These days, the bulk of our attention is focused on the biggest titles slated for the PS3 and Xbox 360; the big boys on gaming campus who have the graphical grunt and online infrastructure to support the increasingly shiny, detailed and violent videogame experiences that we so desperately crave. The PC receives its fair share of visual powerhouses and innovative indie experiences alike, becoming the platform of choice for those who love to game without compromise.
However, in terms of sales - and in terms of precedent - one console beat them all. The Wii did so without directly competing with Microsoft and Sony, instead creating its very own niche and exploiting that most under supported of demographics: absolutely everyone in the world. Not only has Nintendo's console delivered some of the most imaginative games of this generation... but it redefined what it means to be a gamer. It's certainly not better than any other console, but it isn't designed to replace or supplant them. The Wii is incredibly important, possibly more so than any other console in videogame history.
We love an underdog here at Dealspwn. Allow me to explain exactly why.
Gaming For The Masses
We currently live in an age where the word "gamer" is losing its relevance, an era where literally anyone can enjoy our favourite hobby and artistic medium regardless of age, gender or ability. The rise of apps and mobile gaming certainly has a lot to answer for, but it was the Wii that originally proved that everyone can be a gamer. That everyone is a gamer.
The WiiMote and the games it supported removed the barrier to entry that controllers or keyboards typically present. It became the second console in every home; transforming videogames from an insular, demonised and exclusive bedroom hobby into a core part of family life and a living room mainstay. Rather than splitting families into different rooms around the house, the Wii brought them together and allowed them to spend quality time in games like Wii Sports, Mario Kart and Guitar Hero.
Older gamers, even those who would still never admit to being a "gamer" when asked, use it to enhance their minds and keep fit... as do college students and the casual crowd who reach for the WiiMote when they get back from work or a night out. In essence, it created an entirely new audience. No other console has managed to do this, and its legacy will be felt for many years to come. If you need any more proof of just how important the Wii is, you only need to refer to Stephen Fry who named it as one of the top 20 gadgets of all time. Stephen is never wrong. Or you could ask Queen Elizabeth herself, who owns a gold-plated version.
Of course, this inclusive focus was seen as a betrayal towards hardcore fans, and there's certainly some logic behind this argument. But it certainly wasn't a stab in the back. Nintendo were up front about the fact that they were aiming the Wii at absolutely everyone and no-one in particular with their aggressive TV marketing that included people of all age groups, both genders and even entire families. Nintendo told you exactly what they were doing: creating a device designed to sit in every house in the world. Get with the programme. There's nothing stopping you owning an Xbox 360 or PS3 as well, in fact, that's kind of the point.
And, you know, play the likes of Sin & Punishment II, Murumasa: The Demon Blade, HOTD: Overkill, MadWorld, Tatsunoko vs Capcom, No More Heroes, Xenoblade Chronicles, Fire Emblem, Dead Space: Extraction and Zelda: Twilight Princess before making your final judgement.
The 'Problem' Of Shovelware
Mention the Wii to any hardcore crowd - us included, to be honest - and you'll soon hear one particular phrase being uttered in disdainful, dismissive tones. Shovelware. Take one look at the shelves in any high street retailer and you'll see enormous numbers of low quality produce from small studios that have been rushed out to deadline.
But shovelware isn't some demon that brings a console down. It's a side effect of the fact that the Wii offers incredibly low entry requirements to developers willing to take advantage of it. It's easy and cheap to develop for. This is the mark of any truly great console as it guarantees an enormous game library, and if we're honest, the PS1 and PS2 also touted enormous amounts of shovelware simply because it let developers, any developers, do their thing without being confronted by insanely complex hardware architecture.
Without these low barriers to entry, we wouldn't be able to play incredible games like Xenoblade Chronicles or Murumasa. A console with lots of games can never be a bad thing.
We talked about precedent early in the article, and the Wii established a number of key conventions that we take for granted these days. Miis, virtual avatars that were compatible with numerous games, soon became an industry standard after Microsoft and Sony joined the party. Motion control, love it or not, was practically unheard of before the WiiMote changed everything we knew about how games could be engaged with.
The Wii was also the first console to offer more. You can check the weather, read the news or browse the internet on your telly. You can watch BBC iPlayer. A timeless killer app was bundled in the freaking box. You can enjoy solid backwards compatibility from the moment you plug it in - both for Gamecube titles, peripherals and downloadable classics like Super Mario RPG.
I primarily play on PC and Xbox 360 these days, and I'm not for a second suggesting that the Wii's games lineup is somehow better than anyone else's. Again, that's the whole point: the Wii is always there; ready and willing to augment your primary gaming experience with a host of fantastic titles that you can't find anywhere else.
There's no point rattling off an enormous list (this article is getting a bit long to be honest), but the Wii's exclusives are games that literally couldn't work on any other console. We've got colourful, gravity-defying platformers. Epic RPGs and adventures. Lightgun games - many of which have been brought up to date with modern storytelling and production values. Shooters. Casual games. Brawlers. The Wii's best games do more than just provide solid and unique experiences, relying on vibrant, imaginative and refreshing art design to overcome graphical limitations. It's not a replacement for your primary console - but it's a breath of fresh air that augments and improves your gaming life as opposed to dominating it. And all for a bargain price.
In summary, therefore, we don't love the Wii because it's somehow better or more relevant than the PS3 or Xbox 360. Not by a long shot. We love it because it opened up our medium to everyone while still catering for those who love to indulge in life-enhancing game experiences. Because it irrevocably changed the market and proved that you don't have to compete in order to be brilliant. Nintendo still seems to be as confused about the Wii U as we are - and have taken their eye off of software support for practically everything else - but you shouldn't let their mistakes get in the way of an uncomplicated, inclusive, mutual love story.
Because if the Wii could feel, it would love you right back.
Right, you got this far, so it's time to get involved. Have your say in the comments!