Nintendo quietly announced the Wii Mini recently. The console, which will be available in Canada for $100, supports over 1,000 Wii games, but lacks a host of important features, including backward compatibility with GameCube titles and the ability to connect in any way to the Internet.
Of course, Nintendo has said that the Wii Mini is the perfect value. The console is cheaper than the Wii and is smaller. Plus, it’s the perfect entry point for new gamers who don’t care about the old days and simply want to get their motion gaming on.
But perhaps Nintendo’s view on that is short sighted. One of the best aspects of the Wii is that it supports the company’s Virtual Console, a nostalgic repository filled with titles from its many popular devices. Old school gamers can get everything from the first Super Mario to the finest Legend of Zelda games downloaded directly to their consoles. It’s a wonderful thing.
Wii Mini owners, however, won’t have that option. Instead, they’ll be forced to sift through Wii games in the hopes of finding some gems that can match the classics available in the Virtual Console. Admittedly, there are some Wii titles that will appeal greatly to gamers. But before long, it becomes clear that save for first-party games, there isn’t a whole lot to like in the Wii game library.
The more I look at the Wii Mini, the more I see it as a cheap way for Nintendo to generate some extra cash. After all, it’s undoubtedly cheaper to produce and the lack of Internet connectivity forces would-be Wii customers to the more expensive model. Once again, Nintendo has, under the guise of the “nice” game company that hides under Mario’s hat, looked like a big company looking to drain every last profit out of its customers.
Thankfully, the Wii Mini is only coming to one market for now, so Nintendo shouldn’t be viewed as unfavorably as some might think. However, what if the Wii Mini actually sells relatively well in Canada? Don’t expect it to take too long for Nintendo to bring the underpowered and unnecessary console to the U.S. and U.K. After all, if Nintendo thinks it can make some extra cash, why wouldn’t it?
For seasoned gamers, the Wii Mini looks like yet another example of Nintendo failing to understand the changing market dynamics. Gamers want more Internet functionality, not less. And despite the GameCube’s sub-par performance in the console market, backward compatibility still matters.
Nintendo is simply playing by the wrong rules. When gamers ask for more, Nintendo has been giving them less. And when gamers had hoped for better features, Nintendo has almost always told them that it knows better.
With the Wii, Nintendo seemingly knew better, since the console sold extremely well. But the Wii Mini is a different beast altogether. And despite Nintendo’s best attempts at showing why the Wii Mini is really necessary for customers, the company has failed.
Sorry, but the Wii Mini is one big, bad idea.