Thursday, April 26

Wii: Invalid Arguments versus Actuality

OK, so I lied. I'll be posting on Warcraft III this weekend when I have the opportunity to mess with it at home. Today, I post the rant I spoke of earlier in the week. Enjoy.

There are a lot of differing view points on Nintendo's Wii. Some love it, some hate it. Some think Wii innovative, others gimmicky. One of the most controversial issues related to Wii is its lack of graphical prowess or computing horsepower relative to the 360 and PS3. At the same time, many people say graphics are irrelevant when Wii has such an innovative controller, a remote that promotes supposedly more fun and innovative gameplay.

But, you know, people too often mistake Nintendo. Many tout the remote as having massive potential for great gameplay, but what most do not realize is that marketing verboseness and great gameplay potential do not equal great games. In the end what matters is not the potential for gameplay, but the actual gameplay present in the games themselves. People can claim Nintendo to be superior to their competitors in that they are focusing on the supposedly superior aspect of video games (gameplay as opposed to graphics), but what matters most is that the games for Wii, and DS for that matter, play well.

The Wii remote is really quite amazing. But designing games for the remote is not easy by any means. In fact, a large majority of Wii's games, I think, do not play particularly well with the remote. The term “shoehorn” is thrown around a lot concerning Wii games, and much of the time the criticism is valid. Too many Wii games are ports with motion-lite remote implementation. There are a few great games that make fantastic use of Wii's potential, however. Wii Sports in particular is quite awesome, Super Swing Golf is great, and WarioWare: Smooth Moves is like a smorgasbord of fun. The game isn't out yet, but Heatseeker also looks like an interesting use of the remote, the pointing function specifically.
Here is my problem, too many people claim Wii as the king of all game systems because of its innovative remote. Graphics be darned, gameplay is all that matters. But so many of these statements come with conditions. Saying graphics aren't important is a lie. Of course they're important, we are, after all, speaking of video games. Even the most die hard Wii proponents can;t possibly be willing to put up with muddy graphics. Besides, Wii's graphics aren't bad per se, they just can't compare to the competitors'. As a side note, it is for this reason that we will see many cel-shaded or more intentionally unrealistic Wii titles over the consoles' lifespan. It is easier to make them look good on Wii, as opposed to photo-realism. The last thing I wanted to say is about the remote itself. Innovative is how most people define it. While this may be true, a more apt description is different. The remote automatically makes Wii gameplay different from that on 360 and PS3 due to its motion and pointing sensing capabilities. But more importantly, the remote has potential for better gameplay. Therefore, the better-different games will by nature be innovative in their use of the controller. The dichotomy is important; it's not so much the remote that is innovative, it is the use of the remote. Wii is a piece of hardware, a medium defined by its software. Any console is only as good as its games. Wii's power is wasted without games that creatively and effectively use the remote's capabilities.

The next time someone says to you, “Hey the Wii is so amazing, its really innovative! Who cares about stupid graphics?” Say back, “First of all it's not the Wii, it's just Wii. Secondly, your right, kind of. Wii does have a rather awesome controller, but the console is obsolete without games that fulfill its potential. Thirdly, graphics are super important, and just because Wii's graphics can't compete with the 360 or PS3 doesn't mean they're bad. Don't fall prey to PR speak, kid, and you'll grow up just fine.”

Wii logo image from Wiisworld
Controller image from Nintendo
Heatseeker image from IGN

No comments:

Post a Comment