Why the Nintendo Wii is Wiining

In the most surprising turnaround in 12 years, an underdog is outclassing a top dog.

Quynh Nguyen

Video game console wars are not unlike the battle between two presidential candidates, and they come roughly about the same time – every four years with two primary candidates. Four years ago, the PlayStation 2 and the Nintendo GameCube were duking it out. Before that, it was the original PlayStation versus the Nintendo 64. Further back, it was the Super Nintendo versus the Sega Genesis. In every iteration of the console wars, there have been underdogs who might come close to, but never become, top dog. The Jaguar, the TurboGrafx-16 and the dearly departed Sega Dreamcast all had fun factors but were clearly out of their league. In the most surprising turnaround in 12 years of video game history, an underdog is outclassing a top dog – the Nintendo Wii is beating the PlayStation 3 in sales, popularity and demand.

I should know: It took months of hunting to get a Nintendo Wii, and every place I looked had PlayStation 3s in stock but no Wiis. Eventually I was informed of a large shipment of Wiis at the downtown Target store. I bought my Wii and quickly set it up in my living room.

The gaming experience is awesome, to say the least. As a gamer for 15 years, I’ve had my fair share of systems and games, and I’ve seen all sorts of gimmicks to sell them. The Nintendo Power Glove, Super Scope and those lame Jaguar ads come to mind. Over time I have learned that fancy graphics and brand name games do not always mean fun. Over time, games started developing a male-oriented feel with highly animated 3D bouncy boobs in fighting games and scantily clad warrior babes. And I thought Zero Suit Samus from Nintendo Metroid was scandalous! That wasn’t the biggest turnoff. The darkest time in video game history was during the transition from 16-bit graphics to 64-bit and innovative game companies went extinct, leaving the video game genres limited to fighting, first-person shooters, sports and strategy/role-playing. What ever happened to puzzle games, adventure games, G-rated games that sold well without the need for blood or boobs because they were so very fun? Dead and gone. They didn’t make the 3D leap.

Nintendo is bringing back those crazy games, ones that are chock-full of innovation and fun without the need to increase character cup sizes or guns to shoot with. As a jaded girl gamer sick of hackneyed ploys to entice the male gamer, I am totally enthralled by Nintendo’s approach to include women and non-gamers. I see this when I am making Miis (3D avatars whose appearance you can manipulate) and notice how many feminine hairstyles there are. The feminine hairstyles actually outnumber the masculine ones, which really goes to show how much Nintendo is thinking of nontraditional gamers.

In Wii Sports, the female Miis are devoid of ginormous boobs, sexy moans or vapid dialogue and play every bit as well as the guys. In short, Nintendo is adopting a new concept of the female gender – not eye candy or fan service, but an equal gamer to be represented respectfully.

The Nintendo Wii and its Wii Sports is attractive to anyone eager to get off their butts and play games, regardless of age, gender or lack of gaming experience. As for those wondering if playing Nintendo Wii can help build fitness, it sure is building muscle tone in my arms and shoulders – I’ve only had it for three weeks and am already seeing results. The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 might be backed up by brand-name games like Final Fantasy or Halo, but without those games, those systems will not sell. Nintendo is winning by sheer fun factor.

Quynh Nguyen welcomes comments at [email protected]