The Wii Revolution
August 7, 2006 9:10 PM   Subscribe

How the Wii will save the adventure game. Will the innovation of Nintendo's new console be able to turn this ailing genre around? Of course, as Next Generation points out, even consoles that fail can end up winning. Meanwhile, Nintendo faces litigation over the patent for the controller that brought it so much attention. Plus, what to do with your old Gamecube.
posted by magodesky (32 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
may I just quietly say that Wii is a god awful name, at least in the English. I assume (and may be wrong) that it is pronounced Wee, which makes one think of children's pee.
Wether of not it "saves the adventure game" the product has an uphill battle.
posted by edgeways at 9:30 PM on August 7, 2006

the litigation seems like B.S.

Just how sensitive is the motion detector in the new controller, by the way? If it's really precise it could open up a lot of interesting possibilities.
posted by Paris Hilton at 9:31 PM on August 7, 2006

I haven't been really psyched about a console since the Nintendo 64, and I stopped caring about consoles altogether after my first LAN party. Since I saw the Wii/Revolution controller, however, I've been filled with such anticipation that I'm almost ashamed. Pre-ordering is something I always viewed as mildly contemptable, but now I'll be forced to eat my shoe. Or my crow. Whichever.
posted by ®@ at 9:34 PM on August 7, 2006

I assume (and may be wrong) that it is pronounced Wee, which makes one think of children's pee.

You get used to it. I think because 'wee' isn't a very common word so it's easily overridden. It's not like they called it Nintendo Pii... that would never have worked.
posted by smackfu at 9:46 PM on August 7, 2006

My only problem with the Wii (besides the cutesy name) is its lack of HDTV support. HDTV support will be an absolute requirement with the next generation; this generation it's only a very good idea.

Personally, I can't decide whether to actually drop money on a Wii or try to scam a free Gamecube from someone. That first article is pretty intriguing, though.
posted by neckro23 at 9:47 PM on August 7, 2006

E3: LucasArts Hints At Wii Lightsaber Game Interest. Interesting, if vague.
posted by bob sarabia at 9:48 PM on August 7, 2006

It does not surprise me that a lawsuit is being filed against Nintendo for the design of its Wii controller in America, a country which is notorious for trumped up lawsuits. IANAL, but I believe (as the article all but suggests) that it is little more than some redneck Texan's plan to grab some of the Big N's money. IANAL, but I also believe it will fail, as it should.

And what is up the USPTO issuing so many patents for game controllers? How many designs can there be?
posted by Effigy2000 at 9:51 PM on August 7, 2006

This reminds me of a terribly named piece i wrote about how the wii could help ease first person 3d environments out of the "shooter ghetto" into something more mainstream. In this case, the wii "saving" the, uh "metaverse" rather than adventure games.

gratuitous self-link
posted by thedaniel at 10:04 PM on August 7, 2006

CHILDREN'S pee? that's kind of discriminatory.
posted by jimmy at 10:06 PM on August 7, 2006

I'm sort of annoyed at the triumphalism of some of the Nintendo fans. You'd think that the Wii was going defeat the gaming bourgeoisie in a grand Mushroom Revolution. I like the control scheme, but thinking that it will bring about a new renaissance of adventures game says more about the state of adventure games than the control of the Wii.

Why Adventure games won't be successful on the Wii:

1. Nintendo doesn't really care terribly about 3rd parties. Nintendo never has had the best relationships with other developers. First and foremost relying on 1st party games, they never had to go hat in hand like Sony or Microsoft to developers, especially small developers.

2. Adventure games have been selling mediocre amounts on the DS. Phoenix Wright, while selling out of it's first print run, never reached anywhere near the stratospheric heights of Animal Crossing or New Super Mario Brothers. Even Nintendo's offerings in the genre haven't sold well (although admittedly, the game was quite short and not really worth the asking price).

