I remember the day clearly. December 7th, 2006. I remember being so excited that I was awake until 2 in the morning.
That same day I had a driver’s test to go from my learners to my P plates. I had about 5 hours sleep and I went to the test. I wasn’t even nervous, all I cared about was finishing the test and going to collect my Wii. After a half hour, I was given a congratulations and my P’s. “Great work Brendan! So proud of you!” my mum said to me happily. All I could respond with was “Can we go and get my Nintendo now?”
The Wii was special in many ways for me. Not only was it a new, innovative Nintendo console, it was the first I had worked my arse off for to preorder and pay for with my own money. It was MY console. Not me and my brother’s, not my parents or the family’s. It was all mine. It may not have been, especially towards the end of it’s lifespan, my most played console, but there were a lot of games and memories towards it that I’ll always love as a gamer. The first weekend I had it, I put just over 24 hours into the system, alone and with friends. We had Wii Sports on for about 14 of those hours, Red Steel for about 3, Zelda for 6 and Raving Rabbids the rest of the time. The memories kept coming as the years went on.
I think now, seeing as the Wii U has hit North America and will hit here in less than two weeks, is the time to look back at some of the more memorable moments of the system and the games that came out on it. Sure the Wii U is backwards compatible and will allow us to play Wii games, so it’s never truly gone, but it will slowly fade away as the Wii U becomes more prevalent. It was a fantastic little system and it’s impact and legacy will not be forgotten.
I remember playing New Super Mario Bros Wii with my previous partner and the amount of time we put into it was crazy. We tried to beat every level, get every coin and with every tiny little scare would come a massive scream from her. Or when Guitar Hero World Tour came out and my friends came together to rock out for hours, with everyone screaming “Living on a Prayer”. Christmas Time of ’06, when the console was fresh and brand new was easily the most memorable for a few reasons. We had family all together, with my cousin who lives in Singapore over for the occasion, it was an amazing day. We all played Wii Sports for hours, and Raving Rabbids too. It was a constant switch from one game to the other, but probably the most memorable moment happened Christmas morning, and helped me realise what Nintendo was trying to do with the console.
I woke up about 7AM and jumped straight on the console, loading up a round of golf on Wii Sports. My grandpa, an avid golfer, awoken by the sounds of the TV stumbles out and immediately notices what I was doing. He’s never played a video game in his life. He sits down and watches me for a few mintues. I turn around and look at him and ask “would you like to have a go?”. He stares me down for a moment, looks at the Wii Remote, then back at me. He starts to smile and stands up. “I thought you’d never ask”. I hand him the controller and walk him through what you have to do. “Hold A to properly swing, have a practice swing or two, see this bar here? It’s your power meter, and don’t curve the remote or you’ll make the ball swing left or right. You got that?” Again, he stares me down, looks at the TV, then the remote. “Yeah, I think so.” He takes a few practice swings and then…BAM! He hits the ball and it goes soaring down the fairway, landing right next to the pin. “That’s how you do it” he says. He ended up playing for the next half an hour. Later that day, when everyone was having a go at the Wii, he gets up and starts explaining every aspect you need to learn in order to play Wii Sports Golf.
It was surreal. Here was a 75 year old man, never played a video game, telling people how to play like he’s played his whole life. It was the perfect way to show me that this was a console not just for a gamer, but for everyone, the Wii name never felt more apt than that day.
I could go on for pages about the more memorable stuff, but I also wanted to use this article as a way to highlight some of my favourite games on the Wii, that you should have played if you owned one. There was a slew of great games that utilised the Wii Remote in great and interesting ways, there was a lot of crap later on, but there was also a lot of gold. Keep in mind, this is my list and yours may differ!
New Super Mario Bros Wii:
Some people didn’t like this game, but I think it’s very important in the Wii library for a few reasons. It was the first simultaneous Mario Bros game first and foremost, but also one that emphasised local multiplayer, something that sometimes I feel is slowly diminishing. It was fun playing this game that had previously been just one playable character at a time, you now had the possibility of 4 players at a time, either causing mayhem or actually being helpful. It may not have been the most inspired game, but it was a lot of fun and in the end that’s what games are about, fun!
Super Mario Galaxy 2:
I could have picked one, but I felt number 2 was a refinement of what made one great, with the addition of Yoshi and some more amazingly well designed galaxies, with a more tighter and focused vision on the gameplay rather than the story. This was one of the only times I ever went out of my way to finish every level, get every star (even the pesky green ones!) and take in everything about this game. It was classic Nintendo, classic Miyamoto and just a bucketload of fun. I could have gone through this game 100x over and it would have still been perfect every time.
Resident Evil 4:
Sure, it was a port, by Capcom no less, but this was one of those ports that was bettered when transplanted onto the Wii. The controls felt right at home on the Wii and going back to anything else felt weird and awkward. With everything added from the PS2 version, it felt like the superior version and looking back at it, none of the newer games will be able to come to the perfection of that game.
