How are Wii now?

Drought? really? - Image 1

In a recent report, Games Radar included a graph comparing the number of Wii games available in the immediate months after launch to the number of games available on the N64 and the GameCube in an effort to see if the hearsay that the Wii is currently going through a “drought” when it comes to software support is true. Here’s the graph:

Wii Chart - Image 1

Yes, yes, we’re aware that without specifying which games are available and what percentage of the games available are Virtual Console releases, this graph is essentially useless. What’s nice about the Games Radar report though, is that while they failed to indicate the games, Games Radar managed to balance this overtly PRO-Wii graph with a sense of caution. They noted:

Yeah, we’re cutting it here, get more on the supposed Wii drought, get a whole lot of game lists, and pictures of some cats with Wiimotes after the Jump.

Drought? really? - Image 1

In a recent report, Games Radar included a graph comparing the number of Wii games available in the immediate months after launch to the number of games available on the N64 and the GameCube in an effort to see if the hearsay that the Wii is currently going through a “drought” when it comes to software support is true. Here’s the graph:

Wii Chart - Image 1

Yes, yes, we’re aware that without specifying which games are available and what percentage of the games available are Virtual Console releases, this graph is essentially useless. What’s nice about the Games Radar report though, is that while they failed to indicate the games, Games Radar managed to balance this overtly PRO-Wii graph with a sense of caution. They noted:

But, crucially, only a handful of the games are purpose-built for Wii, employing the console’s exciting features – and only a few of those are worth spuffing your cash on. Meanwhile April is looking excruciatingly lean, and there’s little hope of a killer game exploding out of nowhere in the coming months.

Wii might not be suffering a severe shortage by Nintendo’s previous poor standards, but without the thrills of Mario Galaxy or Metroid Prime 3to keep that momentum going, a summer videogame drought for Wii is almost certainly on the cards. – Ben Richardson

As neutral as Richardson tried to be with his words, here’s Kotaku’s report:

Who said Wii drought? Tons’a people. But are they right? At least, are they right when they bang on about it being “just like the GameCube/N64 drought”?

Seems not. Statistics have crushed their argument.

Take that, hearsay. Now all we need is a chart showing the number of games per month people are actually going to buy… – Luke Plunkett

So where does this leave us? Nowhere really. Those who are for and against the Wii will obviously find the data they need to justify their stance. Other than the recently released NPD numbers for console hardware sales (from December 31, 2006 to February 11, 2007) that the Wii is still outselling other consoles, the future of the little fun console is still in the mists.

As much as raw hardware numbers grow a large user base, and fuel developer/publisher support for the platform, some of us here at QJ would rather agree with the premise that a good selection of quality titles is what really leads to console dominance in the long term (just look at the PS2).

But then again, that’s just us. So here’s what we’ll do: Since a healthy number of us agree that what matters is the current situation – or NOW – we’ll take a look at the VC and Wii titles available now. We’ll also show you reports on how well these titles are doing. We’ll show you folks a list of upcoming titles for the next few months, and we’ll try to give our opinion on which ones are worth waiting for.

We’ll also feature several sites helping spread the Gospel of Wii, because as Xbox Live has proven, community is a very big thing. We’ll also show you folks how Wii PR has been in the past few days. Hopefully by the end of this, you’ll be better informed about the status of Nintendo little package of fun. We’ll let you guys decide if the Wii is doing well enough to not go the way of the GameCube.

The Wii Hearsay

The Wii - Image 1

What hearsay, you say? Here’s a little background: A few days ago several blogs and videogame news entities contemplated whether the Wii has lost its magic or not. They cautioned that if Nintendo doesn’t come up with a steady stream of quality titles, there may be some trouble for the console. Furthermore, if it doesn’t get third party developers to properly take advantage of the Wii’s Wiimote (like how the game Red Steelwould), it may lose a portion of its user base due to disenfranchisement, and at the worst, it may go the way of the N64 or the GameCube.

Looking at the First Party Games

Zelda: Twilight princess - Image 1

If in case you’re wondering, below are the Nintendo published Wii titles that Jason McMaster of GigaGamez claims to be the biggest competition that third party titles on the Wii are facing. Here are the first party games that have been released:

Excite Truck has a play time of about 50 hours. Zelda: TP has 40 to 90 depending on how much of a completionist you are. Wii Sports, Wii Play, and WarioWare are games that are very dependent on your social circle. Factor that with the tabulated review scores over at (Excite Truck got only a 72, Wario Ware has an 83, Zelda shines with a high 95, Wii Sports has a 75, and Wii Play has a very low 58) and we can see why some people are crying “drought”.

Most of the hardcore folks finish hundred plus hour JRPGs over the weekend. Families and casual folks may be satisfied, but hardcore folks are probably done with their games and are probably lazily waving their Wiimotes like this guy:

What about the third party titles?

