Weekend Reading: Nintendo, step your game up

I was excited as hell for the Wii as it approached launch time. I waited in line for it at launch, and was number 37 at the Best Buy here in Syracuse. I loved it while I had it, up until Winter Break. By that time, my enjoyment of it was starting to wear thin, and through Winter Break and into today, I am very close to just full out hating the system for a couple of reasons.

So for this edition of Weekend Reading, my hatred is geared towards the Wii. I feel this is fair in light of all the great press Nintendo has been getting. Niero mentioned before his problems with the PS3, and how they are minor in hindering his play experience. I guess what’s happened to me could also be considered “minor,” but it’s a major problem for me, and it seriously affects my attitude towards the system.

I have two main problems with the Wii: WiiConnect24 and everything that surrounds the Wii connecting to the Internet, and the system’s games.

My first, and largest complaint with the Wii is its problems with the Internet. The premise of WiiConnect24 is that it is always connected to the Internet, so it should, in theory, be able to download updates without delay. Yet, I have to manually perform system updates, and I also have to connect to the Wii Store each time, which can sometimes take a long while. IGN’s Matt Casamassina has summed up my feelings perfectly:

“WiiConnect24 is, in fact, not really connected at all. Xbox Live, meanwhile, is doing exactly what Nintendo promised. Xbox Live Marketplace and Arcade items are cached to the system throughout the day so that the process of browsing the stores is speedy and invisible. If data is being downloaded between the menus, you don’t notice it. It feels as though you are simply looking through items already on your console, for the most part. On Wii, it’s an entirely different story. When you click on the Wii Shopping Channel, you must endure between 30 and 35 seconds (we timed it) of loading and “Connecting. Please wait…” screens before the main interface pops up. Loading each additional menu takes about two seconds. And exiting from the Wii Shopping Channel back to the main interface requires another 10-15 seconds (again, we timed it). Absolutely nothing about the experience gives you the impression that you are always connected.”

Compared to Xbox Live, Nintendo is doing a shoddy job. Both Sony and Nintendo want to emulate the Xbox Live system because it’s proven to work extremely well. Sony has bitten the bullet and is featuring a system that’s extremely similar to Xbox Live, while Nintendo refuses to play with everyone else. How so? Friend codes. It’s a system no one loves, and even though Internet denizens have been vocal against this system, Nintendo decided to stick with it. Why? My guess is spite.

Another problem with the Wii is how the Internet setup is configured. My school has a web-based login for the Internet, and because of how Nintendo’s WiFi connection setup works, I’m unable to connect since the Wii insists on testing the connection before I can use the settings. This sort of technical screw-up makes it impossible for me to download system updates on my own. One of my friends connects via the Nintendo WiFi adapter, while another uses a wireless router that’s technically illegal to have at school. So, my only options at this point are to either unplug my Wii and carry it to another building in order to get any updates or Virtual Console games, or to spend another $25 or $30 for the Wii LAN adapter or my own WiFi. I really don’t want to pay $25 for a LAN adapter, since it’s something that should have been included in the system. How expensive is it to actually include a LAN adapter into the console? There certainly seems to be space to spare on the back of the console where the port could go. I certainly don’t believe, either, that the “it makes the console less expensive” is viable at all here. The DVD functionality of the Wii was sketchy enough, because Nintendo could’ve dealt with only making $10 or so off of each console after including a DVD drive. How much does it actually cost to include one?

Now, as for the games on the Wii, let’s tackle the Virtual Console first. Nintendo has not been making the best decisions for releases on the Virtual Console, with games like Baseball and Ice Hockey taking up space that could be filled by Chrono Trigger, Earthbound, or any N64 title besides Super Mario 64. That seriously bothers me, though, that there isn’t much on there that I want, and what I do want I can get as part of the Sega Classics Collection for a whopping $30 (or 3 3/4 SNES VC games). Something else I noticed with the VC, and it may just have been Gunstar Heroes, but the game’s graphics glitch a lot. Sprites would suddenly disappear, especially bosses, and the game would actually lag from too much gunfire on the screen. That second one is what kills me. I’ve never seen a game lag on Sega Genesis, but here it is, over 10 years later, lagging on a brand new system.

My final complaint against the Wii are the games that are currently out for it. For example, after rereading RevAnthony’s review of Twilight Princess, I can’t help but agree with him on the game. I’ve told this to my friends, and they act as though I speak heresy, but yeah, I’ve gotten sick of Zelda and I don’t want to play the game anymore. The controls for playing Twilight Princess get tiring very quickly, and I’m left looking like a total toolbox because of how ridiculous it is playing with broad strokes. I’m fine with tilting the controller sideways for Metal Slug Anthology or Excite Truck, but I’m finding the “innovative” way to play not so fun. I can now see why people are calling the Wii controls gimmicky: because they get tiring pretty quickly.

So, after all this hate, I’ve got to make some constructive criticism. Nintendo, first off, fix your online system. There’s got to be a way to make online connectivity better. Also, get rid of the friend code system and just switch over to gamertags. Really, why must you fight against the norm? It makes life so much harder for the rest of us. Change your Internet configurations, too, so that you don’t have to test the connection before using it.

As for games, developers need to make games that either take good advantage of the Wii’s controls (i.e., make an FPS that isn’t Red Steel), or allow for much shorter periods of gameplay, like 30 minutes to an hour per playtime. Also, don’t make it so short that consumers will worry about whether or not they’re going to be getting a game that’s worth their money. My friend was expressing feelings like this the other day in Best Buy when we passed by Wario Ware: Smooth Moves. “I really liked the DS game, but for $50? I’m really not sure if it’ll be worth it…I mean, it’s just a bunch of minigames, and I have the feeling it’ll be a repeat of the past games,” she said. Hell, there’s a bunch of Fake Game Friday articles that would work for the Wii, so why not just contact the authors? Nintendo does have some interesting options to work with, but I think that developers might actually want to just program some games with the Gamecube controller in mind, instead of relying on the Wiimote.

So, am I alone in my thoughts, or do others actually agree with me?

Editor’s note: Fanboys, if you want me to “hate” on other consoles, you’re going to have to send me the money for a 360 or PS3 so that I can actually play with them.

8BitBrian