Well, the 1-year anniversary of the Wii has come and gone, and now we’re left with the little white box that managed to surprise a lot of people with its success. Is it a perfect tale? Well, it’s certainly grabbed a lot of attention, and even now, the system’s still incredibly difficult to find, but I wanted to point out the highs and lows of the past year that have surrounded the Wii.

* The Initial Wait – Staying up all night in the cold just to grab a system, glaring at people in line who are only there to sell them on eBay, and then the entry to the store where you buy your Wii, your games and your accessories to begin the year long journey to now.

* Legend of Zelda: Twilight PrincessThe launch game for the Wii, and it’s easy to understand why it made the jump from Gamecube to Wii. Sure, the sword swinging controls aren’t quite as responsive as you would have hoped, but it’s a neat effect, and this is a beautiful addition to the Zelda series.

* Wii Sports – This catchy little tech demo snagged a whole new audience of gamers, because hey, you really were controlling what was happening on screen. Basic as everything, but still a lot of fun to show off to friends exactly how the Wii was different from other systems.

* Virtual Console – Both wonderful and annoying, it has allowed gamers to reconnect with some of the best classics the last two decades had to offer, but the North American release schedule has been a mess. While Mario and Metroid get a related release nod, as did the TMNT movie, most ideal game opportunities have been passed by. While Hudson and Sega are willing to share what’s coming out next, Nintendo remains tight-lipped and elusive about what will come out. And if there’s a plan in there from the “Big N”, it’s obviously lost on the public, as the current impression is that whoever is uploading and releasing these games to the public obviously has no interest or set schedule as to what they’re doing, as we’ve gotten periods where we’ve had absolute dreck dumped on us. Not every week can be “AAA” titles, but there are plenty of “AA”, “A”, “B”, and even “C” titles that should have seen the light of day by now over the random jambalaya we sporadically get.

Currently, there’s still not as much third party support from companies (EA, Midway, Sunsoft, Lucasarts, etc), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles makes for the only licensed property game, and it’s pretty criminal that the SNES and N64 library and the RPG genre have been largely ignored. Sure, Square-Enix is putting out Final Fantasy on every platform possible so that may cause for a delay, but there’s no excuse for Sega’s Phantasy Star series to be missing, or Fire Emblem, or Breath of Fire, Chrono Trigger, etc.

This is coupled with the aggravating fact that while there are thousands of games to choose from over the six available systems, North American gamers get 3 titles a week, while Japan gets 5. It makes one wonder if we’ll even really scratch the surface of game title possibilities, or will they finish that job on the next system.

* Wii Channels – As an older gamer, there has been some use from the Weather, News and Internet Channels (which, makes YouTube viewing all the better on a big screen). I’ve liked the simple “point and click” interface to access information, and the services are nice (Weather Channel still needs to be more current, instead of six hours behind at any given time, and The News Channel could use some video feed).

* Everybody Votes Channel – It’s amusing for the first five minutes, but do we really wait with baited breath to find out if the world would rather ride an elephant or a camel?

* Check Mii Out Channel – Actually turned out to be a little more involving and entertaining than expected, and it’s pretty cool to see what Miis people can make with such limited resources.

* Miis – Those cute little avatars who are/were supposed to be the focal feature of the whole Wii experience. Past Wii Sports, where are they, really? Past the Check Mii Out Channel, the last place I’ve seen them actually materialize in a recent game is as a bobblehead in Metroid Prime 3, and playable in Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games. Seriously, where are they, and why are developers not using them more.

This also raises the idea that the Mii Channel needs an update. They introduce an exclusive new channel to show off a world of artists, and you can’t use hats, or have more mouth and eye choices, or bulk up a hefty character. Couldn’t we assign them personalities to make them behave differently? One Mii is an athlete. Another is an adventurer or a musician. One is strong. Another plays jokes. For such a touted feature, there’s a lot of untapped potential.

* Mario and Sonic Meet – First in the Olympic games, then against each other in Brawl. Does anyone else feel like the portal to Bizarro World opened in actually seeing these two together?

* Limited Wi-Fi support – Between the frustrating Friend Codes (which need to be abolished completely), and the lack of online play, it makes you wonder why Nintendo has still kept dragging its feet in 2007 over such an important game feature. They seem to be coming to their senses with Brawl, but again, it’s a lot of untapped potential that they’ve already missed, and people are going to be less forgiving than they were in the Gamecube generation. To date, the most fun with Wi-Fi have been Guitar Hero III battles, or trading vouchers in Metroid Prime 3 (I haven’t played Mario Strikers, but people seem to go crazy enough for it – shouldn’t that be a sign?). Regardless, Nintendo needs to snap out of this.

* Friend Codes – See above. They need to be done away with, and the establishing connection with other friends system number shouldn’t be longer than a Kid Icarus password.

* Resident Evil 4 – While it’s a “Wiimake”, Capcom went above and beyond to give an even better control scheme to an already great game, making this version the best of the lot.

* Metroid Prime 3 – The first real game that wasn’t left over from the Gamecube production cycle, a “Wiimake”, or a collection of mini-games. This finally showed what the Wii could do, and it was glorious. With an intuitive control system, beautiful graphics, a great story and impressive voice acting, Metroid proved that Samus still has some surprises left against any Metroid. Too bad she can’t hold her own sales-wise against titles like Carnival Games, of all things.

* Guitar Hero III – The Wii needed a game like this. Something that can appeal to the casual gamer Nintendo’s so carefully drawn in, but a definite fan-favorite of regular and hardcore gamers. And there’s good reason. Whether you played the earlier games on another system or not, this game has lost none of its appeal or fun in play. Wi-Fi helps out as well.

* Manhunt 2 – It disproves the Wii is simply a “kiddie” system, getting a game even the PS3 and 360 didn’t get. But too bad it’s biggest claim to fame was being the recipient of a bunch of incoherent ramblings from Jack Thompson. Coupled with all that hype, and then a poor to average reviewed game made it all feel so anti-climatic.

* The Return Of Third Parties – All of those 3rd party companies that left Nintendo in the N64 and Gamecube days are starting to return, after initially dismissing the Wii as well… until the sales figures appeared. Outside support hasn’t been this good for a Nintendo system in a decade, but this “late to the party” attitude has also caused some crappy games with little thought to them to be dumped on the Wii with cheap Wiimote gimmicks and mini-game collections just to get anything on the system. It seems like the companies are starting to figure things out, though, and 2008 will probably see a much higher quality in games now that people realize the Wii is a genuine contender this generation.

* Big Name Game Delays – Oh Super Smash Bros Brawl (and even Endless Ocean for some gamers like myself), you just had to get delayed, didn’t you? The “reasoning” is suspect (likely to give Wii Fit a better chance in sales), but there is a consolation in knowing that gives the 3rd party companies a fighting chance for the holidays as well, and continued incentive to support the system.

* Storage Space – Dear Nintendo: I don’t want a refrigerator, and am I not a juggler. I want a place where I can store all my Virtual Console games and not have to swap them back and forth. Hard Drive. Now. No more analogies.

* Super Mario Galaxy – What can be said, really? The game is this big, happy, jumping self-love fest where it just focuses on being fun, and you can’t help but get caught up in the enthusiasm and pretty graphics. For those developers who have doubts that the Wii can push out impressive graphics, play this for a while, then Metroid Prime 3. Then get back to me. I’ll be waiting.

But from my experience, that’s been the first year of the Wii. Feel free to add your own thoughts or comments on the system.

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