When the Wii first came out, I was one of the ravenous hordes of gamers who couldn’t wait to get their hands on one. I wasn’t there on the release day like many of my friends, but I was scouring stores like no tomorrow a few weeks after it came out, thinking it would at least be easy to obtain a few weeks after it’d already been out. Fast forward to 2008, and the Wii is still the elusive creature that casual and hardcore gamers alike both want to get their hands on. It’s still as difficult as ever to find, and it’s in as high demand as ever, especially with the recent release of Wii Fit and the hype surrounding it. Having been jaded to the Wii experience myself, there are plenty of gamers out there who will salivate over every table scrap Nintendo tosses to the floor, legions of shovelware titles or not. Not to mention the fact that there are some new additions to the system that should get newcomers to the system excited about owning one. That’s why this holiday season, the Wii is going to make some serious cash. This was indeed a tough one to write, but here are ten reasons why Nintendo will be laughing all the way to the bank from Wii profits.
1. Wii Speak
Possibly the biggest addition to the system that has had the most wonky online support out of all the current-gen consoles, the Wii Speak microphone will come packaged separately for $29.99, and it’s going to (finally) give players the option to speak to other gamers over the internet, a feature that should have been utilized long ago, but hey, as long as it’s coming now, why complain? Even though you will have to buy the microphone, you will be given a free voucher to download the Wii Speak channel, so you can put some voices to the friend codes you’ve been collecting all this time.
Wii Speak will integrate with Miis onscreen as they pantomime to what you’re saying on the screen. Finally you will be able to send and receive voice messages to those with which you want to communicate. This seems like it should have been a logical step for Nintendo in the first place, but now that it’s finally coming Nintendo loyalists will no doubt snap it up. Mario Kart Wii has been asking for this ever since its inception, not to mention Brawl. Take that, predetermined text bubbles! No longer will Wii gamers have to hold their tongues when getting a relentless beatdown over the series of tubes, and that’s definitely something I’m looking forward to.
2. Animal Crossing: City Folk
Casual and hardcore gamers have always had a penchant for the adorable and simple Animal Crossing games. They imitate real life, but somehow manage to make tasks such as fishing, cleaning, growing trees, digging for fossils, and interacting with neighbors somehow fun. Adding to the fun of the previous games, there will now be the option to explore a city outside your regular town that you never really leave throughout the span of the game. There, gamers will be able to shop for clothes, furniture, and various other items, as well as get a new haircut, learn an emotion (to be pantomimed from your character), and even take part in an auction to sell off items no longer needed. Not only that, but this iteration of the game will use the new Wii Speak feature.
Since Animal Crossing is the sort of game that’s kid-friendly, parent-friendly, and simple to play but hard to put down, it’s going to be a surefire console-mover, even if it does happen to be the same game given a shiny new makeover. After all this time, gamers still love Animal Crossing, and they’re going to express their love by buying the crap out of Wiis to play it on. One of the most socially integrative experiences the Wii currently has to offer, Animal Crossing will boost sales that extra little nudge, no doubt about it.
3. Wii Music
Since Nintendo has long since been catering to an audience outside the hardcore demographic, Wii Music is a no-brainer. Kids love to make noise by shaking and moving things, and this game is, well, just that. It’s not a hard concept to understand. It’s universal, and children will eat it up. True, it’s not anything that more hardcore gamers will even want to look at twice, but the Wii has never truly been about the hardcore gamer.
Without featuring peripherals, gamers will be expected to pretend they’re playing one of the instruments featured in-game by maneuvering with the Wii remote and nunchuk. Different forms of movement will create different effect. For example, the higher up and the further down one moves the Wii remote simulates how hard the onscreen musician will blow into a horn. A variety of different instruments will be featured, and the balance board can even be incorporated into several minigames.
The standby Nintendo favorites will be included to play along with, such as the ever-popular Super Mario Bros. Theme, and other standards. Easy to dismiss as a tech demo, Wii Music will no doubt be on all kinds of childrens’ wishlists simply because it’s a creative outlet that parents will find acceptable. Plus, the licensed song list will be a huge draw for children and tweens alike, including songs such as "Material Girl" and "September" that some music genre connoisseurs will remember from hits such as Karaoke Revolution and DDR. Should be a safe bet for parents to pick up for all the tots on their Christmas lists.
4. It’s Nintendo.
Nintendo is simply one of the most trustworthy names in family-friendly gaming. What’s the holidays without a pack of ravenous kids who swear like sailors at school but are impressionable little angels at home?
