The Wii console was lauded as a Revolution in gaming– a piece of hardware that would change the way we looked at and played games forever. Now, to an extent, that’s true. If it wasn’t, then every other console maker in the game wouldn’t have followed suit, from Kinect (I thought it was called “Kinetic” at first) to the almost-complete-ripoff-except-for-the-colored-ball-thing that is PlayStation Move. So to say that the Wii console has had no effect on the gaming landscape would be a complete and total fallacy.
That being said, even though it’s a home console, Wii has not ushered in as many revolutions– pun may or may not be intended– in gaming as its handheld brother. And here I’m talking about the one that plays games in good old-fashioned 2D. Sorry, I mean the one that ONLY plays games in standard 2D, as Nintendo wants us to remember that your 3DS can do that, too.
The above paragraph was a completely roundabout way of saying that Nintendo DS was a far more revolutionary and important gaming system than was the Wii itself. That’s a blanket statement, but looking at each system’s best software empirically, it’s pretty easy to see how the handheld stacks up game after game showing the worth of its “gimmick,” while we may see less with the home console. I’m going to stack them up on a game by game basis and see which ones come out on top.
And, yeah, on both systems, it’s not at all that difficult to find games that don’t use any of either system’s respective features, games like Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, New Super Mario Bros, Muramasa: The Demon Blade, or A Boy And His Blob, games that are still fantastic gems nonetheless. We’re going to ignore those games, for the most part, and focus on ones that do, in fact, use touching or pointing or wiggling or what have you. Also, games that use extra peripherals, like Wii Fit or Guitar Hero: On Tour are likewise disqualified from mention as they use more than the standard equipment.
First Heat: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess vs. Elite Beat Agents
These games have nearly nothing to do with one another besides the publisher. But let’s look at how they use their respective hardware, rather than what genre each are in. Twilght Princess featured new motion-based controls, greatly improving upon the way that Link aims and shoots, and while the sword is linked directly to the Remote itself, shaking it causes Link to swing. It was a whole new way to play a Zelda game.
Elite Beat Agents, rather, is a completely new type of game (although not genre), one that has never existed before. Unless you count Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan!, which we aren’t here since it didn’t leave Japan. Yeah, there had been rhythm games before, but nothing that controlled or had presentation like this.
Also, since Twilght Princess technically could have been controlled with a GameCube controller, and– err, wait, it actually WAS. Never mind, then.
Second Heat: Metroid Prime 3: Corruption vs. Nintendogs: Dachshund and Friends
Yeah, if you chose between these two games, there probably isn’t much question which one you’d prefer. That being said, Nintendogs really did define itself as one of the DS’s breakout hits, and helped redefine what a pet sim was. Not so much in the toys or activities, but in the ability to interact with the pet in a way that you just didn’t have before. While the voice commands were spotty at times, with the touching the dog and being able to tell it to do stuff, Nintendogs was a hit in a big way for Nintendo.
Now, Corruption is fantastic, as well, and it had an updated take on the first-person Metroid controls, which in this humble one’s modest opinion, were in desperate need of revision. Other than the motion-based shooting, though, the only major addition to the game was voice acting for the non-player characters, and that certianly doesn’t fall under the “new control” category.
Final Heat: The World Ends With You VS. Super Mario Galaxy
Super Mario Galaxy is one of the best games ever. That’s not up for debate. Right here, we’re only talking about how the game uses the system’s controls. And it does use those controls, doesn’t it? You shake the Wii Remote to make Mario spin, which can help him jump just a TAD higher. Also, you can point at Star Bits to collect them. That’s pretty much it. Super Mario Galaxy also adds the mechanic of having completely self-contained planets which Mario (or Luigi) can run 360 degrees around, which is really cool, but does not have anything to do with controlling the game, per se.
On the other hand we have The World Ends With You. I don’t really want to get in an argument about which game is better or worse, since they are clearly both amazing, but when it comes to an innovative control standpoint, I think the edge has to go with Neku and his friends. This game has a battle system that features two different characters fighting two separate battles simultaneously, yet controlled by the same player, one with the touch panel, the other with the buttons. This dichotomy was so complicated that only the hardiest of Power Players could handle it, and several unabashed wussies turned on the Auto-Play function. Yes, I am calling you out. Unless you aren’t one, of course.
Even though several Wii games were great, and even innovative, it seems like the DS as a system had more games that, well, changed the way we played games. Remember that in 2004, the DS came out with a touch-based way to play games that predated the iPhone, iPad, and even most touch-compatibile phones, and as portable gaming becomes more relevant, it’s clear that Nintendo once again led the way for the industry with its dual-screened handheld. The first one, I mean.