Wii: Bringing gaming back to respectability, one game at a time

I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t mention that in addition to hundreds of Nintendo games, some of my fondest gaming memories are of other fare like Soul Caliber for Dreamcast, and Halo for Xbox (a fighter and a FPS, respectively). With that said, here’s a cool column clip that caught my eye in a Blake Snow-provided Infendo news tip today:

As a gamer for 15 years, I’ve had my fair share of systems and games, and I’ve seen all sorts of gimmicks to sell them. The Nintendo Power Glove, Super Scope and those lame Jaguar ads come to mind. Over time I have learned that fancy graphics and brand name games do not always mean fun. Over time, games started developing a male-oriented feel with highly animated 3D bouncy boobs in fighting games and scantily clad warrior babes. And I thought Zero Suit Samus from Metroid was scandalous! That wasn’t the biggest turnoff. The darkest time in video game history was during the transition from 16-bit graphics to 64-bit and innovative game companies went extinct, leaving the video game genres limited to fighting, first-person shooters, sports and strategy/role-playing. What ever happened to puzzle games, adventure games, G-rated games that sold well without the need for blood or boobs because they were so very fun? Dead and gone. They didn’t make the 3D leap.

The “3D leap” as columnist Quynh Nguyen (The Minnesota Daily) calls it, is a direct result of Sony and the PSOne. They actively discouraged developers from making 2D platformers on the Playstation, and the industry suffered for it. It was no longer became cool or — more importantly — profitable to make low power, low budget games, and the stereotypical gamer became a relatively small % of the teen to late 20’s male demographic. Gradius faded away, Star Tropics drifted into the sunset, and even Actraiser wouldn’t resurface for more than a decade and a half. The “3D leap” is responsible for killing Sonic the Hedgehog. We all became conditioned to want games in the categories mentioned. Don’t believe me? Then why have you been buying Madden every year over and over for the past 10 years? Why are there a gazillion Tekkens? Virtua Fighter 5? 5!?!? Please. UPDATE: Mario Party 8? 8!?!?! Please.

But no more. People like me, who largely shut out gaming from the Ps2 onwards, can say the first console they’ve purchased in more than a decade was the Wii. Our eyes light up at the prospect of a Monkey Island-esque game coming to Wii (an Agatha Christie title was announced this week). A fully immersed GTA-type world, like Godfather, is seen as fresh and new, even with yesterday’s graphics. Speaking of monkeys, I no longer want to be treated like one. Being told to depress a button for something to happen on screen no longer appeals to me as it once did. Like Phil Harrison says of rumbling controllers, that feels like a last-generation feature to me now.

And she (yes, I said she) closes with this thought provoking bit:

The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 might be backed up by brand-name games like Final Fantasy or Halo, but without those games, those systems will not sell. Nintendo is winning by sheer fun factor.

It’s an important point to be made. As silly as it sounds being repeated over and over, it’s all about fun. Nintendo is delivering that right now, not just to 18-25 males, but to everyone.