Nintendo says there’s “no immediate need” to upgrade Wii. I’m not so sure.

The nine year old graphic technology of the Wii is finally showing its age. Despite this, Nintendo seems set on drinking console milk beyond its expiration date.

“I do not think that there is an immediate need to replace the Wii console,” Nintendo president told Reuters this week. “But of course, at some point in the future, the need will arise.”

If he’s talking about motion controls, I wholeheartedly agree. In fact, the four year old Wii Sports still controls better than any PlayStation Move or Xbox Kinect game I played at E3. But as for the graphics, I think it’s high time.

Admittedly, when the Wii launched in 2006, it did so with inferior graphics. But the gap between HD and Wii was never a deal breaker.

Until now.

After attending E3 this year, I realized first hand how wide the gap has become. With exception to a handful of stylized games like Donkey Kong Country Returns and the new Kirby, Wii games look noticeably outdated now.

Epic Mickey looks epic cruddy. Goldeneye looks oldeneye. Lost in Shadow is lost in drab. Even the colorful Zelda looks flat.

Granted, the “art vs technical capability” argument remains at play here, and Wii is more than capable of still achieving great art. But it’s doing so in reduced numbers now, as its “technical capabilities” exceedingly age.

More ironic still is that for the first time in Nintendo’s history, its eye-popping 3D portable looks better than its flagship console. And that’s an immediate problem.

22 Responses to Nintendo says there’s “no immediate need” to upgrade Wii. I’m not so sure.

  1. Fuzz says:

    I’d expect them to announce a new Wii next E3, to be released in the following spring or fall. Given that it sounds like they want to go 3D, I think they need that time for prices to come down on technology, and for 3D TV’s to become cheaper and more common. They also don’t want to jump to soon with largely inferior technology, given that MS and Sony will be looking to replace their consoles in the next 3 or 4 years. If they go to soon, they will end up being way behind in tech. But launching before them at a reasonable price will probably be the goal, and I’m sure will be a great strategy. I think we are stuck with Wii graphics for awhile.

  2. Dibs says:

    Zelda….nuff said

  3. Jack says:

    “More ironic still is that for the first time in Nintendo’s history, its eye-popping 3D portable looks better than its flagship console. And that’s an immediate problem.”

    Why?

  4. elmer says:

    For one thing there’s a technical investment disparity. Where the PS3/360 have seen continued investment in upgrading graphics engines, the Wii has not, and while people might suggest that a 9 year old technology must be optimised up the yingyang, the reality is that even the latest Wii games generally fail to sport even the basic out of the box fixed function visual effects available on day 1 of the gamecube. Bump mapping, specularity? Hello!? That’s contributing to the apparent increase in the difference. Nintendo hasn’t helped in the software department here: People say Nintendo were never about pushing graphics tech and pushing hardware to its limit, but actually across the NES, SNES and N64 they really did. In the last two genrations though they’ve taken a lax approach to maximising the hardware. On GC hardly a Nintendo game was more technically or graphically advanced than the launch Luigi’s Mansion (which stands up well if you check it). Need I remind you that awesome graphics from an effects perspective (and not merely artistic) are certainly possible evidenced by the likes of Mario Galaxy.

    But I’ve been severely disappointed by Skyward Swords, and believe that Twilight Princess (which is a GC game, remember) looked both better and significantly more advanced – better geometry, texture and effects detail, and leveraged in such a way that it compliments the art and brings everything to believable life in a way that staves off the onslaught of disbelief suspending wrinkle shaders and haemoglobin maps on HD systems. It’s down to careful and judicious application of the effects resources that ARE available – just about sufficient at the 6th Gen level (when used properly) to take you to that other ‘real’ world. Skyward Swords looks flat because it is. Flat matt textures on flat low-poly models.

  5. Mark says:

    If it becomes clear that the technology is a big enough issue to have a significant negative impact on sales then they will make a new consoles. If it doesn’t, they won’t. Its that simple. We can complain all day about the technology but if people are still willing to buy the console and buy the games, then what incentive does Nintendo have to release a new console. There’s only one reason to release a new console: disinterest. When people, as a whole, become disinterested with the Wii, we will see a new console. And from the looks of it, that won’t be happening anytime soon.

  6. EdEN says:

    The graphics on the Wii aren’t “9 years old”, they’re four at the end of 2010. The Wii is more advanced than the GC. Go play Dewy’s Adventure and see what the extra power does. The 3DS looks great but this is new tech that Nintendo is using. OF COURSE it was going to look great. the DS is at N64 level so the 3DS was going for GC. The smaller screen just makes it so more power is available for creating games.

