The success of a video game console is partially dependent upon the success of its launch- its ability to release quality first and third party games from the launch will ensure the console a home in many homes within the first few months. Though in rare instances a system has had mediocre launches and have still come out on top (such as the Playstation 2, at least in terms of its selection of games at launch), it is to the benefit of any company that their home consoles get off on the right foot.
The Nintendo Wii launch line-up is impressive on many levels, both in terms of the quality of games available and the quantity of games, not to mention a new controller. It's imperative, then, to take a step back and look at the console that started it all for Nintendo- the Famicon, better known as the Nintendo Entertainment System in North America.
The NES launch is an interesting one to evaluate, and for several reasons. For starters, the system was released as the Famicon on July 15th, 1983, over two years before it was renamed as the Nintendo Entertainment System and released in the United States. But more importantly, there were eighteen games available at launch in the North American debut of the NES: 10-Yard Fight , Baseball, Clu Clu Land, Donkey Kong Jr. Math, Duck Hunt, Excitebike, Golf, Gyromite, Hogan's Alley, Ice Climber, Kung Fu, Mach Rider, Pinball, Stack-Up, Super Mario Bros., Tennis, Wild Gunman, and Wrecking Crew. The NES was an instant hit in the States, and would go on to sell over 61 million consoles worldwide. Since the NES was the first system of its kind to come out- a revolutionary controller, a massive library of games spanning several genres, and from a company that was not well known outside of Japan- the launch was key. Having the top selling game of all time (Super Mario Bros.), a game that made the best use out of the popular light gun (Duck Hunt), sport games that successfully attracted persons of all ages in Baseball, Tennis, and Golf and a slew of other hits that covered wide ranges of interest (such as Donkey Kong Jr. Math for kids and Excitebike for the average gamer), contributed greatly to the NES's future success.
Now I have stated in previous articles the significance of the connection between the NES and the Wii. Both have revolutionary controllers never before seen in the gaming world, have a non-gaming heir about them (as is evident by Wii Play, Wii Music, Wii Sports, and by the NES sport games), and have the same price tag (the deluxe bundle for the NES, which was released in North America, was $250). It is important, then, to see how Nintendo, whether on purpose or inadvertently, is closely replicating the NES launch. The Wii console, which is set to be released in North America on November 17th, 2006, will have 21 titles available at launch: Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII , Call of Duty 3, Elebits, Excite Truck, Far Cry: Vengeance, GT Pro Series, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Madden NFL 07 , Marvel: Ultimate Alliance , Monster 4x4 World Circuit , Need for Speed: Carbon , Open Season , Rayman Raving Rabbids, Rapala Tournament Fishing, Red Steel, Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Double Agent, Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam , Trauma Center: Second Opinion , World Series of Poker , and Wii Sports (bundled with the Wii console). You have a guaranteed Nintendo hit in Twilight Princess, and abundance of sport games ranging from the serious Madden NFL '07 to the more light hearted Wii Sports, a NES remake in Excite Truck (the original was Excite bike), some solid third party titles in Rayman, Red Steel, and Super Monkey Ball, and some unique Nintendo titles in Trauma Center, which debuted on the Nintendo DS.
What Nintendo hopes to bring back with the Wii launch, then, is the wide range of genres encompassed by the launch, so that people of all ages and gaming backgrounds know right from the beginning that the Wii is for them. Other launches have been to narrow- that is, they attract only semi-serious to hardcore gamers ranging from the ages of 18-35. This immediately gives the console the label of a purely gamer's system- a system that will only be enjoyed by someone with an extensive gaming background.