The problem with the Wii control

Let me preface this post with the fact that I like the Wii remote. I think it is the fresh change in the gaming world that was much needed to bring some innovation into what has become drab games. And many games do use the control very very well.

Those games thus far have been almost exclusively Nintendo games however, and it turns out this has been an issue. I know many fans will say that it is the third-party’s faults because they are just porting games half-assed onto the Wii, and to some extent this is true. But there are some studios out there who are putting an honest effort into it and still coming up short. The reason has little to do with effort, and a lot to do with the fact that it seems very few third parties have actually figured it out. Maybe we could chalk it up to being SO revolutionary that it is taking time to catch up, but the honest to god truth of the matter is that I just don’t think Nintendo gave companies time to work with it.

I recall back when the control was announced a couple years ago and before it, there were only maybe a dozen companies who had a dev kit in hand, and it took months afterwards to get it into others… A big reason for this was that Nintendo wanted to keep the control under wraps, but the end effect was that we ended up with a year and a half of crappy games coming from third parties. Nintendo has proven that the remote can work with serious games such as Zelda & Mario, however they seem to be the only ones. Even the team who did Elebits, which was above average for controls on the Wii, I think had issues that showed (who doesn’t get frustrated trying to open a door or turn that little knob).

When Nintendo makes a game, it is intuitive, easy to pick up game that you just know how to play almost regardless of the game. When anyone else does it, you have to sit with the instruction book and try to figure out what it means by looking at pictures trying to describe the movements you need to make to do something simple. Has anyone played Tony Hawk on the Wii? Good lord I have no idea how to do anything in that game! Yet for some reason I think a game like Tony Hawk should work really well on the Wii and should really revitalize the game and make it worth playing again, but it isn’t even worth looking at.

I don’t know what Nintendo does with third-parties, I think they just let them have it with very little documentation. But they really need to help these guys figure out how to program for this thing. I don’t care what they do, even if they send in developers to show them how it is done. Nintendo is doing a great job selling systems, but if they don’t get third-parties on board, the system will die really fast without a decent flow of games to support it. Right now, the main draw of it to me is the Virtual Console and the upcoming WiiWare, but for a lot of people, they just prefer the X-Box live which offers a similar experience, but just online with other people and new features in old games.

I think my daughter summed up the problem right now with the controller this weekend. We visited a game development company and she saw a poster which advertised one of their games on the wall and she said she wanted it. It just so happens this game was an early Wii game and as such it had a gamecube counterpart. Knowing this, she stated that she wanted the Gamecube version for it. Why? Because it is easier to learn how to play. This is a huge problem.