BigRedPimp no GameDev

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Wii observations redux

Posted by bigredpimp on March 14, 2008

It’s been a little over a year since my first analysis of the Wii feature set and I believe it’s time for me to take another look. We’ve seen quite a few firmware updates since then and a lot has been added feature-wise. The current state of the Wii is still weaker than the rest of the consoles in this round and I still have a lot of the same complaints. There’s also the complaints I have in my analysis of Mii usage However, a lot of stuff has been addressed from my last post.

Channels

We’ve seen very few non-VC channel releases in the past year. While they’ve ranged from the useful to the completely useless, it’s still a bit mild compared to what’s available on other platforms. Most of what is available currently still suffers from the same thing: disconnection of its users from each other. Channels like the Everybody Votes Channel or the Check Mii Out channel are good attempts at connecting Wii users but they’re still faceless to each other, even people on their Wii friends list.

There are some good attempts to deliver content to the users at least, such as the Metroid Prime 3 Preview (a good start but worthless) to the upcoming Everybody’s Nintendo Channel. With the Everybody’s Nintendo Channel, however, it adds something users have been waiting for for a while: Nintendo DS demo distribution. Now we don’t have to lug our DS systems to the store whenever we want to try an upcoming game release.

Message Board

Ahh, the Wii Message Board, my old nemesis. How you like to taunt me with your usefulness and then fall short. There have been some updates that have fixed some of my complaints. USB keyboard support in most of the available channels as well as the message board have earned a thumbs up from me. Also, the fact that you can click on a URL in a message and spawn the Internet Channel is a bit of a cool factor. There’s still some things that need to be addressed but most of these lie in the cosmetic additions or tie-ins with games and other channels. Super Mario Galaxy is a good start but the messages seem to lack that custom flair they deserve. If you get a few messages a day from people as well as from the game, there’s nothing there to make the game-related ones stand out.

The Message Board is getting better, it just needs to give us more to work with. One thing I would like to see is an alternate message listing interface. It’s hard to sort your messages out when you have a Post-It Note board that can cover other messages. Give us the ability to choose between a list view and the normal Post-It Note board we’re used to. Custom stamps to the Mii icon could be a nice touch. While they’re at it, they could finally allow us to save images from messages to the SD card. Why they didn’t do this from the beginning, I’ll never know.

Wii Shop

The Virtual Console downloads have flourished since launch and we have a nice library of games to choose from. Nintendo has even started giving us “out of region” games at times which is a nice effort on their part. There’s just a few things here I would fix. For starters, they tell us we should use a PC or the Internet Channel to view previews of the games before we download them. This is what strikes me as odd. The Wii Shop is using a tiny version of the Opera browser to display its pages. Why not improve the channel and allow us to view the videos from inside the shop, or better yet, how about letting us try trial versions of games like they do in Super Smash Bros Brawl. Granted, I’m sounding like the rest of the drum-beaters here on this topic but it needs to be addressed.

Another thing the shop could benefit from is a rating system. With the upcoming WiiWare launch, something like this could benefit not only the VC titles but also the new content we’ll be seeing from companies such as 2D Boy, Telltale Games and even Nintendo themselves. A lot of us hold onto what Wii Points we do have and don’t feel like spending almost 1000 points per title only to find it’s mediocre.

WiiWare

Which brings me to WiiWare itself. Now this is what a lot of us have been waiting for. The Virtual Console titles are nice and all but some of us have played these games to death and want something fresh. Sure, we may start seeing the same fate as XBLA with the ports of games we’ve played to death but there’s a lot of new and innovative ideas coming. Hopefully Nintendo doesn’t drop the ball on this one and allow its developers to not only release games but also content channels Wii users can find fun & interesting.

The only drawback I see here is that it still requires you to be an official Wii developer in order to produce content. While this may seem like a weak point, it has its reasons. I, for one, appreciate the fact that these requirements are in place. It acts as a content filter. We’ll see less noise with WiiWare than you see on similar services in terms of content quality.

Conclusion

All in all, the Wii is improving from where it stood a year ago but it still has a few points where it falls behind. I won’t go into the rest of those here as I’ve covered them in previous posts. The next year seems to be promising and I hope to see a lot of good things coming out of WiiWare as well as what they have in store for us in firmware updates. Now if only Nintendo could get rid of that silly little friend code obsession they have with games…

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