Nintendo boasts today that the company has sold 30 million Wiis in the U.S., making it, they say, the fastest-selling home console in gaming history. This proud news was bundled with a curiosity. Hint: Name the best-selling Wii Zelda game.
You will find the answer in the 10th spot of a list Nintendo included with his 30-million announcement. The list, pulled from the sales tracking firm NPD, shows the 10 best-selling games published by Nintendo.
1. Wii Play
2. Mario Kart Wii
3. Wii Fit (with Wii Balance Board accessory)
4. New Super Mario Bros. Wii
5. Wii Sports Resort
6. Super Smash Bros. Brawl
7. Super Mario Galaxy
8. Wii Fit Plus (with Wii Balance Board accessory)
9. Mario Party 8
10. Link's Crossbow Training
There you go. Link's Crossbow Training makes the list. What is not on the list is the The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.
Link's Crossbow Training was a fun shooting-gallery game starring Zelda hero Link. It was bundled with the Wii Zapper, an arguably unnecessary plastic shell that allowed the Wii Remote and Nunchuk to be held like a rifle. The game was released in the fall of 2007. It is the closest thing the Wii has to a Duck Hunt game and is a simple, short-session game to play at parties. One could look at Crossbow Training as a full game or — as many did with Wii Play, a short game packed with a Wii Remote — or as a bonus game that is sold to people primarily looking for the Zapper peripheral it comes with.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is a 40-plus-hour single-player adventure that was released a year before Crossbow Training. It was a launch game that appeared to answer hardcore Nintendo fans' please for a more realistic-looking Zelda game, following the franchise's initial cartoony release on the Wii's predecessor, the GameCube.
According to Nintendo and NPD's list, Crossbow Training outsold Twilight Princess. Both are considered to be good games (they are in my household). Looking at the aspects of Wii gaming that each of these Zeldas represents, maybe it shouldn't be a surprise that Crossbow beat Twilight, no more than it is that 2D nostalgia Mario still beats modern 3D Mario. Still, it's worth a mention at this Wii milestone.
Nintendo has long succeeded thanks to the kind of people who buy Twilight Princess — the kind of people for whom they are likely making the next Zelda, Skyward Sword — but Nintendo could not have reached 30 million, not this fast, without the Crossbow Training crowd. That crowd, you could say, made this all possible.
UPDATE: This article should have originally noted the price differential of the games at launch. Twilight Princess launched in 2006 at $50. Link's Crossbow Training launched at $20. The NPD stats cited by Nintendo rank the games by units sold, not by revenue. Crossbow Training did sell more copies than Twilight Princess, both at a cheaper price and with one less year to accomplish the feat.