Are you hardcore enough to defend the Wii?

If I were to suggest that the Wii is the best console for hardcore gamers, I would be laughed off the face of the planet via ‘teh internetz’. As I have no desire to ride a wave of bad spelling, questionable grammar and derogatory comments about my mother into the ether, I shall take a different tack. First of all, I’d like you to ask yourselves a question; that is, those of you who have played the Wii little or not at all and dismiss it out of hand.

What is it about the console that you hate so?

Many would immediately answer ‘the lack of decent games’ or ‘it only does casual games’. To this dear friends I reply pish and, dare I say it, pshaw also. Mind you, I’m not going to stick my fingers in my ears and ‘la la la’ all day when it comes to the sheer volume of ‘casual’ games released for the console. If you laid one copy of every casual Wii title end to end it would stretch… well… a jolly long way. But what would you have achieved by doing so? Really? You’d just end up feeling silly, surely.

Anyhoo, people who concentrate on the tsunami of fluffy mass market titles seem to forget that the PS2 suffered from the exact same problem. No, it didn’t? Yes it bloody well did. How many Spongebob, Barbie and Buzz titles do you need me to slap you with before you admit I’m right? Yes, the PS2 ended up with a much larger number of core titles, but the fact remains that it had more casual games released for it than the Wii ever will. I’ve alluded to the fact that the PS2 enjoyed a huge number of hardcore releases throughout its lifecycle. Why isn’t this happening with Nintendo’s latest console?

I imagine it’s in part due to the hideous costs of making videogames nowadays. Wii games may be cheaper to make, but developing for the Wii will ultimately result in a much lower return. Multiformat titles are the way to go for third parties so far as maximum profit is concerned; is it any wonder that the Wii is usually left out of such releases? The market has now reached the point where pretty much everybody assumes that a core game will sell poorly on the Wii but even putting that to one side for a moment, there are the technological limitations to consider. Use the Wii as the lead format, and you’re forced to ignore the processing power of the other machines; use anything else as the lead format, and you’re then faced with the problem of how to downgrade it for the Little White Wonder and still provide a decent game.

There’s another factor, I think, which nobody seems to be considering. It’s important to remember that the vast majority of developers are hardcore gamers themselves – and that includes the Creative Directors and CEOs who make the big decisions (usually in conjunction with publishers, of course). A great many hardcore gamers don’t give the Wii a second thought, and I can think of several developers I’ve met who fall into that category. So if the people making the games have no interest in the Wii…

He's still got it.

Nonetheless, there are many great games available for the console which started the whole motion control malarkey. Okay, some of them are last-gen games with motion control tacked on, such as Resident Evil 4 and Okami. Even Twilight Princess saw a simultaneous release on the Gamecube. They’re still fantastic games though, and there are plenty of other titles exclusive to the console well worth getting, often at a bargain price. Mario Kart Wii, for example. Only FIFA and Call of Duty are as addictive and rude word–inducing online.

It should surely go without saying (which, er, is why I’m saying it) that the two Mario Galaxy games are essential purchases. If you’re a fan of lightgun games, I find it impossible to imagine you being disappointed with Ghost Squad; if you don’t have a PC or 360, you can get season one of the new Sam & Max games. WiiWare carries, among many other gems, the two sublime LostWinds games from David Braben’s Frontier Developments; Sonic creator Yuji Naka’s latest game Ivy the Kiwi? is well worth a shot; plus, each and every Gamecube game for your Wii’s region is fully compatible (although you’ll need a Gamecube controller to play, and a Gamecube memory card to save).

This brings me neatly to the thrust of my argument. It was a struggle, but Sony and Microsoft eventually managed to convince many of us that backwards compatibility doesn’t matter. Remember the early years of the current generation of consoles? Sony messed things up globally by ensuring that the 60gb version of the PS3 was fully compatible with PS2 and PS1 games… well, in the US. In the EU backwards compatibility was produced via software emulation, resulting in some games being incompatible and many featuring bugs that ranged from the hardly noticeable to the gamebreaking. Then of course they developed several new models, almost none of which offered backwards compatibility at all.

Microsoft did little better. Their backwards compatibility was also via emulation, but the games chosen to be included in the list seemed at times almost random. There was even an eventually successful campaign to get Psychonauts on said list. The updates stopped after a while, as Microsoft realised they could make money by offering Xbox games on demand via Live.

