The Gaming Ghost – Vol. 1: Wii remember, do U?


Josh Lawrence

A cartoony look at the Wii and it’s awkward cousin, the Wii U.

Josh Lawrence, Columnist

Hello everyone! My name is Josh Lawrence, and welcome to my very cool and awesome column. I’ll be your guide as I write about video games, while you sit and read about video games. Sound cool? Don’t answer that.

On November 19, 2006, the world changed forever. On November 18, 2012, the world changed a whole lot less.  Today, I’ll be talking about the history of what these two dates brought. The Wii, and its unfortunate cousin, the Wii U.  Let’s-a-go!

Nintendo used to dominate the market in the early years of gaming consoles. After a long battle, they took down their largest enemy, Sega, who you may know as the Sonic Guys. But things changed for Nintendo with the release of the first Playstation (1994) and Xbox (2001). Nintendo fell from a gold medal to a bronze in the console wars.  Some have dubbed Nintendo “the kings of left-field” for their wild and unpredictable behavior compared to their competitors. This is what makes the company so great, but also what can be its downfall.

If Nintendo was going to claim back the throne, they knew they would have to do something big. A bigger audience would mean more sales, Nintendo thought with a grin like that one scene from The Grinch. Nintendo wanted to reach the casual market.  Back in the day, video games were designed for “hardcore” gamers. But with a simple remote-like controller, accessible games, and even fitness programs, Nintendo knew darn well they could get your grandma to buy this console. They swung…  And hit a home run. People bought the Wii like it was free candy.  Grocery lists looked like: milk, eggs, Wii, bread… etc.  You get the point.  The big seller of the console was its motion controls.

Instead of pressing a bunch of buttons to swing your virtual tennis racket, you could literally just swing the remote! Playing Mario Kart Wii made five-year-old Josh feel like he was out on the open road because you could play it with a steering wheel. Motion controls are often taken for granted, but this was revolutionary at the time. The fellas at Nintendo are who we have to thank for that.

So how did it go for our friend the Wii? It had to go up against the Xbox 360 and the PS3. The Xbox 360 sold 85.8 million consoles, and the PS3 sold 87.4 million consoles.  Not looking too good for Nintendo… just kidding. They Super SMASHED those numbers into the ground with an astounding 101.64 MILLION SALES. Nintendo did it! All they had to do was keep up this momentum going forward. Nothing could possibly go wrong!  (Cue sitcom laugh track…)

Yup, if you couldn’t gather from that last sentence, this wouldn’t last. Who’s to blame? The Wii U. There are many reasons this system flopped, one of the biggest reasons being the NAME itself. Wii U sounded like an extension to the original Wii, not an entirely new console. Could you really blame people for thinking that? It was marketed so poorly that they had to make their commercials say “look for the ‘U’ on the box.” Nintendo fell from 101.64 million sales on the Wii to 13.56 million sales on the Wii U.  The competitors only got better, leaving Nintendo in the dust.

Not only was the marketing awful, but the launch titles were a flop. People buy consoles for games, and when the only notable game for launch is a copy-paste New Super Mario Bros. game, that’s not a good look for buyers. The Wii U made use of a new controller called the gamepad. Reportedly, this controller was so hard to develop for, many game companies refused to put their games on this console. On the bright side, there were some diamonds within the console. Titles such as “Super Mario 3D World” and “Mario Kart 8” were beautiful games. These games both were expertly crafted with the Nintendo magic we all first felt when we picked up the DS for the first time. However, these games were unfortunately stuck with a failing console.

So that’s the story of how Nintendo went from having one of the greatest consoles of all time to one of their biggest flops ever. But it’s not all bad! Nintendo’s latest console, the Switch, has been doing excellent. They’ve learned from their mistakes, and many of those games that got stuck with the Wii U are being given a second chance on the new console. There’s no doubt that the Wii and Wii U were pivotal in Nintendo’s career. So now U know why Wii should never forget about these two important consoles!