Will adventures games rise to new heights on the Wii? I doubt it. Although the article seemed to think people will get more enjoyment out of puzzles if they twist the Wii remote rather than click on a button that says "open door", the article still doesn't challange the main problem of adventure games, which are the illogical puzzles that make most people run for a walkthrough.
posted by zabuni at 10:08 PM on August 7, 2006 [1 favorite]

It amuses me that (apparently) the Wii never reminds people of the first person plural pronoun.
posted by oddman at 10:16 PM on August 7, 2006

Here I was wondering what the hell World War III had to do with adventure games.
posted by Kickstart70 at 10:23 PM on August 7, 2006

I assure you, Zabuni, Sony do not go hat in hand to developers. What they do do, however, is drop bizarre and insanely-difficult-to-develop hardware on their desks, replete with incomplete or poorly translated documentation, shrug nonchalantly, muttering excitably about how they're market leader, and you will develop for their consoles and like it, and cackle with barely disguised glee as precious swathes of highly skilled developer brain are perma-filled with Sony only esotericarcana for the next six years.

Nintendo drop off incredibly easy to develop for hardware, but don't care if you do or not.

Microsoft do much the same, and really,really want you to like them. They're almost grovelling. Developers want to like them too, by and large, but they can't, since too much of their brains are occupied with making the market leading PS versions to pay them much attention.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 10:24 PM on August 7, 2006 [1 favorite]

oddman: it's because there's no construction in English that uses 'the we'. Nobody says 'the we are going to the cinema', or 'the we feel like a pizza'. We do say 'the wee got all over the carpet', though. I think that's Nintendo's biggest mistake with the name - they don't seem to have grasped that while the name might sound identical to 'we' in isolation, the tendency to immediately associate it with 'wee' isn't childishness or determination to make fun of it - it's down to the way it's used in the language, which makes it sound a hell of a lot more like one word than the other.

I've sort of got used to it, but when I think about it it's still a terrible name. I can only imagine the reaction it's going to get from the whole vast non-videogaming section of society who Nintendo would love to sell one to, and who likely won't have heard it before the thing's on shop shelves. 'Wee' is a pretty universal term for urine in the UK - if, as a few people have said, it's only really a term kids use in the US then that's not so bad, but if I were Nintendo Europe I really would be concerned that middle-aged non-gamers and playground-conscious kids would be embarrassed to own one. I mean, that's assuming that Nintendo Europe actually give a shit about selling and marketing things rather than imposing arbitrary six-month-to-a-year delays on new releases, which might be a bit naive.

Still, the Wii saving adventure games? I think zabuni's spot on - for all that old-school adventures might have featured better, funnier, more dramatic writing and more imaginative character and world design than practically anything else (and they did, at their best), the incredibly oblique trial-and-error puzzles really will have to go if they're to make any sort of comeback, Wii or no Wii. I thought Grim Fandango made great inroads into keeping the art and the literary style but having the puzzles make some more sense, so hopefully developers will realise they've got a template to build on there.
posted by terpsichoria at 11:26 PM on August 7, 2006

It amuses me that (apparently) the Wii never reminds people of the first person plural pronoun.

The other problem is that the 'ii' sound in Wii is just longer sounding then the 'e' sound in we. No one confuses "Wee" with "We" either. They don't associated with eachother at all.
posted by delmoi at 11:30 PM on August 7, 2006

Look--is the adventure game really dead?

On the consoles, you have Prince of Persia, Ico, and Shadow of Destiny--all pretty damn good. Over on the shrinking PC shelf at Gamestop, the deluge of "Wander Around In An Unpopulated VRML Demo" games that followed Myst has finally slowed to a trickle, though I'm not at all sure that that's a bad thing. They're being replaced, as far as I can tell, by Longest Journey clones--not my cup of tea, but they're not too bad.

But regardless of what lines the shelves at your local EB or Best Buy, there has never been a better time to be an adventure gamer. The internet is full to bursting with free adventure game content, all developed without concern for profit, widespread acceptance, or Sony esotericarcana.

Do you crave environmental puzzles? Jay is Games has what seems like three hundred locked room escape games a week.

Do you keep interrupting your kids' San Andreas sessions with your reminiscing about classics like Maniac Mansion? Download and play a freeware Adventure Games Studio game like 5 Days A Stranger. Many are really quite as good--or better--than the old LucasArts stuff.

