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Wii hard drive dispelled again; asks us to micromanage storage like the iPod

6:25 PM on 11.01.2007 // Niero Desu

While the meager storage space on the Wii is only mildly annoying for even the most hardcore Nintendo fanboy, the company continues to surprise us by renouncing hard drive peripherals for their console. The debate reminds me of the N64 cartridge vs. CD debacle that stunted that generation's ability to make sweet love to bleeding edge SquareEnix products, among other key content. As a Wii-loving owner I hate seeing the system's obvious weak points celebrated as features by their own people and felt the need to speak up about it.

PR manager Eric Walter said the company would prefer that gamers micromanage our game libraries and delete, download, and repeat as needed.  He further noted that it "was like putting music on your iPod".  Had I been present I would have beat him senseless with Ron's 100-pound Zune: there is no way in hell the experience is the same, nor is the absence of a hard drive a low-fi way of circumventing piracy (ahem ahem). More importantly, if we're willing to throw money at the Wii so that it doesn't have to be that way, why not make it happen? I'd buy that over a Fit Board!

I'll preface my rant in acknowledging that some sort of solid-state device alternative may be in the works, unless they're completely insane. Even if they go that route, I doubt the capacity be bigger and cheaper than HDD technology. Furthermore, I'm annoyed at the company's dietary approach to how they perceive guys like me consume their games.  In a sense -- I'm not unlike Fat Bastard: I want every Nintendo product I own in my belly at once, and that was one the promise of the Wii with their VC product and promised upcoming online features.  Instead, I'm looking this news like I own an anemic console that I'll have to perpetually juggle my soon-to-be-epic collection on.

Instead, this just seems counterintuitive to my self-indulgent American Consumewhoreism, and I'd like to make an appeal as to why this can't possibly be a good thing for Wii owners nor anything like the iPod experience.  Hit the jump for my rant and please weigh in with your perspective.

First of all, my iPod stores 80gigs of crap.  This means that I can enjoy an infinite variety of said crap at my disposal with as little storage management as possible.  Sure, I could have bought a smaller version, but Apple understands that when OCD people breed with packrats their kids may want a gigantic version of their products.  The Wii doesn't let me do that, so in the end I end up using the Will less because the user experience and usability of their dashboard is so far behind my other consoles. While that may sound like only something a hardcore gamer might want, I'm sure that moms, pops, and kids would also rather have less scratched disks and bigger downloadable content options on their dashboard too.

Furthermore, taking a song on and off your iTunes library can be done in a matter of clicks, and there is another computer device that you control that can give you the asset in seconds.  Requesting a single game from the Wii interface is a ten minute song and dance involving icon clicking, theme songs, hand-holding confirmation screens, and so on.  I rather only do that once and forget not hum the catchy virtual console song as I watch my arm hair slowly grow.

The biggest problem I have with this is that it discounts what the PS3 and the 360 do extremely well -- when my ass hits the sofa after work I can enjoy an absurd amount of content on both those consoles at the flick of a wrist without having to perform analog functions of moving said buttocks back and forth between my entertainment center.  It's not only a matter of an evolved sense of next-gen laziness: it's my desire to see that slick hard-drive-driven user experience come to the Wii in a bigger way than the vague skimpy low-storage future ahead of it.  We all know digital download is the next big content delivery and we'd love to see gigs of content coming down from Miyamoto-powered interwebs to sample in our homes.  

Hard drives are cheap.  They're reliable.  Nintendo has the resources to make those overpriced $100 product offerings from their competitors look ridiculous and they have a software library could be irresistible if it was one button click away on a 200GB whopper. A solid state media solution can only result in a smaller capacity due to costs, and that is not what I think (all) American consumers want.

Personally speaking, I want to use my Wii more, but I don't, and I have to look at how often I'm in XBLA and PlayStation Network as one of the most compelling reasons. Nintendo: Screw your iPod analogy -- get in my belly!

Niero Desu, Blogsmith
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