The Nintendo Wii has something of a reputation for appealing to the non-traditional gamer. At the risk of delving too deeply into stereotypes, these so-called “casual" gamers usually include young children, older adults, and females, basically anyone outside the so-called “hardcore" gamer set.
My girlfriend is certainly someone who fits into this category. For her, the heyday of gaming was the Super Nintendo era. She’s always found the Xbox and Playstation controllers to be overly-complicated and uninteresting, and that has prevented her from enjoying any of our modern consoles.
That is, except for the Nintendo Wii. While memorizing complicated button layouts sounds like one of Dante’s circles of Hell to her, she absolutely loves the simplicity of the Wii’s motion controls and straightforward button placement. The Wii has quickly become her system of choice.
So, while it would be presumptuous of me to simply write an article about “games for girls," I feel I can, with her help, safely convey some of her personal favorites without incurring feminist wrath.
The following are games that she finds very appealing.
Animal Crossing: City Folk
My girlfriend absolutely loves to decorate. Knowing this, I introduced her to Animal Crossing. For those unfamiliar with the game, players in Animal Crossing have no real goal to work towards. They spend their time collecting bugs, catching fish, buying new furniture and wallpaper, and working toward paying off a slumlord raccoon so that they can upgrade their houses.
There is no urgency to Animal Crossing. Players are able to spend their time as they wish, there is no rush to pay back your mortgage, the only real motivation for doing so is to improve your house.
While I work furiously to pay off my mortgage and earn the highest possible score from the Happy Room Academy, my girlfriend enjoys decorating her house, planting flowers, and keeping the town free of weeds. She is also fond of catching bugs and fish, but I suspect that has more to do with the “cute" owl at the museum to whom you deliver your catch.
Animal Crossing: City Folk is one of our favorite Wii games to play as a couple.
"I love Animal Crossing because it’s like creating my own little world."
Guitar Hero Series
Music games are one genre that seems to transcend genders, and our house is no exception. We absolutely love jamming out to some great music while playing together.
Like Cake Mania, Guitar Hero is less about an involved narrative and more about developing a specific skill and shooting for those high scores. You can play in small, bite-sized chunks or lose an entire afternoon.
She loves Guitar Hero because playing it makes her feel like an actual guitarist. She also enjoys the ability to customize your character offered by the latest game in the series, Guitar Hero World Tour.
"It's fun because I can unlock stuff and keep going, while rocking out at the same time."
Cake Mania: In the Mix
Cake Mania is a curious title. It has more in common with the classic arcade games of yore than with any modern title I can think of. The gameplay is fast and frenetic, but lacking in anything resembling a storyline. It’s pretty much the definition of “pick up and play."
Players take on the role of a bakery owner who must complete cakes based on each customer’s specifications. Multiple customers appear at a time, and it’s necessary to multi task and plan your actions many steps in advance. While one cake is baking, you need to be frosting and decorating another if you hope to stay afloat.
Each cake has a unique shape, frosting, and decoration, and many have multiple layers, so they can get quite complicated. The game requires fast thinking and reflexes, and my girlfriend has been known to play for several hours without realizing how much time has passed.
"It’s fast-paced and exciting, and the characters are funny."
Super Mario Galaxy
Like most people of our generation, my girlfriend is a Mario fan from way back. Consequently, it really wasn’t that hard to get her to give Super Mario Galaxy a try. She enjoys the fact that the game takes place in levels that have a definite beginning and an end, without the “aimless wandering" that many modern games posses.
The controls are also fairly simple, with the possible exception of some of the more advanced techniques.
Super Mario Galaxy is just a great all-around game for the Wii. The levels are fun, the characters are engaging, and the gameplay is interesting. Collecting power-ups and figuring out how to reach hidden objectives is fun for the whole family.
"Who doesn’t love Mario? Mario Galaxy takes me back, and it’s a game I already know how to play. There is no need to learn new controls, systems, or characters."
For many, working out can be a near-unbearable chore. A game like Wii Fit can make it a much more enjoyable experience.
My girlfriend loves the balance games and the thrill that comes with unlocking new yoga poses, strength activities, and other items. She enjoys the fact that she is playing a video game while remaining active and controlling games with the balance board is always enjoyable way of doing so.
She also uses Wii Fit as a means of tracking her progress in Weight Watchers and keeping an eye on her Body Mass Index and other fitness indicators.
"I like to watch my Mii get thinner with me. It’s a game where you actually get results."
These five games are the primary reasons why I never get to play my Wii anymore. It’s always occupied by my formerly video-game-averse girlfriend who now spends her leisure time shredding through guitar solos and collecting bugs.