The Wii is dead, long live the Wii U

Nintendo's most successful home console retires to the attic after six years - but what is its legacy?

The problem with these console eulogies is that they're prone to what Wikipedia editors call 'recentism'. Like the N64 and GameCube before it, the Wii seems doomed to be remembered by some for the gaming drought that blighted its final two years of existence - during which time the only game oases to lap from turned out to be horse riding and fitness-sim cesspools.

Not us. We prefer to look beyond the cold dead eyes of Mel B and Jillian Michaels and remember the Wii as it was in the bloom of youth - a sprightly, idealistic young console witha brilliant blue mouth and an anarchic desire to shake the gaming landscape up forever. In its six short years of existence, the console aptly codenamed the 'Revolution' would go on to do exactly that.


Nintendo's Revolution got off to a stalled start at E3 2005. "We gave you DS. A new Game Boy. And new games to play on them," began company present Satoru Iwata at the climax of Nintendo's media briefing. "And now you say, you want a Revolution? Well, wegot one!"

With those bold words, Iwata fished a mysterious black box with a cheeky blue gobhole from his dinner jacket (this being before his 50 percent paycut, of course - Iwata appeared at this year's E3 wearing a potato sack). The crowd whooped in that really professional way games journalists do, but once the euphoria died down, it was unclear why, exactly, anyone was whooping.

I Wanna Whoop U Up

It was the Wii U reveal in reverse; the controller was the key to Revolution's magic, but it missed the flight to LA. Without its rudder, the good ship Revolution was forced to meander into vague waters. We knew it was no bigger than three DVD cases (whooping) and you could download old games onto it (witchcraft in 2005, hence: more whooping), but nothing concrete.

Once the dust had cleared, pundits clamped their whoopholes and once again donned their sceptical hats - would this fabled new controller really be different enough to revive Nintendo's fortunes? Early mock-ups from internet wags with too much free time included a trackball and a controller which split into two halves. Even these bizarro controllers would appear conservative when Nintendo gasped us into submission with the real deal at that year's Tokyo Game Show...

U Really Got Me Going

It's impossible to get across just how radical a concept the Wii remote was in 2005. Touch-screens were still in their infancy, Kinect was but a twinkle in Peter Molyneux's eyes and, bar a failed Microsoft experiment in the mid-'90s, motion-controlled gaming was exclusively the domain of the arcades. But although the idea was as alien as one of the aliens from the film Alien, the sleek design - modelled after the ubiquitous television remote - was comfortingly familiar.

To see it was to know immediately how it worked - and to know how it worked was to obsess over its giddying world of play potential. Within seconds of the remote flashing up on the projector, the Nintendo Gamer office was ablaze with grown men and women hopping around desks and chairs, swinging anything even remotely rectangular around like golf clubs, katana swords and Wispa Gold bars (this was during the bleak 2003-2009 Wispa Prohibition Era, remember). Erstwhile editor Mark Green even went as far as to scribble a few buttons on a banana with a marker pen in an attempt to get a 'feel' for how it handled. Many teeth were lost that evening, either way.


We had fun though, and that's really the main thing you should take away from this issue - we're only just entering the really exciting stage of the Wii U waiting game. Just as we spent the second half of 2005 replanning our living room and chucking our sofa in a skip to make room for Wii, now too begins our rigorous muscle-building regime so we'll have enough strength to hoist Wii U's gargantuan slab of delight in the air when the new console hits stores.

  1 2