I will not be buying a Wii at launch

The Nintendo Wii is released in the UK this Friday (8th December 2006, future historians) and despite a small windfall of cash I will not be buying one.

Ask me why.

"Why?"

Well, here's the list of European launch titles which have received good reviews.

  1. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.

  2. That is all.

Twilight Princess will be available on the GameCube a week later. So I'll wait a week and get that when it comes out.

THERE ARE NO KILLER APPS.

Let's take a closer look at the European launch titles.

  • Call of Duty 3. *shrug*

  • GT Pro Series. *shrug*

  • Marvel: Ultimate Alliance. Ooh, a beat-em-up. This will surely make perfect use of the Wii's £30 motion-sensitive controller.

  • Open Season. Disney movie adaptation. The last one of those to be any good was Aladdin on the Megadrive. (Which rocked.)

  • Rayman Raving Rabbids. Now, this is supposed to be pretty good actually. But not brilliant. Certainly to my mind it does not feel like it is worth the cash expense for the Wii console and extra controllers that would be necessary for maximum funnage. Next?

  • Super Fruit Fall. This looks like a SNES game. No, that's an insult to SNES games. It looks more like a NES game. No, that's an insult to NES games. We're looking at DEC PDP-10 quality graphics here. Heh! Remember Spacewar! on the PDP-10? Me neither. It came out BEFORE I WAS BORN.

  • Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent. Already available on four other platforms, two of which I own. Still not interested. Again, who cares? Where's the spark in this game? Where's the soul? Where's the new frontier, the limitless horizon, the untested boundaries, where are these qualities in any of these games?

  • Wii Play. *shrug* Again, not apparently worth the expense of extra controllers.

  • Barynard and

  • Cars. See my earlier comments about Disney adaptations for both of these. Still applies to Barnyard even though that's not by Disney.

  • Far Cry: Vengeance. Vaguely interesting, but as yet untested. Still not grippingly attractive.

  • Gottlieb Pinball Classics. Now, I know we were all on tenterhooks waiting for this one. I mean this title could seriously make or break not just the Wii, but Nintendo itself. If this game fails, it's all over. Think about it: dozens of games in the series leading up to this. Literally hundreds of millions of sales totalling billions of dollars. I've owned nearly every title from "Gottlieb Kong" onwards, including one of those arcades with the gigantic metal balls (do NOT ask). Well, I was lucky enough to play GPBC in the store, and the impressions I got were... well, I'll be honest. This game has ALL that. It makes full use of the Wii's capabilities, pulls out every stop, uses every feature. Graphics like you can not IMAGINE. But something's... just... missing, you know? It's the Super Mario Sunshine of the Gottlieb Pinball franchise. Maybe I'm old or maybe the programmers are or maybe both, but I'm just not rocked to my core anymore. It breaks my heart to say this, but no.

  • Happy Feet. See comments for Barnyard.

  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. This is a truly super GameCube game. What? It's on the Wii too? Whatever for?

  • Madden NFL 07. Wow, I bet this is worlds away from Madden NFL 06. Maybe if I wait long enough it'll gradually evolve beyond being an American Football game and I might be interested in playing it.

  • Monster 4x4 World Circuit. Quite frankly Big Rigs: Over The Road Racing is the only racing game my heart has room for. I'm sorry if that makes me shallow.

  • Need For Speed: Carbon. Ditto.

  • Rampage: Total Destruction. "Rampage: Total Destruction"? That's the name of a REAL game? One released in 2006? Not, e.g., 1994?

  • Robert, the Sponge With The Rectangular Trousers. Perhaps not.

  • Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz. Now this I would be genuinely interested in. Except I have unsteady hands and apparently the game is much harder because of the motion-sensitivity aspect anyway. So that's a negatory. Also, again, the price aspect comes into play. Who would buy a brand new console just to play Monkey Ball? That's GameCube-era technology. Not even that. I don't feel I should have to pay for seventh-generation console technology to enjoy a game which could run quite happily on my N64. Fair point?

  • Wii Sports. Again, a non-committal "fnluh".

As you can see, there are no unequivocally awesome games in this list which are available on the Wii and nowhere else. There are no killer apps.

YET. Several people remarked that very few consoles launched with killer apps. This is a fair point, although notable exceptions are the NES which had Super Air Brooms and the N64 with Super Mario 64, so you'd think Nintendo would be doing better. But plenty of consoles come up with them further down the line.

Which, all things considered, makes the success of the Wii's launch in North America and other territories startlingly successful. Although I heard it suggested that this may be only by contrast with the shocking reports from the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 launches. (Say what you like about creating an economy of scarcity, eleven units is far too few for a major territory. You had to preorder them before Sony was a company. Kaz Hirai didn't get one. Etc.) Even so, it seems strange to me that people are investing in this new technology in anticipation of games which probably won't come out until after the first or second price drop.

The Wii? Wait and sii.

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