So, you’re stuck on a desert island and you can only bring…
One type of food.
And so on.
I’m going to assume that our readership has played this game at one point or another; asking an absurd hypothetical question as a means of ascertaining what you truly value most. Because if something is good enough to keep you pleased for an eternity, you must really enjoy it. My question for you today is if you were stranded on a desert isle for the rest of your life and you could only have one console with you, which console would it be?
Perhaps you’d want one of the latest and greatest machines, or maybe you’d rather keep it retro, because those are the first two directions I thought about going. Great modern games use brilliant technology to immerse players in beautiful, interesting worlds, and feature varied and polished gameplay, but I was raised on SNES and I definitely am a sucker for 16-bit nostalgia. After some serious thought, though, the answer all of a sudden became surprisingly obvious– Wii.
Like many serious gamers I was ultimately disappointed by Wii; Nintendo released a slew of amazing titles that looked fantastic and played amazingly well, but the total amount of quality content was throttled by insufficient third party support, an all too common theme for Nintendo home consoles. Yes, most third parties made at least a handful of quality contributions to the Wii library, but I’d be a fool to deny that they generally saved their best efforts for Xbox 360 and PS3. So while Wii had some of the best games from this generation, the competition simply had more games that were at least as good or better. So why did I choose Wii?
So much of the gaming world has focused on the Wii’s shortcomings, that everyone seems to ignore the fact that it actually has the greatest library of any console ever, and it really isn’t even a competition. If your focus is placed solely on Wii games made since the system’s launch in 2006 then there is plenty of room to complain, but thankfully Wii’s offerings go back further than that. Let’s not forget about Virtual Console and backwards compatibility, because that gives Wii over 25 years of content to consider. And I don’t care what other consoles you hold near and dear to your heart, whether or not your favorite retro game never made it to Virtual Console, or even if you thought Spawn from the Xbox version of Soul Calibur II was better than Link, because there are simply way too many awesome options on Wii.
If Celes had a Wii, the world would have been doomed
Remember all those great games on GameCube? Yep, all of those are playable on Wii. Of course plenty of folks were disappointed with GameCube’s library as well, so let’s turn it back even further. Did you get into Nintendo during the N64 years? Maybe you’re like me and started out with the SNES or are even more old school and have been around since the NES days. Either way, all the great Nintendo titles are available on Virtual Console, and even a decent selection of third party titles have found their way there as well. Even if you backed Sega in the early ’90s console wars you are taken care of because you can get Genesis and Master System titles. But wait… there’s more! Turbografx, Neo Geo, Commodore 64 and even a handful of arcade classics are represented. Hell, if you’re running the Japanese Shop Channel you can even access MSX, and all I know about that system is that it had the original Metal Gear, which is available for download.
Still unconvinced? Think about the variety, because if you are stuck in the same place for all eternity you are probably going to want plenty of options to pass the time. Feel like an RPG? Okay, do you want to start with Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy VI, Phantasy Star, Super Mario RPG, Ogre Battle 64, Skies of Arcadia Legends, Tales of Symphonia, The Last Story, or Xenoblade? I’m not a big sports fan but I’ve enjoyed my fair share of Mario’s many athletic exploits and if you prefer more realistic sports games you can pick from half a decade’s worth of football, basketball, baseball, hockey, and soccer games from the GameCube era. Oh, and I suppose we can bring up platformers, even though I don’t really need to remind you just how thoroughly this base is covered. First, there is every single Mario game made for consoles, the great Super Star Wars games, plenty of Kirby, and, quite literally, all the Sonic games that are actually worth playing… in fact I think Wii actually earns bonus points for never having played host to Sonic from 2006. Tragically, Shadow the Hedgehog still casts its, well, shadow over the system.
Then again, there are a few genres that might be a little weak. The options for racing games are actually a mixed bag; the Mario Kart games effectively created a new sub-genre which they have always dominated, the F-Zero series will please fans of futuristic racing, and Burnout 2 is great for the more crash oriented, but there isn’t much in the way of realistic racing games. Of course we must also talk about shooters because they really are the dominant genre nowadays. If you simply cannot live without Call of Duty multiplayer or the epic scale of Battlefield 3 then you might be disappointed, but I’m a huge fan of Timesplitters 3 on GameCube, so I would be just fine. I was also momentarily worried about fighting games, but then I remembered the Smash Bros. series, Soul Calibur 2, and the numerous different versions of Street Fighter 2 for SNES on Virtual Console.
Timesplitters– Delivering the gritty, modern combat the contemporary gamer loves
Oh, and I realized I completely forgot two of the greatest franchises of all time; Zelda and Metroid. Anybody familiar with my taste in gaming knows that I am a massive Zelda fan, and I honestly don’t feel I need to talk about it too much. From the original game to Skyward Sword, the only thing missing are the handheld titles, and as great as they are I would be much more heartbroken to miss out on the console entries. As for Metroid, it’s a similar situation, whether you prefer it in the Super flavor or the Prime variety. In fact, Wii serves up the Prime games two ways– classic GameCube controls or Wii Remote at its absolute best. I don’t really need these games to drive home my point, but I’m pretty sure the Nintendo fan base would draw and quarter me if I didn’t at least mention them.
I think the fact I nearly forgot two of the greatest, most acclaimed franchises of all time when constructing my argument is a true testament to the embarrassment of riches that is the Wii library. Yes, the Wii had its problems over the years with inconsistent third party support and more shovelware than any console in history. Then again, N64 and GameCube also had major issues with their libraries. But then you realize that Wii gives gamers 25 years worth of variety, and a broad selection of some of the greatest games ever developed. I honestly believe the last five or so years have been the best in gaming history with every console contributing absolutely fantastic titles. It would be tough to never have access to Mass Effect, Rock Band, BioShock: Infinite, Uncharted 2, or Persona 4 ever again, but Wii would let me revel in all the games that brought us to where we are today and that should be more than enough to pass a lifetime on a desert island.