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The Wii was a ground-breaking device when it was released in 2006, and there is no doubt that it paved the way for motion gaming and indeed bringing together every generation of a family for console gaming antics – but 5 years down the line and with the successor Wii U announced, is it all it cracked up to be? Has Nintendo finally lost the plot?

Motion Controls & The Mountain Of White Crap

The Wii was the first console to bring motion control to the masses with their innovative little Wii Remote, which combined not only a tilt(meter?) and accelerometer, but a reverse-infrared pointing device and a little speaker inside the remote too.

Pretty soon it was discovered though that rather than actually performing the described motion, a quick flick of the wrist was basically all that was needed to win most games. So as a gaming controller, I’d say it failed on a fundamental level. I still think it’s an amazing bit of technology, but just not for gaming. Heck, I’m much more impressed with some of the amazing hacks that pioneers such as Johnny-Lee (now working for Microsoft) got out of it. [Skip to 3:50 for the best bit]

Then of course we can’t forget the infamous Wii accessories…

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For any “serious” gamer, and I put that in quotes because they aren’t really any serious games on the Wii – you needed a traditional previous-generation GameCube controller. So now you have 4 Wii Remotes and 4 GameCube controllers sitting next to the Wii.

So how about a dancing game? Go purchase a dancing mat! Fitness game? You’ll be wanting the Balance Board then! Racing game – may I recommend the official steering wheel? Sports game? How about a ridiculous plastic handle for that Wii Remote. Shooting game? We have just the perfect gun-shaped cover for you, sir!

Sure, on the one hand you might argue that the Remote is so versatile that with a little bit of injection-moulding you can turn it into anything! On the other hand, I’d say you end up spending a ridiculous amount of money and are left with a literal mountain of white plastic crap. Not only is this evident of bad design, it’s a disaster for the environment.

The power of kinesthetics is not be underestimated though. It’s a secret that elementary school teachers have known for a while – when you move your body, you learn while having fun. It’s so simple, and it works. The Wii tapped into that power and brought together generations of the same family on the same gaming console – and for that it deserves its place in history. The Wii boldly carved out an entirely new market – away from the traditionally rather elitist gaming community. Granny doesn’t want to sit and mash hundreds of buttons for Street Fighter, but give her a Wii Remote to waggle around and she’ll be happy to go through the motions of bowling.

But things have moved on since then, and the Wii U has been announced as the official successor to the Wii. So what magic does it have this time?

The Wii U – Must Be Kidding Right?

Nintendo decided to up their game this time in regards to graphics, which is probably a good thing because the Wii’s graphical abilities were outdated before it was even launched. In fact, it was no more than their last generation GameCube, repackaged with a new controller. They must have blown the R&D budget on that Wii Remote.

Apart from an updated graphics chip, what innovative new features does the Wii U bring? Another new controller! And this one has a screen! Check out the official E3 trailer for an overview.

That’s a lot to take in one video, so I give you a moment to catch your breath. I’m sure your first impressions are along the lines of “wow, that’s so cool!” but let’s just think about it all for a moment.

First off, despite being a controller and a screen that works wirelessly, I should make it quite clear that this is not a portable gaming device. That’s called a Nintendo DS, and you can be certain Nintendo wouldn’t try to kill off their portable division (although it looks like the 3DS might have done that for them anyway).

How does this spiffy new controller differ from a Nintendo DS, apart from being crippled for portable gaming? I mean, it has wireless connectivity, a touch screen, and could feasibly be connected to the console – in fact, Nintendo played with this idea before with the previous generation Game Boy Advance that could be wired up to the GameCube. Are they actually going to sell everyone a crippled Nintendo DS? It would seem that way.

Notice how it works with a lot of the old controllers too – like the balance board. So really, it’s just another accessory they’re trying to sell you now. Nice one, Nintendo.

Now you have to ask yourself – is all this really that impressive? The touch screen, the mini games you can play on it, the video chat, the quasi-VR interactions – it all reminds me somewhat of an iPad, but more gimmicky. The only difference is that the Nintendo device is  really, really ugly. Perhaps I’m just a little too accustomed to the sleek industrial design of Apple, but this thing really does look the creative design department took a 4 year holiday and left the accountants in charge.

So I’m sorry Nintendo, but I really do think you’ve lost the plot. The Wii was remarkable. The Wii U won’t sell as remotely well, but with any luck it’ll be backward compatible with all the Wii Remotes and upscale old games to 720p, so at least you can keep selling all of those to the old folks homes that haven’t made the plunge yet. Even your shareholders are crying out for you to make iPad and iPhone games. Is the end in sight? I think so.  What do you think?

  1. Fidel
    January 15, 2016 at 6:59 pm

    Wii u is awesome... I mean, I know you have your opinion, but, c'mon, at least they made a new console some people enjoy. And what does gimmick mean? They say that to the gamepad. The gamepad is awesome! The Wii u cool.

