Originally published on Pixelitis.net on June 3, 2012.
Let’s face it: If Nintendo wants to succeed among its hardcore audience in this new and upcoming console generation, it needs to propel itself into the now with the Wii U.
It always seemed that with every good step Nintendo took for the Wii in terms of features, it took another step backward. For instance, adding online play for a number of Wii games was definitely a major plus, but keeping with a draconian friend code system that wasn’t unified among all games crippled the experience considerably. Nintendo took steps to amend that with just one universal friend code on the 3DS – but that’s just one of the many things Nintendo has to do if they want to succeed with the core gaming audience.
I’ve taken it upon myself to construct a sort of wishlist (everybody loves lists, right?) of features I am hoping to see Nintendo deliver with the successor to the Wii. Who knows, maybe CEO Satoru Iwata will announce some of these features ahead of the company’s press conference this Tuesday?
Everyone who’s connected his or her Wii to the internet via WiFi has to have purchased something from the Wii Shop Channel, be it Virtual Console games or those underperforming WiiWare titles. It’d be a major pain if all of those titles, which in my case, I easily spent over $80 on, weren’t transferable to the Wii U.
Truthfully, I think it’s unlikely that Nintendo would ignore this feature. They have allowed DSi users to transfer all of their digital purchases to their 3DSes, so I fully expect this to be possible with the Wii and Wii U.
2. Ability to use more than one Wii U tablet controller
After the Wii U was officially revealed at E3 last year, it was uncertain whether the console could utilize more than one Wii U controller at the same time. Iwata himself mentioned that ““Technically, it is possible for the Wii U to support multiple Wii U Controllers,” but warned that this would result in a “considerable” price hike.
Most videos shown of the Wii U in a local multiplayer setting depict one person using the Wii U tablet with everyone else sporting Wii controllers. While this may make for some interesting gameplay ideas (like the leaked Rayman Legends trailer showed us), I think it would be horribly backward for the system to only allow the use of one.
If I was playing a co-op game with a friend, how fair would it be if only one of us got to experience the shiny new technology of the system? I know I’d hate to be the person stuck with just a Wii remote or a classic controller instead.
I also believe that having multiple Wii U controller support will significantly boost the creativity of co-operative and competitive games on the system – imagine a new version of The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures, in which every player has their own screen to look down into when separated from their fellow players.
3. A better online store
Even though the Wii Shop Channel and 3DS eShop have a bevy of excellent games, they suffer from drawn-out release weeks where barely anything comes out for it. Nintendo has to step it up with the Wii U stores weekly updates – we’re talking being on par with the amount of content Sony’s Playstation Store gets each week in terms of updates, new DLC, demos and more. It’s been nearly six years since the Wii’s release and its Virtual Console service is still lacking some very huge NES, SNES, Genesis, and N64 releases.
Another thing Nintendo needs to do is make the Wii U’s online store available on day one. With the 3DS, it took Nintendo three months after the handheld was released just to roll out the eShop. This can’t happen for the Wii U.
From the get go, every title currently available on the Wii Shop Channel needs to be available for purchase via the new console if not immediately, then within the first few weeks of launch. This includes digital versions of disc-based Wii U games.
It took the eShop quite a while to pick up steam, and even now it suffers from release weeks that don’t always have the most stellar titles. The sooner the Wii U’s shop is up and running, the quicker they’ll be able to profit from it.
Nintendo needs to be less stringent in their pricing of digital downloads – you would never find a sale or promotion on the Wii Shop Channel or the 3DS eShop, even for third-party titles. Online gaming services like Steam, PSN, and Xbox Live have shown that big, crazy discounts and sales on digital downloads only help propel them and make users more likely to purchase from them in the future.
4. 3DS–Wii U connectivity
When it was announced that the DS and Wii could communicate in a few ways, I got excited thinking about what sort of fantastic gameplay ideas could sprout from this.
Unfortunately, not much happened, aside from the ability to temporary download DS demos via the Wii’s Nintendo Channel. The only two games that utilized the DS as a controller for the Wii were Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time and Pokemon Battle Revolution. Talk about a bummer!
Wii/DS connectivity was severely lacking, but that doesn’t mean that the 3DS and Wii U have to be. Take a look for a moment at what Sony’s Playstation Vita and PS3 can do.
With certain games like Wipeout, Vita players can play online with PS3 users. Both the Vita and PSP are able to play games purchased via the PS3’s PlayStation Store, and both offer local streaming in the form of Remote Play. The PSP (and soon Vita) has the ability to play PSone Classics downloaded from the PlayStation Store (my personal favorite feature).
Imagine if one could purchase 3DS titles via the Wii U and then transfer them to the handheld? And what about Virtual Console games – how awesome would it be to have all of your favorite NES, SNES, N64, Genesis, and Neo Geo games in portable form right on your 3DS’ SD card?
Transferring them shouldn’t be difficult, considering how Nintendo’s planned “Nintendo Network” aims to create one universal username for the Wii U. Just allow a user’s personal 3DS friend code to link up with his or her Nintendo Network account, and everything should be golden.
StreetPassing using the 3DS has been quite the popular thing to do when bringing your 3DS with you to numerous conventions – now imagine importing all of that StreetPass data into your Wii U to be used in a multitude of creative ways?
It shouldn’t stop there – the 3DS should be used in creative ways in tandem with the Wii U controller when it comes to playing games. Again, the thought of Four Swords Adventures crops up again, but I know there’s more potential than just that. The next Super Smash Bros. game, which will see versions on both Wii U and 3DS as Nintendo had announced last year, was stated to feature some kind of connectivity, so at least we know there are plans to make some unique use out of this feature.
5. Better third-party support
This is an issue Nintendo has seemed to constantly struggle with for a while. For many, one goes to a Nintendo console to play mostly Nintendo games. While there are quite a few good third-party offerings on the Wii, unless your publisher’s name is Activision, you are often being overshadowed by the bigger Nintendo-made games on the system.
It also didn’t help that many third-party Wii games failed to utilize the remote in very fluid or creative ways. When Nintendo announced the Wii Motion Plus accessory for the Wii remote at E3 2008 – many third-party developers were left in the dark about it. What resulted was an accessory that was barely used, even though it offered better motion controls. The Wii Speak was another peripheral that was barely utilized as well.
Nintendo needs to show a bigger willingness to support third-parties with the Wii U and give them ideas for utilizing the Wii U’s touch-screen enabled controller for more than just gimmicks or a place to store all the HUD info a game may have.
Indie games need better representation on the Wii U as well: one need only look at the 40MB limit of WiiWare and its impact on Team Meat’s plans on Super Meat Boy for the service to know that Nintendo needs to better accommodate them.
Luckily, Nintendo has already announced that third-party disc-based Wii U games will be available as digital downloads, so that’s a start. And with games like Batman: Arkham City, Darksiders II, and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 (rumored) slated for the system, Nintendo just might be able to make the Wii U more third-party friendly than ever.