It often pays off to be a cynic.
Granted, when the Wii was first revealed to the world, I didn’t hate it. I didn’t go batshit ga-ga over it like a certain Ethos did, but I was intrigued. More than anything, though, I was about to blow my load in anticipation of Twilight Princess. That was the main reason I reserved my unit before release.
Twilight Princess was a great game, sure. But, that was no thanks to the Wii, and we all know that now. At the time, many of us were just all too enthralled with the fact that you could make Link swing his sword by flailing the Wii-mote. That was “immersion,” for some reason. Tear away the fad-glasses, and you can see that the tacked-on control scheme for Twilight Princess was, at best, a harmless substitute for what came before. At worst, it was unresponsive and unwieldy. More than anything it was just pointless. Substituting a flail for a press of the B button is *not* revolutionary. In any way.
The sad thing is that it all went downhill from there.
Not long after Twilight Princess, I bought Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, a game that, ironically, didn’t even use Wiimote controls. (I played with a GameCube controller the entire time).
Oh, I bought Metroid Prime 3. The game is one of the better examples of motion controls (because it showcases pointer controls rather than just waggle) but it pissed me off because it was too damn easy, and the atmosphere suffered. It felt dumbed down. And then I realized that Nintendo was doing just that: dumbing us down. Or trying to.
We were all hoping that Nintendo’s revolution was going to attract a whole new crowd of gamer, and convert them to our side. Essentially. The passer-by would gravitate to the Wii because of its accessible and interesting control scheme, and eventually learn what it was to be a gamer. That’s what we all wanted.
What we got instead was a crowd of bandwagon morons who bought the thing not because it was a gaming system, but because it was the goddamn Wii. And the Wii was the thing to have. It was the hot Christmas gift; it was the new household amenity to sit snugly atop your DVD player in the family room.
It wasn’t marketed as a videogame system. Nintendo had made a toy. A hot novelty toy. An exciting gimmick. They already had their target audience of suckers; the hardcore gaming world could go to hell.
In fact, I’m pretty sure they very pointedly told us to go to hell on more than one occassion. What else could they have been attempting to communicate with that 2008 E3 presser?
And the shovelware. The fucking shovelware. Every cheap shit studio in the world rushing to get their crap published with tacked-on waggle controls to take advantage of the fad. Every major publisher commissioning an obligatory, dumbed-down waggle-happy port of every big name release. Within months of the system’s release, this wasn’t the exception, but the rule when it came to the Wii’s software library. There were some scattered bright spots to be found, but most of these were in the form of first-party titles. And hell, even some of those were on the verge of shovelware. Wii Music, anyone?
And let’s not forget the utter insult that was Wii MotionPlus.
But, I digress. The point here isn’t to bash Nintendo and their Wii, necessarily. That’s been done enough. The point, here, is that Nintendo took what could have been an actual revolution, and whored the fucking shit out of it. Motion controls have proven that, when properly implemented, they can enhance a gaming experience. They don’t always have to define a gaming experience. Look at Kirby’s Epic Yarn. A game on the Wii that makes very limited use of the Wii’s motion sensing capabilities. But, when it does make use of said capabilities, it’s a sensible addition.
More developers need to learn this simple fact: just because it’s there, doesn’t mean you necessarily need to use it. Twilight Princess would have been a stronger game if it used motion controls only for the bow-and-arrow. Y’know, the only implementation that actually enhanced the experience.
Nintendo’s done a hell of a job sullying the name of motion controls, and that’s why it’s difficult not to cast a wary eye towards the PlayStation Move and the Xbox Kinect. I’ll take the opportunity here to admit that I’m fairly impressed with the Move’s lineup of current and upcoming titles. The Kinect notsomuch, as it were. But while it’s too early to judge the fates of either, both devices reek of cash-in. I’d have more respect if Sony and Microsoft had bided their time and released these new technologies alongside new systems.
I’ve done a lot of meandering in the last 800 words or so, but I suppose it can all be summed up a little like this: Motion Controls aren’t the enemy here, they’re the victim. Nintendo took the concept and, for lack of a new (or better) phrased, whored it out. What should have been a minor evolution in the games industry was blown out of proportion, mishandled, and sullied. The question now, is: can all the wrongs of the past four years be righted? Is there a future for motion controls in the core gaming experience? Or will it forever be associated with the with the wankerish “casual” crowd and their collection of shovelware?