Retronauts Episode 84: Wii

It’s hard to believe, but the Wii celebrated its tenth birthday last year, putting it within our extremely loose definition of “retro.” And thankfully, it’s a topic worthy of the Retronauts treatment. Not only does the Wii amount to Nintendo’s biggest success, it’s also unlikely any subsequent system will ever sell more than this underpowered little box that made our motion-control dreams come true… when we still had them. On this episode of Retronauts, join Bob Mackey, Jeremy Parish, Brett Elston, and Mikel Reparaz as the crew looks back on a not-too-distant past full of Wiis and waggle.

Libsyn (1:31:53 | MP3 Download | SoundCloud)

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22 Responses to Retronauts Episode 84: Wii

  1. Kevin

    Personal favorite “hidden gems” on the Wii that didn’t get mentioned in the episode: Geometry Wars Galaxies and The Pinball Hall of Fame Williams collection. The pointer function on the wiimote was so good for Geometry Wars that I have a hard time going back to the twin-stick ones on the Xbox 360; I also really appreciated the varying levels and the mix of enemies they put in them. The pinball collection was really cool too, since it used the motion controls to allow you to shake the machine. Solid physics engine, too.

    Oh, and Boy and His Blob! What a great remake of a cruel NES game.

    • Kevin

      Oh, also wanted to share my Wii launch story – a friend and I knew the mall was taking preorders at one of the two(!) Gamestops there. Since he used to work there, he knew the back way into the mall and thus we camped out bright and early. A sizable line started to form, and after a couple hours another friend of mine walked up and pointed out the second Gamestop in the mall was also doing preorders and had no line whatsoever. I just wandered over there, got my order in quickly, and dashed off to work.

      Couple months later when the Wii actually came out, we got together at that first friend’s house after the midnight launch and played Wii Sports and Sonic until probably 4 in the morning. It was pretty awesome, and even if the waggle controls didn’t live up to their promise, the first night was magical.

  2. dc12

    I definitely loved my Wii, and if I were a little younger when I got it, I’d have played the heck out of it. It definitely had a lot of good games, and the ability to play even more!
    Even though this system received the best third party support from Nintendo, the bad lesson they learned was that “third party = crap” due to all of the kusoware released on the system.

  3. Beardacus

    Anyone have any idea what the song is at about 50 minutes in?

  4. dc12

    SNES, N64, and GC used the same video cable, as the video port supported composite, S-Video, and RGB SCART. Wii and Wii U use a different video cable, because Nintendo wanted Component video.

  5. fourfour44

    My wife and I still play Fortune Street, we have the Wii hooked up in the bedroom so it can be played in either the living room on the Wii U or in the bedroom. Its really sad that its the only game from the franchise that’s ever gotten a Western release and it would be nice if we got a version that runs in HD.

  6. Purple Comet

    This was a fun trip down memory lane. I remember expecting to be able to walk in the door on launch day, deciding to show up at Best Buy at 6 am, then watching them run out of tickets 10 people ahead of me. I ended up buying a Wii from a scalper a few days later for $50 over retail price. The guy (sorry I don’t know who’s who yet) who had to wait 18 months before he could pick a Wii probably could’ve gotten one sooner, he just needed to show up half an hour before a Best Buy opened on Sunday.

    Having recently listened to the Nintendo DS episode, I’m surprised neither episode made mention of the much-reviled friends codes! Or any discussion really of people’s frustration with Nintendo’s online infrastructure (or lack thereof). I was prepared to hear five minutes of slamming friends codes but alas.

    Sadly, I don’t have any hidden gems for the Wii. My favorite Wii games are almost entirely from Nintendo’s catalog. I was also splitting time with the PS3 and X360, so those long droughts weren’t a big deal for me. Disappointing that so few of you played Super Mario Galaxy 2, it’s my favorite 3D Mario game and incredible achievement in terms of graphics, level design, and music.

  7. Barry

    The Retronauts Libsyn feed doesn’t seem to by syncing with Pocket Casts for this episode.

    • Sorry, but we can’t do anything about it on that end. The MP3 was uploaded properly to the RSS feed, and it’s up to your software of choice to pick things up from there.

  8. GigaPower

    I absolutely love Deadly Creatures. That’s always the game I mention whenever the subject of Wii hidden gems pops up. Glad to hear it was briefly mentioned in the episode!

  9. Greg Falkingham

    “These were the halcyon days” – The Monarch. Yes, the era of the Wii, which gave us Ravi Drums, cleaning out your fridge and Micheal Pachter being wrong about everything. It was a simpler time for America, when the only thing we had to fear was war without end.