Every Wii in the world is fully backwards compatible. Cynics may sneer that this is because the Wii is little more than a Gamecube in a different case and, comparing the graphics of the two machines, it’s hard to argue against this. Nonetheless backwards compatibility is an important issue for the hardcore – at least, it certainly used to be – and this is one issue where Nintendo wins hands down..

David Braben supports the Wii. Don't you?

Retro games are also a core concern, with a great many of today’s gamers looking back at the titles of yesterday with rose tinted specs superglued to their wrinkled old faces. Again, Nintendo has pretty much no competition here. The Virtual Console offers hundreds of retro games at (usually) reasonable prices, including a few that never made it to your region originally. Formats featured include not only the NES, SNES and N64, but also Megadrive, PC Engine, and NEOGEO. If this were available on the PS3 or 360, zealots of that format would wave it around in forums in misspelled triumph.

In fact, let’s have a bit of a ‘What If’. What If the 360 and PS3 both featured armies of retro titles to download, full backwards compatibility, only one version each, and an innovative control system from launch. The Wii on the other hand has been plagued by a high failure rate from the beginning, has almost no retro titles available for download, has had six different SKUs released (the main difference being hard drive size), launched at a high price thanks to the blu-ray drive, and was late to the motion control party. What would be the reasons for the hardcore dismissing it out of hand now?

I know what you’re thinking (I’m going all Derren Brown on yo’ ass). What am I trying to say? Is the Wii under some kind of curse? Well although I have evidence to support that theory, I’m not ready to go public yet. What I’ll say instead is that Nintendo have brought this upon themselves. The Wii as a whole was a gamble that could have brought them down to a software–only company a la Sega. They decided to concentrate on the mass market, and it paid off big time – initially. The downside to this was that they alienated a huge chunk of the traditional market, and there are now signs that this may hurt them in the long term (insofar as the Wii is concerned). Whether or not that is the case, only time will tell.

Still, the Wii introduced videogames to a wider audience and made them more acceptable to mass media in a way that hadn’t been achieved since the release of the PSOne. As so many used to dismiss videogames as childish and unworthy of discussion (and some still do), some gamers are dismissing the Wii in exactly the same way. Don’t mimic this attitude. The Wii does have many excellent games, both old and new. Move and Kinect prove that Sony and Microsoft were suffering severe IWITOTS (I Wish I’d Thought Of That Syndrome) when they saw the Wii remote for the first time. The fact that there are still plenty of developers and publishers willing to support the Wii with ‘proper’ games – such as Black Ops – is evidence that the industry itself is far from giving up on the console. So I ask you again: Are you hardcore enough to defend the Wii?

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Written by Luke K

Luke plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He's the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. Chances are, if you pick up a copy of the latest Official PlayStation Magazine or GamesMaster, you'll find something he's written in there. Luke doesn't have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.


  1. yes because i like the balance on the wii ps3 just gets grey shooters and car games it has a feeling of once u played 1 u have played them all where as wii has quality platformers and fps games are coming through now aswell but u get that hollywood quality in games like Galaxy2 SSBB ect and its doing alright and will last most people until the holy grail in the wii2 hits in 2012

  2. oldschool /

    you are right.
    i got the wii from launchday (my first nintendo beside the original gameboy), i never regret the buy. i got a lot of fine hardcore titles.
    i use the ps3 for looking br, and some schootergames (bioshock, dead space, dead rising2 …) BUT i play the most time on wii. actually: mh tri and goldeneye.
    List of hardcore games for wii (all got superb controls, thats why i love fps on wii):
    the conduit, call of dutys, medal of honors,madworld, no more heroes 1+2, goldeneye 007, the new blackops (perhaps..first i got to finish 007),dead rising, ALL LIGHTGUNGames (nothing is better to play with a friend, not online ! face to face): resident evil: umbrella+darkside, ghostsquad, house of the dead: overkill (best for 2 players), dead space: extraction (best for singleplayer). resident evil 4, scarface (yes, wii edition is superb to ps2 cvause the controls, underrated), THE GODFATHER blackhand edition (THATS the game, why i bought the wii, controls are 100% perfect and nice), metroid primes and the new other m, and a lot more. i own a lot more fine hardcore games on wii, you just should open your eyes, then you see them.
    and look at mh trii: i played now for ~150h – and still counting. a blockbustergame, a hardcore game ( really hardcore).

    no, for me: wii 1. place, then my ps3.

