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Best of the Decade: Wii Sports

Wii Sports

Platform: Wii

Release Date: November 19, 2006

Publisher: Nintendo

Developer: Nintendo EAD

As geeks go, I must admit to being a somewhat boring example of the breed. I don’t often stand in lines at midnight waiting for new games. I haven’t stayed up playing a game for 24 hours straight. I haven’t played every game in a series through in a marathon session on a whim. 

At least, it used to be that way. November 19, 2006 marked a turning point of sorts in my geekdom. It was when I decided to head out into the cold winter night and create my first geeky tale. I’ve had others since, waiting in line for Left 4 Dead 2 at midnight, standing in line for countless hours in a packed mall to buy an iPhone 4, but nothing matches the wild, impromptu journey I took that night.

Most of the Wal-Marts in my area were already overly filled with waiting Wii purchasers. They were the easy targets. They opened at midnight and would quickly have the launch over and done with. I was desperate to obtain my new console, so I didn’t give up. I had underestimated the launch day popularity of this new console (by how much I wouldn’t realize until later when it started to become clear that Nintendo’s new hardware would become a verifiable sales phenomenon), but that didn’t mean I was out of options.

I turned to Best Buy. They didn’t open until early in the morning, but they had plenty of spaces available. I stalked out my place in line before the store even closed the night before and waited. I waited with other geeks in the freezing cold, slightly unprepared, shivering in my lacking attire. Had it not been for an extra sleeping bag lent by another friendly neighboring line member, smelling unpleasantly of smoke but mercifully warm, I’m not sure I would have made it through the miserable night.

There was a Wal-Mart within walking distance, strangely enough, and treks were made multiple times to obtain all-important snacks and caffeine, not to mention simply as an excuse to move around for a while and get out of the cold, however briefly. The wait was unbearable, but made slightly less so due to camaraderie and conversation. We were verbally assaulted at least once by a passing car of Wal-Mart customers who had snagged it much earlier than our little group would be able, but the antagonization simply drew us together. When the morning finally came, it only served to make the wait even harder. The sky was alight, but the hour of the coming of our Wiis still seemed far off. 

By the time they opened the door to the store I was practically jumping in place to keep from freezing to death. I welcomed the interior of the store like a lost wanderer in the desert welcomes a beautiful oasis. I purchased my cherished new system, along with a few games and requisite accessories, and took it all back to my dorm room high above the University of Oklahoma, and promptly took a much-needed nap.

One of the games was, of course, the bundled Wii Sports. Perhaps you can tell by the focus of this article so far, but Wii Sports makes this list not necessarily due to my fondness for it in particular, but rather for the revolution it introduced and the sheer technology-fueled glee it brought to my gaming world. The luster of motion controls may have faded since those heady days of introduction, but I’ll never forget the joy that playing around with Wii Sports for the first time brought me.

I simply had never experienced anything like it. I swung my controller and the tennis racket followed my motion. I mimicked the swing of a golf club and my character onscreen screwed up the shot just like I would have in real life. I flung the bowling ball down the alley and relished the joyful sensation of that occasional satisfying strike. 

It was a brilliant social experience as well. I stuffed all of my friends into my little dorm room so we could play together. I brought it home and had the first multiplayer gaming session with my parents that had ever been possible. Neither of them had so much as touched a game before, but they loved the Wii.

Wii Sports hasn’t aged well. Minigame collections are now horrendously overdone on the Wii and compared to even its own sequel it now feels simplistic and imprecise. But for the vast change in the gaming landscape it represented and for the cherished memories it provided me, it will always maintain a special place in my heart, and for that reason it makes my Best of the Decade.

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