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Feature: Staff Memories of the Wii Launch

Posted by Nintendo Life Staff

Mike Mason

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.

Ron DelVillano

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.

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User Comments (40)




Wow, that was a interesting read I wasn't expecting that. I found it hard to imagine going from the GC and PS2 controller to a wiimote and nunchuck. Once I tried it though I was hooked right up till now (and beyond). Prefer it to old controller set up to my great surprise. Most importantly, it brought my family into gaming like never before. The ultimate social gaming experience. All time greats have appeared on this console and I've played more games on this console and the DS (each) than any other in history.



MitchVogel said:

Yeah I picked up a Wii about 3 years after launch. That was quite a mistake!



hYdeks said:

I picked up a Wii about 2 years after and absolutely loved it! Than it died, I decided to go PS3, I still own it but I don't care to use it other than for fighting games and blu-ray movies. So, than I just bough a new flat no-gamecube wii with NSMB Wii and I've been playing the hell out of it every day since I got another one. The PS3 is collecting alot of dust



Yanchamaru said:

I disregarded the launch because I thought the Wii was a horrible name, the motion controls seemed like a gimmick and the graphics were not very good. However, I fell in love with the white box after playing Wii Sports at my aunt & uncle cottage. Then I found out about the Virtual Console and knew I must have this system.



WingedSnagret said:

The Wii was my first video game console (got it as a birthday gift in 2010 actually) and thus began my journey into Nintendo fandom!



cecesigue said:

I remember buying the thing on Saturday and went to the store by walking. I carried the box for like ten blocks and i was almost running. I smell the inside of the box, and I also remember the hurting arm and shoulder of every person that owned it. Good care free times!



Emaan said:

I got the Wii one year later, in 2007. It was the first game system to really get everyone in my family to play together. I have great memories of Christmas day playing non-stop with everyone.



KLZ said:

My first wii game was metroid prime 3 and it was awesome.



armoredghor said:

I remember the launch day was spent in front of walmart, basically having a DS lan party. It was a good time.



MAB said:

Pre-ordered mine and went to a midnight launch. Waited for 2 hours outside EB Games with my ticket in hand in anticipation for my number to be called. My number was not called and the clerks told everyone that is it shows over I almost had a heart attack. The Mad Aussie Bloke came out of me at that point, I said 'are you effing for real mate I've been waiting 2 hours for a system that was paid for months prior and now I'm effing not gonna get it, you for real bro'. After that the clerk gave me the Wii he had put aside for himself so it worked out well in the end. I went home, set it up and played Red Steel and Wii Sports all night then went to work all bleary-eyed but energised to plough through work just to go home and get back into Red Steel again. Great memories



aaronsullivan said:

I remember waiting in line at Target and talking to people in the line. They were completely non-traditional gamers and yet they were anxiously waiting to get one and excited about the possibilities. When I got home, the power adapter DID NOT WORK. Fortunately, my brother got one, so we were playing before we knew it.

I'm still amazed at how the initial experience of Wii Sports was never quite matched. The feeling of Tennis was almost holographic as the game encouraged you to imagine exactly when the ball was hitting your "racket." So few developers really tried to tap into the best parts of the controller. Wii Motion is a fantastic improvement, but so few games have taken advantage and important games that could have used it came and went (Metroid Prime 3, for intense.)

I really hope that the Wii U sort of pushes Wii Motion Wii remotes along with the new controller. The plan for the next Zelda seems to include it, so maybe there's hope. Could the Wii U come with a Wii motion controller packed in so everyone gets one? I doubt it, but it might be a good idea.



CanisWolfred said:

I remember getting Nintendo Power around that time. I remember it, because nearly every Launch game except Wii Sports turned out to be utter crap. I was never more disappointed in my life. I still had hope, though. Metroid Prime 3 was still on the horizon, after all.



Mercury9 said:

Had my Wii since launch. Literally jumped up off it's stand after spitting out Brawl. Got it fixed. Years later, same thing. On both occasions, the lens had blew out.
I haven't used the VC as much as much as I should have. I could count on both hands the number of my downloads.

In the years after it's launch my use of it has dwindled so much I still like it but, I don't know. I've grown detached from it. I had dozens of games for it and It was always online but now it just sleeps beside the TV waiting for it's big brother to take over.

I'm mostly about handheld gaming nowadays. I loved the craziness at the beginning but when it settled down, for me at least I lost interest with the casual direction Nintendo went in. But it has it's AAA classics and gave me some great memories

Thank you Wii. You came. You saw. You conquered.



MrHandsforth said:

i remembered the time my brother came from college, and he brought his Nintendo Wii, i expected it to be big, but it was small and light, ah good times.



RevolverLink said:

I remember waiting 26th in line at Best Buy for launch, only to just miss the cut when the store received only half of their expected 48 Wii shipment. That was a cold morning. I did end up getting my own console just a couple weeks later, though, thanks to my pre-order with Game Crazy.

In hindsight, I should've stayed to true to my personal "wait a year" rule that I have for all consoles, especially because the PS2, my then primary gaming system, was still going strong with high-quality software at the time. The Wii exclusives didn't really start getting good until at least half a year later.



