Wii version of Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 shows Konami gets it

PES 2008 Wii

As is too often the case today, Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 (PES 2008) was released late on the Wii after PS3 and Xbox 360 versions were already well out the door. Sounds familiar, right Harmonix? However, unlike the gimped, no frills version of Rock Band that’s headed to the Wii in June, PES 2008 was held back by Konami to give the game the extra attention it needed to fully make use of the Wii’s unique controls.

Next Generation has a profile up today with PES European team leader Jon Murphy that tells me Konami “gets it” when it comes to what makes a Wii version of any port “sing.” By all signs and portents, the Wii version of PES 2008 is by far the superior version, both from critical acclaim (86% Metacritic) and customer response.

As series creator Shingo ‘Seabass’ Takatsuka admitted late last year, the final PS3 product was “so far from what we wanted”. The game regularly “stuttered” and was plagued with online problems, something that was also reported by some owners of the Xbox 360 version. It was hardly the beautiful game as we’d come to expect it from Konami, but, says Murphy, things are back on track ”“ in PES 2008 for Wii the platform has finally got the decent football game it has been “crying out for” and one that “offers the best online experience” in the history of the series.

I fully expect to see more and more of these kinds of stories throughout 2008 and 2009. This is not some tacked on “shake the Wiimote to check someone” that we saw in Mario Strikers Charged (which was a great game, btw), it’s a well thought-out, robust offering that shows when graphics are only a component of the game design experience, and not the ultimate goal, titles can certainly hum on the Wii.

And how’s this for irony? The Wii version has superior online functionality when compared to its next generation brethren. Consider me swooned.

UPDATE@3:07 EST: ejamer lets us know that there’s a discussion going in the Infendo forums about this very game right now!