And if you want strong, literary stories, great character interaction, and fiendish puzzles, then try modern Interactive Fiction. The best of I.F. represents the very pinnacle of what the adventure game form can achieve--some of the best gameplay ever made.

No, I'm not kidding.

Games like Adam Cadre's Photopia, Emily Short's Galatea, and Andrew Plotkin's Shade...if you can swallow your need for graphics and take a little time to acquaint yourself with a text parser, you'll see that the Adventure Game didn't die for want of the console makers' attentions--it simply moved beyond them.

Why should anyone who likes adventure games give a shit about the blessings of Nintendo? If you want new, good adventure games, they're already online, and free for the taking.
posted by Iridic at 11:49 PM on August 7, 2006 [2 favorites]

'Wee' is urine, in the UK? That's funny, I thought it meant 'small', as in "When I was just a wee lad, there were no game consoles." Maybe that's Irish/Gaelic or something.

The controller looks interesting. We'll see. I don't seem to be able to stay interested in gaming, largely because of the number of games bought that turn out to be boring. Between the PC and PS2, I've only had 1 game each that truly captivated my interest. Funny enough, one of those came free with a sound card!
posted by Goofyy at 12:06 AM on August 8, 2006

This post made me look up all of the old adventure games I started with. Here is a bunch of walkthroughs of King's Quest IV that just about make me teary-eyed. I can't believe that game was released in 1988. And Maniac Mansion was released in 1987! I'm so fucking old!
posted by stavrogin at 12:13 AM on August 8, 2006

Number one reason the Wii will be a success: a PS3 costs $599
posted by Pendragon at 12:56 AM on August 8, 2006

The Wii has me quite interested. I have a 360, and so far I'm VERY unimpressed with it. The Live Marketplace is simply a method of extracting the most possible cash from the player base for the minimum possible work. And the games haven't been all that great. There are only three or four good ones, one of which is better on the PC anyway. "Dead Rising" is shipping in the next few days, and it looks like fun... running around in a mall killing zombies by the score with everything from shopping carts to bowling balls. But, overall... the games are just the same old shit, a little shinier.

The Wii is genuinely different. There hasn't been a controller like that before, and virtually everyone perks up at the thought of being able to just point at stuff. Apparently, in the new Metroid, the controller ("Wiimote", of course) is used to grab and move things in the environment, and feels both natural and extremely immersive. In one example, you grip a doorknob, twist it, and push to open the door... and the controller vibrates a bit while you do that.

When you mention 'lightsabers' in this context, almost any geek will get a glassy-eyed stare... he's already battling Vader in his head.

Nintendo has, correctly I believed, identified that what's missing from modern gaming is real creativity, and they're taking risks and doing cool stuff. The DS was a really good idea... whoda thought a touchpad would be so much fun? I was pretty dismissive at first, and boy was I full of shit. The Wiimote, if it works well, looks like it will set off a great deal of creativity in the marketplace... it's a new toy to play with!

And, ultimately, that's what gaming is all about.

Nintendo is also trying very hard to rectify their past mistakes with the developer community. There is a LOT of stuff in the pipeline. There's supposed to be a bunch of launch games (I think I heard there will be around 20 or 25), and then a steady stream thereafter.

The PS3 looks like it's going to be a gigantic faceplant; Bill Harris over at Dubious Quality has started calling it the Yamato. And the 360 is, to all appearances, a method to nickel and dime you into the poorhouse. I think Nintendo may be fabulously successful this time around.... they're making games for the love of gaming, not just to extract cash from your wallet.

