With the Wii U only days away from being released, it seems appropriate that we take a look in the rearview mirror. After all, even though Wii hasn't been newsworthy in recent months, it still outsold the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. But, more importantly, this little system changed the gaming industry forever.
When the Wii was announced at E3 in 2005, tech journalists in nearly every genre immediately chuckled at Nintendo's latest innovation. Not only was it not marketed at hardcore gamers, it wasn't really marketed toward gamers at all. The system felt like a glorified party favor, like one of those glowing swords that children buy at carnivals and never play with once the carnival leaves town.
But Nintendo was confident in their console. It wasn't the most powerful system on the market, but it had potential. And within months of its release, Nintendo was doing the chuckling.
Motion gaming was a concept that Nintendo had been toying with for years. The Power Pad and Power Glove were both prototype motion control systems, so I'm not sure why we were all so surprised by the Wii's setup. It was just Nintendo being Nintendo.
Luckily, this time around, the developer had refined their technology well beyond the Power Glove's jittery, imprecise controls. And, as an added bonus, they started releasing titles that not only showed off the hardware, but were genuinely fun. Nintendo had taken everything they'd learned from previous hardware releases and combined it with their knack for creating quirky little software titles like WarioWare. Only this time, everyone could play together (hence the console's goofy title).
Sony and Microsoft quickly took notice and were forced to release motion control systems of their own. But neither of their solutions never really had the charm or broad-based social appeal that the Wii had naturally. Either way, motion controls quickly became the biggest buzzword in the industry, and, whether you like them or not, they're here to stay.
It's far too early to tell how the world is going to react to the Wii U. but Sony and Microsoft have preemptively developed their own versions of the Wii U technology (SmartGlass and the Vita's Cross Control), which means that they're already worried about what Nintendo has up their sleeve.
The Wii U may never become the hardcore gamer's go-to machine. But, just like the Wii, it might become a mainstay in every college dorm, community center, and family room around the country. We'll just have to see what Nintendo does next.
Date: November 15, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*