With the Wii almost here, we’ve got to know: is the Wiimote actually better than a regular controller?
In a recent interview with Nintendo Dream, Shigeru Miyamoto revealed that GameCube games may be getting facelifts for the Wii. While the question of how extensive the improvements would be still hasn’t been answered, it brings up an interesting question: is the Wii remote so powerful an asset that its mere inclusion can drastically improve a game?
This has already been brought up with a more high-profile game that’s actually launching with the Wii. With Twilight Princess, the Nintendo faithful seem to be split up into two camps: those who want to play it with a GameCube controller and those willing to take the plunge with the remote. I haven’t played it with either, so I’m not qualified to comment on either method’s positives or negatives, but the general consensus has become pretty vocal about wanting the option to play both on the same disk, just in case. Having played TP on both the GameCube in 2005 and on the Wii in 2006, PGC Director Jonathan Metts had this to say:
“Zelda on GameCube felt like a very direct sequel to Ocarina of Time or Wind Waker with different graphics. Due to the brevity of the demo, it was hard to tell how the game would set itself apart in terms of gameplay. Zelda on Wii feels dramatically different for the series, but at least in the E3 demo, not necessarily better."
For more on this issue, read Evan Burchfield's open letter to Nintendo.
It’s that insecurity that makes the whole transition somewhat nervous for yours truly. Nintendo’s taking a big gamble on the Wii, and if the remote can’t “wow" someone with their first impression, trouble is afoot. It all boils down to whether Twilight Princess plays better on the GameCube, or on its big-brother Wii.
This question ties into whether or not the controller can play a “normal game" more intuitively than its predecessor. At this point, it’s hard to say. While RTS, hack-and-slashes, and FPS titles seem custom-fit for Nintendo’s new method of control, would a game like Super Smash Bros. really benefit from it? Probably not. It mostly has to do with how clumsy people are in real life, and that the exact movement readily available by pushing buttons isn’t easily replicated by actual movement.
This obviously won’t be a problem with games belonging to the Touch Generation brand or something like Trauma Center, where the objective is based around responding your hand’s movement, and with WarioWare, it’s a match made in heaven. Will Prince of Persia Wii be better than Two Thrones, though? Time will tell, and that, more than anything else, is what’s bothering me.
It sure wasn’t this stressful last time. When the analog stick debuted on the N64, it ushered in a new age of 3D manipulation, but did anyone decide to switch up the control scheme and repackage their game as new? Did anyone see analog control as so great an innovation that it fundamentally changed the experience, and acted upon it immediately?
The truth of the matter was, it was a great addition to the controller, and it succeeded the D-Pad as the predominant method to play games. It didn’t annihilate it, however - we still see the D-Pad on every major gamepad - and in truth, I actually prefer the latter for certain genres (chiefly fighting games).
The Wii remote is different, though. Whereas the D-Pad-to-analog transition just put your thumb in a different spot and made it rotate instead of jump, the Wii is a kinetic force - it removes another boundary between you and the digital world, and will fundamentally change the experience. We just don’t know if that’s for the better yet.
So will these "enhanced titles" be good games? Probably. Better than the first ones? Maybe. Better specifically because of the control scheme?
As much as I hate to say it, time will have to tell.