Wii launch day: The day mainstream media review scores became irrelevant

Infendo

That “read more” button is coming any day now, I’m sure of fit!

There’s been enough time between now and the Wii launch to safely say the reviews are in. They’ve been, in a word, mixed. And by mixed I mean “wildly all over the place.” As an ardent supporter and fan of the console, having logged countless hours (actually, my system knows exactly how many now doesn’t it?), I can take the “mixed” rating in a positive light. It means the Wii is disrupting the playing field.

Normally a lukewarm response to anything in the media is akin to failure in today’s one shot or you’re finished environment, but not with the Wii. I get the feeling that with this console the reviews are by and large irrelevant. I understand I’ve cited scores here on Infendo in the past, but I’m quickly coming to the realization that they just don’t matter anymore, at least for the Wii, because they’re so wildly misplaced when applied to it. I’m going to catch heat for this, but I’m going to say it again: When Gears of War gets a perfect 10, you can no longer look at the mainstream press as an accurate indicator of what’s good for the gaming industry (especially with that ending credits music – are you frickin’ serious Epic, really?!).

So, Jack, how do we turn this conversation back to Nintendo, and to the Wii where it belongs on a Nintendo site? To start, does this mean I think Wii should be getting perfect reviews left and right? Not at all, and not even close. This generation isn’t about better or worse, it’s about being different.

Read through some of the reviews for the launch games. Those reviews that cite fun and innovation as key components (for the good ones, as there is a fair share of poopsky on the Wii, as there are with any launch), give the console high marks. “Serious reviewers” give the Wii poor marks because the games feel – to them — like tech demos with sub par graphics. The latter reviewers miss the point, given that the system was never advertised in its development as a graphics machine, and I believe they will be largely left behind in the coming years as the mammoth amounts of latent potential in this system are tapped and distributed to the masses. Having played this machine with dozens of people of all ages and personality types, I can safely say that anyone still labeling the Wii as “kiddie” has never played the system. Even party games like Rayman have wildly differing review scores. On Infendo, I believe the pro and con camps are evenly split. For a game like this, I attribute a mixed score to the fact that this is a great game idea that lacks refinement. It’s a great indicator of what’s coming next, not only from Ubisoft, but from developers in general who are starved for a new challenge.

It’s all inevitable really, if you’ve seen first hand anyone playing this system for the first time. Sure, it may start with frustration as the Wii bowler throws a ball in the wrong direction, but eventually, given a few moments of someone’s time, the system clicks. And it clicks in a way that fills this void, both with hardcore and non-gamer alike, where gaming has become a predictable formula that caters more to a publisher’s bottom line than to gamers having fun. There are hiccups to be overcome, that’s for sure – there’s no real online presence for this “community minded” Wii yet, is there? But for the most part, there exists a library at present that will entertain groups and individuals for months to come.

For those that don’t experience that click, I’m truly sorry. You’re missing out. Let go of the stereotypes and let yourself have FUN. If not, as the Wii takes off as it inevitably will, you will be left behind with your ports and shooters and dying proprietary media formats, none of which enhance actual fun. You will be the miser clinging to LP’s cassettes as those strange CD’s take hold. Sure, the quality isn’t as good, but life’s more fun with tracks and no rewinding.

In this light, I propose a new review system, to be adopted by no one in particular other than the everyday gamer out there swinging his or her arms in a series of furious forehands cross court. I propose when “rating” a game one asks themselves: did I have fun? Forget realism; go see a movie. Forget physics; go roll a rock down a hill and take notes. Forget blood spatter; watch CSI. Gaming has and always will be an escape from normalcy, not a means to remain trapped within it.

Can you imagine Wii Sports with the same exact game play, but with your face staring back with dead eyes as you play your other, dead-eyed looking friends? Sure, it’d be more real and better looking than a Mii, but would it be as fun?

[Inspired by a post at 4cr]