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Typefacial Recognition (#2) – Wii/Wii Fit

Company: Nintendo Used in: Product Logo Typeface: Continuum Font: Medium and Bold
Many logos, in-game text, and art assets use fonts that are common to most home computers or readily available on the internet. ‘Typefacial Recognition’ is a series that will uncover and shed some light on these fonts.

If anything can be said about the Nintendo Wii, its that its universal appeal cannot be denied. Millions upon millions of homes across the world have decided to place a Wii in the living room since the console’s launch in 2006. When the console’s name and logo were announced in 2005, there was a strong current of doubt throughout the game community as to the silly-nature of the name, as well as the “clean room” aesthetic that companies like Apple utilize to great effect.

While most logotypes are comprised of a single font the Wii mark is made of two; both taken from the typeface Continuum. The “W” by itself is Continuum Medium, whereas the double “i” characters are Continuum Bold. Going further, every letterform has been modified from the original character set resulting in an overall shorter and heavier look. You can see in the image below how the default letterforms in both Continuum Bold and Medium fit over the existing Wii logotype.

Unmodified Continuum letter sets overlay with Wii logotype

While the two “i”‘s are essentially shortened versions of the original letterforms, the “W” is a far more modified shape. In addition to increasing the weight of the shape, the ‘W’ is stretched horizontally and shortened in height. The image below demonstrates the mismatch between the default Continuum Medium “W” letterform and the “W” in the Wii mark, as well as showing the final overlay of the letter shapes I arrived at.

Continuum Medium “W” and final Wii shape overlay

With the appended “Fit” for the exercise peripheral and game product, Nintendo’s designers took a similar approach. This time all 3 letters are set in Continuum Bold albeit italicized with a custom angle (to my knowledge there exists no Italic font in the Continuum family) and modified from the original letterforms. The “F” features shorter strokes and a longer curve from the top of the letter into the descender and the “t” has been given a curved tail not present in the default letter set. The weight has overall been increased as with the original Wii mark.

In the graphic below, you can see the default Continuum Bold font compared to the existing Wii Fit logo, as well as a “best fit” where I made the letterforms fit as best they could without modifying, adding or subtracting from their shape (i.e. the “t” does not have its tail in my modification and the curvature of the F is much sharper).

Continuum Bold overlay with Wii Fit logotype

About the Font

Continuum is one of many typefaces with a near-exact same character set that have appeared over the years. Bazouk SSi, Bazouk SSK, Danley, DicotMedium Regular, Digital Sans, Modaerne Regular, RandyBecker Bold, TQF_PCMedium are all typefaces that are identical or inconsequentially near-indentical. It is a little difficult to determine exactly which typeface came first; it is not an uncommon practice for type foundries to release identical typefaces under different names.

Continuum Medium and Bold character sets

Continuum is definitely not the first version of this typeface but is interesting for two key reasons: 1) it is free for download and 2) it was released in 1996 by Brøderbund Software. Brøderbund Software is best known for its “Carmen Sandiego” games released in the mid-90s. Today the company is primarily involved in desktop publishing software packages.

Four years later and the ubiquitous nature of the Wii is in full-effect. Nintendo wisely chose to represent their flagship product with a logotype that is curvacious, simple, and easily recognized. At first glance Continuum seems exceedingly dated and ill-suited for something as ever present as a brand logo that attempts to sell itself largely on having an “anyone can play” almost non-existent barrier of entry. Look at logos and text headers from the late 1990s and early 2000s and you will see a heavy occurrence of the “rounded future font” look that Continuum seems drawn from.

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