My Favorite Console Launch Ever

Wii Would Like to Play!

By Marc Deschamps. Posted 11/15/2014 09:00 4 Comments     ShareThis

Wii Remote Masthead

For gamers, there are few things more exciting than the launch of a brand new console. Nintendo fans in particular have been quite fortunate, as the company has seen some very strong software with each system launch. Titles like Tetris, Super Mario 64, and Nintendo Land all delivered fun experiences that helped fans justify the purchase of a new video game system. That said, for me, none of those experiences have been able to compare to the Nintendo Wii. The games themselves played a large role in that, but there was also something special about seeing such a unique system become a massive success. After years of watching my beloved GameCube struggle to find an audience, the success of Wii, particularly at launch, will always be my favorite memory of the console.

Though Wii didn’t see release until November, I found myself waiting in line on a rainy October morning. I had woken up at 7 am and hustled over to the local Toys R Us, having heard that the store would be taking a limited number of pre-orders. At a time when smart phones weren’t prevalent, I kicked myself for forgetting my DS as another Nintendo fan played Mario Kart. After two long hours, I secured my pre-order, and likely returned to bed.

On November 19, the wait would prove to be worth it. A line wrapped around the building now replaced the modestly sized group I had waited with a month prior. I strode past the group of desperate onlookers and right into the building. When I got home, I tore open the box, eager to discover the merits of motion control. Still, I couldn’t help but wonder if that line was the norm at other stores. Maybe this whole “Wii thing” was going to be a big deal. Clearly, I had no idea.

That winter, the Wii was both everywhere and nowhere. Every media outlet was talking about it. Horror stories of haphazardly flung Wii Remotes were especially prominent. Still, few people actually seemed to be able to find one. As one of the rare owners of that strange console, my friends were all eager to try it. I threw a party the week after the system came out, but I concealed it in my bedroom for fear of a guest putting a Wii Remote through my parents’ television set. It wasn’t until a handful of guests remained that I felt safe enough to break out the Wii for some Bowling and Tennis.

Of course, a console launch is nothing without a strong game to back it up, and Wii had a pair of killer apps to start with: Wii Sports and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. While both have had their share of detractors through the years, I still consider those games to be some of the best to ever launch with a console. As a Marvel fan, I was also treated to Marvel Ultimate Alliance, which is still one of the best games to feature the Marvel universe. I would put those three titles against any other launch lineup. There just isn’t much that can stack up.

Even though a new Zelda title is always cause for excitement, Wii Sports easily overshadowed Link’s long-awaited trip to the Twilight Realm. The pack-in title quickly became synonymous with the console, and with good reason: it immediately compelled people to try it. In all my years of gaming, I’ve yet to see another game elicit that kind of response from onlookers. If two people started playing Bowling in a crowded room, everyone would stop what they were doing to watch; the venue didn’t matter. That year, I played the game at New Year’s Eve parties, in bars, basements… it was everywhere. Not since Super Mario Bros. had a launch title attracted such a diverse fanbase. I could defeat a seasoned gamer, yet lose to my seven-year-old goddaughter. We’ve since entered a new console generation and no game has even come close to having that kind of widespread appeal.

As the lifespan of Wii winded down, perception greatly shifted. Wii was considered a toy that people grew sick of, a machine that couldn’t appeal to hardcore gamers, and an underpowered dust collector. I never believed any of those things, of course. I was too busy enjoying games like Super Mario Galaxy, Kirby’s Epic Yarn, and Madworld. Part of me was still sad to see the shine wear off, though. There was something kind of magical about that first year of the console’s existence; the whole world felt like one big Nintendo family again. It was like the old NES days, when people didn’t play video games, they “played Nintendo.” While Wii wasn’t without it’s faults, it’s that period I’ll always remember when I look back at the console.

4 Responses to “My Favorite Console Launch Ever”

  • 189 points
    Jon Stevens says...

    The Wii was the first home console that I bought at launch and I don’t know whether we will see another launch like it to be honest.

    You didn’t have to pre-order the latest consoles to secure one, and you certainly didn’t have to wait for months when they did sell out. I’ve yet to hear any stories of these that remotely compare to that of the Wii’s launch!

    Despite pre-ordering, my own Wii still came to me a week late. I was just left with my copies of Zelda and Red Steel taunting me!

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  • 1396 points
    penduin says...

    I went with a friend to buy a Nintendo64 the day it came out. Between us, we bought the entire launch lineup (yup, BOTH games!) and I love ’em to this day. I also got a GameCube just after midnight when it was released. (I already had Rogue Squadron 2, taunting me with its cute little disc). I camped out with some work friends for a Wii. Nowadays we can pre-order consoles, which suits me fine, but they’re such a big deal now that it’s not quite the niche gathering of enthusiasts it used to be. Wii was, I think, the last truly magical console launch we’re likely to see.

    Thumb up 1
  • 849 points
    ejamer says...

    Despite playing games since the Atari days, the only launch I’ve been part of was for GBA when a decent job and significant daily transit times made it a perfect purchase.

    Luckily for me, the console also had a fantastic lineup of launch software. Castlevania, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, and Chu Chu Rocket were all instant classics.

    (Not every game would be so successful though. Rayman Advance looked great but had sluggish controls and plenty of annoying blind jumps. F-Zero played well but had an AI that cheated mercilessly.)

    Thumb up 0
  • 0 points
    says...

    I lucked out with the Wii. I didn’t get it day 1 for whatever reason, and of course they were hard to find for quite a while. I went to a Toys R Us and asked the guy if they had any. He said no at first, but when he noticed my “Classically Trained” NES t-shirt, he said hey let me check just in case. So they had two they had just gotten in, and I got one. All thanks to that t-shirt. My favorite Nintendo console launch has to be the N64 though. I preordered whatever titles were available at launch and could hardly wait to play Mario 64. If I remember it was Mario 64, Pilotwings 64, and Crusin’ USA at launch, but can’t remember if those were the titles available at launch. Second favorite was the SNES. I’ll never forget seeing Super Mario World for the first time, wow. Honestly though after playing the demo of Mario 64 at Blockbuster Video, I still to this day have not been totally blown away by a game like I was then. Good times. The Wii is my least played Nintendo system ever, I never cared for the motion controls much. The Wii U is far better, and wish it was selling better. Underrated to be sure.

    Thumb up 0

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