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No matter how old I get, I’ll always be up for a Wii party with friends. That’s why I’m raising my glass for 17 golden years of the Nintendo Wii.
During my second year of uni in the midst of the second and third lockdowns, the Wii made a renaissance. We found a cheat code for Mario Kart Wii which unlocked some wild tracks, making Rainbow Road look like Luigi’s Circuit. If we weren’t getting square eyes from the third consecutive Grand Prix then we were getting some much needed exercise playing Just Dance 4.
That’s what I love about the Wii – everyone could get involved so long as you had enough controllers. 15 years ago, my brother used to play Call of Duty on the Xbox 360. I never bonded with it. He’d occasionally let me play with him, but never enough to stop being what he called “a noob”. I can just remember getting really frightened by all the zombies because I didn’t know how to use the controller properly – most of the game I’d spend on the floor waiting for him to come and revive me.
But then Nintendo released the Wii and changed everything
The pre-Wii years were wobbly for Nintendo – it wasn’t always the iconic industry giant you see today. If you can call it such a thing, Nintendo was losing the console wars of the early 2000s. That’s because the Gamecube underperformed as Sony’s sales were soaring with the PlayStation 2 (2000) while Microsoft had just shelled out a few billion on the massively influential Xbox Live platform for the original Xbox. Momentum only carried on with the Xbox 360 at the advent of the Wii’s launch period.
How was Nintendo supposed to compete? In what can be called a masterstroke, Nintendo abandoned the rat race to produce the most powerful console with cutting-edge hardware. The Wii instead became the affordable alternative to the PlayStation 3 ($599) and Xbox 360 ($399). At the same time, it attracted a whole new fanbase of casual gamers, regardless of age.
Why? Because the Wii was both intuitive and easy to use. I even found a toddler hitting some backhand in Wii tennis on YouTube. The beauty of the Wii was that it was easy to pick up but impossible to master (probably limited by its sometimes inaccurate motion sensor). I may still have been the player two sibling who rarely beat her brother, but it didn’t matter because we got to play together on equal footing. I can remember the look we’d give each other when we were about to start a 32-race marathon on Mario Kart because it’s the same you give when you’re about to buy another round of shots.
The memories never really stopped with the Wii and that’s special. Even though my dad replaced the old TV with a new one that can’t handle Rainbow Road when you get a star, I still come across the Wii at friends’ houses, and will rarely turn down the opportunity to play. Even in fifty years’ time, count me in as one of those seniors who play Wii Sports to keep fit and help with their cognitive function.
So, here’s to 17 years and counting of the Nintendo Wii and all the fun that’s left to be had.