Friday, August 1, 2008

What Wii Need

Nintendo has the number one selling console on the planet, but it is nothing close to perfect. Today we are going to delve into the world of Wii and see what the system needs to keep the party going for years to come. From "mature" titles to Wii space issues, and poorly developed graphic engines, these issues will be addressed. We need to look at the future to see if Wii will last.

On May 12th, 2008 Nintendo finally released two major Wii Channels in North America. These two huge channels were none other than the Everybody's Nintendo Channel. This channel is used to promote new games, show video advertisements and even DS downloadable demos. The other channel is the long awaited Wii Ware channel designed in the vein of Xbox Live Arcade titles. (The channel which of course can be found by going to the Wii Shop.) These are original titles that can be downloaded and played on the Nintendo Wii for a certain amount of points. May 12th should have be a great day for Wii players around North America, but instead for many it became a day of frustration.

This frustration comes in the form of a message that sounds a lot like this " Your Wii has run out of memory. Please go back to the main menu and make space available". The question that runs through a lot of gamers minds when talking about Nintendo is who exactly is Nintendo targeting? Some would say that Nintendo has forgotten about the gamer and is focusing on the their new blue ocean strategy. What this means is that Nintendo is looking to encompass the inner child in all, not just the "hardcore". This means that Nintendo is putting all their attention on the pick up and play market, this would suggest that the Big N cares more about the Soccer Mom's that play Wii Fit and Wii Sports than the young adults playing Metroid Prime 3 Corruption. Nintendo has done nothing on the surface to show gamers different though, Nintendo Europe marketing director Laurent Fischer has even gone as far as saying this now infamous quote "The only Wii owners that encounter problems with the console's 512MB of internal storage are geeks and otaku". To many in the gaming community this shows Nintendo's stubbornness and lack of forward thinking. To even further the argument, Nintendo E3 press conference was nothing short of spiting in the faces of core gamers. Nintendo did not announce anything for the core audience besides Wii Speak (a device that allows people to speak to others online), Wii Motion Plus (another device that allows the Wii remote to do true 1:1 motion.), and Animal Crossing City Folk. Out of all those "big" announcement only one was an actually game. Its seems as if Nintendo has dropped the ball in a big way and now were are going to what Wii need now.

Issue #1 Wii Memory:

We have the Virtual Console which have classics from Super Mario Bros. 3 to the rare never released games like Sin & Punishment. At the beginning there was no issue of space but now its not just Virtual Console classics from NES to SNES which take up little space, as we now have N64, NEO GEO, and TurboGrafx 16 games that just eat up that 512MB flash memory. It does not stop there though; with the release of new channels like Check Mii Out, Everybody Votes Channel, and Internet Channel some of those take up five times the size of any Virtual Console game. To make matters worse, Wii Ware was launched. These original games for Wii are great but when game when a game like Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles My Life as a King can take up almost all your free space on the Wii, that is just wrong. This is no longer a "hardcore" gaming issue, this is to hurting Nintendo's future of competing on an global level. If people have to delete a game every time they want a new one people are just going to stop buying them all together. What happens when people have too many game saves? Do we need to start delete them as well? If Nintendo wants stay in the game they need to fix these problems sooner than later.

Issue # 2 Shovel Ware, PS2 to Wii Ports, Wii Graphics Engine

There is a trend going on Wii that is very troubling to me as the system is almost two years old and it seems that it is not getting much better. The problem that disturbs me is that no one is pushing the system graphically at all. The games that look the best on Wii are games using last generation technology. Games from Metroid Prime 3 to Resident Evil Wii Edition are beautiful, but they are not even close to using the Wii's full potential. There are few games in the Wii's library that look like actual Wii titles. Best example that comes to mind is Nintendo's own Super Mario Galaxy.

Super Mario Galaxy

This game was designed from the ground up as Wii game and the details and overall polish of the game proves it. Compared to Super Mario Sunshine this game blows Super Mario Sunshine graphically out of the park.
Super Mario Sunshine

Sadly it is the only true game that has been released so far on the Wii to look so polished and clean that looks next generation. I am not expecting graphics to surpass 360 or PS3 but I do expect games to be made at the highest quality. How many games are announced on 360, and PS3 then are never put on Wii but if there is a PS2 version the Wii iteration isn't far behind? Games like Alone in the Dark, Splinter Cell Double Agent, Call of Duty are direct ports of a PS2 counterparts. Now instead of taking the time to make a true Wii title they just use a cookie cutter to cut and paste the PS2 version of a game on the Wii and throw in some waggle controls and call it a day. Its not only 3rd parties who are the culprits however, as Nintendo gave the developers the wrong model to follow. Look at some of the titles Nintendo released on Wii that were really just Gamecube games. For example, The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess, Super Paper Mario, Donkey Kong Barrel Blast, and Fire Emblem Radiant Dawn. All of these games were finished Gamecube games put on the Wii because they would make more money under the Wii banner than the Gamecube. It was understandable then, but why are developers still cutting corners? The developers have tried to catch up to the demand of games on Wii by releasing anything not boarded to the floor. Every piece of shovel ware you could imagine is out on the system and there is probably more to come. I think Wii owners deserve more and developers are finally hearing our cry. This year Wii has shown us some big hits like Super Mario Galaxy, Metroid Prime 3 Corruption, Mario Kart Wii, Wii Fit, and Super Smash Bros. Brawl. So what's next? Where are the games that are supposed to push the envelope? Its now up to the 3rd party developers to take charge. Nintendo has shown the world that the Wii is more than a fad, now its up for developers to take risk and make the games that Wii deserves. Developers were not ready for the Wii to be the market leader and it shows. Lackluster ports, poorly implemented Wii Remote controls and just general lack of games. Fortunately some developers are starting to take risk and actually make quality games designed for Wii. One developer in particular has come out of nowhere, and their name is High Voltage Software. These people are taking a step in the right direction, and their proving it with their standalone freshmen title, The Conduit. The Conduit

This developer has taken it upon themselves to develop a graphics engine specifically for the Wii.This engine has came to be known as the Quantum3 Engine. By doing so they have been able to make their title look like a true next generation game. This title is not just pretty graphics; the people over at High Voltage are making sure that their "M" rated First Person Shooter becomes the standard not the exception to what Wii games should look and play like. As for "M" titles on the Wii the are slowly starting to creep up this year. From Fatal Frame Mask of the Lunar Eclipse,
Fatal Frame Mask of the Lunar Eclispe

to new franchises like Cursed Mountain (a survival horror game made ground up for the Wii)Cursed Mountain

to Platinum Games' (former members of Clover Studios who mad Okami, God Hand, and Viewitful Joe) gruesome action game Mad World.Mad World

It seems that we have forgotten that Wii has only been out for a year and eight months and it usually takes longer for great titles to appear on a console. Nintendo in one year has caught up to Xbox 360's 10 million unit one year head start. For Nintendo to continue their success they are going to need to come out with great titles, fix their storage issue, and make sure that 3rd parties push out some great titles. Wii need more and Nintendo better be ready to listen.


Heather Conover said...

Oh, many many times have we had this discussion, Gene. I agree with this completely.

And we all know that when they release that Black Wii with a hard drive we will jump for joy and die a little inside at the same time.