Design by Abby Schreck

I vaguely remember the day that we got our Nintendo Wii. It was Christmas morning, and when my younger brother Owen unwrapped the simple white and grey box, we both started screaming and didn’t stop. The Wii was brand new technology at the time; the first time we ever used one was at a family party a few weeks before. Never did we imagine owning one so soon after its release, but now it was ours. My family wouldn’t consider ourselves “gamers” — our introduction to the world of gaming was our dad’s old PlayStation, which broke not long after we could learn the controls. But here was something we could all play together, which is exactly what we did. We started out slow; games of “Wii Sports” bowling and messing around on the Mii Channel took up most of our time. But our family and our collection of games would only continue to grow.

When it was released in 2006, the Wii was competing against consoles such as the Xbox 360 and the PS3. Though its 480p graphics were lacking in quality, its innovative motion-control remotes “dropped the barrier between player and game.” The huge variety of games created for the console also made it attractive. The system catered most to families and casual gamers, making gaming more accessible to the average person. We certainly fell into that category, so the Wii was perfect for us.

My youngest sister Lucy loved holding “Just Dance” tournaments, while my other sister Carly opted for single-player games like “Epic Mickey” and “Super Mario Galaxy,” both of which she’s beaten several times. Owen schooled everyone in “Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader” and held the golf record on “Wii Sports Resort.” I was — and still am — a sucker for “LEGO Harry Potter.” Much to everyone else’s annoyance, I spent more time gathering the collectible Studs than actually following story mode, which means I tended to hog the TV. I can’t tell you how many times my siblings saw me picking up a Wii remote and a Nunchuk and yelled, “Oh, come on!”

For every personal game we each had, there were several that we always played as a group. “Wipeout: The Game” was a glitchy mess, and we would crack up whenever our characters stopped responding to our remotes and ran on their own. Breaking out “Wii Fit” turned into a mini Olympics, with each of us replaying the same games over and over to try to beat each other’s scores. “Mario Kart” races were all too common whenever anyone had friends over. In fact, our disk got so worn that an old classmate lent me his copy — on the off chance that you’re reading this, I still have it. You’re never getting it back. 

The Wii was formally discontinued in 2013, and the online services via the Shop Channel ran until 2019. By that point, I had just started college, and I hated every second of it. I didn’t feel ready to leave home yet — even though I was only an hour away, it felt much longer. My anxiety was at an all-time high and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how kids my age looked forward to this experience.

My mom called me almost every day, updating me on how everyone else was doing: Carly had gotten the lead role in the school musical; Lucy earned a spot on the volleyball team; Owen was hard at work in his AP classes. But hearing about everything over the phone wasn’t the same. Is this what adulthood would be like from now on, with the majority of life updates being relayed for the duration of my parents’ afternoon commute? Here I was, alone and perpetually anxious, crushed by expectations of independence but instead longing for the days when I could hide in my basement with no responsibilities, just aimlessly wandering and collecting coins. I missed my family even more. 

Moving back home during quarantine was the answer to my prayers. Being quite literally stuck at home, my siblings and I turned to the Wii to pass the endless time. No other game compared to “Mario Super Sluggers,” a baseball game featuring, you guessed it, Mario characters. All four of us could play at the same time, two to a team, and so began an intense nightly ritual. We kept a running tally of who won each day’s games —  I’m absolutely terrible, as I’ve heard countless times from both my opponents and my teammates, yet my team holds the longest winning streak. We’d play in the basement with the door closed and my parents could still hear us screaming two floors up. But regardless of how heated things got, we would always return the next night for a rematch. 

Over the Wii’s 15-year run, more than 100 million units were sold. Now, the Switch holds the top spot as Nintendo’s moneymaker. Wii consoles are still somewhat widely available on Amazon, going for around $200 — which is significantly cheaper than other gaming consoles. Thankfully, ours is still in pretty good shape and we don’t plan on getting rid of it any time soon. In fact, I just bought some used games from eBay (one of which is “LEGO Star Wars,” unfortunately for my sisters). 

By the time I start my senior year of college, I plan to move out of my parents’ house, and I’m feeling ready for it this time. I have been explicitly told I’m not allowed to take the Wii with me. At first I complained, but it’s better this way. It doesn’t belong to just me, nor do the memories I have from it. My siblings and I fight a lot, and I mean a lot — most siblings do. And yet, as cliché as it may be, I know that we love each other. Any dispute can be fixed with a dance routine or a game of baseball.

Daily Arts Writer Hannah Carapellotti can be reached at hmcarp@umich.edu.