Nintendo’s Wii first came onto the scene in 2006, and took the world by storm. With its modern controllers, the public were experiencing gaming in a whole new way. The console competed against two other giants – the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360 – and outperformed both. Though this is debated whether this is down to the broader target demographic or its ‘gimmicky’ nature.
Arguably, the most significant advancement the Wii brought onto the market was its controllers, with them being wireless and the player having to point it towards a sensor. To add to the technological developments of the console, alike the other consoles of its time, the Wii emulated games from past systems including the NES, SNES, N64, Sega Mega Drive, Sega Master System, Neo Geo, Commodore 64 and arcade classics to name a few, through the ‘Virtual Console’. Moreover, being fully backwards compatible with the Game Cube in early models.
The history of the Wii looks back to designs of the Game Cube, with Nintendo officials attempting to create a new form of player interaction and trialling early motion controllers. Eventually, this idea developed into the Wii, though Nintendo did attempt to design the console to look alike the Nintendo DS. However, officials ruled that the consoles were too similar so this idea was scrapped; though it was used with the Wii U.
It has been claimed that the name ‘Wii’ emphasises the multiplayer element to the console, with the two I’s looking like two people standing together and the name giving connotations to the word ‘we’. Interestingly, the Wii became the first console (outside of Japan) to drop ‘Nintendo’ from the name.
Upon release of the console, it broke records in both North America and Australia for the vast amounts having sold. The console even becoming a rarity in UK stores shortly after launch due to the high numbers being purchased or pre-ordered within the first few days.
Due to the overwhelming popularity of the console, 3rd party developers prioritised the Wii. This led to apologises from these companies when the initial games available at launch were reviewed as ‘rushed’. More games were produced for the Wii than both the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. Bundled with the console and whilst also being sold separately, Wii sports became the biggest selling game of all time, with over 82.78 units being distributed to fans.
At the time of launch, the Wii received raving reviews and won countless awards including a Golden Joystick. It is also believed to the first video gaming console to have a published paper supporting its benefits for a medical cause, as the console supposedly aids young people diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
As time went by the ratings for the Wii eventually started to fall in rapid numbers, which is thought to be due to the ‘gimmicky’ nature of the console. It was soon found in Nintendo that not much more could be adapted with the Wii to move in the direction gaming was heading. The PS3 and Xbox 360 were capable of playing games in high definition, with the Wii not having this ability.