The 10 Most Misunderstood Wii Games – Part 2
by Mike D.
5.) New Super Mario Bros. Wii
By Derek Jasper – Nikola Tesla (R.I.P. He passed away in June.)
We all know to expect the unexpected from Nintendo by now, right? But with a side-scrolling Mario game!? Madness! It’s practically the centerpiece of modern gaming formula and somehow still managed to be quite the controversy. The cause being certain modern sensibilities that we gaming enthusiasts have come to expect over the years like toast as part of our breakfast.
I know, I know: it’s hard for many of us to get a good local multiplayer session going for any number of reasons. But in playing it personally, I have difficulty imagining it actually fitting this particular case and being that much more satisfying than computer-controlled AI players. The whole point of multiplayer in this form is to share a couch, a bag of chips, some laughs, some high-fives, or some punches at any moment. Could and should bots or online multiplayer have been included? Sure. But really, honestly… Considering the play style, would it have felt right, anyways?
I’d also have loved a more original and pleasing artistic aesthetic. However, dedicated (jaded) gamers like me aren’t the only demographic to adhere to. There were millions of people that a simple and clean graphical style was necessary, as to not intimidate them. The potential to draw all those Wii Sports fans and former gamers into a more traditional experience was too great. It would have been very short sighted to not make an attempt at expanding the market. Besides, there is nothing wrong with offering biscuits instead of toast from time to time, is there?
4.) No More Heroes
This slot on the list had been occupied by both Red Steel 2 and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption during various edits of this article. However, after writing about both titles, I came to the conclusion that they are more “underrated” than they are “misunderstood.” Both games feature wonderful graphical presentations and some of the best uses of the Wii remote ever devised, factors that I don’t think were lost completely upon gamers or reviewers (for the most part, at least). They were simply overshadowed somewhat by the Galaxies and Zeldas of the Wii library.
The game that ultimately ended up with our fourth ranking also has its fans, but it also has the distinction of being truly misunderstood…
Everything you’ve read about No More Heroes is true, more or less. It’s completely mad. Bonkers, even. It features foul language, sophomoric humor, an utterly depraved protagonist and gratuitous violence that spills more blood than Shamu’s menarche*.
However, what it doesn’t feature is style over substance, which is the most common complaint against the game. It’s a rubbish grievance.
No More Heroes is a satire, an unflinchingly subversive exercise in videogame deconstruction. The mirror is placed upon us as gamers, and the picture looking back is so accurate that almost no one noticed it as a reflection. Travis Touchdown is us, only in a videogame. Much like Tyler Durden, he dresses outlandishly cool (the way we secretly wish we could), is a mighty warrior (ditto) and spends his days playing games (hat trick). But he also inhabits a world that puts limits upon him, just our world does on us. If he wants money, he has to do a mundane job to earn it. The hot girl shoots him down. And like us, Travis doesn’t get to ride around town crashing into other vehicles on the road or running over pedestrians. Grand Theft Auto, this ain’t. There are rules in this sandbox, just as there are rules in our own actual sandbox.
Travis even blows off steam the same way we do: he plays a game. To combat the doldrums, to feel alive, our hero chooses a most dangerous and deadly hobby. He kills virtual sleazebags, just like we gamers do. But it is here that NMH shows off its deeper layer of social commentary. Look at the crew of society’s misbegotten sons and daughters that Travis faces. We have a bad father, a revenge-obsessed youth, a narcissist, a performance con man, a misandrist, an alcoholic…misfits who have either abandoned society or have been abandoned, one and all. They’ve consigned themselves to oblivion and have embraced the bloody path there. Heroes? You won’t find any here.
One could argue that NMH is already a cult classic. On the other hand, since most critics were mainly paying attention to the game’s purposefully-laughable collision detection, little of its overall artistry registered. Pity.
[*No, this pun doesn't really make sense. Go with it.]
3.) Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
So, where do your “mature” gaming experiences start? Are they like Modern Warfare 3′s opening? Being tossed into a bloody battle for Manhattan? Shoot scores of nameless bad guys, bring down the chopper, save the city. It’s the Full Bruckheimer, an action-packed fantasy with none of the remorse or PTSD (not that there isn’t a place for that entertainment, mind you).
My “mature” gaming experience starts on a couch. With a shrink asking me about fidelity.
Shattered Memories is a game about love and loss (and accepting loss, the hardest part). It is a survival/horror game that is actually about surviving events and being scared. This is a foreign concept to the modern “survival/horror” genre, where you merely have to worry that you won’t have quite enough ammo to kill an entire horde of grotesque creatures. If that sounds more like an action game, it should, and that’s why this Silent Hill doesn’t fit in. It fits in with modern horror games the way “Halloween” fits in with modern horror movies (which is to say, “not at all”).
Think about it, for a moment. Would “Halloween” be much of a horror film if Michael Myers’ teen victims really had a chance against him? Would we feel scared watching Jamie Lee Curtis chased if we hadn’t seen the destruction wrought upon her near-helpless friends? Would it be a horror classic if the film consisted of nothing but equitable fight scenes between Laurie Strode and Michael?
Of course not. And that is why the chief complaint against Shattered Memories – its lack of combat – is so utterly misguided, and why the game is so horribly misunderstood. This isn’t a game of blood and thunder that seeks to provide the rush of saving a fictional world. No, this is about the exploration of dark places, and the helplessness and frailty that comes with not being a one-man (or woman) army.
Silent Hill isn’t about slaying demons. It’s about surviving them.
We’re almost there. In our next installment, we’ll get to know our silver medalist. Stay tuned!