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During an October 2008 conference in Japan, Nintendo announced that they were going to tap into their GameCube library and remake selected titles for the Wii. These games would essentially be ports, but would be enhanced with new controls designed to take advantage of the Wii remote. Thus far, seven titles have been announced in what is being called the "Wii de Asobu Selection" (or, essentially, the "Play It on the Wii" series), and each will be sold at a budget price. Those seven titles are Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat, Pikmin, Pikmin 2, Chibi Robo, Mario Tennis, Metroid Prime and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes.
While these remakes have not been officially announced in North America as of yet, gamers on this side of the Pacific are already debating whether or not they are a good idea or a quick cash-in. After all, it does not appear at this point that there will be any graphical enhancements or other changes to these titles outside of the new control scheme. True, the games will not retail for full price, but even at a reduced cost, would they be worth such a purchase, especially for those folks who already own the original GameCube versions? Isn’t this just the work of lazy developers who should be spending their time and resources making these improvements to true sequels instead of just rehashing old material?
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The truth is that this is an excellent move by Nintendo. These games were for the most part rather highly acclaimed titles, and anyone who is fairly new to gaming thanks to the broad appeal of the Wii could well have missed out on them the first time around. Titles like Pikmin 2 and Metroid Prime 2, especially, still tend to go for a decently high amount at used game retailers. So it makes perfect business sense to put enhanced versions of these games out for a price competitive with their used counterparts, especially since so many non-traditional gamers have taken a shine to the Wii remote’s innovative motion controls.
Longtime gamers should be excited about the prospects of the Wii de Asobu Selection as well. One of the flagship Wii titles among hardcore gamers is Metroid Prime 3, largely due to the spot-on control scheme. Wouldn’t it be great to replay through the first two games in the series using the exact same controls? Likewise, Pikmin and its sequel were fantastic games, but imagine what they would be like if the Wii remote pointer and a flick of the wrist was used to throw the Pikmin creatures to their intended targets. Also, the Wii remote pointer and the Nunchuck could serve as drumsticks for Jungle Beat and Wii Sports has already given a look at how successful a tennis product can be. Also, the future prospects of this series are immensely exciting -- a version of Luigi’s Mansion in which the remote/control stick combination would be particularly spectacular, and an adaptation of Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance using the one-handed, remote-only control scheme of its Wii sequel Radiant Dawn (thus opening up the second hand for a nice cup of coffee while strategizing) would also be appreciated.
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Finally, there’s one other set of benefits to enhancing existing software with Wii controls that most people haven’t thought of, one that will ultimately help the system’s prospects in the long run. By taking an existing product and focusing solely on the motion aspect of things, it will allow developers to master the craft of Wii-specific controls. Then they can build off that knowledge, working on improving the other aspects of the game around it, and creating superior titles specifically designed to take advantage of the Nintendo Wii’s hardware. Perhaps it is overly optimistic to think that the work done on the Wii de Asobu Selection will help improve future Wii titles, but looking at the facts, it certainly seems to be a possibility. All things considered, the Wii de Asobu series sure seems to be a good idea -- as long as the price point is reasonable enough ($19.99 would be ideal, but definitely no more than $29.99 per title).