Sun Dec 04 14:20:52 CAT 2016

The Nintendo Wii turns 10 years old

AFP Relaxnews | 2016-11-14 09:42:12.0
A model shows off Nintendo Wii (background) and its controllers at the Tokyo Game Show, September 2006
Image by: ©Toshifumi Kitamura / AFP Photo

On November 19, 2006, the Nintendo Wii made its international retail debut with a North American premiere.

Breakout success followed, and at over 100 million units sold, the Wii became one of the best-selling home consoles of all time, thanks to intuitive controls, an inexpensive price, and accessible games.

Intuitive controls

The Nintendo Wii introduced motion controls via a wand-like controller, the Wii Remote, and championed an intuitive and approachable method.

A mastery of alien-looking gamepads with their multiple buttons and protruding joysticks was no longer needed. Anyone that could point, shake, swing, and press the Wiimote's central button could access the Wii's library of newcomer-friendly games.

"Wii Sports" led the charge, its hilariously simple scheme inviting players to mime bowling, boxing, golf, tennis and baseball moves. So effective were its approximations that Nintendo soon issued protective cases and sturdier wrist straps to protect nearby people and objects from Wiimotes released during the course of play.

Predating the iPhone announcement by two months, the Wii helped mould consumer and industry standards for mass market, user-friendly tech design.

Inexpensive price

The seventh generation of video game consoles saw the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii launch within a year of each other: the Xbox successor in November 2005, the PlayStation 3 and Wii nearly 12 months to the day afterwards.

Of the three, Nintendo's Wii was the least powerful, neither could it double up as DVD or Blu-ray player. But as well as an innovative control method, it was also the least expensive -- introduced at $249 compared to $399 for the 360 and $499 for the PS3 -- and it outsold them both, to boot.

Accessible games

At launch, the Wii came with the supremely mainstream "Wii Sports" packaged in, signalling the Wii's availability as a destination for accessible, casual entertainment.

As much as that warned off some of Nintendo's traditional fanbase, especially at a time when violent first-person shooters were starting to dominate, "Wii Sports" shaped expectations for a wealth of newcomers.

After all, six of the ten best-selling Wii games were oriented towards a wider audience -- "Wii Sports" and "Wii Fit" and their sequels, "Wii Play" and "Wii Party" -- with "Mario Kart Wii" also embracing the motion control phenomenon.

But six years on, and smartphones were in the ascendency. The Wii's audience did not migrate towards the Wii U but rather went elsewhere. By 2016, Microsoft had quietly retired its camera-based answer to the Wiimote, PlayStation pivoting its Move controllers towards a Virtual Reality headset.

Nintendo looks ahead to March 2017 and the launch of a new console, the Nintendo Switch.

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