As E3 2012 and a Wii U bonanza looms ever closer, we're currently in the middle of a series of features that explore previous Nintendo console launches. We've already written about the magic of console launches, while editor James Newton was joined by Joe Walker in our most recent podcast, When We Were Excited About Wii. We're sticking with Wii today as it was a console launch, in some ways, unlike any other. It wasn't just a new system to enjoy, it was a new way to play games, truly a Revolution, even if Nintendo ultimately decided to go with a different name.
Four of our staff members have decided to look back on the launch of Wii and share their stories.
The Wii was the first system I ever bought at launch, so the whole thing was a lot of fun for me. From the tease at E3 2005 to the blowout the following year, I was like an internet bloodhound, sniffing out the tiniest morsels of information as often as I could. At the time, I was working at GameStop and I was staff on a large Animal Crossing message board, so I was constantly surrounded by people who were as excited as I was which only intensified my own impatience.
I waited all day in my store, from 8 AM to midnight for my console, spending the entire day buzzing around and being impatient with my friends. We’d look at the clock constantly, pass the time with the demo console and sessions of ExciteTruck and Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz, and scarf down inhuman amounts of junk food. Although the name of the console had changed, it was still the harbinger of a gaming revolution, and we’d be the first to take the plunge.
I bought my system at midnight and drove home far faster than I should have, savouring the experience of opening the box (which I may or may not have smelled) and placing the system on the empty spot on my entertainment center I had cleared out weeks before. I only lasted a little over an hour before I passed out from exhaustion, but the entire next day was spent diving into the system with my two roommates. Looking back at my Wii message board, we clocked in over nine hours of gaming that Sunday. We had been playing games together for years, but I don’t think we had ever been as transfixed on anything the way we were with the Wii.
I was an incredibly devoted Wii fan for quite a while, and while other consoles were eventually added to my arsenal and the amount of time I spent with it started to dwindle, my affection for the little white console never diminished. Popping in a new Wii game always felt good and brought me back to the times of excitement so palpable I could feel it in my stomach. I'll always love it.
At Wii’s launch, I was actually at a point in my life where I was in my mid-twenties, making a lot of money and my main hobby at this point in life was actually fast cars and even faster motorcycles, instead of gaming. Even still, in the year before Wii’s launch, many weekends were filled with laughter and fun, as I played games like Dance Dance Revolution and Smash Bros. Melee on the GameCube with friends.
Then Wii launched. While I initially didn’t preorder the system (mistake), my brother-in-law got lucky and scored a Wii at launch without a preorder. He quickly gave me a call while I was at work to let me know the great news. As soon as I finished my route at work that afternoon, I blazed over to play it for the first time.
Walking in and seeing everyone laughing and smiling while playing Wii Sports is a memory I’ll never forget. We played Wii Sports until every arm in the house was in pain that night, and stayed up far later than I should have. From then on, many nights and weekends found us all trying to best each other at tennis or bowling in Wii Sports, or flinging around controllers in Rayman Raving Rabbids. One night, in the heat of a Raving Rabbids baseball minigame, my sister-in-law smacked my brother-in-law right in the back of the head with the Wii Remote. At launch, Wii Remotes didn’t come with their gel encasing and, well, as you can probably guess, it hurt, but it was still extremely funny nonetheless.
In the months following launch my lack of a preorder cost me. I frequently found myself standing in long lines around the city for hours on end, and was about to shell out a significantly large amount of cash when a friend of mine gave me a call with a tip, and I simply walked into a GameStop and purchased a Wii like there was never even a shortage.
Even before I acquired my own though, Wii had instantly become a part of our lives from the first second we put our hands on a Remote. So much so that, seven months after Wii’s launch, my wife and I were married by a friend of ours who’s a pastor and, unbeknownst to us, she worked in a quick Wii joke in our wedding ceremony right before we said our “I do’s” and I kissed my beautiful bride.
I’ve helped Mario rescue his Princess over and again since I was a child and I guess he decided to return the favour, and helped me to find a Princess of my own.