It’s funny how things turn out sometimes.
A year or so ago when the new game systems were being announced for release there seemed to be a ton of press in anticipation for the “big guys,” Playstation and Xbox. Although Nintendo’s new game system was also going to debut, there was little hype about it.
There were probably several reasons for that. First, “real” gamers have always flocked to the Playstation and to an extent the XBox. These were serious machines with excellent graphics and a ton of adult-content games. XBox’s main claim to fame was “Halo” exclusivity. And I can see why. My son loves “Halo” and I’ve enjoyed playing it myself.
Second, what did Nintendo have? — a firm grip on the handheld market, but the Gamecube? When we were game console shopping the only time the salespeople might recommend that is if I mentioned it was for my kids. “Lots of great games for kids,” they’d tell me. “Donkey Kong and the Mario franchise.” But as soon as you mentioned you wanted something more substantial, they’d steer you to the other two consoles. The same was true if you asked anyone. Gamecube? That’s for kids. The other ones had the power, the graphics, and the sex appeal.
So when the Wii was announced that media bias must have filtered through because there were very few reviews talking up the impending release of the Wii, whereas there was tons of stuff on PS3 and Xbox 360. If there were reviews it was about the weird controllers and how “different” they were from what everyone was used to.
To my semi-curious eyes, it seemed that Nintendo was about to go the way of Sega, once an important player in the game console biz, now just a game developer. Man, Sega Genesis was a monumental release, but somewhere along the way their strategy went south and that’s what the release of the Wii seemed to be.
When the consoles were finally released I remember lines for days, people camping out waiting to get ahold of a new PS3 or Xbox 360. Every store that sold them had a line, had a waiting list, and had a mad rush to get one.
Then the Wii was released. Nothing. Nada. Bupkis. I think I saw 5 people at a Walmart on the morning it was to be released. Of course they could have been there for flu shots, too, I don’t know.
Playstations and Xboxs literally flew off the store shelves. You couldn’t get your hands on one for weeks or more after the release. Christmas? Bah! Forget it. Maybe Easter if you were lucky.
And Nintendo seemed to have missed the boat.
Then time passed.
And Nintendo came out with an interesting ad campaign. “Wii want to play” with two Asian guys driving up to people’s homes and competing with them on the Wii console.
And parents, of all people, started to realize that with the Wii you actually interacted and physically participated in it. Instead of having junior sitting like a zombie just moving his thumbs, with a Wii the little lard ass would actually have to get up and get some exercise.
And of course, the inevitable stories of Wii stress injuries — older folks getting injured playing Wii tennis or Wii boxing.
Before you knew it, the Wii was becoming popular. Not with “real” gamers – they still sneered at it (a gamer I know sold his Wii so he could get a PS3 to go along with his Xbox 360, but he’s a lard ass and anything smacking of exercise is distasteful), but with moms and dads who were having fun competing and who saw it as fun exercise for the whole family.
My wife and I were discussing this, debating whether to get our son the Xbox 360 because he really wanted the latest release of Halo or should we get our kids a Wii where they actually have to interact? It was a simple decision, made even simpler by the release of “Metroid Prime 3: Corruption,” a game we saw demoed that looks a heluva lot like Halo.
So that’s going to be our Christmas. A Wii and several games. Now to get one. Suddenly, the news is telling us Wii’s are in short supply. Everyone wants one now. I call around. No one in the area has any. We either have to come in on shipment days and hope. Hope was not an option, I wanted a Wii.
Finally, I had Best Buy search for any Wii anywhere in the area. One store had 13 of them. So I drove 60 miles to get this Wii. But we have it. And now our Christmas is set.
When the game consoles were first released, all the rage was for the PS3 and Xbox 360 while the Wii flew in under everyone’s radar. Now, a year later, PS3s and Xbox 360s sit gather dust on store shelves and the Wii is the one that’s hard to find. Maybe it’s not as powerful as the Playstation or Xbox. Maybe the graphics aren’t as pristine. And maybe it’s not as sexy. But dammit, it’s fun! And isn’t that all that matters when you’re playing a game?