How $14 made Xenoblade Chronicles twice as awesome and made me love my Wii again.

I hate the Wii controller. Seriously. I honestly think the Wii controller is the worst gaming idea since the Virtual Boy or having to pay extra money on launch day for content that is already locked on the disc, but that’s another post for another day. I’m a Nintendo fan-boy at heart who has 2 Zelda tattoos and a Metroid tattoo. Hell, the NES practically raised me growing up and I wasted hundreds of hours on various SNES RPG’s, getting 100% in Yoshi’s Island and getting lost in Super Metroid, Castlevania IV and A Link to the Past. I even used my high school graduation money to buy an N64 and when the Gamecube sold out I imported one from Japan and had it modded to play North American games because I wanted.. nay, NEEDED to play Super Mario Ghostbusters with Luigi’s Mansion. I don’t even want to think about how many different variations of their numerous handhelds I’ve owned, how many Pokemon I’ve caught and named Elvis or how many hours I put in to the various Megaman Battle Network games on the GBA.

When the Wii released, I was beyond stoked for a new Nintendo system and couldn’t wait to get my hands on one.. until, you know, I got my hands on one. Holding what felt like a TV remote with a giant rubber condom on it in one hand while fondling an oddly shaped analog controller in the other just didn’t feel comfortable or natural to me. “Give it time” I told myself over and over again (probably while my fat ass was short-winded after playing Wii Boxing), but the more I played games like Super Mario Galaxy and Twilight Princess, the more I kept thinking just how much better of an experience I would be having if I could just plug the fucking Gamecube controller in.

For me, video games don’t have to be physically interactive to be fun so the idea of flailing my arms around like a drowning victim or a geriatric that just hit BINGO wasn’t appealing to begin with, but I figured it was just the way of the future and I’d eventually get used to it. Part of me even thought that maybe it would be cool if when playing Zelda I had to do the same motions Link did for the slingshot or boomerang, but everything sounds good in your head when you’re trying to justify a purchase you weren’t entirely sure of anymore. I knew damn well that I’d rather just hold a button, hover over my targets and feed them the business end of a boomerang. That’s all.

Eventually, much to my dismay, my Wii collected a ton of dust and played third string to my PS3 and Xbox 360 and was eventually sold off. Afterwards, my tiny 8-bit heart always thought about those amazing first-party titles Nintendo would release once in a blue moon that would just come out and wreck everything else I’ve ever played and I didn’t want to miss out on any of it. Once Skyward Sword was announced and I saw some screen shots and gameplay footage, I bought a new shiny black Wii and a few used games just to have something to play. Even still, playing games like Mad World & Metroid Prime 3 had me thinking of how much more fun I’d be having if I didn’t have to use the motion controls.

Later on that year Skyward Sword released and I was honestly shocked at just how much I didn’t play it. I really just couldn’t force myself to enjoy the controller any more than I did 5 years ago.. so after 4 or 5 hours I’d turn it off and forget that it was even there, which some would equate to slapping God in the face or working mandatory overtime.

Being an RPG fan, I was also pissed when Nintendo decided not to localize Xenoblade and The Last Story here in North America but here I was, a Nintendo fanboy that couldn’t even play a legendary series like Zelda for more than 4 or 5 hours, thinking of how in the hell I was going to play a 60+ hour RPG with a Wiimote. When Nintendo decided to listen to its fanbase and Xenoblade & The Last Story were announced for North America, I put in my pre-orders and saw that Xenoblade had an advertisement right on the box saying “improve your experience with a Wii Classic Controller!”.

Shut the fucking front door!

As much as I had wished that I could play all of these Wii games with a standard controller, I was confused as to why a game made only for a system that backboned itself to its use of motion controls was being advertised as a “better experience” with a classic controller. Maybe I just refuse to listen or something because when I bought Xenoblade I scoffed at the thought of using the Classic Controller and went home to play it immediately with the Wiimote, pride in hand and middle finger in the air.

Aside from the camera being controlled with the press of two buttons and the analog stick, my brain just couldn’t comprehend using the right hand to navigate battle menus. 25 years of relentless RPG gaming tells my thought process to “suck it” and use the left hand to navigate and the right hand to initiate commands.. and it’s so stubborn that it couldn’t change itself. It was like being a heroin addict (well, I’d imagine anyway) or an alcoholic (imagining again, I promise) trying to function when clean and not having an idea of how things really work. Humans are creatures of habit. I wake up and urinate, not the other way around.

Not taking urination in to consideration, I looked over our Wii collection and noticed that I had a few games that were also compatible with the Classic Controller – Shiren the Wanderer, Baroque, No More Heroes 2 and our most recent obsession Harvest Moon: Animal Parade. Wondering just how much better Xenoblade and the other games would be with a standard controller I tucked my pride between my legs like a dog that just ate your turkey sandwich and shit it out on your girlfriends pillow and went to Gamestop to pick up a used Classic Controller Pro (and a used copy of Ar Tonelico Qoga for PS3).

Plugging it in when I got home and popping in Xenoblade Chronicles, I started over since the tutorial section was long over and I had no idea which buttons did what. Controlling Shulk with the left analog, the camera with the right, L & R target and, best of all, my left thumb navigated battle menus with ease on the D-pad! OMG OMG OMG (because that’s how you kids type, right?) where has this thing been all of my Wii life! I couldn’t stop playing last night until I stopped playing because that’s how logic works, but even still it was amazing and felt natural and awesome and HOLY SHIT I CAN MOVE THE CAMERA! I really hope The Last Story works with the classic controller too and I honestly can’t wait to get my “roguelike death on repeat” on with Shiren the Wanderer again.

Let’s be honest for about 14 seconds though. Xenoblade Chronicles was still an amazing game with the Wiimote, as was Skyward Sword, but for the case of overdramatics I over dramatized the drama portion of the post. I’m a stubborn gamer that fears change, much like I did when The Legend of Zelda went 3D with Ocarina of Time and Metroid went all FPS on me with Metroid Prime. Both games were amazing and all it took was a little bit of patience, learning the changes and loving them all over again. The Wii is no different. I don’t want to flail my arms around so I assume that any game with an overabundance of motion controls is going to do nothing but infuriate me and make me wish that I could just use a controller.

I’ve since grown attached to my Wii thanks to games like Skyward Sword and Xenoblade but also the mass amount of sleeper titles like Baroque, Shiren the Wanderer, Harvest Moon, Tales of Symphonia and, I’m sure, the upcoming The Last Story. Being able to go back to what was comfortable with a Classic Controller just brought my attention back to the Wii in the same sense that HD Collections bring me back to classic series on the PS2. $14 was just what I needed to do that and I’m glad I did it.

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