    I own a PS3, a Wii and a DSi. the Wii and DSi got bought at launch (the DSi actually went DS Phat- DS Lite- DSi) and I just got a PS3 in november 2009 and that playing God of War III doesn’t make SMG 2 be less enjoyable or less graphically impressive. Same applies to playing Uncharted 2 and then playing Twilight Princess. If you have fun, graphics aren’t important. I just finished Don’t Cross the Line on DSiware and that’s a $2 game that has basically NO graphical power and is way too fun for my initial investment.

  7. Verius says:

    I agree with Fuzz that there will be a successor to the Wii that’ll be announced at E3 2011. Im not complaining about the quality or quantity of games coming out for it but on the odd occasion I do wish the Wii had a bit more horsepower under the hood.

  8. BlueRocks says:

    Thank you @Mark. Truer words were never spoken.

    I do believe that Blake was just stoking the ashs to try to incite a fire from the readers.

    Nine year old tech? The Wii came out in 2006. It won’t be nine until 2015. Or are you inferring that part of the technology that created the Wii’s guts is nine years old? Maybe the discs? Plastic is older than nine years old, so it can’t be that.

    Yes, @Jack, good question. Why is the 3DS an immediate problem to the Wii? Wii people stop buying home consoles because they can sit in front of a tv with a 3D DS? Because the DS will be able to do something the Wii (and xbox and ps3) can’t do?

    Also why are the graphics a “deal breaker”? And a “deal breaker” to what? And to whom? People buying a second Wii for the cottage? Parents buying new systems for their young children. I have six kids myself. Hmmm should I buy an HD game system for big bucks with realistic blood splatter or a Wii that the whole family can enjoy?

    Has “the [graphics] gap” suddenly expanded in the last four years while all of the consoles have been out? Why does it make a bit of difference now?

    It doesn’t. There is no ‘immediate problem’ or sudden ‘gap’ or ‘deal breaker’.

    Blake, I don’t mind if you want to put out ‘personal opinion” stories such as these but without any concise reasoning or references for your claims, I’ll never believe it to be more than pandering for comments.

    Even if it does work!

  9. CZsWorld says:

    Sorry Blake, but this article is total BS. Nintendo doesn’t need the extra graphical power to make games that look great. Compare Twilight Princess and Metroid Prime to HD games announced Tuesday like Deadspace 2 and Heroes… HD graphics aren’t always best, the game design is more important. And while there are HD games looking better then anything on a Nintendo system, lie Assassins Creed and InFamous 2, it doesn’t have anything to do with the gameplay.

    So that being said I think at I would definitely like to see better graphics I don’t think it’s necessary. I think a good solution would be to offer a less powerful system and a more powerful system, and games put into the less powerful one can automatically be watered down. That way they can offer cheap hardware and please the hardcores.

  10. Wii Wii says:

    I don’t mind the lesser graphics on the Wii, because I own and play the heck out of my 360 all the time, I guess you can say ” Im over it”. The 360 has obviously superior visuals, sound and online capabilities that outshine the Wii in MANY areas. However, the Wii is still a fun machine and with Zelda and DKC it will be plenty of FUN in the future.

    The Wii is what the Wii is.

    We have the 360 and the ps3 to keep our HD, 1080p, 5.1 surround, online gaming time happy. And we have the Wii for the fun and magic only Nintendo can deliver, not a bad combination, really.

  11. Sheldon says:

    of course it has nothing to do with the gameplay, but it has to do with the image nintendo and wii gets… ridiculed and neglected by developers and hardcore gamers who obsess over gears of war halo etc.
    and of course games can still be fun when they look shitty… but just imagine how much more fun games on wii would be if they were stunning like ps3.
    one example is a level on smg2 i forget the name of the galaxy but its where youre underwater then you come up then this beautiful scenary with the sun setting and plants around you… that was just beautiful, looked flawless. that made me go wow. but its not the case at all with other games.

    @czsworld: uhm, not all developers can do that. nintendo does need the extra power so shut up. jesus. people like you influence nintendo to not care, and its having a negative effect.

  12. MarkO says:

    Having seen a lot of these games first hand, I have to agree with Blake. The Wii has reached its graphical capabilities. Developers have maxed out the Wii. However, developers are able to continue to make 360 and PS3 games look better and better every year as they figure ways out to use the hardware more efficiently. Even the 3DS had better looking games than the Wii. That is not a good thing if you want to stay in the console business.

