Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Wii's Library -- Nintendo's Best or Worst?

The Wii is an interesting console to say the least. It's fair to say that it's had its ups and downs over the years. It's had years with great games coming out one after the other, and years where there wasn't much offered. I'm not saying that that's exclusive to the Wii though. Other consoles have had gaming droughts followed by a year of great game after great game, just look at the PS3. But what makes it interesting in the Wii's case is that we've never had a market leader have droughts like the Wii has. The NES, SNES, PS, and PS2 never experienced what the Wii went through, and that's mainly because all four of those had great third party support while the Wii didn't. What major third party games there were though were great. Monster Hunter Tri, Okami, Sonic Colors, Goldeneye 007, Resident Evil 4, and Muramasa are all noteworthy and quality games.

The reason the Wii never caught on with third party developers is debatable, but there are a few reasons we can all agree on. The fact that the Wii used motion controls instead of a standard gamepad created a situation where third parties couldn't easily port their games from the PS3 and 360 over to the Wii. Couple that with the fact that the Wii was basically a generation behind in terms of raw power, and you get developers who only develop games for the two HD consoles. And I'm sure not having to compete with Nintendo's first party games was a big factor too. Don't get me wrong, Sony and Microsoft have amazing first party games, but games like Halo and Uncharted are a lot easier to compete against than Mario and Pokemon.

Speaking of Nintendo's first party games, I think there was an issue there too. Now, before you jump down my throat, hear me out. First off, I don't take into account the Virtual Console when reviewing the Wii's software library. Yes, it is nice to have games like Mario Kart 64 available, but by including it in a list of games for the Wii, you're also saying that games like Final Fantasy VII are PS3 games, which they aren't. Secondly, some of the games Nintendo put out this generation were of lesser quality than expected. We had games that weren't exactly the best games in their franchises, such as Metroid: Other M, Pokemon Battle Revolution, Super Paper Mario, and Wii Music, while at the same time, we had games like The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and Super Smash Brothers Brawl, which fans have very split opinions on. And that isn't even mentioning the absence of franchises like Pikmin, Star Fox, and F-Zero on the Wii.

Fans and critics agree: Super Paper Mario wasn't the best Paper Mario game.

Despite all that though, Nintendo put out some of their greatest games in a long time. Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2 are two of the highest rated games ever. Donkey Kong Country Returns was praised by fans and critics alike, and ended up selling around 5 million copies despite Donkey Kong not really being relevant in mainstream gaming since Donkey Kong 64. New Super Mario Bros. Wii marked the return of 2D Mario sidescrollers on consoles, and Metroid Prime Trilogy combined three of the greatest Metroid games of all time onto one disc. They also revived numerous franchises that hadn't seen the light of day for years, such as Punch Out!!, Sin and Punishment, and Kirby platformers on home consoles.

Moving away from physical media and onto downloadable games, there were some issues there too. It's known that Nintendo isn't the most online friendly company out of the three console manufacturers, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that Nintendo's WiiWare service wasn't as robust as the Xbox Live Arcade or Playstation Network. Because of size limitations that Nintendo put in place on WiiWare, the Wii didn't receive games that it should have, the most notable of which was probably Super Meat Boy. I know I probably shouldn't be considering games like Super Meat Boy when judging the Wii's software library, but I do feel like it should be brought up. But that's not to say WiiWare was all bad. It had great games too, such as Lost Winds, the Bit.Trip games, and the Art Style games.

Nintendo's online store offered some good games, but was hindered by its
size limit.

So how does the Wii's library stack up five years later? Well, I may be biased since my favorite genre is the platformer genre, but I think the Wii had a great library. Did it have the best selection of games ever? No.  Did it have its issues? Yes, but that doesn't discredit the Wii from having some of the best games this generation. I know I may have sounded like a negative Nancy earlier when talking about games like Super Paper Mario, but ultimately, when you look back on the Wii's library ten years from now, you're not going to take the mediocre games into account. You're going to think about games like New Super Mario Bros. Wii and Monster Hunter Tri.

Five years later, how does the Wii stack up for you? Do you think it has the best library ever, or do you think it's the worst console Nintendo's ever created? Leave your comments below.

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