The Nintendo Wii Turns Five Today, Dust Yours Off and Say Happy Birthday

Do you remember where you were five years ago? If you're a gamer there's a good chance you were standing in line waiting for the Nintendo Wii, and an even better chance you didn't get one.

Believe it or not today is the fifth anniversary of the Wii's release here in North America. And besides introducing (usable) motion controls to the gaming world and rekindling everyone's love of bowling, the Wii also showed that the best way to sell 88.3 million consoles (as of October 2011) was not with high-def graphics or hardcore content, but by appealing to a wider audience. Of course, limited availability to keep demand high didn't hurt either.

Before the Wii came along my parents only interaction with gaming was to turn down our TVs when the repetitive soundtracks of our Super Nintendo titles started wearing thin. Attempts to teach them how to use the N64's controller were futile at best, but they were able to pick up the Wii's motion controls like they'd been bowling turkeys with a Wiimote since they were toddlers. The console served as a gateway for non-gamers to enter the fold, and as much as Microsoft and Sony made claims that motion controls were gimmicky, both now offer their own unique flavors as a result of the Wii's success. Even the iPhone has gained a gyroscope, granting it Wiimote-like capabilities.

But the Wii wasn't all roses. The number of titles I played on a regular basis can only fill a single hand's worth of fingers. And five years later the game I still play most often, Wii Sports, was included with the console at launch. Third parties still had a hard time competing with the games published by Nintendo, and the Wii spawned enough gimmicky accessories to fill an entire aisle at Best Buy.

However, after the ho-hum GameCube, the Wii showed the world that Nintendo was still relative and could come up with something to genuinely innovate the gaming industry. Even if it ended up claiming the lives of many a flat screen TV in the process. I feel bad that my Wii, which is still hooked up, hasn't been powered up in at least a year, because it did provide some great gaming nights at the height of its popularity. But its spirit will live on! The Wii U is looming on the horizon, and that crazy concept of getting our asses off the couch to play a video game obviously isn't going away anytime soon. [The Verge]