There's a dangerous and common trend in the games industry which can lead any enthusiast down a road of disappointment, pain and bitter, bitter tears. Behold: overeager person + the internet + new console exhilaration (multiple by Wii's penchant for ports) = frequent doom.
While these elements are often relatively harmless when separated, the combination (much like Joker's Smilex toxin from the first Tim Burton Batman movie) can lay waste to any fan, building up excitement and anticipation when the reality is barely removed from the fickle imagination of someone with a broadband connection and a bit too much time on their hands.
You may have noticed the net is rarely short of Wii related rumours. It's only natural, given how massively popular the console is. But with the build up to 'Nu mini E3' (something I'll try and explore closer to the event's launch next month), the rumour mill has been cranking out some gems of late. Even without the games industry's annual event, eagle-eyed gamers and keen speculators everywhere have been firing forth their ideas on why certain games are coming to Wii. Some are well founded, others… not so much.
So, as per usual, I'm going to throw in my two pence (God save the Queen, guv'nor!) and offer you a viewpoint from the trenches. So to speak. Take in mind while I may be privy to some information, other nuggets will be garnered with nary more than over a couple decades worth of gaming experience and over half a decade of working in the actual games industry, contacts and all. Try not to take this as gospel – in this business things tend to change faster than fad diet methodology. Good humour and a pinch of salt are probably your best forms of defence.
Final Fantasy 7 remake
This one crops up pretty much every year in some form or another, given there are so many people who want to see Square's classic role-playing game get a presentational overhaul. The company didn’t really help itself when it announced way back in 2002 that PlayStation2 would be getting a version and then didn’t follow it through, then went on to tease audiences at E3 a couple years back by showing scenes from the RPG remodelled on PS3 as a tech demo (they could have chosen a number of games, but nooooo, they had to go with the one that would get gamers all needlessly riled up).
Now some are suggesting we'll see FFVII arrive on Wii, because… well, it's the most sustainable home format for it. Xbox 360 is barely alive in Japan as seagulls pick at its carcass, and developing the game for PS3 would take too much time, money and manpower from other titles – something SquareEnix tends to be quite crotchety about these days. So until Sony's juggernaut picks up steam and builds a larger audience, Wii seems to be the only main/safe choice for Final Fantasy's most famous iteration to be reborn on. And it could work – the visual difference between PSOne and Nintendo's machine is great enough to make it look shiny and new, the development costs and time would be relatively bearable and there's certainly an audience for it. Not to mention the developer seems to enjoy pillaging its library for remakes - the constant amount of old FF games on Game Boy Advance, DS and PSP are testament to that.
Which actually is the sticking point. A handheld version would probably be more attractive to SquareEnix right now, given its dogged desire to go through each Final Fantasy game and release it for one handheld or another. Sales of a DS FFVII could potentially eclipse those of a Wii version and to be honest, SquareEnix wouldn’t even have to put much effort in making it look better, either.
Judging from the constant umming and ahhing about it on PS3 originally (where various high profile members of the SquareEnix team have expressed contradictory opinions over whether or not the game is in the offering), there's a FFVII remake SOMEWHERE in the company's development plans; but the team behind it is likely waiting to see what the most profitable and viable avenues for it are in terms of format and timing. And while they wait, resources are shifted to other projects. So it's not so much a matter of 'if'… but rather, 'when'. I would count on us seeing FFVII this generation, although whether it will be on PS3, handheld or Wii is something that will probably continue to change for a while yet. Schrödinger's cat, anyone?
Likelihood of appearance on Wii: 5/10
Killer 7: Wii Edition
After the Resident Evil 4 saga (where it was noticed on Capcom's game-sheet and retailers' 'forthcoming lists') it seemed like stylish action GameCube/PS2 title, Killer 7, would be following suit and getting a generational bump this year, after seeing it appear with a little Wii symbol on Capcom's website.
Then the company went on to say it made a mistake and it's not coming out for Wii after all; it was just a production error. But also said it was encouraged by the response and isn’t ruling it out.
Well, for now, there isn’t a motion controller version of Killer 7 on its way, but there's very little reason why it couldn’t be something worth doing. It's likely that sales of the recently revamped RE4 will have a large bearing on this, which could mean more ports if it's seen as a profitable way to bleed more money from older titles. Although if it doesn’t get announced before the release of No More Heroes (due around late summer and designed by Suda 51, the brains behind Killer 7), chances are it won't happen at all. The problem with remakes is that momentum needs to be kept up before the big new titles hit the shelves and Wii hits its second generation, otherwise developers can be forced into more of an effort in making the port more attractive on a conceptual and presentational level. So time is a large issue.
Likelihood of appearance on Wii: 6/10
This is a curious one. The original title, which was easily one of the best games of the last generation, was something of a gifted and cursed item. Caught up in a foully unnecessary media scandal and thus one of the more recent scapegoats for the constant battle between the Press' moral guardians and videogames, Bully's quality was slightly overshadowed and suffered from patchy sales. All the same, it managed to garner enough acclaim and attention to make a sequel more than feasible, hopefully keeping the high standard of writing and gameplay that made the first such a joy.
When you break it down into logical components, Bully 2's chances of becoming a Wii title are actually quite high. The format's control system is ideal, production would be cheaper than putting it on PS3/Xbox 360 (although sadly the game's visuals wouldn’t be as potentially gorgeous, but Bully wasn’t an ugly game on PS2 anyway) and the financial risks would be smaller. Not only that, but it would give Rockstar's design team the perfect chance to show off with the Wii remote, much in the way we're seeing with Manhunt 2. Setting the game in a school means any number of sports mini-games can be thrown in to make use of the Wii remote; tennis, table tennis (hmm), baseball, American football… the potential is massive, and with some clever marketing it could even throw off some of the typical expected outrage. Wonderful.
There's very few factors stopping Bully 2 from becoming a Wii title, should it exist at all, but the main one is that it's slightly dependant on Manhunt 2 doing well. Both games are very different, but regardless, Rockstar's relationship with Nintendo is something that will be scrutinised closely. If the seen/unseen process of Manhunt 2 being a Wii game is smooth, then sales won't really matter as much because Rockstar could be convinced of more potent money to be brought in by the broader audience of Bully 2. Remember, Bully started off as multi-format title before the Xbox version was cancelled – it just wasn’t worth putting it on a machine Microsoft effectively abandoned. If Bully 2 on Wii makes good business sense for both developer and console maker, then we'll see it.
Likelihood of appearance on Wii: 7/10
Metal Gear Solid 4 Wii
Okay, this one is slightly messy (although not as much as FFVII, don’t worry). An Xbox 360 version of the long awaited Konami sequel hasn’t been officially confirmed yet, no matter what you may read on the interweb. That said, although there would be difficulties in getting it across from PS3 to Microsoft's format, it's not impossible, and personally I've heard this rumour long enough from various sources to imagine it being closer to the truth than many realise.
But for 360 ONLY.
A Wii version? No. Not even a 'cut down' Metal Gear Solid 4 would make much sense as it would severely compromise the experience Hideo Kojima wants to convey – and that is very important to the producer/designer. It's the same with Grand Theft Auto 4; Wii just isn’t powerful enough to handle these games without vast changes being made which would fundamentally make them different titles. That's not to say we won't see a Metal Gear game on Wii at all; I imagine we will in some form eventually, much like we're likely to see a GTA title as well. But they'd probably be original to the format or ports of slightly older prequels rather than the full blown '4' sequels we'll see on PS3 and 360. A shame, but that's the reality.
Likelihood of appearance on Wii: 1/10 (6/10 for a Metal Gear game in general)