my personal blog

April 11, 2008

Wii: No Gamers Allowed

Filed under: rants,reviews,technology — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Alfonso Surroca @ 11:53 am

I have a confession: I’ve never beaten a Wii game. Despite lining up at midnight and purchasing the Wii on launch night, I have never played through to the end of a single of my Wii games. I blame Nintendo for ignoring the rules of crafting a solid entertainment experience; namely, you need to retain the player’s interest throughout the entire plot, not just the first hour of game play.

I’m going to run through my entire Wii game collection and explain why I haven’t finished any of these games. Don’t worry, it won’t take long; obviously, there aren’t many:

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess box artThe Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess:

I love the Zelda franchise, I really do. I’ve played through nearly all of the games in the series, and loved every moment of it. And when I fired up this game for the first time, I was impressed. Despite the Wii’s graphical short-comings, the art direction for Twilight Princess was nothing short of spectacular. The quiet pace of the game’s opening portion was charming. Everything was going fine until I got through the first dungeon and started realizing that this was basically the same re-hashed nonsense with a new coat of paint. I might as well play Ocarina of Time another time; after all, it was one of the greatest games ever made. You know what, maybe I’ll download it on the Virtual Console and play through it again, come to think of it….

Super Paper Mario box artSuper Paper Mario:

I’m not going to lie. I have had more fun playing through this game than I have in a long time. The loads of nerd humor—come on, an entire level devoted to video games, with a boss that’s essentially Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons? Sign me up! Making fun of Nintendo franchises. I had a blast. Until the hamster wheel of doom. After getting past that bullshit, my heart just wasn’t into the game any more. A little piece of my soul died in that hamster wheel. And I got through maybe 20% more of the game before getting… bored.

Super Mario Galaxy box art

Super Mario Galaxy: After playing through the first world at lightning speed, I was blown away. I kept telling people that this game was revolutionary as Super Mario 64 was back when it came out. I kept playing through without any hang-ups. I even did a lot of the relatively pointless side-levels and meta-games. Then, my schedule got in the way, and what little time I had for gaming I chose to use playing Halo 3 multiplayer with my friends. I got at least 80% through the game within a few days of constant, ecstatic gaming. And I’ll finish it the next chance I get. It will be the first Wii game I actually beat.

I’m no casual gamer. I play games to win. I breezed through Gears of War on Insane mode within a few days, and Halo 3 on Hardcore was a piece of cake. The whole Half-Life series, on any mode, is almost disappointingly un-challenging. I finished Portal in two sittings. Every one of these games has been excellently paced and thoroughly satisfying from beginning to end. Good pacing has been sorely lacking in Nintendo franchises lately.

A good experience needs good pacing; it needs to hold your interest from beginning to end. Nintendo seems to have no idea how to accomplish this because their games start out by going all the way to 11, and fizzle out about the midway point.

I’ve wanted to like the Wii since I got it, but since Nintendo is basically printing money with the damned console by marketing it to casual gamers, I’m almost certain they have no plans to satisfy real gamers in this console generation. After all, who needs solid pacing, game play, and plots when the average consumer is only going to use the game for a few moments at a time?

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