Will the Wii U win back the older Nintendo fanbase?

by Nathan Misa Featured 11 Comments 33 Votes 20828 Views 20/11/2012 Back to Articles

For the majority of this generation, I’ve ignored the Wii and anything Nintendo. It wasn’t due to its lack of HD graphics, or being too “hardcore” or old for Nintendo, or because I thought the Wii was too “kiddy”.

No, I ignored the Wii because -- while I understood Nintendo’s strategy to provide for an untapped demographic that Sony and Microsoft did not recognise until much later -- its games no longer had that Nintendo “magic” for me.

Certainly a great console in its own right, but one I will remember as the weakest of N's consoles.

I consider myself a massive Nintendo fanboy back in the day, having grown up with the SNES, N64 and Gamecube. I know how extremely loyal and insistent one can be in regards to childhood memories of the Big N's classics. I was guilty of sometimes blindly worshipping anything Pokemon, Mario, or Animal Crossing related and perhaps hyping up Nintendo’s offerings more than they could live up to, but more often than not, they did.

Still halfway through high school when the Wii launched in 2006, I didn’t know what to expect when my most Nintendo-loyal friend invited my crew over to his place to try it out for the first time. Like I suspect for most older Nintendo fans, Wii Sports and Twilight Princess were great and exciting and the best thing EVER... at first.

When you’re older, time passes on by a lot faster than as a kid. Consequently, the novelty of waving a motion control around to perform virtual movements in virtual bowling and tennis when I could walk down the street and play them both in real life wore off very, very quickly. The motion mechanics were clever, and certainly cool, but I didn't and still wouldn't consider them innovative or fun as so many relentlessly devoted hardcore Wii fans argue.

Twilight Princess itself was the Zelda all of us had waited for, but when I found out it had come out for the Gamecube as well, I quickly snapped a copy up and played it on my beloved and neglected ‘Cube -- and my all-time favourite gaming controller -- instead. I didn't have to wave the Wiimote around like a sword to experience Zelda in its fullest.

Gamecube titles were pretty much the only things I played on the Wii.

The Wii’s lack of true online functionality also did not impress me; Friend Codes were a chore when playing Mario Kart Wii or Brawl. It also didn't help that the third-party offerings were either poor ports or dead promises, and practically no new exclusive franchises were introduced to lure me back in. The ones that were continued either were lazily updated with little change but functionality for the Wiimote (Pikmin 1 & 2, and Animal Crossing City Folk) or destroyed utterly (Metroid: Other M, Tales of Symphonia 2: Dawn of a New World).

It wasn’t long before I got lost in my Xbox 360, and my hype for Super Smash Bros Brawl or any decent first-party Nintendo game faded away. Sure, the Wii did live up to Nintendo's business expectations and sold like hotcakes, took the untapped markets by storm, and dominated the 360 and PS3... in sales. But I cared nothing for sales.

Games like Brawl, Kirby's Epic Yarn, Twilight Princess (most of my playtime on the Gamecube) and Galaxy 1 & 2 are the only big Nintendo titles that offered a hardcore or traditional Nintendo experience without the controller feeling like a gimmick or the gameplay too casual. For a long-time Nintendo gamer, it should be a much larger list. While quantity never triumphs over quality, the number of classics I can name for the N64 and SNES that I loved to bits makes the barren list for the Wii, well, a bit saddening. I don't want that same feeling with the Wii U, and I definitely don't want to leave Nintendo and all of its awesome games in the backburner next-generation because of hardware, controller and gameplay gimmicks masked as "innovations".

And no, I don’t count games like New Super Mario Bros or Donkey Kong Country Returns as memorable classics because they’re just rehashes of what we’ve seen before, lazily released by Nintendo in hopes to shut the disgruntled long-term fans up and make a quick buck rather than truly introduce a new and exciting title. It'd be easy for me as a retro Nintendo fan to just shut up and say the Wii was great due to these throwback titles, but the loyal gamer in me says I can't.

