It is the holiday season and many people are making their wishlist, either on Amazon or from that huge department store catalog. This wishlist is a little different, as I am not wishing for games, but for changes and improvements in the hardware and software of the consoles we play every day. The Nintendo Wii has been out for a year now, so it is a good opportunity to look back and see what has been improved since launch, and what still needs work.
User Interface: The Wii’s user interface is clean and easy to navigate, it always has been. The UI has received some nice additions in firmware updates. It now displays the time, for example. I still, even after a year, like seeing how much time I played in X game, and overall for the day – even if it is sort of a novelty.
I would also like to see more slots available for additional Game Channels. This is a problem for some, and will become a problem for many as time goes on. As you cannot use channels that are saved to SD card, you must swap out the ones you want to use. This is quite the chore if you have a lot of Virtual Console games, or game save data, even.
I wish I could run channels off of the SD card, then we would not have this problem of the very limiting internal memory. Why have Nintendo limited channels to run from internal memory only? This is a glaring oversight in future-proofing the console.
Games: While the Nintendo Wii hardware continues to sell out, the software has left a little to be desired. The deluge of casual games is fine with me, but I draw the line when these games are buggy, boring, or both.
I wish that Nintendo, and third parties, would realize that the people who grew up playing the NES are still playing games (on the Wii, as well as other consoles) and have interests in games for people over the age of 10. While Brian wrote on this issue, my take on it is not as kind.
Simply put, there needs to be a better balance between games for “casual” and for “hard core” or “core” gamers. This problem does not exist only on the Wii, but the Wii does have the worst ratio of casual-to-core games.
Out of all three “next-gen” consoles, the Wii is a major disappointment. Many core gamers, and even some casual gamers, are finding the platform collects a lot of dust because the time between AAA software is staggering. This is not necessarily Nintendo’s fault, as Nintendo publishes (which is the norm for their consoles) the bulk of the AAA titles. Third parties need to step up to the plate and prove to me that they are in this for the long haul, and not just cashing in on a clunky, one trick pony.
Nintendo balances their offerings well. You get Wii Play, and Super Mario Galaxy, Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. For the core gamer, it is getting harder and harder to justify the purchase of a console on first party software alone; nowhere is this more evident than the Wii.
I am not the first to come to the conclusion that the Wii has left its core audience behind, and I won’t be the last. I just hope that the console survives past the three-year mark, as when it is not collecting dust, it is fun to play.
The Wii doesn’t necessarily need more games, it just needs better games, and better selection. You usually do not see so many bad ports and mediocre licensed games on a console until they are ready to die – GameCube, for example.
Gaming Online: I think it goes without saying that most would wish for an easier way to play games online than 12-digit friend codes, and on occasion, game specific codes on top of that. In short, this hassle has meant very little online playtime on my Wii. If it is too much of a pain in the ass for me to deal with it, do you think someone with less invested in gaming is going to go through the many hoops to build a friends list?
Many times I have added a Friend Code, and a friend has added my Friend Code on his Wii, but we do not both get added because somewhere in the ethos of WiiConnect24, the connection was not made. I have had to send multiple Friend Requests to the same person, it is really annoying. Also, both parties must be registered with each other to be able to send and receive messages, also aggravating.
Of the games that are online on the Wii, few of them actually have full online lobby systems. Many of them just have “Quick Play” options with no true listings of open sessions waiting for more users to join. This is a problem that plagues the DS and PSP, but on those consoles the lack of full lobby systems is tolerable.
Virtual Console: I wish to see more Foreign-only games released in non-native countries in the New Year, as that is something I would want to purchase. We need more games such as Sin & Punishment and Alien Soldier released on the U.S. Virtual Console.
I wish there was an “Import” category was not buried under Genre in the Search by Category page.
I hope that Nintendo figures out a solution for downloading all of these games, especially when WiiWare games start arriving. The Wii does not have a lot of internal hard disk, and there has been no official word on an external drive. I also wonder what will happen when all my “channel” spots are taken up. The system only has 48 spots to fill, though I imagine a firmware update could extend this.
Just like with the disc based games, the Virtual Console should be offering the core gamer more. Chances are high that someone owns Super Mario Bros. in cartridge form. But they don’t have it with online leaderboards. The Virtual Console needs to offer core gamers more; shelling out $5 for Super Mario Bros. on the Virtual Console is a lot more appealing to casual gamers.
Since Nintendo is making so much money off of the Virtual Console, and good for them, I think they could afford to release a better selection each week. Sure, not everything released on the service is going to be puppy dogs and ice cream, but a number of the offerings have been just baffling.
News Channel: I wish it had more news. As Nintendo is using the AP news feed, how about more categories, such as the off-beat news that is so funny to read.
I wish that there was just more news in general. National News and International News always has gobs of headlines, but Technology has few; Science/Health doesn’t have many more.
I wish that when you hit Slide Show on the main News Channel menu it would randomize the headlines. As it stands right now, it cycles through all in National News, International News, then Sports, in order down the list. When I am inside of Sports and I select Slide Show, that is the one time I want to only see Sports headlines.
I wish that links in news articles were clickable, opening up in the Internet Channel. When you read an “On the Net” line at the end of a story, why not make that a hyperlink? The News Channel already uses the globe from the Forecast Channel, why can’t it open a link, or ask the user if they would like to open a link, in the Internet Channel
I wish you could force the news to refresh. I really like using the Wii News Channel, as you can see, but it needs some refinement. I hope it is not a piece of software that Nintendo is done enhancing.
Other Channels: As fun as the Check Mii Out Channel is (read: not really), I wish that Nintendo would spend more time on the DS Download “Everybody’s Nintendo Channel” for parts of the world other than Japan. Far be it for me to suggest that Nintendo needs to focus more on games than fluff, but there it is – I said it.
Connecting Controllers: I wish it were not such a chore to connect four controllers to one console. Surely this could be addressed in software. For a system that is so geared to the casual audience, I just do not understand why it takes me four, five, six tries to get four controllers synced to my console. Quick Sync does not count, as the controller is only synced for one play session – go back to the Wii menu and you will need to re-sync the controllers. In contrast, I have no problems connecting many controllers to my PS3 or 360.
Next Year: The second year of any console’s life is always a big test, and this is no truer than with Nintendo’s Wii. I hope there are more reasons for me to turn on my Wii next year, aside from the allure of flashing blue lights.