    I remember thinking the evening before release that I hadn’t pre-ordered, so perhaps the best way to ensure getting one was to head to the Nintendo World Store in NY. While riding the train that early morning, I noticed someone was watching South Park on their laptop; an episode I hadn’t seen that apparently involved Cartman cryofreezing himself into the future because he couldn’t wait to buy a Wii. “Huh, I guess this thing could be a big deal,” I thought. If there was any doubt about that fact, it was immediately dispelled when I saw the size of the line! Memory has thankfully faded enough that I don’t recall exactly how many blocks it went or how many hours it took for me to finally get into the store. I laughed about the foolishness of it in the moment, but as months went by with the constant sell outs, it turned out to be a wise decision indeed.

    The console wars were hot that generation, and not just on message boards. With the Wii taking the lion share of the news, I remember someone (I don’t recall who) at Sony of America speaking out that the PS3 was selling out too, and offered a cash reward if someone could prove that there were boxes of PS3s sitting in stores. This led to Penny Arcade posting up a bunch of photos of exactly that, with a statement that they are patiently awaiting their payment.

    Of course most people were caught off guard by the success of the Wii. Most people had placed their chips on the HD revolution, including former Nintendo partners like Silicon Knights and Factor 5. This meant there was little 3rd party content in the pipeline, and not a lot of resources allocated to the system when they did.

    In retrospect, you are all correct that the Wii was sold on a bit of a lie. Especially bolstered by my experience with Elebits, I was convinced that the Wii Remote effectively worked like a Data Glove (from the first gen of VR), keeping track of its direction and position in space. Just as the N64 showed you need an analog stick to move in a 3D space, I thought, the Wiimote showed how you could MANIPULATE objects in 3D space. As it turns out, the touch controllers for the new generation of VR is pretty much exactly that, fulfilling that failed promised.

    It was a fun time for games media as well. G4 was at its peak (or at least at the peak of me myself watching it) – perhaps you recall that cringwothy PS3 vs Wii skit with the girl in a bikini? On the other hand, this was the Cassamassina and Bozon era of IGN’s Nintendo Voice Chat podcast, which treated the system with a genuine level of seriousness and enthusiasm when many others didn’t. And lest we forget those oddball Nintendo press releases for their weekly WiiWare and DSiWare titles that inspired Jeff Gerstmann’s short lived solo podcast The NintenDownload X-Press.

    Even as the Wii U is about to ride into the sunset, I find that I tend to use it much more often as a Wii player. Even at this very moment it is housing the Ultimate Shooting Collection so I can play Karous. In total, I think I own more Wii discs than I do for the 360, and the system only sits behind the NES and SNES as my favorite Nintendo console.

    • Man…what a great job you did here!

      I totally forgot about a lot of that (G4, South Park, my pending Sony cash reward, etc). Thanks for this.

  10. Tim

    Can you include the link to the Mark McDonald article you talked about on the show?

    • Sorry, it was on 1UP.com, and IGN has let 1UP’s contents vanish from the face of the internet. The article is gone (along with 10 years of my own work).

      • Galbana

        There’s some good news: You can actually view a lot of cached 1up.com pages when you use Bing. Hit up Bing and typ in ‘revolution’ ‘macdonald’ ‘site:1up.com’ and the result you’re looking for will be on the top of the page. If you click the small triangle next to the green link you can select the cached page, and read the article!

        There’s a lot of pages you can view this way, but sadly only the one the search engine has crawled (which is less then half of the content that was originally on the site), but you can still recover a lot of content this way! Ocassionally stuff will have awkward lay-out glitches like the reviews (the review text basically gets squished into nothing) which are unreadable due to this, but a quick ctrl-a -> ctrl-c -> ctrl-v to a notepad document can still recover the writing of the actual review.

        Sorry if this is all redundant/known already!

    • dc12

      I hope you listened to the previous Micro-Episode!

  11. Marchantia

    I want to add a game to your list of hidden gems: Kororinpa is a marble puzzle game that got played a lot at our home. Turning the world felt really natural with the wiimote.

  12. kube00

    Great episode guys. Really took me back

    Now I’m going to have to track down Red Steel 2. I was a big fan of the rail shooters for Wii too. I was hoping you guys would mention that one other thing the Wii is remembered for is getting Netflix. So many people used that when it came to the Wii.

  13. econmara

    Great episode!

  14. Eric J. Baker

    Good news! While talking about Skyward Sword, you guys expressed some skepticism as to whether or not that game could ever be re-released on a system without Wii remote functionality.

    It totally can! The Dolphin Gamecube/Wii emulator community have gotten Skyward Sword playable with an XBox 360 controller, and it works really well. Like, probably better than having to do the actual motions yourself with a WiiMotion Plus. The sword movement is mapped to the right analog stick (equivalent to just wiggling the Wii remote around), and then holding R2 while you move the sword acts as a slash.

    I really really hope Nintendo re-releases the game at some point with this functionality, because even though I legitimately like Skyward Sword a whole lot and have beaten 100% twice, the motion controls really do bog it down in a major way.