Why the Nintendo Wii could be reborn on the Meta Quest 3

A Wii t shirt with a Quest 3 on top of it.
(Image credit: Nick Sutrich / Android Central)

VR headsets, especially the Meta Quest line, are fertile ground for a Wii-era revival. At a surface level, the Wii’s motion-control gimmick is pretty close to VR’s default means of interacting with virtual worlds. But this goes beyond motion controls: The Wii’s influence over gaming culture and popular culture at large casts a big shadow — one that VR developers should take advantage of.

I’m a child of the Wii era. I completely understand that some of my fondness for the 2006 console is rooted in childhood nostalgia, like picking up Wii Sports Resort with money from my 9th birthday or bowling for the first time in Wii Sports. 

But so much of the Wii’s magic — the same magic that got me into video games in the first place — is present in VR. Most VR consoles use motion-tracked controls, except with inward-out cameras instead of a fixed sensor bar on your TV. 

Furthermore, most consumer VR tech is beyond powerful enough to handle just about anything a Wii could at this point. Heck, Resident Evil 4 VR takes cues from the game’s beloved Wii version. But extrapolate that further to other games. Imagine the creative ways the folks over at EA could rework Boom Blox into VR, or how cool a VR-based No More Heroes game would be.

Smiling while wearing a Meta Quest 3 headset with a BoboVR M3 Pro head strap

So many Wii games would be great in VR! (Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

There’s no denying that Wii shovelware ran rampant at the time, but the Quest Store is just as prone to uninteresting shooters and derivative minigame collections as VR can be. And the Wii's highs laid so much important groundwork for the state of motion-controlled VR games today; there’s no question that tons of similar games would kill in VR.

If you're anything like me, you probably think of Super Mario Galaxy, Wii Sports, or Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess when you think of Wii games. But Nintendo's probably not going to license its games out to other gaming platforms any time soon aside from special cases like porting Super Mario Galaxy to the NVIDIA Shield in China. Thankfully, the Wii's first-party library is only the tip of the iceberg! The Wii hosted some spectacular third-party games like Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and Mad World that would make for really cool VR games. And like its contemporaries, the Wii was a gold mine for downloadable games. WiiWare games like World of Goo, Fluidity, and Cubello would all be excellent in VR or AR.

A lot of hardcore gamers don’t look fondly on Nintendo’s Blue Ocean console or its legacy, but the Wii’s popularity looms large in the cultural zeitgeist. Thanks to its mass adoption right alongside the explosion of the internet and meme culture, even tertiary aspects of the console, like the Miis, have maintained an iconic status on the internet; take the hilarious Mii Maker Speedrun community, for example. As Gen Z ages, our nostalgia will be a powerful force to capitalize on in the gaming space, as we’ve already seen with revivals from that era on other gaming platforms. Plus, so many people who don’t play video games still have a Wii to hit the links in Wii Sports here and there. And VR would benefit from the same kind of appeal.

Outside of the hardest-of-hardcore VR users, there seems to be a common sentiment among people in the broader gaming space that VR hasn’t had a breakthrough yet. For many, it’s coupled with the assertion that VR needs a "Mario 64 Moment," which is an argument I’ve run into dozens of times from people arguing why VR hasn’t taken off. 

But tell that to any regular VR user and they’ll tell you that Asgard’s Wrath 2, Half-Life Alyx, Astrobot Rescue Mission, Moss, or any number of the other fantastic VR games we’ve been able to experience over the last ten years fills that role. And for the most part, they’re right; all of these games offer clever genre and medium-defining takes on VR that push gaming in VR forward. All while being near-universally appealing experiences for the gaming audience at the same time. In other words, VR’s already had its Mario 64 — probably a few times at this point. 

Instead, headsets like the Meta Quest 3 or Apple Vision Pro need something bigger; a game that might not be as artistically impactful, but a much bigger cultural juggernaut. I think VR needs a Wii Sports.

Wii Sports had and continues to have immutable appeal. As a mass-market game designed to get everyone playing, its legacy has little to do with gameplay in itself, especially compared to the tricks it played on you. You can play Wii Sports sitting down, swinging the remote lackadaisically as you sink into the couch or you can plant your feet on the ground and step up to your coffee table like it’s home plate as its charming vibes wash over you, encouraging you to swing the remote like it’s an actual baseball bat.

Of course, not everyone can just replicate that effusive, lightning-in-a-bottle magic. But VR’s form factor lessens the need for that level of smoke and mirrors; it’s easier to believe that there’s a baseball bat in your hand when you look down and see it rather than a detached avatar moving in unison on your TV. That kind of involvement and immersion gives VR games the necessary leg up to follow through on the Wii’s vision.

I'm also not arguing that VR doesn't have any good sports games. There are plenty here; from excellent simulation-leaning Football games like NFL Sports Era II to the ever-charming, slapsticky What The Bat?. 

Instead, I think VR needs a game that's as intuitive and social as handing a Wii Remote to your tech-illiterate grandpa and watching things click as he beats you at tennis. To me, Beat Saber's the closest we've gotten; it makes sense almost immediately and trades in familiar, popular music. But it's fairly solitary and sterile, whereas part of Wii Sports' charm is its goofy personality.

This also gives bigger companies low-risk opportunities to dip their toes into VR. As I mentioned before, Boom Blox is a great example of a game that would be incredible in VR and it would give EA a cheaper option to invest in the market than developing an entire game from scratch. With an install base that’s getting bigger by the day, VR feels like a no-brainer venue to host a Wii revival that also allows more developers to get their hands dirty with redesigning and reworking games for VR. 

This could open the door for more mainstream developers to put games with familiar IPs on VR platforms, potentially helping combat the reputation that VR has among the larger gaming audience. Meta, in particular, closely partners with indie developers via Oculus Publishing, while teaming up with a few AAA devs like Capcom and Ubisoft. With the potential to draw in a larger general audience, Meta would be wise to partner up with the likes of EA and Curve Games to revive the early days of motion controls on Quest 3.

Charlie Wacholz
Freelance Writer

Charlie's a freelance contributor at Android Central from Milwaukee, WI.

  • Android 007**
    Great article and thinking, however, I think the real winner would be the Ring Fit leg attachment! It's small, light and cheap, it allows simple leg tracking by the speed your knees lift. Imagine running/jogging/walking/jumping/strafing through game zones on the spot.