Jono97 said:

When the release of the Nintendo Wii cam out on the news, I was a total newbie. So I'm like "HOW's this possible?"... Too bad I only started being a fan of nintendo when the DS i came out in Japan



Jon2 said:

I bought my Wii in February 2008 soley for the VC. I have since downloaded way too many VC games but I've had good fun and most of them will never get old. It took almost a year before I bought a Wii game. I have bought a few Wii games since and I play occasionally but not as much as I did when I first bought the system.



TKOWL said:

Ah, the Wii launch. Back when I was excited to wait in line for 20 minutes in the freezing February 2007 cold in front of a Target just to play some crappy baseball and boxing, having to wait another year until the only reason to own the system, Brawl, came out.

Dark times, it was.



Randomname19 said:

@EvisceratorX Same here,I was too busy keeping up via emulators with all the games that I missed when i didn't knew Nintendo.And the're still some game that I haven't played*curses himself for getting a Playstation instead of a Nintendo 64*



TKOWL said:

Everyone guys, hold the phone, end my life

Someone has an opinion about a game.



Knux said:

Twilight Princess was utter cr*p, and that's a fact of life.

Ironically, I bought my Wii sometime after launch from eBay because it was selling like hotcakes back in the day. The first game I played was Wii Sports and some VC games.

It's far from being a perfect console, but it certainly has some good games.



MrWu said:

I played Twilight Princess on the Wii and liked the sword mechanic. If anything I wish there was an option for Twilight Princess controls for skyward sword.

I remember the Wii launch, it was something very unique indeed. Waking up at 5am in the morning, arriving at Zellers (Canadian discount dept. store) and literally see someone walk out of a car up to the door just as I arrived.

The store had 1 Wii to sell that day, I didn't get it.



Not-Another-Ad said:

I got my Wii in spring 2008 with Mario Kart Wii,Cars Mator National and Pirates of the Carribean At Worlds End.
Good Times.



ADaviii said:

I got Wii back in 2006. It was the console that kept me in gaming for one more generation!

I'll never forget it. My mom and I ended up staying the night at Meijers all night long to get one of the first Wii consoles (yes, I got my Wii on launch day). Even though it gets a lot of hate on the internet on non-Nintendo related websites, I found Wii to be the most fun I had in a game console (probably because I could play older games on it, but still!).

Fast forward to now, and I am back in the situation I was in before. This is going to be the first E3 I'm really not the excited about. Yes, Wii U is on the way, but I'm not really expecting a lot from it not because I don't think Nintendo can deliver on it, but because I don't believe 3rd parties will. I love my Mario, Zelda, and such, but this trend of 3rd parties making movies rather than games doesn't seem to be letting up anytime soon . And if I am going to buy Wii U just for Nintendo games, I may as well wait a few years and pick it up for cheap.

And I still have no interest in what Sony and Microsoft have to offer.

But Nintendo has changed my mind before with Wii. If they can do it again with Wii U, I'll be more than happy!



Burning_Spear said:

Wii awakened me from a gaming slumber and provided a great outlet during a difficult personal time. IMO, Nintendo has delivered a great set of games over the past six years while providing a system that gave third parties the ability to reach nearly 100 million gamers. Sure, some things could have been done better, but every console has room for improvement. If there was a failing, I believe it belonged to third-party developers who were adverse to using their imagination. I'm sad to see the Wii ride off into the sunset, but I'm looking forward to the future.



kdognumba1 said:

Very good read. When I first heard of the Wii and first saw the controller I was NOT excited at all. But then E3 2006 came and I saw what the controller could do and became very interested. Not to mention the trailers for Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, Twilight Princess and Red Steel had my mind blown. When I finally got to experience the system at retailers before it launched, I knew I wanted it but by that time, it was too late to pre-order it so I actually went to walmart with my 2 cousins and a few friends and waited 12 hours to snag one at launch.

The wait wasn't bad, a bunch of other friends shown up and somebody with a GC and the screen brought Melee and Double Dash and a bunch of got to throw down. People were waiting with their DS's too though at the time I didn't have one but they were all playing together. When the time finally came and I got my system I picked up Marvel Ultimate Alliance and Red Steel 2 that day and Twilight Princess and Rayman Raving Rabbids later that week however when I got home all I played for the next few days was WiiSports with friends and family. It was a lot of fun and a lot of good times.



CanisWolfred said:

@Burning_Spear It's not that they didn't have imagination - they honestly didn't know how to properly use the Wii remote, and by the time enough of them got the hang of it, too many gamers had moved on that it was no longer profitable to make big games on the Wii anymore.



New_3DaSh_XL said:

I really didn't care too much about gaming until the DS. Then with the Wii, that was GREAT, and now I'm completely inyo it with the 3DS



blackknight77 said:

I was so excited and hyped when the Wii launched. I picked mine up about 5 months after it was released.



FonistofCruxis said:

Although, I played Wii sports a lot when it launched and a bit of Twilight princess, I actually played on my DS a lot more at the time as there so many more interesting games to for it to play at the time but the Wii kept growing with so many great games and I now love it and its definitely my favourite console. I still have many games that I need to get for it.

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