Metroid Prime Trilogy:
I considered putting Prime 3 up here, but it would have been a damn shame just to have put the one up. Combining a redone and reworked version of Metroid Prime 1 and 2, along with 3, it felt not only like a definitive package of such a fantastic series, but with the Wii controls added to 1 and 2, it felt perfect. Just like RE4, after playing the games with this control scheme, there’s no possible way you could go back.
I’m not a boxing fan by any stretch of imagination, but man I do love me some Punch-Out!! I love the NES and SNES versions of the game and this combined the two, with a new graphical style and added a lot more. Challenges, hidden secrets and a super duper tough extended career that turned everything you knew on it’s head after you’d mastered it all made for an extremely fun, intriguing and great game. Shame it had such a limited release in Australia.
No More Heroes 1 +2:
No More Heroes was one of those games I’d read a lot about on the internet but never truly knew what I was getting into until I got it and when I did, oh man…it was amazing. It ended up being one of my top 5 games ever. There was so much going for it. Travis was such a loveable asshole, using a beam katana to destroy enemies and assassins alike, the zaniness was taken way beyond 11, the assassins were all full of personality and it was over the top, crazy fun. And it kickstarted my love of Suda 51. The second was just as fun, but the first holds a very dear spot in my heart.
Zack and Wiki: The Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure:
Zack and Wiki came out very early in the Wii’s life, using the controls in intuitive and interesting ways. Basically a point and click puzzle adventure, each level had you solving how to get to the end, using the Wiimote as an umbrella, a crank, a weapon and more. It was interesting but unfortunately never sold too well, which is a shame because it was very deserved of attention. If you can, grab it, because it’s well worth your dollars.
Super Smash Bros Brawl:
Even though I think Melee is the better game, I still sunk way too much time into this. Some of my best times with this are also some very close bonding sessions with a great mate of mine, he’d come over at 9 in the morning and we’d play until 8pm on a Friday, then go out for drinks. Even still a few years later we crack this game open. With decades of Nintendo history, great stages and characters and cameos from both Snake and Sonic, this made for a truly great experience, whether played alone or together.
Tatsunoko vs Capcom: Ultimate All Stars:
There weren’t a lot of great fighting games on the Wii, and we were even lucky to get this gem. I enjoyed this way more than Marvel vs Capcom 3. Tatsunoko is a Japanese anime company, with a roster compiled of Tekkaman, Ken the Eagle, Yatterman and more, not so familiar names, but ones that made me interested in the series they came from. It was a easy fighter to pick up, but there was a lot of depth to it all. It seemed like there was a lot of love and effort put into it to make it stand up amongst the rest of the big names. I wish it was more popular, because just like Zack and Wiki, it was an awesome package that not a lot of people paid attention to.
For a while, SEGA released a few games on the Wii intended for mature audiences and to prove that yes, there is a market on the Wii for these games. MadWorld, made by Platinum Games, was one of these. A Sin City-esque style game (well visually anyway), with hyper violent and incredibly comical ways of killing foes. It caught my eye instantly, with a day one purchase. There was something so fun about sticking a barrel over someone, pushing through 3 street poles into their skull and then smacking them into a wall of spikes that made me come back for more. Sure it was short, it didn’t sell too well and we may never see a proper sequel, but it’s a cult hit and one that demands your time and attention. Also, it had Greg Proops and Jake the Dog doing commentary.
House of the Dead: Overkill:
I was never a big fan of House of the Dead. They took themselves way too seriously and I never got too far into it. That’s why I was so surprised with Overkill. With a grindhouse presentation, a campy and energetic attitude, coupled with about 180 something uses of the word ‘fuck’ and the most downright disgusting and shocking ending I’ve seen, it rose high up on my favourites list. It made me fall in love with light gun shooters all over again.
The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword:
This was the last game on the Wii where I sat down and took time to do everything. It was sort of a last goodbye to the system for a lot of people. It was definetly the last big release for the system as a whole. I spent 40 hours doing everything I could and seeing all the game had to offer. I loved the controls, making me truly feel like Link and the story was one of the most gripping and heart wrenching of any Zelda I’ve played. There was a lot of charm to it all and was a perfect way to encapsulate 25 years of Zelda. And not only Zelda, but the Wii in general.
A few other games come to mind that I couldn’t fit into here, mostly DLC games such as the Bit.Trip series, World of Goo, Mega Man 9 and 10, the Phoenix Wright series and a lot of the VC games.
The Wii was and still is somewhat of an oddity. It paved a way for motion controls, it gathered a whole new and different audience and tried to show that anyone and everyone could play games, that it wasn’t just hardcore gamers that should enjoy it all. It showed that people still loved to sit down and play games in the same room, especially when the rest of the gaming universe was moving to online and it showed that it’s not about how pretty games can look, but how much fun you have with it all. It also introduced us to Miis which became it’s own character and added a sense of personalisation into a lot of games.
I loved the time I spent with the Wii. Sure it wasn’t always the most liked or the most popular, but there’s a lot to love about it and as mentioned earlier, it’s left a legacy all of it’s own. So this isn’t a proper goodbye to the Wii, but the beginning of a new and different chapter for it all. Share with me your memories about it as we prepare for the Wii U launch and what new memories that will bring with it!