Barely two weeks old and everybody already hates WiiWare. The Associated Press has declared the launch lineup disappointing. A recent Nintendo World Report podcast whined about the games being too casual, too boring, and too lacking in big-name releases.
There was a really funny comment on Kotaku the other day, where somebody pointed out that the entire enthusiast industry complains that Nintendo ignores and sometimes outright stifles third-party games... and then turns right around and bitches because WiiWare debuted with a pile of diverse third-party games and absolutely no first-party titles. And we all know that Dr. Mario and Pokemon Ranch have been out in Japan for weeks! Waaaaaah!
I think the list of almost 60 WiiWare games stands toe-to-toe with the original content on PSN and XBox Live Arcade. Nintendo has a real chance of achieving late-game parity here, which is unique since the Wii featureset oscillates between Totally Exclusive (Remote, Balance Board, Miis) and Barely Competing (online play, download storage, HD graphics). The Strong Bad game is a total coup.
As far as the initial lineup is concerned, it seems obvious to me that Nintendo opted for a broad range of games. You have the uber-casual stuff, as represented by a blackjack game, a puzzle game, and a trivia game. You have the more gamery stuff, with My Life as a King and LostWinds. A week later, we have a shooter (Star Soldier R) and Critter Round-Up... which seems to be a compilation of every kind of boxed-in arcade game ever made, encompassing blatant ripoffs of Qix, Snake and that Tron light bikes thing.
I think Dr. Mario is slated for next week.
Some people seem to be outright annoyed that a blackjack game even exists. Like it's somehow a waste to want to play casual games from my big ass couch looking at my big ass HDTV with my big ass friends, rather than cramped in my computer room chair, alone, a foot away from an LCD monitor.
Or they cynically point out that Defend Your Castle can be played for free online. I think these people are overlooking the incredible convenience of having games directly accessible as a Channel. As in, not via the fiddly Internet Channel, and specifically redesigned for Wii in some fashion. I've played both browser-based and Wii-based Defend Your Castle. The Wii version is a lot better. Bigger, sillier, built for the Remote (you can turn guys upside-down!) and ridiculous in multiplayer. Is it GOTY? No. But it's five bucks. I mean, look at this:
Then there's the Afraid of Micropayments group. Oh noes! I'll have to spend $40 to fully enjoy My Life as a King! Or, you could just spend the $15 and then decide if you like it enough to buy all the dippy little upgrades. If you like the game, then maybe the additional $25 will be worth it, right? Jesus. It absolutely kills some of you to spend a little fucking money, doesn't it? Like you don't get ripped off every time you walk out your front door. You know how much it costs McDonald's to make those fries that you think are such a bargain on the Dollar Menu? At least My Life as a King didn't smack you for $50 to begin with and then start begging for change. You know how much I spent on Animal Crossing, because I liked it?
Of course, Nintendo is still looking down the barrel of that 512 megs of memory problem. I had to dump Sin & Punishment (which was a really crappy game, by the way... maybe you absolutely need that N64 claw to play it. I thought it sucked) to make room for future WiiWare grabs. This has GOT to be one of those things where Company A swears up and down that Problem B is in no way a problem, but then does a 180 and secretly develops Solution C. You know, like Sony and rumble or Microsoft and the RROD.
So, can we all let WiiWare cook for a bit before we declare it a miserable failure?