  13. zatara says:

    oh so That’s the line. now at least we know. (quick! someone add this dealbeacker to Tina Fey’s list!)

    of course, those who wanted HD and gorgeous games before were basically whiny xbots too shallow to appreciate gameplay.

    But now, Now, NOW it’s just gone too far!

    I’m so glad we’ve finally identified the objective line at which graphics are a problem. I’ll be sure to retune my expectations for gaming to this standard of The Truth. (I was just ahead of my time I suppose)

    but as we’re so often reminded- hey! it’s about the money! Nintendo will upgrade when it needs to!

    Well then, I guess that makes it okay.

    (And I continue to find it hilarious that workarounds for weak hardware are still praised as brilliant art decisions. sometimes, a lack of detail is often just a lack of detail. and here’s how you know: what do you think the zelda would look like on the 360? pretty much the same, right?)

  14. Paul says:

    Goldeneye looks incredibly poor graphically speaking. It’s on par with Deadly Premonition, which is saying something.

    But anyway I’m all for Wii HD. I see no reason not to have it.

  15. Eolirin says:

    When Nintendo isn’t selling more than the competition, it’ll be time for new hardware. Not a moment before then.

    It’d be incredibly stupid to obsolete a system that still has significant sales momentum.

  16. Sykil says:

    Play Metroid Prime 3: Corruption in progressive scan on a 40+ inch TV. I defy you to tell me that this is ugly.

    And Blake, the only game you mentioned that would benefit from meatier hardware is Goldeneye. Skyward Sword has a very distinctive style that would not benefit much from HD-capable hardware, and Epic Mickey is just plain ugly by no fault of the console. The art department needs to get something together for that game. Admittedly, Skyward Sword could use a punch of color, but how in the world is HD going to fix that? That doesn’t even make sense.

    As far as I’m concerned, meatier hardware is only better inasmuch as it improves gameplay with larger and more interactive environments. Prettier pixels are nice, but there are some fairly nice looking games on the Wii anyway.

  17. matt says:

    Them zelda graphics although not realistic has better graphic than 3/4 of 360 games that level of cell shading at 60fps get me a comparison oh with rich colour pallete aswell show me a better looking game using the same graphic style i know u cant

  18. Sean Buckley says:

    Elmer, I have to wonder if you were at the show, or merely basing these opinions off of the trailer.

    My experience with Skyward Sword hands on made it seem more visually advanced than Twilight Princess, and far more compelling. Then again, I’m known for disliking Twilight Princess. Excepting the CDi games, I probably consider it to be the worst Zelda.

    I’m still considering on what portions of this article I agree with Blake, and which I disagree. He’s not wrong, but I don’t entirely agree with his statements.

  19. Gern says:

    I can’t believe what I’m reading from some of you on here. I am reading comments that make you seem like you are turning in to graphics whores and losing sight of the bigger picture of video gaming. Granted, most (if not all) of us that post here are serious gamers, and this is what is probably causing the “graphics worship” to seep into the infendo.com community. Casual gamers don’t care as much about graphics.

    Ok, here it goes: casual gamers don’t look at video gaming sites. I know this because I know lots of friends and parents that have video game systems but don’t visit websites, and some of them haven’t set foot in Gamestop. Video gaming shopping to them is going to Walmart, Target and Best Buy. I know this because I talk about video games with them. None of them own an xbox 360 or PS3. However, all of them own PCs or PS2 or DS or Wii or iPhone. I mention PCs first because many of my son’s and daughter’s friends are spending a lot of time on Webkins or Farmville or Barbie or Poptropica. I own a DS, Wii, 360 and iphone. My own kids are spending more hours playing free games on the internet on my laptop than anything else. The point being that there is a lot of time being spend on gaming outside of the Wii/360/Ps3 world. You could probably extrapolate my casual friends to a the much larger world market and realize that graphics play a small part of the video game experience.

    The future of video gaming is accessibility and fun and easy to use. We are past the point were graphics can add more to the experience versus the accessibility and fun factors. Graphics are not the limiting factor in gaming anymore. The of the Wii is good enough for the majority. Farmville, iphone, webkins, etc… is good enough for the majority of the video game audience. It is only us hardcore gamers that care. The future of video gaming is in the majority. Nintendo is playing in the majority market. I think Nintendo’s biggest threat is iPhone and the internet gaming. Thanks for reading my rant… Take care.

  20. Josh says:

    If every game looked like the Mario Galaxy games I would be happy, but even Nintendo itself doesn’t seem to push their graphics in most of their games. It is disappointing to say the least.

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