  2. Michael Richardson
    October 17, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    That controller for the Wii U is the most ridiculous thing I've seen in a while. Ooo, so I can play my game while the TV is off. Why the heck would I want to do that? I don't see a lot of potential for this controller, even when one doesn't consider how prohibitively expensive it is going to be to buy multiple controllers for the system.

    Totally agreed on the Wii peripherals. What a waste of money. My brother-in-law has a huge pile of peripheral crap that he hasn't touched in years. The nunchuk is the only one we get any regular use out of

    Still, it is silly hyperbole when you say there are no serious games for the Wii. Complete nonsense. Super Mario Galaxy? Metroid Prime 3? Monster Hunter? Silent Hill: Shattered Memories? Super Smash Bros. Brawl? The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess? The soon to be released Skyward Sword? Mario Party 8? Mario Kart Wii? New Super Mario Bros. Wii?

    There are a number of great games I haven't listed, but that list is sufficient to show just how ridiculous your statement was. And don't hide behind "I don't like those games, and that is just my opinion, so you have to respect what I said." An unsubstantiated opinion is worthless, and it is even more worthless when employed to defend extreme hyperbole.

    I don't mean to be rude, but please try to make a distinction between games you like and truly low quality software, and stop acting like you're immune from criticism if you label something you publish online an 'opinion.'

    Just my 'opinion.' :)

    Also, please don't snipe at the 3DS. It really is a great handheld. The 3D effects are being used to fantastic effect. It has a large number of cool pack-in games and features. The e-shop is coming into its own. The design is NOT flawed (nobody was harping about a second circle pad anyway until pictures of that stupid peripheral for Monster Hunter started floating around the internet). And the lack of quality software is being addressed with a vengeance (Star Fox 3D? Ocarina of Time 3D? DOA: Dimensions? SF4 3D? A new 3D Mario game? A new 3D Mario Kart title? These last two are being released in the next two months. That's not even mentioning the great software due to come out early next year, or some of the cool virtual console releases.). Its only legitimate issue is its battery life, and even the PS Vita seems like it will have a similarly bad battery life when it comes out. So unless you can justify your opinion, please stop harping on the 3DS. It already suffered enough bad press from Nintendo's original missteps.

    • James Bruce
      October 18, 2011 at 7:52 am

      Thanks for commenting Michael, I appreciate your input. 

      I wont comment anymore on the 3DS, as I guess only time will tell. Personally, I dont know anyone who actually owns one, and the 3D effect that I saw on it was simply not that impressive. I do a lot of 3D gaming at home though, on a 50" screen, as well as spending 6 months in Kyoto university researching the various 3D display methods. My camera screen also uses the same technology as the 3D, and it's also a bit poor; so I'm probably a bit biassed there. I'm glad you're happy with it though. 

      As for 'serious' games though, I think we're just defining the word differently. Personally, I quite enjoyed Mario party, Mario Kart, Super Smash Brothers etc - but at the same time, I simply wouldn't define them as 'serious' games. They're party games (at least the ones I've mentioned here). The other games you've mentioned like MP3, MH, Zelda.. You're probably right about my personal opinion getting in the way there. I don't like them, and I certainly don't rate them anywhere near any of the other million other games I've played in my life. Perhaps I'm just jealous that I could never get into them as much as some people do...   It does seem to me that the gaming world is split into a Nintendo, and non-Nintendo camp though. The Nintendo fans will hold up those games as the best they have, while the non-Nintendo camp just wont even consider them. 

      Can I ask though - do you play a lot of other games, on the PC or other consoles (non-Nintendo)? I suspect that like Apple fans, Nintendo fans tend to be monogamous in their gaming!

  3. Random
    October 10, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    Honestly mate you put way too much opinion in here. You might not like the Wii but you can't say something's bad just because you wouldn't like it, you have to look at fact to write a proper, unbiased article.

    • James Bruce
      October 12, 2011 at 8:39 pm

      Perhaps you didn't read the title - it clearly states this post is an OPINION, and I believe its generally assumed that an opinion piece is going to be biassed. It's also difficult to establish FACTS about a product that has yet to be released, so therefore it is entirely conjecture and opinion on what has been shown so far. You are welcome to not agree. 

  4. Anonymous
    September 29, 2011 at 12:46 am

    I have to agree. Nintendo really took it's eye off the Prize with this one, loosing the multi-player compatibility and coming up with excessively expensive controllers.

    The Wii is a fantastic console. It was cheap, it emphasized causal single or multiplayer gaming, backwards compatibility and a few very solid titles. Many people complain that it's not a serious game console, but it was never meant to belong in the same niche as the 360 and PS3.

    Nintendo should have just Updated the hardware for the console and stuck with the niche that they carved out with the Wii. They lost that market with the Gamecube and now they simply cannot compete with Sony or Microsoft.

