Wii: 2007's Most Wanted
Something for the Wii-kend?
Of all Nintendo's various achievements, surely its most consistent is in simultaneously pissing off and delighting its faithful European customers. For twenty-five years the company has wowed us with innovative technology and wonderfully robust and inventive games, filling reservoirs of consumer goodwill in a way few other multinationals manage. In tension with this, interminable localisation delays, sloppy, bordered conversions and,- most heart-breakingly - an ever-slim line-up of releases has made it clear that Europe is literally the least of the Japanese company's global concerns.
Never has the conflict been so obvious as it is with Wii in 2007. On the one hand the decision to bypass the HD race and instead invest in new ways to allow people to interact with their televisions is cause for celebration. But the months of waiting for titles like Paper Mario or Trauma Centre to make it from America to the UK is simply unacceptable at a time when simultaneous worldwide releases are commonplace on other systems.
Most Wanted lists like those featured in this series bring out the worst in a readership (as 300-odd furious comments in our previous two articles demonstrate with car-crash appeal). For many gamers who own just one of the three main players, defending their chosen machine is not just about fighting for its honour but also about justifying their own wisdom as a consumer. Gamers who have eschewed Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 for a Wii may well fight with similar (also pointless) vigour, but with so few games in the Wii's catalogue, they certainly have a lot less ammunition. Newfound gaming grannies and mainstream press column inches don't pack quite the same punch as a Halo 3 or Metal Gear Solid 4 in the playground debates.
Still, few players, deep down, really want Wii to fail. Its approach is - as with so much of Nintendo's output - brave and refreshing and alternatives and competition are always a good thing. But European gamers rightly feel trodden upon by Nintendo Europe's leisurely approach to releases, and whatever the internal politics or reasons for this, the frustrated consumer should always remain right.
Who knows whether the following games will make it out this year? In the battle between our anticipation and our impatience towards Nintendo, it's imperative that not only the majority of these games appear before Christmas, but also that they exceed their ever-dating promises. Anything less and core gamers (a demographic Nintendo effectively created) might leave and never come back - albeit with a DS tucked snugly in their back pocket.
Super Mario Galaxy
- Release Date: 30th Nov 2007
In some ways it's the only release here that really matters. Wii Zelda has been, gone and, on reflection, disappointed a little bit. But Super Mario is to videogames what no single film could be described as being to film. It's a name and face and style and pace totally synonymous with the medium and for good reason. The company's flagship series defined the lines of risk and reward that almost every videogame has traced since.
Each new iteration's innovations have shunted games forward with a force few others have managed. If Miyamoto's game follows in the footsteps of its forbears it will demonstrate where the limits of the hardware stand and how best to break them. Wii devotees pray this will be the game to realise the Wiimote's weighty potential in ways that other titles have only alluded to.
Platform games might not be the most important videogame genre any more, but the core Super Mario series has increasingly flown high above such clumsy distinctions. If all goes to plan, this will be a masterclass for all developers and genres to watch keenly. That all-important third word in the title is telling. 64 and Sunshine be damned, it's time to leap from Super Mario World into the Super Mario Galaxy, a titular boast that must be fully met to cement Wii's reputation as something more than a jumped-up Eye-Toy machine amongst dedicated gamers.