Red Steel - Image 1

Online sentiment is that third party titles are either poor tech demos, or have let down folks with “twitchy” problematic Wiimote implementation. Below is a list of third party Wii games that are out:

  • Alien Syndrome
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender
  • The Barnyard
  • Call of Duty 3
  • Disney’s/Pixar’s Cars
  • Disney’s Chicken Little: Ace in Action
  • Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2
  • Elebits
  • Far Cry: Vengeance
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy
  • GT Pro Series
  • Happy Feet
  • Ice Age 2
  • Line Rider
  • Madden NFL 07
  • Marvel™: Ultimate Alliance
  • Metal Slug Anthology
  • Monster 4×4: World Circuit
  • Need for Speed: Carbon
  • Open Season
  • Rampage: Total Destruction
  • Rapala Tournament Fishing
  • Rayman Raving Rabbids
  • Red Steel
  • Sonic and the Secret Rings
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: Creature from the Krusty Krab
  • Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz
  • Super Swing Golf
  • Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Double Agent
  • Tony Hawk’s Downhill Jam
  • Trauma Center: Second Opinion
  • World Series of Poker

Now that definitely looks like a healthy selection. The thing is, the only games that hit “the green” (meaning a high enough review score) over at are Madden NFL 07, Rayman Raving Rabbids, and Trauma Center Second Opinion.

Furthermore there is rampant sentiment that Wiimote controls on most third party games are poorly executed. Just look at Red Steel, there was so much promise that the game will be the good “serious” title when on Wii launch, and what did we get? Well, yes the game was decent enough, but poor, twitchy control execution prevented the game from being truly memorable.

The good news here is that fresh releases like SSX Blur, and Sonic and the Secret Rings are keeping people entertained and occupied. The average user scores for both games rank in at around 8/10 at most review sites.

The “now” and Virtual Console bliss

Virtual Console - Image 1

Let’s start with the first party stuff. We’ve got several decent first party titles, but most of them are “social games,” therefore these games have a lifespan almost directly proportional to your social life. They may be great when it comes to bringing your family closer together, but they aren’t enough to satisfy the hardcore gamer whose sole interest lies in his own personal gaming immersion.

First party offerings like Zelda and Excite Truck may keep hardcore-Joe happy, but those titles are dated already. If you’re a guy with a job, a family, and a life, then you’re still probably busy with sneaking in two hours of Zelda or Excite Truck at the end of your day right before you sleep. If you’re a game starved bloke with time on his hands then you’re feeling the drought already.

Third party titles may offer a whole lot of variety, but the truth is that to a hardcore gamer, a lot of these titles feel derived, and the Wiimote features feel tacked-on. SSX blur and Sonic will probably partially occupy the hardcore folk until Prince of Persia: Rival Swords, Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII (if you’re into flight games), and Godfather: Blackhand Edition show up.

Again, the casual folk are probably seeing a gold mine. Also, given that most hardcore gamers turned casual gamers due to familial responsibilities are into the retro stuff, the presence of the Virtual Console service is leading them into nostalgic utopian bliss.

The immediate future

Hot Mama - Image 1

A quick scan through IGN’s list of upcoming titles for the Wii this March and April gets us this:

  • February 27, 2007 – SSX Blur – Electronic Arts
  • March 5, 2007 – Mario Party 8 – Nintendo
  • March 13, 2007 – Prince of Persia: Rival Swords – Ubisoft
  • March 13, 2007 – TMNT – Ubisoft
  • March 20, 2007 – Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII – Ubisoft
  • March 20, 2007 – Godfather: Blackhand Edition, The – Electronic Arts
  • March 26, 2007 – Medal of Honor Vanguard – Electronic Arts
  • March 27, 2007 – Disney’s Meet The Robinsons – Disney Interactive Studios
  • March 2007 – Bust-A-Move Bash! – Majesco
  • April 9, 2007 – Super Paper Mario – Nintendo
  • April 15, 2007 – Cooking Mama: Cook Off – Taito
  • April 2007 – Mortal Kombat: Armageddon – Midway Games

Then there are those titles with the notorious “Q+number” attached to their release date. Meaning we have no idea when exactly if we’ll get to see these games within April or at the worst, we have no confirmation if we’ll even see them within the indicated quarter.

  • Q1 2007 – Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 – Electronic Arts
  • Q2 2007 – Wing Island – Hudson Soft – Flight
  • Q2 2007 – Bigs, The – 2K Sports
  • Q2 2007 – Kororinpa: Marble Mania Hudson Soft
  • Q2 2007 – Line Rider – inXile entertainment
  • Q2 2007 – Mercury Meltdown Revolution – Ignition Entertainment
  • Q2 2007 – Alien Syndrome – SEGA – Action
  • Q2 2007 – Tamagotchi: Party On! – Namco Bandai Games America

Looking at the list above, you can get a better idea of why a lot of folks have said that April looks pretty lean for Wii owners. With the biggest title for March being a party game, and multiple reiterations of established franchises.