    • James Bruce
      September 29, 2011 at 8:54 am

      Thanks Brandon, that's a good unbiassed view there. 

  5. Scutterman
    September 25, 2011 at 10:56 am

    Just a point of interest, Johnny Lee moved from Kinect to Google at the beginning of the year, as seen on his blog (http://procrastineering.blogspot.com/2011/01/hi-google-my-name-is-johnny.html ), Wiki (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_Lee_%28computer_scientist%29 ) and any google search for "Rapid Evaluator" (his current job title, though I have no idea what that entails)

    -Scut

  6. Marco
    September 22, 2011 at 8:50 am

    I own a DS ... i had a great touch with the wii (do not own one, but have a friend with one and a bunch of games) and i see myself in the post. I also have a PSP, and a 360, plus other old consoles.

    I tryed the 3DS with Street Fighter 4 ... couldnt adapt to 3D, screws my eyes. Also with smartphones and tablets more powerfull everyday ... i belive the 3DS will fail. A lot of time has passed now and ... still no decent games for that ... i mean ... nothing that can make me wanting to go and buy one, even at current price. Of course fanboys can buy it like crazy, but its a small minory.

    On the Wii U ... i said something like "what is this crap ?" ... does it need one pad like that for each player ? At what cost ? The good thing in the Wii was the multiplayer of a handfull of games. I saw a video on youtube of a guy using Ipad 2 and apple tv and it seemed like a wii u already ... so nothing ground breaking.

    And if Nintendo doesnt embrace other portable market they will soon become like Sega.

    It is what i believe and this is why i dont see a good performance upcoming on the 3DS and the Wii U.

  7. Tyler
    September 22, 2011 at 4:09 am

    I think it's way too soon to tell whether it'll be any good or not. A LOT of people thought the Wii was a huge joke when it was first announced and it turned out to be a huge success! On the flip side, I don't think the Wii U is quite as innovative as the original Wii, but we'll wait and see what happens. Again, too soon to tell.

  8. Kooopakid08
    September 22, 2011 at 2:52 am

    Wow, that was one of the most terrible and biased articles I have ever read on makeuseof.

    No serious games for the Wii are you kidding me? Just because the games dont have heads flying everywhere doesnt mean that there are no serious games. Ever heard of Metriod? Monster hunter tri? Red Steel? I could list so many more.

    You also fail to mention Wii motion plus which made the Wii remote a million times more accurate.

    Saying that you need 4 gamecube controllers as well is just laughable. Very few games support it and none require it.

    Also, Wii U is meant to bring in the hard core gamers into focus. The PS3 and Xbox do not even come close to the power of Wii U. It is built off chips very similar to the ones that powered the Jepordy robot (I cant seem to ever remember his name)

    By the writing of this article it sounds like you dont even own a wii and you put little to no research into this post.

    • muotechguy
      September 22, 2011 at 7:58 am

      Thanks for your input Koopakid. With a name like that, I'm sure it'll be hard to argue here, but i'll give it a go. 

      I have played metroid, monster hunter, and red steel. They are mediocre at best, and were they to be released on any other console they would have sat at the bottom of the pile with all the other droll releases out there. As it is, they are some of the best games of their genre *for the Wii*, which isn't saying much.  

      Like millions of other people, I bought the wii motion plus (more white crap!) for my controllers too. Yes, it does make them a million times accurate, on the *few games that support it*. It's wasn't retroactive, and older games still suffered the same problem. 

      4 gamecube controllers was needed to play older games (sorry, not *needed* as such, turning a controller sideways just didn't cut it), which as any nintendo fan who bought the wii will invariably have wanted - the selection of games was always pathetic, and I ended up buying gamecube games - you could argue that this just demonstrates the strength of the gamecube, which I'd agree to, and has nothing to do with a wii discussion other than to say backward compatibility was a good move (but not really difficult, given it's the exact same hardware). 

      You're right , the Wii U technical specs are incredible on paper. When compared to consoles that are *6 years old*, of course it would. However, I suspect the Xbox and PS3 successors will be announced very soon, and yet again the nintendo hardware will be years behind (before it's even launched). I'm really not sure how the Wii U is supposed to appeal to *hardcore* gamers at all - apart from a nice chip inside, the controller is absolutely risible and takes ergonomics back to the 1980s, focussing on gimmicks and family oriented features (such as being able to switch the TV on while playing). 

      Anyway, it's good to disagree, and being an Apple fanboy myself I know the feeling when someone makes these kind of arguments that make you steam. As Tyler says below though, it's really too early to tell for sure, but this is my opinion. If you'd like to set a calendar date in... say 2 years time, I'd be happy to revisit this topic. However, I would seriously suggest you sell your Nintendo shares (if you own any) in the near future. It can only go downhill from here. 

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