Wii was only the third console I'd ever bought on launch day, following a woefully underused Game Boy Advance and a more-than-adequately used Nintendo DS. Nintendo did a fantastic job building up hype for its 'Revolution', starting with a shell of an announcement at E3 2005 – quite literally, as Satoru Iwata only showed off the system's casing and a brief Metroid Prime teaser. That of course paved the way for a longer unveiling that increased anticipation at each stage. The controller's appearance at the Tokyo Game Show, followed by the huge blow-out at E3 2006, ensured that the road to launch day was an excruciating one.
I pre-ordered my console as soon as I physically could. While I waited I trawled message boards for information, caught up with leftover GameCube titles, watched as Nintendo DS began to take off and somehow found the time to do a degree. I attended demo events and got my first fantastic taste of Wii Sports Tennis, which made the wait even worse. But, eventually, December 2006 rolled around. I picked up my own Wii alongside Wii Play, Red Steel and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. My girlfriend, as excited as I was by this point, insisted that she be the one to clutch the shiny new prize as we trotted home as fast as possible.
As most people likely did, the first game I popped into the slot was Wii Sports. Surprisingly it was the disc that remained in the console for the majority of the day, only removed once to give Twilight Princess and Red Steel each a small amount of screen time. It can't be emphasised just how right Nintendo got it with Wii Sports; throughout the day we played each mini-game, predominantly tennis and bowling, right through until family members returned home from their respective jobs and schools. They each immediately joined in. Nintendo's strategy succeeded within hours of the white box opening.
As a child I had played FIFA, Bubble Bobble and Streets of Rage with my dad, but not until Wii Sports arrived did I see him play a game again. He didn't bother with it for too long, but it was exciting to see nonetheless. As it turned out, it was instead my mother that became the ultimate convert. Once I left home she purchased her own Wii, then a DS. Over the years she has amassed a frankly worrying library, both for its size and for the number of party and DS match-3 puzzle games. She's the only person I know with a backlog worse than my own.
I have many fond memories of Wii's launch. The pre-release mania, where you could spy the gaming side of the Internet reach crazy new heights of hype. The realisation that it had, at least in part, lived up to Nintendo's promises as a game-changer. The moments when it proved itself almost instantaneously whenever a new visitor came to my house. The way it enabled my mum to engage with one of my life-long passions effortlessly in a way that neither of us ever expected.
And, perhaps best of all, it brought me Excite Truck.
To be completely honest, I wasn’t very excited when the Wii first launched. In fact, I was pretty unhappy about the console as a whole.
When it was first announced that the Wii would implement motion controls, I sort of frowned at the idea. I like to think of myself as a traditionalist, and motion controlled gaming doesn’t really fit into my ideal gaming experience. Also, I’m kind of sceptical when it comes to new technology, and more than anything, I like responsive button controls.
On top of the motion controls, when the first images of the Wii Remote were finally released, I nearly lost my mind. Not only was I confused by the design, but I was actually angry about it. I thought that Nintendo had screwed up royally, and I vowed not to buy one and not to support what I had assumed would be the demise of Nintendo as a respectable gaming company. I had been loyal to Nintendo up until this point, but I was deeply considering switching my allegiances.
Thankfully, I couldn’t be more wrong about motion controls being a complete bust, but I still held out. It wasn’t until a few months after launch that I realized that The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess was released as a launch title, and I just couldn’t resist any longer. I was still unsure about my decision to make the purchase, but I couldn’t say no to a new Zelda game, and the idea of actually being able to swing Link’s sword was just enough to push me over that edge, even if I wasn’t fully on-board with the idea of motion controls.
So, I got the Wii and I haven’t looked back since. Sure, Wii motion controls have failed me before and they’re bound to do it again, but I’m not going to lie and say that I don’t enjoy them from time to time. I’ll still bust out Wii Sports every now and again to box a few rounds or serve up a game of tennis, but I still count on precise button controls for my more serious gaming experiences.
I won’t say that I regret ignoring the Wii at launch, but I’m definitely glad that I picked one up sooner than later.