Next-Gen Fears - Part 2: A Wii Bit Inconvenient?
Now, I appreciate what Nintendo is trying to accomplish. I really, really do. Unlike Microsoft and Sony, Nintendo has no hidden agendas. Thus, they can focus on making a console that will help make gameplay fun without spending wasted efforts trying to promote some extraneous non-gaming arm of their company. Their console's sole purpose is to play games, which is what gamers actually want. And it provides game-makers with a platform to make creative and new games without the need for a huge budget. These aspects make me anticipate the Wii greatly.
Nintendo must be on to something, evidenced by the fact that gamers seem to be growing apathetic with gaming. The buzz at E3 this past year is that everyone and their mother wanted to go and try the Wii. Whenever you talk to anyone who went to E3, you immediately ask them what if they managed to try the Wii. Nintendo seems to have almost successfully brainwashed the gaming masses into repeating their mantra. I hear so many "Playing is Believing" themed comments from random people. "I don't care about graphics!" they decry. "I just want good gameplay!"
But among those who have managed to actually try the Wii at E3, the general consensus seems to be that the Wii and its controller, the "Wii-mote," are great... but not great enough. It's just not as seamless and ground-breaking as many had hoped. The desire for something new and creative has given many gamers this unrealistic expectation for the Wii to be a true gaming revolution, but it's an expectation that more than likely cannot be met.
As a result of these high expectations, I think we might be overlooking a lot of areas where the Wii-mote might actually be bad for gaming. Repeating the first line of this post, gaming is a relaxing pastime. It's about convenience and comfort. And I think the Wii may intrude upon that aspect of gaming. Imagine trying to wind down for the night, lying in bed and trying to use the Wii-mote. Does that work? Can you play while not sitting upright? Will it be comfortable trying to keep one arm pointing at the TV while lying on the other arm? And what if the TV doesn't directly face you and you are viewing it at an angle? Will it still work? If you play games while sitting on the floor, is it going to be tiring aiming the Wii-mote at a TV that's at higher ground than yourself? If you are lying on the floor, can you play at all? Propping yourself up on your elbows eliminates any freedom of movement possible with your arms. How simple is it going to be to transport the system from room to room or to a friend's house? Is the sensor bar going to be easy to transport? To calibrate? To set up? Most people's TV setups are more than likely not made to accommodate a sensor bar, particularly those Plasmas hanging on the wall. And on top of all of that, just imagine how angry you will be the first time you lose a boss battle because the Wii-mote decides to stop registering accurately with the sensor bar. Is that a new aspect of gaming that we are willing to experience and put up with?
Many people are willing to believe the Wii will work, and a large portion of them believe because of the results they've seen with the Nintendo DS. At first, everyone thought the DS was a terrible idea. But after using it and seeing how intuitive it actually is, they now believe the DS to be a terrific system. But the DS is different than the Wii: it's a portable system, and thus naturally lends itself to being comfortable and portable and convenient. I don't think the Wii can provide the same thing. It's gonna be hard to slum it while playing the Wii. And if the Wii takes away that aspect of relaxing while playing games, I can only imagine that the gimmick does get old rather quickly.
It's hard to say for sure whether any of these concerns will be valid or not. But they need to be brought up, because no one seems to be thinking about how the Wii might cause more problems than the ones it might solve. Who knows, maybe I'm just trying to dial down my hopes for the console so that when I finally play it, it will actually be "great enough," since it'll meet my more realistic expectations.
Next up: Part 3 - Final Words.
(P.S. The biggest area of encouragement comes from the announcement of Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Super Smash Bros. Brawl will not require the Wii-mote and will use the regular GameCube controllers instead. I hope other game-makers will see this and thus not feel obliged to use the Wii-mote for its control scheme. In fact, certain games have been reported to be really unintuitive and uncomfortable because they are trying to integrate motion detection in ways that don't benefit the game at all. If the Wii can find a great balance between games that use the Wii-mote and games that use a regular controller, then I think the Wii can be successful.)