As an extension to Chi's excellent blog post about Nintendo not catering to hardcore gamer, I stare at my Wii every day and think to myself, "When am I ever going to use you again?"

This is not a slight against Nintendo, and I applaud their bravery and approach to the industry. But a hardcore gamer who has remained loyal to their company for two decades sometimes can't help but feel a little abandoned by them, no matter how many quality first party or second party games they release. 

For example, Nintendo was able to fully realize 3D control and camera movement in Super Mario 64. It was a revolution that defined two consecutive console generations. Yet Nintendo has abandoned that directional style of 3D movement for its remote. The remote offers nothing in terms of what has become traditional 3D movement. Instead Nintendo has left it up to developers to discover their own way of moving the camera, and completely eschewed any real camera movement in its most significant Wii release, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

It's hurtful to have asked us gamers, at a young age, to invest so much time and energy toward the earlier systems. After all, most "hardcore" gamers have earned that moniker through an almost life-long dedication to the hobby, and any dedication of that breadth will more than likely span into the NES years. And after all those years, we're now faced with games that don't cater to our growing needs and demands. Instead, Sony and Microsoft had heeded that call, thus creating the market shift we still live with today.

That's why it's refreshing for me when a game like The Godfather: Blackhand Edition is released. This game had every reason to be horrible. It's a licensed movie game based on what is often considered the greatest achievement in cinema. It's developer and publisher, EA, has a reputation of being the videogame industry's equivalent to a big-name record label's hit factory. It's a port of a year-old PlayStation 2 game, and Al Pacino and Francis Ford Coppola both have had a hands-off approach to the product. 

Yet EA took the time to tailor the game for the Wii, and the results are astounding. What we instead have is a masterclass in adopting new technology to an old formula. Instead of getting a run-of-the-mill Grand Theft Auto clone, the controls breathe new life and vitality into the standard actions of any violent game, like shooting, strangling and throwing people. 

The game looks about three years old really, but I stopped caring once I realized that I could mimick grabbing a shopkeeper by his collar and tossing them into a window. The action isn't tiring either, because there is consistent, revitalizing joy in seeing the results: The tumbling animation, the shattering glass, your character towering over his fallen opponent. Then there's the virtual emotional response to your act, with panic among the store's customers, the shopkeep ready to submit a cut of his profits to you and cowering in fear.

The Godfather: Blackhand edition is proof positive that the Wii can still excite hardcore gamers besides dangling annual Mario/Metroid/Zelda releases. It only requires some dedication, time, and yes, some brilliance, to apply the Wii's unique control system to existing genres hardcore gamers have spent years practicing on. If done well, it suddenly feels natural, yet new. And it's not just a "tacked-on" approach that Zelda was even guilty of. At least in The Godfather, you can alternate between left and right punches and attacks. Zelda didn't even give you that much.

Now imagine dual wielding and dual AIMING on the Wii. If only someone can fix that all-important issue of camera control. 

Latest posts by Gene Park (see all)

Leave a Reply

7 Comments on "It’s tough being a Wii owner and a hardcore gamer"

Notify of
Sort by:   newest | oldest
Mikael "Burbank"
Hi. This is my first post here, just happened to land on this blog and it sparked my interest. Good post! After all the positive press, I’m getting Blackhand Edition next week. I just hope that it’ll suit me besides the supposedly great controls (maybe It’ll be a little like Mafia). I really feel the same vibes that you describe. It started with the GC era(trivially challenging Mario and Wind Waker, and a Metroid that should have been more challenging come to mind) but it’s becoming more worrying now as the Wii is seen as such a large casual games… Read more »
I’m personally of the opinion that Nintendo had to release the Wii when they did, regardless of whether it was ready or not. I think, given an extra year, we would have a crop of games that would solve the problems that most hardcore gamers have with the Wii. However, it’s too much of a risk financially to be that late in the game. I think Nintendo got a little lucky with Wii Sports, as it provided(and still does) gamers a good reason other than Zelda to pick up the console. I think it came down to this: Money or… Read more »

There’s always the Virtual Console and Gamecube games. I’ve got five games for Wii and they’ve kept me occupied. While the system isn’t dropping hits every week, but there’s a steady flow of decent games. Super Paper Mario was a good one. I think that things will pick up when the PS2 dies and companies can’t just throw ports together anymore.

Gene Park
Thanks for the response! Don’t worry. I’m not going to let a whole bunch of Nintendo nuts eat me alive, because quite frankly I’m a Nintendo nut myself. I might’ve skipped out on getting an N64 (I almost skipped out on that entire generation as a matter of fact), but I’ve religiously bought every single Nintendo system out there besides that, even the different reiterations of the Game Boys, from the green and dark green version, to Super Game Boy, to GBC, to GBA to GBA SP. I lined up overnight for the Wii, and the only reason why I’m… Read more »
The line between handhelds and consoles has been getting smaller each year. Was Mario 64 not an immersive experience back on the N64? What about the PSP, which can play almost PS2 quality games? In 15 years, will we have a handheld Xbox 360 and will 360 games be regulated to a diversion and lowered expectations? The DS has been my main gaming system for about a year now and looking at the upcoming releases (ninja gaiden, FFTA2, Dragon Quest 9, etc) makes me think this won’t change anytime soon. Gears of war was nothing but a slight 6 hour… Read more »
Gene Park
I am in COMPLETE agreement with you, and for me to suggest that gamers are only made up of two market segments would insult the wide variety of people enjoying our hobby. It is only easier for me to make that distinction, but obviously there are some difficulties in defining what hardcore is. I define it as someone who buys games on a regular basis, maybe at least once a month, and can pick up and competently play a wide variety of genres. For example, I would not call a Madden player a hardcore gamer, if the only game he… Read more »
I’d argue that it’s tough being just a gamer and a wii owner. The only reason is the drought of games we are currently in and that won’t let up until at least late 2007. I’ve been playing games since I got my NES back in 86 and I own a large number systems (both nintendo and otherwise), does this make me hardcore? Nintendo obviously wants to make the wii into the console version of the DS and IF they succeed, then the whole “Hardcore” element everyone seems to bring up will no longer matter in my opinion. The DS… Read more »