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The Real Reason Why The Nintendo Wii Wasn't High-Def

The Wii was one Nintendo's shining moments and truly a standout among its contenders during its time, mainly due to the console's motion control gimmick. Despite having a vast library of popular titles and hidden gems, the Wii wasn't really known for its graphical capabilities. During the Wii's reign, Sony's PlayStation 3 and Microsoft's Xbox 360 were pushing the envelope as to what kind of graphics could be produced on a console. Sadly, the Wii didn't measure up, capping at 480p. But at least it had addictive motion controlled games like Wii Sports and Just Dance.

To make up for its limited graphics, many of the Wii's titles instead opted for unique art styles that worked within the Wii's capabilities. Standouts like the underrated Okami, Super Mario Galaxy, Xenoblade Chronicles, and Mario Kart Wii all had a stellar art direction that didn't microwave the system. However, the Wii wasn't originally going to be sentenced to graphical purgatory. 

A 2013 4Gamer interview with Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto (translation via Tumblr user kamedani) revealed that there's a reason why Nintendo intentionally didn't make the console high-def.

Why did Nintendo hesitate to make the Wii capable of producing HD graphics?

Surprisingly, the Pikmin 3 development cycle is what prompted Miyamoto to discuss this topic. During the interview with 4Gamer, Miyamoto discussed the title's transition from the Wii to the Wii U, and how it was a graphically-driven decision. While he was on the topic, Miyamoto admitted he wanted "to go HD sooner."

"Even for the Wii, no matter how much it made the system cost, it would have been great if it were HD in the first place," Miyamoto said. "However, it was going to take some time for HD televisions to become common and we felt that until that point was reached, there would have been no point for the Wii to be HD."

Additionally, Miyamoto said that the rise in popularity of HD televisions and their price drop during the Wii's era caught him off-guard. This allowed Microsoft and Sony to graphically dominate the Wii with the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. If Nintendo had this foresight, perhaps the Wii would've been even more successful. Regardless of this slip up, Nintendo seemed to get its footing back with the Switch.