As Nintendo leaps over Sony's amazingly bankrupt launch - here's my Wiish Liist for the future of the Wii.
The Wii needs to solve the limitations of the DS by acting as a unified online gateway. Fire up the DS Channel and jump into a live chatroom with Wii Friends... then the Wii attaches itself to your DS and makes the connection to your pal's DS for WiFi play. No more interminable waiting for your DS to match up with people you don't know! No more wondering if a specific DS Friend is even connected! No more DS Friend Codes at all!
The DS Channel should also offer a game store... both emulated classics and all new exclusive DS stuff. Buy a new game, keep it on the Wii, and transmit it to the DS when you want to play it. Then transmit it back to the Wii to retain high scores and saved games. This gets around the DS's lack of onboard memory.
And come on guys, DS demos! We were promised DS demos!
Early on, the Xbox made a big deal about storing your own MP3s on the HD for use as custom soundtracks in various games. And then nobody ever did it, because who wants to take up precious hard drive space with your awful music collection?
Excite Truck and the Photo Channel have the right idea: pull music from whatever happens to be inside the SD slot. If more games go that route (and the Wii remains invisible on home networks), we can all have our favorite tunes living on a cheap SD card that can come and go as we please. Or several, depending on the mix.
Fun lanyard straps
Cell phone charms and straps are huge in Japan. We want them for our Wii Remotes, and not just the simple colored bands found in those overpriced controller glove packs. ($25 for three gloves + lanyards?!?) Little figures of Mario and Pokemon. WiFi-sensitive lights that glow according to your in-game health bar. This is a license to print money, Nintendo. People will buy these like water once they're provided outside of the silly glove bundles.
Games I need to see
The new Sam and Max game needs a Wii port immediately. Ditto for ClubHouse Games. Fatal Frame and Pokemon Snap - both games centered around cameras - could be great with the Remote. I'd like to see a bigscreen, high-fidelity iteration of Elite Beat Agents on the Wii. And Katamari Damacy, with a point-and-roll control Nunchuk scheme.
Organize your mail
The Message Center needs some organizational tools. I received 14 Wii-mails one Saturday and it is a mess to navigate. They haven't quite achieved Apple Simplicity (TM) yet. The "Today's Accomplishments" mail should be tied into a central stat system so you can view the overall data. There should be an easy place to find/save your Photos, rather than just having them all live hidden inside mails. No limit on message length. Email photos to non-Wii addresses. Attach multiple photos. Attach movies. Integrate the Photo Channel entirely inside the Message Center (or vice versa.)
This thing could replace your computer email program very easily with a few upgrades... like all those "Internet Appliances" failed to do back in the late '90s.
The Wii needs to show up on my home network. It should be able to find MP3s on my iMac and play them. It should be able to send save files over to the computer for backup. It should be able to share pictures and movie files.
I totally want Nintendo to rip off Microsoft's Xbox weblogging/stats recording feature. It's a great example of a company asking the right question ("How can we make our customers more loyal, in the face of most gamers owning more than one system?") and coming up with the right answer (the gamerscore and achievements and auto-blog system). It's not often that Microsoft gets that kind of thing right.
Virtual Console Advance
We need rare games in there. Japan-only titles like Sin & Punishment or Doshin the Giant. Weird exclusives like that N64 Indiana Jones game you could only rent/buy at Blockbuster. How about some classic Game Boy games? I know it's not fashionable to laud the ugly little monster that kept Nintendo in the green all those years, but there's an untapped mine of great games there that Nintendo could sell for a couple bucks apiece. $2 for Cosmotank, Gargoyle's Quest, Balloon Kid, or the Super Mario Land series? Yes.
We need real games in there. Not the bloody Genesis version of Golden Axe, which completely sucked... we need the real coin-op original. Not the crappy NES version of Donkey Kong... we need the real coin-op original. I understand the cachet of the home console name brands, but those home versions were almost always vastly inferior to the arcade source. Coming soon: Atari Pac-Man?