Consumers love to buy Wiis because they’re universally "safe." It’s the console with the most astounding amount of family-friendly games that even senior citizens want to get in on. It’s simple to pick up and play, and takes very little effort to figure out. Parents can pick up a Wii title nine times out of ten and it will more than likely be appropriate just from looking at the box art, save for a very few. With its staunch marketing campaign, even those you would least expect to know anything about gaming at least have an idea of who "that Mario fellow" is.
5. Club Nintendo
At long last, the Nintendo rewards program that requires fans to complete surveys and register products in exchange for some sweet Nintendo swag is coming to America. For registration codes and surveys alone, you better believe consoles will be moving left and right. No one comes between a gamer and their swag. This is an important milestone to Nintendo fans, and knowing that it’s coming soon right in time for the holidays is an even better reason to finally get that Wii.
Club Nintendo has given away some pretty swanky items, many of which Nintendo faithful would kill for, such as figures, keychains, messenger bags, games, and most recently, a TV remote designed in the likeness of a Wii remote. The promise of free things (even though they’re not technically free) should be a promising draw for consumers. Just think if Sony were to hand out little Sackboy dolls with every purchase of LittleBigPlanet–same premise.
6. Innovative Gameplay
Whether it’s universally agreed upon or not, Nintendo’s "waggle the remote" innovation has become something that we all look to the Wii for. It’s true that there is a ridiculous amount of shovelware plaguing the previously-titled "Revolution", but experiences such as Super Mario Galaxy, No More Heroes, and even Wario Ware: Smooth Moves have proven that with tight, interesting controls, the Wii has turned the way you navigate through games on its head. With the Wii still kicking butt left and right, recruiting new gamers from both ends of the age spectrums, it’s done a great job in proving that the Wii remote is not a gimmick. It’s framework set in place for greater things to come. With some truly interesting experiences set to come in 2009 and beyond, the Wii could finally be entering its glory days, having shed the wonky and awkward skin of casual games with boring, unintuitive gameplay and moving on to bigger and better things. Gamers are sensing this, and it’s as good of a time as any to purchase the system they’ve been holding out on for a while now.
7. Price Point
Still more affordable than a PS3, and only a contender to the Xbox 360, the Wii is the midrange system that’s always been cheaper in the long run ever since its inception. With the economy the way it is, buyers will flock toward whatever is the most reasonably priced. The Wii even tosses in the famous Wii Sports with the purchase, which is admittedly what many consumers would even buy it for in the first place. However, price has never really been an objective with the Wii, since its scarcity people have paid ridiculous prices to procure one for their families, themselves, or as gifts. With an affordable pricetag, that’s practically securing the system a spot up high on the sales chart. Combine that with ridiculous Black Friday ad prices and sales, and you’ve got quite the holiday contender.
8. 2009 and beyond
2009 looks to be a promising year for the Wii. Coming down the line is the MotionPlus technology that seeks to better your Wii remote experience, and a line of games that will utilize it to the fullest. A sequel to Red Steel has been announced that should hopefully take a subpar, buggy piece of crap and at the very least add some finesse to horrible sword-fighting controls. With extra precision being added to the Wii remote’s control, that leaves open the possibility for newer, richer games.
A sequel to the wildly popular and awesome No More Heroes has been announced, as well as a revamp of the arcade classic Punch-Out!! given the full Wii treatment. The violent MadWorld should be an intriguing venture for the system, adding a little something extra for the more hardcore gamers who want their fix of Gears of War-like gore, and who knows what’s to come in the future? MotionPlus unlocks the doors to much easier control that developers will hopefully take advantage of to create some games that will indeed stand the test of time, unlike travesties such as Elebits or Nights: Journey of Dreams.
Many casual gamers who will want to purchase a Wii will do so simply because they find the interfaces of console brethren PS3s and 360s complicated. Using a Wii is simple; insert a disc, point, and click. It’s as easy as using a computer or watching television. This kind of simplicity is something that Nintendo has always pioneered, making things completely pain-free for consumers who innocently just want to have fun without all the "bells and whistles". There are no iterations of the Wii to choose from. Parents will find this a relief. Rather than figuring out whether to buy an Xbox 360 Elite or which PlayStation 3 bundle to purchase, walking into the store and asking for a Wii is easy as cake, provided they’re in stock.
Let’s face it–the holidays generally revolve around what to buy for the children and what to do to make them happy. The Wii is the perfect choice for kids with short attention spans, nondiscerning tastes, and simplistic brain activity that can be quelled with brainless platforming action and movie tie-ins. Kids are easily satisfied when it comes to games for the most part (my cousin has had quite the adventure with the same Lego Star Wars for three years now), and just to shut them up I’m thinking Wiis will be must-buys.