Ahh Nintendo, you really are the most polarising hardware company in the industry today. Personally, I love them for the games they make, for the memories I hold, and out of sheer respect for everything they did for the industry in its darkest hour.
However, over the last couple of years, I must admit that my loyalties lay elsewhere. I neglected my Wii for what seems like an age, and have missed out on epic games such as Xenoblade and its Operation Rainfall comrades. More disturbing than this is the realisation that I have never even played Super Mario Galaxy 2 which came at a time when I was just veering off from the well-worn course of Nintendo’s Waggle obsessed library, into more familiar territories of, well, holding a controller and playing “normal” games on my PS3.
Where there was Skyward Sword there was Demon’s Souls, and where there was Mario there was… well nothing to be honest, but you get the picture! I had grown tired of wrist flicking and so my Wii was packed away and sent to a lonely dark corner to collect dust, along with a half working Dreamcast and back issues of Official Nintendo Magazine (ONM) from 1992. I imagine those enthusiastic idiots, whose questions are logged in the hallowed pages of ONM’s Q&A section, would be enraged if they knew the sad fate of my current Nintendo console, but then they also ask questions like “Will Nintendo bring out a six button controller for Street Fighter on the NES?” so who cares what those fools think!
Anyway, let’s get back to Wii. There it lay dormant. Its shiny white facade now tainted with layers of dust. Even the infuriating flickering of the always-on Wii Remote blue lights fell dead, no longer blinking signs of life begging me to pick them up and actually use them, instead of just standing on them as I walked past its place of rest. For all intents and purposes that was the end of Wii.
That is until a couple of months ago. For some reason I decided to undo the months upon months of disregard and actually reconnect the thing to my TV. I turned on the console, plugged in my Classic controller, cracked open the case of Mario Kart Wii and never looked back. “Why the hell did I ever stop playing this game?” is something I have asked myself many a time since that day. In my opinion it’s one of the best racing games on any system available today. Playing online (which is still well populated) is an experience I can’t really get elsewhere. Frantic, competitive, skilful, adrenaline-fuelled racing with 11 other people is an addictive thing. One more race is the prevailing thought in my mind: so many courses, so many people to beat, so many Karts, bikes and characters to pick from, it’s hard to know where to begin, never mind when to end!
The game is just rock-solid online, you really can’t have any gripes with the netcode here. Mario Kart Wii is an intricate game, well-timed green shells, corners and avoidance of obstacles are the order of the day and with a poor netcode this could have been a disaster, but not once have I had a laggy game– there is nothing and no-one to blame when you lose to me (which you will, time and time again) (bring it on!).
Another game I have started playing again recently is Donkey Kong Country Returns. Now unlike Mario Kart this game didn’t get much of a run out in the first place for various reasons, but now I can make up for lost time. This game is hard; not exactly Dark Souls hard but tough nonetheless. It’s intricate platforming at its brilliant best and again is an experience that can’t be found on rival consoles. The graphic style is great, as is the music, but more than any of this, is the inherent fun that comes from playing a well-designed, well executed platform game starring Nintendo characters. This simply cannot be replicated elsewhere.
What I do find to be a bit of a ball ache is the fact that you have to shake the damn pad to do a roll! Why a delicately balanced feature such as the roll would be assigned to the motion of shaking the pad, I really cannot fathom. The last thing I want to do when near an edge or enemy is flail my hand around then try to land the jump. In an already hard game, this is not really welcome, but given the distinct lack of useful buttons on the Wii Remote, it was probably a necessity. You’re forgiven this time Retro (shakes fists, and accidentally rolls to own death).
In-between these games I have been attempting to perfect my run through of New Super Mario Bros Wii and also finish up my play through of Paper Mario which again, needless to say, is an awesome game! One last thing that I need to touch upon is the Wii Shop. Now this feature I really did neglect. During my formative years with the console, I completely overlooked this feature and all the goodness it offers. Not once did I ever consider buying a game from the store which is ridiculous now when I look back.
There are so many great games on the Virtual Console, from Master System and PC engine greats up to the well-known titles of N64. There is a wealth of content that you cannot find anywhere else. Whilst the sheer volume of games may not be up there with XBLA or PSN, the quality of titles most certainly is. An honorable mention must also go to WiiWare which plays host to some good games like Moto Heroz developed by Red Lynx (Of Trials Evolution fame) which shares a similar caliber to Trials, and is definitely worth a look for those who like that sort of game.
Why am I writing all this? Well I suppose it’s to show that whilst Nintendo may not release the largest amount of games, nor have the most third party developers, there is always a place for their consoles in my collection. Sure I may become disillusioned with what they are trying to do (hello Wii U), but as long as their quality remains, so will my loyalty. I have yet to purchase Wii U, but once a few quality first party games start dropping, then it’s a given I will pick up my GamePad, power up my console, download a huge update, and proceed to wipe the floor with each and every one of you on the next iteration of Mario Kart.
I had discarded my Wii, and become somewhat bitter at the thought of Nintendo no longer providing me with everything I need, and whilst that prevailing thought still holds truth today, they still offer me enough. Nintendo consoles, for me, are no longer the only piece of hardware I need buy. However with their sure to be lower price point and brilliant individual exclusives they are the perfect complement to the dreary grey world of dusty First-Person Shooters and brain-crashing realism of a virtual car’s suspension coil. This is why I like Nintendo, and whilst they can be bashed for an inability to change their ethos, they must also be respected for the same reason. Great games are great games and Nintendo more than any other company, knows how to deliver.