We need brand new games in there. Where's the Wii equivalent to Geometry Wars or fl0w? Nintendo ought to be out there proving that they still have that simple magic of twenty years ago. Seriously, I'm considering paying $8 for Columns, just to have a decent puzzle game at instant access. Columns! Columns!!!
And how about demos for Wii games as well?
I better see something damned impressive about Mario Party 8 if it's not going to have online play.
Yeah, we've already seen some marginally fun EyeToy stuff, not to mention video chat over Xbox Live... but let me lay this on you: Combine the camera with the world famous Pokemon trading card game and take it online. I know, you're thinking of that weird PS3 "Eye of Judgement" game that uses a camera to "see" the cards you play. But we know that game is going to suck. Plus the tech will be dodgy at best.
I'm thinking that you have a camera plug-in that goes in the Wii Remote... you show it your actual cards as you play them, and the Wii sends that info to your opponent. So you get to play with your own decks, not "virtual" cards or pre-built decks, and you get to play in the real-world way you're accustomed to. In addition to providing a live and fluid card game interface between two people across the globe, the Wii also fills in the imagination gap with animations and sound and scorekeeping. (I'd suggest including this in addition to a virtual card mode, so as not to exclude players who don't own thousands of Pokemon cards.)
Nintendo has one of the all-time great trading card games in their back pocket, and they haven't leveraged it back into their core business since two Game Boy Color games (one of which never even made it out of Japan.) Time to rectify that, and at the same time confront head-on the perception that the console Pokemon games are crap.
Now that the cables are gone and motion-sensing is in, it's time to re-examine what custom controllers can do for gaming immersion. We've already seen bongos and guitars and dance pads in the previous generation... how about a Harry Potter game with a Remote shaped like a wand? A Pokemon game with a Remote shaped like a Poke Ball (with onboard memory to carry your fighters to other Wiis and a small LCD screen to play it like a Tamagotchi)? A new Power Glove that actually works this time?
And let's invert the idea and see some games that interact with physical props. The new Animal Crossing could come with a little faux-PDA that lights up when it's a holiday, or when you have a message waiting, or when a particular wandering vendor is in town.
Speaking of Animal Crossing...
AC Wii should, in some form, be able to interact with AC DS. And since the Wii has GameCube memory card ports, it could even tap into your AC GC file. The easy prediction is that it won't. But it should.
Early Wii GUI screenshots revealed that Animal Crossing Wii can send messages to your Wii Message Center. Will it be anything useful, or just the typical Tom Nook's Having A Sale crap? I've already devoted substantial webspace to the failings of Animal Crossing: Wild World, so my fingers are crossed that AC Wii will be more than just Nintendo expecting us to have fun collecting the Lovely Series yet again.
I highly doubt Nintendo will let Animal Crossing - or any game - hand out free Wii Points. But at the least, in a nod to the NES games that made AC GC so cool, they could let you buy various consoles from Nook. And if you happen to own any of the Virtual Console games for that console, AC Wii would let you access it from your Animal Crossing house.
Nobody thought you would make the DS work, and you did. Provide different types of games at different levels... don't abandon your new Wii Bowling fans with a lack of easy-access titles, and don't discourage the "remote-is-a-gimmick" crowd by avoiding traditional types of games and controllers. Be all things to all gamers, but don't get hung up on the complaints of the hardcore, because they have done nothing to move the market anyway. Build on the Wii's promise by packing in more tricks and tweaks that prove gaming can be more multi-dimensional, more demographic-broadening, more barrier-breaking than just WWII shooters, Madden and street racing. Keep the price down and the games up, and you can't NOT win.
(Not that I'm advocating a black-and-white Nintendo Wins / Sony Loses paradigm. After all, in terms of pure profits, the GameCube wasn't a failure at all. I'm just guessing you, Nintendo, would enjoy making more money. And, as a fan, I would enjoy continuing to buy your products. So a "win" here should be interpreting as "not failing out of the marketplace entirely.")
Aside: I figure I put in 35-40 hours on the 4AAs that came with my two Remotes before I had to replace them. Is that good? It certainly seems a lot worse than the WaveBirds, but then the Wii Remotes are doing quite a bit more.