At least we’ve got Cooking Mama: Cook Off to look forward to, but will it be enough to satisfy? Again, the answer pretty much depends on how many hours a day you spend playing.

We recommend you wait for Cooking Mama, and Mario Party 8. However, if you’re the type looking for deep immersive stuff, we’re not quite sure what to pimp to you. If you’re willing to give the Prince’s finale another go, there’s that… Godfather perhaps? Super Paper Mario anyone? If only Naruto Shippuden wasn’t perpetually TBA, damnit.

The pimping

Viral... - Image 1

The truth is, Nintendo PR has to really thank their fan-base more than anything else. A lot of Nintendo goodness was born online, from online photography communities like and the Wii-motion flickr pool, all the way to the more serious development groups like

These artistic, intelligent, and more often than not humorous folks, are the first to boldly declare that there is no Wii drought, and that the Wii is the future. What’s nice is that Nintendo knows this. Nintendo of America VP Perrin Kaplan said this in an interview with GameSpy:

The two cool things that have happened are that on the one hand, Nintendo has done some cool stuff that has been well accepted, but the enthusiastic gamers themselves have been doing tons of stuff. People are publishing things like “How to have a Wii party” and there are sites dedicated to sharing friend codes. There was even a Mii Parade on MySpace the other day. Then there’s the fitness craze with people losing weight by playing Wii Sports. The Mayo clinic said that it’s a great product for people’s health. This is all stuff that we’ve had nothing to do with and has just taken off on its own.

Pretty amazing for a console whose name we were all making fun of several months ago.

The danger here is that the community might (and that’s a big might) start looking at all things Nintendo with psychedelic-love tainted spectacles, and forget to criticize Nintendo, whenever doubt is in the air.

Remember what happened with that whole Wii-strap thing? Would Nintendo have acted on it that fast if there weren’t site after site that parodied and mocked the Wii Strap? Perhaps all this hearsay about a Wii drought is ultimately helpful to Nintendo fans. If more sites akin to started complaining about the number of games out for the Wii, maybe Nintendo will start burning their profits and get as many games out as fast as they can.

Promising and pacing

Waiting... - Image 1

Amusingly, Nintendo already has responded to that Games Radar report that contemplates if Nintendo’s got enough software support for the Wii in the next few months. They claim that by the end of March they would have had 35 titles out. They close their response by saying:

Throughout the rest of the year Nintendo has a great software line up including Mario Strikers Charged, Mario Party 8, Metroid Prime 3, Super Mario Galaxy to name just a few and will also continue to expand the Virtual Console library of games.

Of course, this isn’t just about getting games out as quickly as possible. For Nintendo it’s also about pacing. As much as hardcore folks may find it annoying that they’ve got nothing reallynew to lose themselves in, Nintendo has to think about the long term. Perrin Kaplan explains:

…for people who are hardcore gamers nothing can ever come fast enough for them, ever. I mean even when we announced a mass market price, which has been a blow away [success], hardcore gamers even complained about that…. And having things at that pace is overwhelming for a lot of the other consumers, so we’ve tried to roll things out at a pace that makes sense… So online stuff will be coming soon and hopefully you all will be really pleased with it. And if you’re really, really into online I can bet that you’d be playing it on all the systems.

Perhaps what’s nice about all of this is that Nintendo is showing signs that they’ve learned from their past mistakes. If anything, it’s more likely that they’re more worried about a Wii drought than you are. Their responses and press release show that they’re actively trying to dispel that fear, and their doing their best to communicate what they’ve got in store for the Wii to their fan-base.

Nintendo’s Satoru Iwata once said this in Japan’s Yukan Fuji blog:

Any system will sell well following launch, …but there will definitely come a time where it will stop selling. Even the DS hit a rough spell after selling 1.5 million units a month after launch. The flame was really lit a year after launch, after Nintendogs and Brain Age became big hits. With the Wii, we have to make good software just as we did with the DS.

What’s noteworthy here is that Nintendo is even preparing for the eventuality that their console’s sales will slow down despite their amazingly strong start. They themselves are being cautious, and while they’re being confident, they’re not outright declaring that what they’ve got is the future.

They’re showing that they’re fully aware that it’s the software that will determine the success of a console and it’s the software that will determine if their Wiimote is a gimmick or an innovation.

For Metroid Prime 3 - Image 1

Here’s more from Iwata:

That’s not the case, …So long as we continue the fight against the lack of interest in games from the general consumer, Nintendo will always be the challenger.

Well, is Nintendo – the challenger – performing well enough? Is the next few months a time of drought or plenty for the Wii? Are Nintendo’s responses and proclamations enough to win your confidence? We’ll let you guys talk about that.

What we’re sure about though is that a lot of us here at QJ will squeal and go nutters with orgasmic joy if Metroid Prime 3 manages to get done by Fall. Too bad though there are reports that it’ll probably be out on the last few weeks of 2007, or even early 2008 at the worst.

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