by the hammer of Jim Squires!
It’s been nearly five months since the Wii hit store shelves and the frenzy died down - more than enough time for the dust to settle. The reaction to the console has been - for the most part - glowing. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few problems here and there. As such, in no particular order, here are ten things I’d like to see Nintendo do to make the Wii the machine we think it should be.
1. Learn to resize: If you happen to be one of the lucky ducklings such as myself who happens to own a TV that displays in 16:9 and you own a Wii, then you already know my pain. The fact that all games aren’t required to have a 16:9 option is bad enough — but for some reason Nintendo seems to think it’s no big deal to have to manually switch the picture size on your TV every time you play a game. Luckily, there are fewer 4:3 games than 16:9 (although, those that are 4:3 are some of the best — Trauma Center, WarioWare, and Rayman included), so this shouldn’t be too big of a hassle then, right? Well hold on a second there buckaroos - you know what else comes in 4:3? Old games — like the kind you’ll find on your Virtual console. Having to switch to 4:3 manually every time I want to play Bomberman ‘93 or Super Castlevania IV isn’t a big deal, but it’s just enough of a pain in the ass that it makes me curse Nintendo a little every time. If the 360 is smart enough to resize on its own, why isn’t the Wii?
2. Scrap the friend codes system: If you want to put another player on your friends list on Xbox Live, you need a very special code that nobody else will have — IT’S CALLED THEIR NAME. If Nintendo doesn’t want you to make friends with strangers online, fine. It’s a pain in the ass, but if they think it protects kids or some shit, who am I to judge? But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be able to pick our own friend code. Nor should my friend need to know mine just so I can put them on my list. They’ve made it such a pain in the ass that it’s literally easier to drive across country and play in your friends living room. Not cool, Nintendo. Not cool at all. Get on the ball and get this service retooled, asap. You’re reinventing the wheel here, and it doesn’t need it. I know you don’t want to be a copycat or anything, but please, just this once, look at what Microsoft is doing and learn from it. And while we’re on the subject of online whatnot…
3. Give us some online games: Five months, forty plus games, and zero online playability. It’s an embarrassment, plain and simple. Nintendo swore up and down that this time around was going to be different. Clearly, they lied. Will the next Pokemon be online? Absolutely. Can you name another title that will be? Probably not. Ok — I think the next Super Mario Strikers game will be, but asides from that? In this day and age, the list of games with online play should be drastically longer than the list without. How WiiSports didn’t have online play is absolutely beyond me. And again, as long as we’re on the subject of online play…
4. Make Virtual Console games playable online: The original excuse for keeping VC games locally-playable only was that Nintendo wanted to preserve these games exactly as they once were. Funny how things change when the shoe is on the other foot. Adding things in is tampering too much, but taking things out? As anyone who’s tried to use some of the classic passwords in Kid Icarus or tried to save some ghost data in Mario Kart 64 knows, Nintendo is willing to tamper away when it comes to stripping these games of their features. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — I’m tired of my wife kicking my ass at Bomberman ‘93. I won’t stand for it anymore, and since the only people worse than me are 6 year olds (and I’m not allowed near a pre-school after that thing with the stuff) I need to get online dammit!
5. Give us original downloadable content: A lot of people may have forgotten this little tidbit by now, but Telltale Games announced quite some time ago that they were working on porting their episodic series over to the Wii and making it available on the Virtual Console. I was in touch with Emily Morganti over at Telltale a few months ago, and she told me that things were still on track and that we would still be seeing it as a downloadable item, although it was no longer slated for release on the VC. If anyone out there has a big fat magic marker and a piece of paper, you can probably draw your own conclusions (mine looks like a sailboat.) Nintendo is clearly planning on rolling out another channel — this one devoted exclusively to original content. Think about what that means for a minute. Not just great series like Sam & Max, but what about some original Nintendo titles? How about a brand new 2.5D Mario, exclusive to the Wii download service? Or maybe some downloadable add-on’s for games? Can anyone say “new Smash Bros. characters”? The possibilities are endless, but the question still remains — when, if ever, will we see it?
6. Increase the scope of the Virtual Console: No, I don’t mean put out more releases faster than they have been (I think I’m one of the few people who has gotten used to this 3 or 4 a week system.) I mean increase the base from which you can pull your games. They can certainly do it - after all, they’ve added the MSX in Japan. Just think about all of the classic consoles, even in Nintendo’s own house, that aren’t being represented! Who wouldn’t want to download GBA classics like Advance Wars or the GBA Castlevania releases? And what about the arcade classics? Surely you’d rather pay for the original Donkey Kong instead of that stripped down NES port. There are a lot of options out there - from in house stuff like Gameboys to out house stuff like the Saturn - that people would line up to download. It would certainly be better than Urban Champion.
7. Start marketing rechargeable batteries: You don’t have to include them with the system or anything, just make them available to those of us who want them. I’m getting tired of having to swap out rechargable AA’s every couple of days when I could just as easily stick my Wiimotes on a base or in a USB socket and keep things charged up. Third parties are starting to come out with these (Dan had a good experience with one set, I had a bad experience with another) - so why doesn’t Nintendo? Lord knows most of us would be far more trusting of a product with a big N on the both.
8. Include component cables with every system: It’s a little late to do something about this now, but maybe in a year or two when the first price drops hit, Nintendo will do the right thing and start including a cable similar to the 360 pack in that will do both composite and component. It wouldn’t even be backpeddling - they can argue that in the few years that had passed enough people switch to HD to make it worth their while. Having been stuck for a couple of days after launch with the composite that shipped, let me just say this - if you own an HDTV you’re committed to spending the extra coin on components. The Wii looks like trash on a good TV with bad cables. With that being the case, is it really asking so much to see them packed in?
9. Improve Wiimote reception: I’m not really sure who to blame this on. As anyone who’s played a handful of Wii titles knows, some games mimic your movements perfectly, while others make it look as though you have Parkinson’s. Either the developers who are getting it right need to share the secrets with those who are getting it wrong, or Nintendo needs to step in and give everyone a refresher course. Either way, something needs to be done here.
10. Give us more games: Is it early in the system’s cycle? Yes. Is it too early to complain about a lack of available games? Probably. But I’m going to complain anyway, and here’s why: since development for the Wii is pretty much identical to the GameCube, why in the hell are there so few games out there? Granted, yes - there are more titles out now than would be for any other system this early in it’s life. But that’s the least we should have expected in a console using technology that developers have been working with for 5+ years. And more than half the games out there are simply Disney-style cash-ins that really have no right to call themselves games in the first place — The Ant Bully, Open Season, Cars, Ice Age — the list goes on and on. So if development for the Wii is so cheap and so simple, where the hell are all the games?
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