I celebrated the third anniversary of the Wii by sending in my system to Nintendo, concluding the scratched disc saga. I sent it in Monday afternoon, I got it back this morning. Same system, but looking all shiny and fixed and new. While I can be critical of some of their decisions regarding their new gaming strategies, I will never criticize their customer service. They have gone above and beyond each and every time I’ve had to work with them, and they really are the best in the industry, without a doubt. Just classy, classy people.

But here we are, three years later from when I slept out all night in front of a Target with a buddy of mine in hopes of securing the newest Nintendo system. In retrospect, that long, cold night was worth it, as finding a Wii in the stores was something of a rarity for a year and a half.

So what has the third year bought us? The Commodore 64 and arcade gaming for the Virtual Console. the service itself got really weak for the majority of the year despite the addition of two new systems and the hundreds of games they can bring, only allowing one game per week, but we did get Lucasarts to bring out their SNES classics, such as the Super Star Wars trilogy.

The year itself has been much better for games. Not perfect, mind you, but world better in comparison to the drought of 2008. Highlights I’d heartily recommend:

Beatles: Rock Band
A Boy and His Blob
Deadly Creatures
Ghostbusters: The Video Game
House of the Dead: Overkill
Madworld
Metroid Prime Trilogy
Muramasa: The Demon Blade
New Super Mario Bros. Wii
Punch-Out!!

Each of these titles are very solid additions to the Wii library, and if you’re starved for a good game, any of these will do nicely. I’ve heard Dead Space: Extraction is good, but I’ve yet to try that one.

And of course, WiiWare has been putting out great games such as the Bit.Trip series, the Tales of Monkey Island series, and Final Fantasy IV: The After Years are great, and while I haven’t played them, Nyxquest, Lostwinds, Contra: Re-Birth, and the new Excitebike have been highly praised.

The Wii still has some things to work out. Nintendo still needs to work out its online issues (but they’ve finally started releasing demos – Welcome to the 2000’s), there’s still a huge influx of crappy games that flood the system, and buries notable titles like the ones above from getting the attention they deserve. Nintendo promoted Muramasa, and is promoting the demos of some third-party WiiWare games, but I think some of the above titles could have been more heavily promoted on the Nintendo Channel or e-mail adverts. It’s clear that something is not working with third-parties making great games, and not getting recognition. If the third parties can’t figure it out, then perhaps they should have the option to get help from Nintendo.

At any rate, the Wii has some decent games to play, but Nintendo needs to work out the reputation of not having “something for everyone” despite their claims that they do, and now that they’ve brought all of these new people in with the Wii Sports/Wii Fit mania, they need to turn these gamers onto other titles both from their own franchises, as well as other notable titles. New gamers can not stick to just 3-5 games over the system’s lifetime. Something is missing, because they aren’t enticed to buy anything past that.

I would say that the best part of the Wii this year is the addition of all the 2D goodness brought out. A Boy and His Blob and Muramasa are visually stunning titles, not to mention upgrades to Contra, Super Mario Bros., Final Fantasy IV, Excitebike, and even Punch-Out!! I’d personally be happy if Nintendo “simplified” themselves to the point where they just sought to relive their NES and Super Nintendo glory days. And I think they’d excel there getting back to that style of gameplay.

All in all, the third year has been better than the second year, but Nintendo still has some work to do. Here’s hoping “Year 4” is where they get past some of the perceived reputation issues, and more focus is placed on making people aware that quality games for the Wii actually do exist.

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