Over the years, Nintendo has risen to become a leader in both the gaming and "gimmicks" industry. Starting with the Nintendo Entertainment System and, later, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo ushered in a whole new technological era that set a precedent for household electronics to come. Indeed, the company paved the road for the gaming industry altogether by inventing and capitalizing on some of the wackiest but most successful gaming gimmicks in recent memory. Above them all, however, motion controls were and still are Nintendo's best gimmick.
A History of Innovation
Following the success of the NES and SNES, Nintendo launched the Nintendo 64. Ushering in 3D gaming, it was an absolute innovation in its field and set yet another precedent for things to come. While the GameCube wasn't as far ahead of its competition in that era, given the massive success of rivals PlayStation 2 and Xbox, the GameCube gave players some very unusual accessories.
Case-in-point: the DK Bongos. They weren't used for all that many games, but for players who wanted to play Donkey Konga, Donkey Konga 2, and Donkey Konga 3, they were a must-have accessory. Further, players could also use them with the more entertaining Donkey Kong Jungle Beat. These items weren't incredibly user-friendly, but it was fun to use them every once in a while. They served as experimental controller gimmicks that would preview things to come.
Though they've grown to become graming staples, handheld systems were one of Nintendo's first gimmicks. The Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, and Nintendo 3DS were all massive commercial successes and, once again, made handheld gaming incredibly commonplace for tons of gamers. Fans later saw Nintendo try to make a console-handheld hybrid with the Wii U, which wasn't all that effective due to the Wii U's GamePad limitations. Later, Nintendo's follow-up, the Switch, grew to become the pinnacle of console-handheld hybrid.
The One To Rule Them All: Motion Controls
The best of all Nintendo's gimmicks, however, is motion control. The concept itself wasn't necessarily new at the time of the Nintendo Wii's 2006 release. But due to motion control innovations within the console, the system became extremely popular. People could find them not only in the homes of hardcore gamers, but also in the homes of those who weren't necessarily serious gaming enthusiasts. For anyone who saw the concept of gaming as foreign, looked down on it, or didn't know what it was, games like Wii Sports were a perfect introduction to gaming.
The Wii gets plenty of well-deserved criticism. At the time of its release, it was well behind the curve in terms of graphical capabilities. While the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 were seeing releases like Gears of War and Uncharted, the Wii was seeing releases like Carnival Games. Even the Wii games with the best graphics, like the Zelda titles, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, and the Super Mario Galaxy games, were still nowhere near the level of graphical output produced by games like The Last of Us and Grand Theft Auto V, which were both released on the aforementioned competing systems.
Why The Wii Was So Important
The Wii has a special place in the hearts of many for its ability to bring people together with an emphasis on mechanics. There were too many half-baked games that seemed totally incapable of using motion controls well, but games like Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort were perfect for social occasions and testing new hardware. Motion control represented true innovation in gaming.
Innovation Done Right
Nintendo has never been a company to shy from innovation and has often done so to more or less success. Some things, like the Wii U, were unfortunate failures, even though its predecessor, the Wii, is a prime example of an innovation done right. Not only did Nintendo release games that highlighted these motion control concepts, which turned a so-called "gimmick" into an important milestone in gaming history.