call me a graphics whore, or a snob, or a spoiled brat, or whatever comes to your mind. I just don’t see any reason for owning a Wii. When I have a party with good friends, my PS2 and PS3 do a great job at entertaining them, and I’m too young to have any kids who would want a Wii to play some Mario Kart. And my girlfriend doesn’t play anything that is not a JRPG. (I need to get her a PS3 soon, if I don’t, she won’t get off my PS3 once Final Fantasy 13 is out T^T)

Thank you for reading. And props to everyone at TechnoBuffalo, you guys are awesome.bottomquote

– J.W. from Germany