Where Wii goin’?

I believe in the Wii. I have faith in the console, its technology, and the styles of play that are possible with the tools available to the gamer. There is so much potential in that little white box that has yet to be tapped into.

Just prior to launch, my vision for what the Wii had to offer the gaming world was as follows:

(Nov. 10, 2006) – Total immersion. It’s sort of a vague idea, but when I think of the Wii and it’s input method, I am always seduced by the idea of the player’s hands existing as permanent fixtures within the game world. One might think, “but doesn’t that happen already in FPS on Wii?” Well, yes and no. The hands are always there, but their function is strictly limited. My idea is that the actions of the gamer are represented in a one-to-one fashion on-screen. Consider the following as an example:

If a player should happen upon an object in a particular game and decide that they simply must interact with it, then reaching a hand forward could cause a congruent gesture by the in-game avatar — it would reach for the object. At this point, the item isn’t picked up, but simply pushed around. Why? Well, the Wii-mote can also simulate grasping motions. The A and B buttons oppose each other just the same as do fingers and thumbs. Pressing the two in concert can translate to gripping any object in the virtual world. If an object isn’t available, the result would simply be a fist — which has it’s own separate implications. If something is there, however, there are multiple new options available, and all are viable with no further control-mapping required. If the object is small, then a twist of the wrist allows for examination. If it is a ladder, moving hand-over-hand allows easy ascent. A tree or rock face can be scaled in similar fashion. Large objects can be pushed or pulled to clear or block a path. The list goes on…

I can imagine countless possibilities when it comes to combat, and just as many for puzzle-solving situations. At the most basic level of combat, punching and grappling are now possible in a truly interactive way, and as I’ve already described, weapons can be manipulated to strike or shoot from all angles. At the same time, complex combat routines will arise from the very same set of controls. Environment interaction is a key possibility, as well – weapon improvisation can become a fun and creative option for dispatching foes. As for general exploration, gestures as simple as turning cranks, placing items, and pulling levers can now provide the player with a feeling of accomplishment, when previously they represented the most mundane of activities. This level of interaction can essentially recapture much of the joy of gaming because it dissolves habituation to gameplay mechanics experienced by so many gamers.

The Wii has the potential to make everything fresh again.

It’s true. Games that make a switch over from traditional control styles to fully-implemented Wii…ness present a brand new sort of experience to gamers. I know it because when I pick up games like Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition or Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, there is a short, unfamiliar learning curve to the controls themselves, as if I am a novice gamer again, just learning the mechanical aspect of gaming for the first time.

This is not a bad thing, though, because I can understand the situation; adapting to something new can take time. I enjoy the discovery of it all.

Over the course of the Wii’s short history, my outlook hasn’t always been the same. Early this year, during the yearly doldrums of the videogame industry, I questioned where the real support for Nintendo’s console was — where the true games were. Was every release to be a glorified tech demo, or a collection of casual minigames? Was the depth of the software pool to be restricted to the shallow end? I asked myself, “If the Gamecube had full-scale, ‘feature-length’ games, then why can’t the Wii?”

Well, I see good things in the future. Games like the recently released Metroid Prime 3 and the upcoming Manhunt 2 remind me that “real” games can and will find their way onto the system, and future releases such as Capcom’s Zack & Wiki and the thriller adventure Sadness tell me that innovative gameplay mechanics are indeed being experimented with in interesting ways (ways other than minigame overkill). Then of course there’s Super Mario Galaxy. :-)

Maybe my hopes for the Wii will one day be fully realized, and I’ll find myself exploring a vast, highly interactive game world. Until then, you can find me blasting space pirates, executing hunters, and manipulating select virtual objects.


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Author: Eddie Inzauto View all posts by
Eddie has been writing about games on the interwebz for over ten years. You can find him Editor-in-Chiefing around these parts, or talking nonsense on Twitter @eddieinzauto.

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