With the Wii U's impending release in Australia, I did eventually buy a Wii for myself earlier this year, to try and re-capture the good old Nintendo days in my own home and perhaps debunk my unrealistic expectations and just enjoy the games for what they are. I tried desperately to to work up the genuine desire to play through my very neglected Wii collection and re-involve myself in Nintendo's goodies in preparation for the "next-gen".

But seeing and playing through the novel ways the motion control was implemented in games from Animal Crossing Wild World to Skyward Sword makes it feel like a chore similar to Kinect games, and the complete lack of true online gaming and third-party support still baffles me to no end, and it makes me cautious as to what might happen with the Wii U and its Gamepad and reportedly less than stellar online services. I wouldn't say I'm not necessarily excited or hopeful for the Wii U; I just feel uneasy in investing in Nintendo's newest console when I was able to forget the last one and its empty promises of innovation so easily. It saddens me, considering the amount of past gaming classics Nintendo have produced and that I've played religiously to no end.

Wii 2.0. or a true leap forward?

To all those extremely loyal and unfazed fans who stayed and played the Wii to the end: yeah yeah, I get it, Nintendo changed the ways of gaming and didn't care if I refused to move on with them. But they should have cared. Only now do they recognise their mistake, actively trying to win back the older ‘hardcore’ fanbase back with a traditional controller, mature titles and Nintendo Network efforts now that they realise the casuals, parents and kids only invested in the Wii for so long. Better late than never, I guess.

Despite my lack of love for the Wii, I had a go of the Wii U at a Community Night event at one of Nintendo’s various set-ups last week, with an open mind about the future. I had an extensive play of New Super Mario Bros. U, ZombiU -- which has been critically panned -- and Nintendo Land.

I enjoyed playing the mini-games of Nintendo Land and jumping around as Luigi in Mario U, and while all three were relatively fun and the Gamepad certainly a more intriguing and creative way of playing as opposed to the motion controllers, I'm still a bit hesitant to invest in the next-gen if the gameplay suffers because of novelty. ZombiU in particular lived up to my fears in that while the concepts of coming back as different survivors and using the Gamepad to manage inventory sound cool, the gameplay itself was lackluster and using the Gamepad for inventory or light felt gimmicky.

Still, the Wii U seems like Nintendo's chance to truly have the best of both gaming worlds -- casual and core, whatever those terms mean these days. Despite my caution, it has an undeniably strong launch line-up that caters for everyone and it finally has the hardware and online capabilities that so many other Nintendo fans have wanted for years. Whether the switch to HD, more third-party support and a tablet are enough to truly take us to the next-gen or make things fun for more than a few plays is still something I'm weary about.

Do you think the Wii U’s offerings are enough to bring the 'core' back? What or how can Nintendo strike that balance they now claim they are going to achieve?

By Nathan Misa

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Will the Wii U win back the older Nintendo fanbase? Comments

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If you dismissed the Wii you're a moron.
The Wii U will be no different, but that's not a bad thing because the Wii had an amazing library.

The fact that you're dismissing Donkey Kong Country Returns of all games is hilarious.
If you were truly happy with what the Wii offered in software in comparison to Nintendo's older consoles, than I admire you. I was just speaking in the perspective of a Nintendo guy who loves all of their franchises to bits, but didn't quite click with their casual and motion-centric direction in the Wii. I'm sure I'm not the only one.

The library had some great Nintendo-exclusive standouts. Zelda, Brawl, Kirby's Epic Yarn and AC: City Folk (to an extent, I still feel the CG version is the best) but other than them, I found myself playing Virtual Console offerings, most of which I already own on older consoles, and collecting forgotten Gamecube games rather than playing crap like Link's Crossbow Training, Mario Party 8, or Wii Fit, Wii Fitness, Wii Music, Wii Play. *shudders*.

