Title: Wii: One year review from someone who hasn't played it
Posted: December 21, 2007 (03:42 PM)
Before I begin, I must make it clear that I do not now nor ever owned a Wii. Or played one, for that matter. This isn't a knock on the Wii or anything; I'm not as much into videogames, or at least playing videogames, as my presence here might suggest (I didn't own a GC its first year either). But I realize people might not accept the opinions of someone in this position, even though for me personally I'm very good at recognizing what I like or dislike without playing it. But anyway, you can naturally take all my opinions with a grain of salt, or perhaps a few truckfulls of salt if you'd like.
When the philosophy behind the Wii, and particularly the wiimote, was unveiled, there were quite a few areas where I was most excited in its application.
"Tilting" games (a la Super Monkey Ball)
Aerial/ aerial combat games (Star Fox, Ace Combat, Pilotwings, etc)
Racing games, particularly F-Zero
Fighting games (yes, you heard me right)
So far, only the first one seems to be realizing its potential.
On the GC, all I had was Monkey Ball, and it was one of my favorite games of last generation. Now, so far, there have been THREE tilting games released (4 if you count Dewy): Monkey Ball, Kororinpa, and Mercury. Even better, from what I can tell none of them are clones of each other. Kororinpa tries to emphasize the Monkey Ball simplicity in design but increases more player control with different marble options. SMB seems to be going in an almost platformer route, particularly by adding jumping. And MMR emphasizes complexity of levels and puzzle solving over straightforward levels. Options to choose from! Yay! It sounds like at least the latter two control well, too. It's very refreshing to see this new genre take off, and with any luck there will be more to see. Unfortunately, I doubt any of them sold very well. But then again, these games probably cost somewhere in the vicinity of 30 cents to develop, so hopefully they still made enough to influence other developers to try their hand. Long live old school design!
Personally, despite liking the philosophy behind it the least, I'm leaning toward MMR being one of if not my first Wii game when I get around to buying one next year. It's different enough from the two SMB games I already have, it seems to control well, and it has a lot of bang for the buck. Hopefully I'll still be able to find it...
It was a smart move by Nintendo to make Metroid into an example of how to do FPSs on the Wii. It is an absolute crying shame that a parallel development wasn't made with Star Fox or Pilotwings. This is one of the most obvious areas where tilt control would be an improvement over analog sticks, yet they've ignored it. This is despite the fact that their own flying simulator was one of the most celebrated demos at the 2006 E3! So far we got a low budget Hudson game and a bunch of mediocre PS2 ports. Yippee.
And there isn't even anything on the horizon. We've heard absolutely nothing of the possibility of Star Fox or pilotwings. I've never really cared about the franchise in the past, but the way Nintendo has thrown SF under the bus has been tragic. Give them a relatively big budget and talented team; don't pass it off to Namco and Rare again. Make it fully aerial; no diversity by adding ground based missions. If you want diversity, switch between on rails sections and free roaming, or between space based or land (flying over land, that is) missions. Focus first on making a fully intuitive an immersive control scheme, and build the missions up out of that. This is an obvious strength for the Wii, and Nintendo should take the lead in demonstrating how it can be done. It would also go a long way into giving the Wii some "hardcore" credentials. So where is it, Iwata?
Rogue Squadron was one of my favorite N64 games. Sure, the GC sequels kinda killed my enthusiasm for the franchise, but I still like the concept. Someone needs to get on this and give me a flight game. It doesn't even have to be combat based. Heck, Nights has flying in it, but that seemed to turn into a poor rush job. Figures. C'mon, someone step up to the plate here!
Excite Truck generated an awful lot of enthusiasm amongst some in the hardcore crowd. I'll definitely have to try it out at some point. So why didn't anyone expand on it yet? All we've got announced so far is Nitro Bike and the required new Mario Kart. I was rather dismayed to hear Miyamato state that F-Zero was a game that would work better with a classic control scheme. Excuse me? F-Zero is a game that requires absolute complete control over your car. You mean a tiny little analog stick has more precise control that tilting? If that be true, then this experiment is a failure. The Wii is supposed to enhance traditional gaming as well as provide these silly things like Wii Sports. And from what I hear, Excite Truck does it just fine. Is Miyamato wrong here?
It leads to a worrying theme that Nintendo in Japan is out of touch with America. Excite Truck is fine, but Miyamato says it won't work. And he's made other negative comments about that series. Considering the difference between what sells in Japan and America, I'm not even sure if we'll see F-Zero. Or Star Fox. It's disturbing. I was hoping the wiimote would breathe some new life into these genres. Instead, Nintendo seems content to let them die. Sigh. We'll always have GX, I guess. And maybe NoA can convince some Western third parties to carry the torch. If Excite Truck can do it, so can others.
This was to be the ultimate test. This was the one genre the hardcore said would never work. This was one of the ones I wanted the most, since the Fighting genre is about the most ridiculously constrained genre there is. So far, only one attempt at hammering wii controls into an old game has been made so far, and needless to say it failed. When SC Legends was announced, I was very excited. I was hoping that this could be it (despite being in a different genre). Too bad all accounts seem to indicate it's a rushed game that was meant to capitalize on the Wii's success cheaply (and, to no one's surprise, it didn't). I'll still try it when it's dirt cheap, especially since I figure the hardcore crowd is exaggerating, but it's depressing nonetheless. Maybe they at least got the controls right.
Sure, this is pretty negative. I'd go into more than just these aspects, but I don't feel like it at the moment. Maybe later. In any case, this is part of the reason I haven't bought the system yet; nothing out there grabs me as a must buy. Sure, there are interesting games both great and small, but nothing I'm in a hurry for. Hopefully, now that the Wii has cemented its popularity, an explosion in creativity will soon follow. But given its poor software situation in Japan and its competition with the 360 in the US, I'm not entirely optimistic of its chances. When it comes down to it, I get the feeling I'll be remembering the Gamecube much more fondly than the Wii 10 years from now. Hopefully things will improve next year. And I can't complain too much, as there are still some worthy games on the system. And given my lack of playing time, it's enough of a backlog for me!
Posted: December 22, 2007 (12:02 AM)
Kororinpa is really good, yeah. Dewy's Adventure isn't... Neither is Super Monkey Ball 3: Banana Blitz, unfortunately. Mercury Meltdown is supposed to be great.
Excite Truck I had a lot of fun with. I keep meaning to go back and play through some more tournaments so I can fairly review it, but my early impression is that aside from control that sometimes feels floaty, it's a really fun arcade-style racing game.
There are lots of great Wii games, but most of them don't fit well in the little categories you set up. I'm sure more stuff is coming that will, though. Nintendo has said it has 50 titles being internally developed for the Wii right now, so I'm sure we'll have lots of great announcements in another six or seven months (and probably a few before then).
Posted: December 22, 2007 (08:16 AM)
MMR is flat out fantastic.
Posted: December 23, 2007 (11:11 AM)
the wii does suck when it comes to fighting and racing games. i don't think flight games would be all that compelling on the wii with motion. seems alot of games use some tilt functionality though i wouldn't classify them as tilt games. then again, the GameCube didn't have much stellar fighting and racing games either. other than that, i'm still amazed that the Wii is selling incredibly well with more crappy games than the GameCube ever got during the same tiimeframe. i think Nintendo is just a little lucky right now.