My Nintendo Wii Broke, Here’s Why I’m Buying AnotherNovember 2, 2011
Why am I buying a second Wii? Why not pony up a few extra bucks for the new 3DS, or hold out until Nintendo launches the Wii U?
So my first Wii finally bit the dust. Why would I buy another one? The easiest answer is, of course, because my first Wii is dead. Between overheating and laser problems, the condition of the console continued to worsen until one fateful day when it finally bit the dust.
But why am I buying a second Wii? Why not pony up a few extra bucks for the new 3DS, or hold out until Nintendo launches the Wii U? Why, you might ask, am I making what many would consider the same mistake twice?
For a few reasons actually. In the end, it basically comes down to preservation, multiplayer, and Zelda. Here, let me explain.
Nintendo has always been exclusive. With the strongest list of first-party IPs and so many iterations of them dating back to the original NES, the company has amassed one of the oldest and deepest libraries in gaming history. And until the current generation, no Nintendo home console had ever been backwards compatible. Games for the NES were relegated to the past even as new franchise additions were released on the SNES. Then the same thing happened when players transitioned from the SNES to the N64, and from the N64 to the Gamecube. Each time gamers moved on though, they kept their systems for when the urge would arise to pop in and play any of the great titles of yester-year.
Still, this is a precarious position. Old systems aren’t always cheap, and they especially aren’t very reliable, leaving most of us with extensive Nintendo libraries to hope and pray that our retro-consoles never become completely unusable.
But to a large degree, the Wii changed all of that. Sure, older players like myself were put off by having to re-purchase classic titles on the Virtual Console, titles that were often times sitting not far away in their physical form either on the shelf or tucked safely away in a box. Even so, the option to purchase and access a past classic, assuming it had been uploaded to the store, was an important step toward allowing players to curate their vast library of Nintendo games.
Then there’s the Wii’s backwards compatibility with the Gamecube. Despite the console’s most fervent detractors, a lot of great things came out of that indigo box. Not to mention the Gamecube sported the last Nintendo controller to even approximate the industry consensus?
And herein lies the rub. Despite backwards compatibility with the Wii, the Wii U will be cutting ties with the Gamecube, shedding that system’s controllers and games in the process. No Metroid Prime, no Wind Waker, no Paper Mario. Sure, Nintendo announced that Gamecube titles will be downloadable on the Wii U, everyone has a limit and I’m just not willing to shell out $10 or $15 two download titles I’ve already bought once or even twice before. And with the loss of the Gamecube controllers comes the loss of two of gaming’s best multiplayer experiences: Brawl and Melee.
Yes, I understand that as a Wii title, Super Smash Bros. Brawl will be playable on the Wii U. But without the option to utilize Gamecube controllers, and no details as to whether Nintendo will be releasing a normalized controller for the Wii U, that’s not much consolation.
Plus, there’s titles from Mario Kart 64 to Mario Kart Double Dash as well as Mario Tennis and Mario Golf, that I don’t want to have to recollect. I either already have them in hard copy, or purchased them for the virtual console. And Nintendo deserves praise for its ability to put out new versions in a series without rendering the previous ones obsolete. Most multiplayer games nowadays simply perfect what came before. There’s hardly any reason to own every Modern Warfare except the most recent one. However, iterations of Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart remain distinct enough, each with certain strengths, weaknesses, and unique little quirks that make them all worth having.
To forgo buying a new Wii would mean not only leaving behind a sizable chunk of my gaming library, but also turning my back on one of the few remaining consoles that still provides fantastic multiplayer experiences with people in the same room. In a medium where face to face camaraderie is quickly going extinct, the Wii offers a refuge from the impersonal complications of online servers and long-distance voice chat.
In the end though it’s always about the gameplay, and Skyward Sword looks like it’ll be taking the best of Zelda’s two previous console iterations and combining them into something new.
Finally, there’s the upcoming release of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Leave it to Nintendo to make the best of a bad situation. Obviously, we’d all love an HD Zelda. But in its absence, a style that mixes Twilight Princess proportions with Wind Waker pastels is a beautiful yet pragmatic way of getting around the Wii hardware’s shortcomings.
If Skyward Sword was being developed on PS3 and 360, there’s no doubt that it would be on many people’s shortlist for game of the year. As it is, it certainly won’t look as pretty as Uncharted 3, and it definitely won’t be as dark and mature as Arkham City, and for those reasons alone many critics will overlook it – which is a shame really. But it’s a testament to just how incredibly talented and competent the development teams at Nintendo are that year after year they’ve been able to compete with the best titles the industry has to offer.
A big part of it is definitely the nostalgia factor. The original Zelda on NES was one of the first video games I ever played. It’s one of those series that acts as an anchor.
The Future is Unclear
And darkest and most frightening of all is the prospect that Nintendo won’t be around forever. They’re already on uneven footing, and even the most competent company can be driven to its knees by panicking investors. Who knows how many future ports there’ll be, or how much longer there is to consolidate Nintendo’s library before it vanishes into the legal limbo of corporate bankruptcies, buyouts, and spin-offs. This is all dark speculation, and seemingly implausible at the moment, but not wholly impossible.
For me then, the bottom line is this: right now the Wii offers players their best chance at reaching back into Nintendo’s past while taking advantage of few but exceedingly exemplary products this generation has had to offer. It’s a Nintendo fan’s best chance at mitigating the uncertainty that lies ahead for that company and its consumers. Don’t know if Nintendo will ever make another standard controller? At least you can still play the classic on a Gamecube controller. Unsure what will get ported to the Wii U and at what cost? You can always hold onto what you’ve got and take solace in the virtual console titles you’ve already paid for and accumulated.
It’s not a perfect solution. It is possible Nintendo could have done things differently. But we live in a flawed world full of imperfect solutions, and given the current reality the only thing left for me to do is go out and buy another Wii. I don’t know what the future will bring but I do know this: facing the uncertainty with my favorite Nintendo titles consolidated onto one console with a fresh lifespan will help make that future a little less scary.