I'm only talking about Nintendo first-party stuff btw. There were some standout third-party games that weren't gimmicky like Xenoblade, Monster Hunter, and Last Story.

I'm hopeful for the Wii U to pull me back in though. The Gamepad feels a lot more fun and creative and less gimmicky than the Wii's motion controls. And I love the new classic controller and the feel of it.
Xenoblade is first party.
You keep losing credibility.
I see I'm a bit behind because Monolith Soft used to be owned by Namco back in the Xenosaga days on the PS2, but they're now owned wholly by Nintendo as of a few years ago. Still, that means they're second party, and they've produced franchises for other consoles. I was speaking primarily about Nintendo-centric and created franchises. But was Xenoblade enough for you? I personally enjoyed it but it wasn't enough to bring me back to the Wii for more than a day or two.

And how am I losing credibility? This is an opinion piece so I'm not exactly stating fact that the Wii sucked or was disappointing. I just personally felt it was. :P

How do you feel the Wii U will bring back the older fanbase they want back, btw?

Tyrus said: And how am I losing credibility?

Calling DKCR (87/100 average score, developed by freaking Retro Studios, considered one of the best games on the system) a 'lazy rehash' shows you have no idea what you're talking about.

And yes, I can honestly say the Wii Mario and Zelda's are better than on the SNES and N64. The galaxy's are some of the best games ever made, and Skyward Sword is second only to Wind Waker imo.

Tyrus said: How do you feel the Wii U will bring back the older fanbase they want back, btw?

I think if they haven't given games like DKCR a chance, they won't give the Wii U a chance.
So what if it got 87/100 average score? Everyone's got their own score and I just didn't like it that much, doesn't mean I don't know what I'm talking about. That's like saying everyone who don't enjoy COD and think it's just an annual re-hash don't know what they're talking about just because its Metacritic score is 83% (if we're just talking professional critic aggregates).

I personally just felt DKCR was an easy, comfortable rehash for Retro Studios rather than anything innovative or new. But it was still awesome fun, just not something you'd be hooked on for more than a few days at most. The main thing it did do great over the original SNES trilogy was co-op, but it otherwise just felt like another updated retro title for the Wii (rather than a completely new direction for the franchise) designed to shut up the disgruntled old-school Nintendo fans begging for some actual games.

I really liked Galaxy but can't say it was the best of the lot as so many Nintendo fans relentlessly proclaim it to be. And I feel Skyward Sword is fairly overrated. Twilight Princess is actually the better one on the Wii imo, though I love Wind Waker and Majora the most.

I gave DKCR a chance as an older Nintendo fan. It's a good game, but I got bored of it because it's just another throwback title, like New Super Mario Bros U. is and will prove to be.

The real interesting titles on the Wii U so far are the second and third-party efforts so if anything pulls me back in, so far, it seems games like Scribblenauts Unlimited and Bayonetta 2 will. I really would love to hear about a completely new -- and not just updated -- Animal Crossing, F-Zero or Star Fox though, or even an entirely new Nintendo franchise that doesn't begin with "Wii".
Bring back Super Metroid. I don't like the Prime series. [Rage]
Wii had some games ill never forgot.. Eledees/elibits, zelda twilight princess, animal crossing, paper mario I finished from start to finish.. True I always went back to my Xbox but I'm so happy I had the privilege to play these games.
The short and sad answer is no. Everyone I know that primarily play on 360 or PS3 has zero interest in the Wii U. Even those that owned and played Nintendo systems in the past.
Nice article! It was very well written.
when the wii first came out it was amazing!
and then after like a year it felt really obsolete
Nintendo have been playing it too safe and not offering revolutionary, or up to date features.
i dont know why they couldnt include achievements in the wii u and way more stuff, if they dont release a new console within 2 years or the ps4 of 720, i dont know what nintendo are thinking, actually i do, they are moving to a casual audience and are completely leaving the old hardcore nintendo fans nowhere.

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