  3. KrazyFace /

    Honsetly, I bought my Wii for the next Zelda game! I skipped on the ‘Cube coz I felt I had “matured” as a gamer around that point (also, I couldn’t afford both a PS2 & GC) in my life. BUT, There have been some very new and different ideas that would only dare to be released on the Wii, such as the Bit Trip games. I’ve said it before somewhere else that if my PS3 died (yes I would be upset) and I couldn’t afford to replace it, my Wii would finaly get the attention it deserves. I have a bunch of games I’ve never finished or STARTED such as A Boy and His Blob, MadWorld, No More Heros, Okami, and a whole bunch of classics that I’ve downloaded but never spent more than a few minuets with! Thing is, this whole idea of being too “mature” for Wii games is frankly a crock of shit. The truth is, good gameplay does not only come with an 18 cert. Good gameplay is about immersion, real interaction and above all, FUN. If all you do is play FPSes all day on your 360, you are NOT (READ MY TEXT!) a gamer, you’re a person that likes to pretend to shoot things and nothing more.

  4. Midgar Marauder /

    I don’t understand why it is constantly said that the Wii does not have many core games, I purchased my Wii on day-one and I’ve never not had something to play, if anything I’m having trouble keeping up.
    Here’s my current collection; Throwing up a list of games may be weak but it appears people constantly need reminding. You may note that even though I’m a Nintendo fan, I don’t play Mario games:
    A Shadow’s Tale
    Dead Space Extraction
    Deadly Creatures
    Dragon Ball Z Budokai Tenkaichi 2
    GoldenEye 007
    Medal of Honor: Heroes 2
    Metroid: Other M
    Metroid Prime Trilogy
    Monster Hunter Tri
    Muramasa: The Demon Blade
    No More Heroes 2
    Red Steel 2
    Resident Evil 4:and Wii Edition
    Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love
    Scarface: The World Is Yours
    Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
    Sin and Punishment: Successor of the Skies
    Super Smash Bros. Brawl
    Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars
    The Conduit
    The House of the Dead: Overkill
    The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
    Trauma Center: New Blood

  5. I would like to start off by saying, great article. I have been frustrated by the flaming over the wii from the start. I have been playing video games since atari and now own a wii and it has done nothing short of revolutionizing gaming since it’s inception. The proof is the simple fact that sony and microsoft felt they had to follow suit to even keep pace with nintendo. The argument that the wii is for the “casual” gamer only is a joke. I would consider myself a hardcore gamer and really think I will be playing video games well into my golden years. With that being established I feel that I have plenty of great options when it comes to games for the wii. I enjoy playing everything from super mario galaxy to madworld. There are even games on the horrizon that I am chomping at the bit for (ie conduit 2 and the grinder). The shear amount of variety alone, whether it be casual, rpg, action, racing, fps, or shooters in general, should make the wii a “must have.” As of today I have a running list of close to 200 games that I would like to add to my library of wii games and I do not think that it is a complete one. As long as great games are being made for the wii I will be purchasing them. As for the wii’s graphics…yes they are not HD quality but this does not automatically make the wii subpar. Those of you who doubt should pick up a wiimote and give it an honest try, I do not think you will be disappointed. After all, isn’t the point of video gaming to have some fun? Where did that go for all of you xbox and ps3 gamers…By the way I can not wait to break out GoldenEye on christmas! Long live nintendo and the wii.

    • oldschool /

      yes, well spoken !
      i play videogames since atari2600 (+/-1). for now about 28 years ! i’ve got the most consoles (segas, sonys, neogeo, and so on, gameboy original+wii are my only nins, today, beside the wii, the ds and the dsi too 🙂 ) and a lot of pcs……so, you can call me a hard core gamer too.
      and you say my words. but i cant speak english very well, so thanks for your true words !

  6. Unfortunately I cannot defend the Wii. I have played what it had to offer, and now it sits idle (3 months now). I do, at least, dust it off during my weekly cleaning.

  7. Great article. I’ve always loved the fact that the Wii was fully backward compatible. How can the core gamers on other consoles be happy without this on their own consoles. And one point you failed to mention was a fact that I also love about the Wii and Nintendo…

    They are a game company and made a game console true to form. I have enough DVD players (don’t need blu-ray), I have an AppleTV media center for my rooms and I enjoy my stereo components fine. I don’t want a game console that does all these other things. I don’t want to pay a high price for all those features. I just want a game console that plays games and Nintendo delivered on this to me. I like the Netflix on the Wii but don’t use it through the Wii at all. And I am happy that all my 40+ GCN games play on my Wii console so now my kid has the old GameCube system in her room. She loves Chibi Robo.

    Great article and great points.

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