Hmm, I suppose I should go read the links now. I think, neat controller or no, the story adventure is probably dead. People just don't buy them, even when they're really good. (see: The Longest Journey, Planescape Torment, Grim Fandango... all FABULOUS games that either didn't sell well or outright failed in the marketplace.)
posted by Malor at 2:11 AM on August 8, 2006

I hope that the first major game for the Wii is an adaptation of that popular Tom Cruise movie, Mi:III.

posted by papakwanz at 2:47 AM on August 8, 2006

We do say 'the wee got all over the carpet'

Um, yuu might, but ii don't.
posted by papakwanz at 2:59 AM on August 8, 2006

We've got three sizes: Wii, not-so-Wii, and FRICKIN' HUGE!
posted by quite unimportant at 4:23 AM on August 8, 2006

I bounced the name concern up against a few Nintendofolk at E3 and they basically said "don't even get us started."

But it does grow on you. And I registered

I loved playing Wii, because it was so completely different. It was just fun, instantly. And yes, I'm a Nintendo fanboy, but it's the only console I've ever picked up that I can see my mom *asking* to join in. It's simple to use, it's fun, and it's completely different.

(Conducting the Legend of Zelda theme and having the band slow to my sways was quite awesome, if not a bit single-minded.)
posted by disillusioned at 5:14 AM on August 8, 2006

When the release date is announced, I will likely be in Ireland. I do not expect to be able to pre-order the Wii to get it before release, which makes me sad. However, the trauma following the 360 release has taught me to be a stronger person.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:19 AM on August 8, 2006

I for one already have a plastic surgeon lined up to wii-place my hands with the wii-mote.
posted by poppo at 7:22 AM on August 8, 2006

posted by dig_duggler at 7:50 AM on August 8, 2006

I'm not a huge video game player, I just rock the gameboy color from time to time. But I'm excited about the Wii.
posted by drezdn at 7:52 AM on August 8, 2006

I like playing with my Wii.
posted by bigbigdog at 8:31 AM on August 8, 2006

The Wii controller is brilliant, but I hope that the patent suits against Nintendo and MS succeed (and because of the pressure-sensitive analogue buttons bit, the PS3 seems vulnerable as well), if only to get the gaming industry lined up against these kinds of user interface patents in general.
posted by gsteff at 9:30 AM on August 8, 2006

zabuni, "Will adventures games rise to new heights on the Wii? I doubt it. Although the article seemed to think people will get more enjoyment out of puzzles if they twist the Wii remote rather than click on a button that says "open door", the article still doesn't challange the main problem of adventure games, which are the illogical puzzles that make most people run for a walkthrough."
Exactly. Exactly. Exactly.

The Wii, or whatever hardware for that matter, will not change vast majority of the public's complete lack of desire to waste their time with these non-games.

Adventure games appeal to puzzle solvers. Puzzle solvers just want a damn good puzzle. Look online for (heck just look around MetaFilter) for countless examples of this from "Grow" to all of those "you're in a room, click stuff to escape" puzzles.

Sierra/Lucas-art style adventure games appeal to a niche market: puzzle gamers that want their puzzles spread out over virtual space/time. Most puzzlers I know just want the damn puzzles without all the time-wasting window dressing.
posted by C.Batt at 11:00 AM on August 8, 2006

While I'm skeptical of much of the Wii hype myself, I think some of the assessments of adventure games in this thread are simply unfair. The issue of bad puzzles has always been a problem. And yeah, the biggest reason for the decline in adventure games, in my opinion, has been the fact that developers in the late 90s stopped making good adventures in favor of Myst clones with little to no story and nonsensical puzzles. Even with some of the better adventure games that have been released since then, the genre never really got over that decline. But bad puzzles are by no means a problem inherent to the genre as a whole, any more than bad gameplay is an inherent problem to any other genre.

Also, adventure games are by no means the same thing as puzzle games. I don't know of a single adventure gamer out there who would consider Tetris to be on the same level as Grim Fandango. They may both be fun games, but they're also very different. Because adventure games aren't just about puzzles. They're about exploration. And that's something that puzzle games simply don't offer.

I also disagree with you that adventure games in the spirit of the old Sierra and LucasArts classics only appeal to a niche market. How did those games get to be so popular in the first place if there wasn't a market for them? It's not that people don't like adventure games. It's that they don't like bad adventure games. And unfortunately, really good adventure games seem to be a lot fewer and farther between these days.
posted by magodesky at 1:12 PM on August 8, 2006

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