The Nintendo Wii represents the best of the big N’s innovations, as well as its biggest console success with 101.63 million units sold in its lifetime. The Wii craze broke “fastest-selling” records across the world at the time, as the motion control innovation set the console apart from any other. Though the Wii never got to reach its potential with third-party support, and didn’t have the quantity of powerhouse titles to match either its demand or its platform rivals (though it was home to some of the highest rated games ever made), the ambitious console remains to this date an integral and important part of video game history.
With the Wii’s ubiquity and renown came one of the most famous features Nintendo has come up with: the Wii Shop channel; though sadly, that very feature will come to a close January 30, 2019, when Nintendo will officially shut it down. The company notes in its Q&A that players can spend any remaining currency they have left, re-download games they have tied to the console for future use, and transfer digital games to the Wii U before this date.
The Wii Shop was the precursor to the modern Nintendo eShop, the digital marketplace that allowed players to purchase WiiWare titles, Virtual Console games, and additional channels for the main Wii menu. As opposed to the “coin system” of MyNintendo today, the antiquate eshop used “Wii Points” instead, which were subsequently discontinued March of 2018.
One of the key identities of the channel, and what cemented its place in the video game zeitgeist, was its music. With how many console units were disseminated amongst the gaming community, the jazzy, infectiously catchy tune of the Wii Shop made its way into the subconsciousness of the vast majority of gamers. The many remixes of the theme attest to that fact, most famous of all the one with 9.5 million views, “Wii Shop Bling”.
The closure of the Wii Shop coincides with the shutdown of the video-on-demand services of the Wii; unsurprising, given the irrelevance of the console today. Given it is now two whole generations behind, the eshop’s longevity can largely be attributed to the fact that the channel was accessible on the Wii U via the console’s “Wii Mode”, offering a way to purchase Virtual Console titles as the fledgling Nintendo eShop was slowly developing its own library at the time.
It might not seem like a big deal now given the massive success of the Nintendo Switch and the imminent end of all things Wii related, but the nostalgia of the old Wii Shop still holds a special place in people’s hearts.
The end to an era arrives next week, January 30, 2019, when the store officially shuts down.