Wii Mais Non
I think you gotta go.
Please be aware — if you have a Wii, and you like that Wii, you can and should continue to enjoy it. I’m not trying to insult you by insulting something you like. Geeks do this thing where, if you don’t like something they don’t like, they take that disdain you placed on said subject and displace it so that the dagger’s tip is pointed right at their own hearts. I know they do it, because sometimes I’m guilty of it, too. (“You don’t like Army of Darkness? Quisling! Benedict Arnold! Die in a fire, Communist dog!”)
They also do this thing where, if they dislike something, they can’t understand how anyone would like it. (“Obviously, you are stupid, because somehow you find enjoyment in Stargate: Miami.”)
This isn’t that.
I have a Wii. I don’t think I want it anymore. You have a Wii? Please, continue enjoying it.
So. The Wii’s on the fast train out of Der Wendighaus, I think. Why is that? I bought it not long after it came out, stalking the Wii shipments at Gamestop the way a tribal hunter stalks gazelle on the veldt. The purpose was to buy it for my wife come Valentine’s Day. Once I found my prey, I speared its heart with a mighty debit card, and dragged it back to my lair. I lied to my wife, said I couldn’t find one. Then I put it in the middle of the living room, and I think I surrounded it in flowers or something. I fade in and out.
She was suitably surprised and impressed, and we spent the first many nights hip-deep in Wii Sports, swatting tennis balls or fake boxing. It was a blast. We created Miis and had them run around. A hoot. Of course, Wii Sports is great, but it’s really a thing without much depth, a thing you show to your grandmother and say, “Here, play, and please don’t shatter your hip on the backhand!” It’s a thing meant to reveal the full potential of this not-yet-fully-operational Death Star. (Really, though, Wii Sports is the manifestation of chasing the dragon: forever pursuing that awesome high, with each attempt falling just too short.)
We went out, then, to get more games.
I won’t go through the full list of games we’ve bought or rented (it includes some standbys, to be sure: Zelda, Paper Mario, Super Mario Galaxy), but let me now note for you a pattern:
None of these games wowed me. None of them begged to be played again and again. That’s not to say we did not enjoy these games, only to say their novelty wore off faster than I’d have preferred, and that lack of novelty often turned toward frustration. One of the problems was the fact that the Wiimotes, while cool, were imperfect. I’d try to do Mario’s spin attack, and half the time he wouldn’t do it, which ended in on-screen death and violent threats against my little white plastic buddy and against the TV, even though the TV was really just an innocent bystander in all this. The other problem was Nintendo. Nintendo as a company has a very strict mold for its games. All those 8-bit soundtracks and text bubbles waxes nostalgic… for about an hour. And then I wonder, why the fuck am I reading a video game? Listen. I like to read. I’m a book-learner. But being subjected to ceaseless rambling text bubbles in Zelda or Mario (bdddt, line of text, bddddt, line of text) started to wear on the brain.
That leads to a perhaps larger issue:
The Wii ain’t that robust of a game console.
I’m not a super-crazy graphics whore. I do not own a PS3 despite its shinier edge (though it calls to me, it calls to me in my dreams). I can still get into older games on my PC. I play games on my iPhone. And yet, I was getting higher-end games on my first-iteration Xbox than I was on the Wii. The Wii is basically a souped-up Gamecube with Wiimote attachments. That, paired with the fact that none of the games really felt knock-out-of-the-park…
The Wii took its first dormant period. The Xbox 360 saw activity every night. Maybe a DVD. Maybe an hour of gameplay. Maybe a track for Rock Band or a game preview or demo or whatever. The Wii slumbered. Cocooned, perhaps hoping to one day turn into a beautiful butterfly.
Then, two more options reared their heads for the Wii.
One, downloadable games.
Two, the Wii Balance Board.
Hot! Yes. The Wii’s second wind was a-coming. Butterfly, emergent!
Oooh, wait. Slam on those brakes, Earnhardt.
First, the downloadable games problem. Nintendo very clearly does not want you downloading games, even though they have made a growing catalog of old and new games available. Imagine, if you will, that someone tells you that they have made available to you an entire cupboard of delectable treats, and you can have those treats any time you’d like. However, getting those treats in hand (and thus, in mouth), you have to first solve a complex lockpicking test, and then punch yourself in the mouth three times while holding a roll of quarters. Getting games off the Wii’s downloadable service was an exercise in pain. Enter the credit card number. Re-enter the credit card number because you probably fucked it up the first time. Swap files off the memory card with the hard drive, because the Wii basically had the robust memory capacities of my Tandy 1000 SX from the late-80s. Punch self in mouth. Bleed. Cry. Play a game through a veil of tears.
That problem may be better by now. I dunno. What I know is that it was frustrating for a long time, and it soured me on that experience. Xbox Live makes it almost too easy to download stuff. I fugue out, and wake up in the same position — except I’ve downloaded like, ten Rock Band tracks I’ve never even heard of.
Second, the Wii balance board.
Ahh, balance board. You were almost enough to save the Wii. Thisclose.
But, say it with me: problems ensue.
Well, really one problem: I am not a small Japanese man. The balance board would like me to be. Or, at least, it would prefer I be a delicate lady with tiny feet. I don’t have huge feet, and I’m not a lumbering leviathan (“This toilet is too small for my tremendous buttocks! This cellular phone is lost in my cavernous ear canals! This world is not meant for me and my Nephilim friends! It is time to leave this place and find an ISLAND OF GIANTS!”), but the balance board felt too small for me. Wii Fit didn’t help. Wii Fit was another self-punching-mouth affair. I’d get on. It would yell at me and tell me I was a blubbering pasty grub. (I developed a habit of standing on it three times in a row for the fitness evaluation — you’d be amazed at how wildly the pendulum swung, offering three divergent readouts.)
I would exercise for 30-45 minutes, clicking through the exercises since you couldn’t program your own workout, and half of them were frustrating (jogging in place was cool, but the Wiimote’s imperfect functionality often had the software yelling at me, with my Mii running like his endocrine system was flopping between a meth-high and a quaalude-low), and given that we had to clear our living room of significant objects just to exercise, it once more added to the pile of frustrations the Wii has dealt us. Never mind that, despite a rather serious devotion to Wii Fit over the course of months, I barely lost any weight at all.
It’s since lain dormant for about seven months. I think spiders live there, now.
I understand that the Wiimote now has a more precise attachment. Bully for the Wiimote. That means I spend more money on a game system whose benefits lie in a ceaseless parade of half-functional peripherals. Mmmm. No.
So, what to do, what to do? Keep it? It looks nice by the television. Occasionally, it’s little mouth glows bright blue, filling our nighttime living room with the ambient glow of Japanese promise.
As pretty and as cute as it is, I just don’t know that I can justify holding onto it.
So, Wii. Unless you receive a reprieve from the governor, it’s a bullet in the back of the head for you.
You were very cute.
You just weren’t that fun.
Rest in piece.
Love, Li’l Chucky Wendig, Age 9 and Three-Quarters