There is soooo much positive Nintendo Wii buzz on the Internet at the moment, I feel compelled, nay, obligated, to air my overwhelmingly negative views on the subject in order to balance out the universe (or, because I just can’t believe how many people seem to like the idea of waving their arms at the TV screen in order for something to happen).
Nintendo are known for their gimmicks. The list is as long as the average arm, and twice as hairy. An example of this gimmickry gone right would be the DS touchscreen. Works out nicely, allows for some interesting uses — PC-style point-and-click adventures, reaction based games, drawing, that sort of thing.
For an example of this experimentation gone horribly wrong, we need only look at the Virtual Boy. Enough said. Other, less catastrophic, examples are the underused Microphone on the DS and the tacky (although necessary for marketing reasons) R.O.B. unit for the American NES.
Now, gimmicks and novelties are fine in a system — as long as they’re optional. No-one is forced to use the Microphone on the DS, so by-and-large it is ignored. With the Wii, however, Nintendo is strong encouraging all and sundry to use the new motion sensor controller in every game. Sometimes by itself, sometimes with the analogue controller attachment (dubbed the ‘Nunchuku’ controller by the press).
So, we’ve now been inundated with screenshots of people playing Wii games, waving their arms around like lunatics. Most examples show people holding one or both arms high up in the air, pointing the controller towards the screen. How on earth is this not going to cause RSI, shoulder / back strain and various related ailments? A while back, the mainstream media panicked about the thought of games causing seizures and fits. A massive overreaction. In contrast, I believe the potential strains and injuries from the Wii’s controller setup has been largely ignored, despite it presenting IMHO a more realistic danger.
Just the notion of needing to have the controller pointed at the TV throws me off — I generally find myself resting the controller on a leg, or pointing way off to the side depending on which way I’m leaning on the couch. If you pop the controller down on the coffee table to have a sip of your drink or what have you, does your character nose-dive into the floor?
There is a more standard looking controller to be made available (a requirement for the retro-gaming that’s a big part of the Wii push) but, with Nintendo really emphasizing the new controller, will anyone develop for it? Smash Bros. is the only big name I can think of off the top of my head that doesn’t use the motion sensor.
So, in effect we have an underpowered console, with an extremely gimmicky controller setup, no High Definition support and with the main drawcards being Nintendo’s small batch of first-party titles and some SNES games downloadable over the Internet.
To finish up, let me say that I am in no way saying that the other next-gen consoles are wonderful, I’m just airing my views on the Wii. I’m planning an upcoming rant on the PS3 as well. I’m also certainly not anti-Nintendo — the DS is one of my favorite consoles at the moment, and I still adore the SNES.