This generation of consoles has seen firmware updates become frequent and routine. Nearly as commonplace have been the post-patch gamer complaints that the latest update has rendered their systems inoperable.
The latest system to repeat the cycle is Nintendo's Wii. On Monday, Wii owners received a message from Nintendo informing them that the system's 4.2 firmware was available for download. The notice of the firmware explained that the update would not affect any existing features "but will improve the overall system performance." It also contained a cautionary note for users of homebrew applications and other unsanctioned programs.
"Because unauthorized modifications to save data or program files may impair gameplay or the Wii console, updating to Wii Menu version 4.2 will also check for and automatically remove such save data or program files," the notice said.
The effects of the update have apparently caused an upswing in activity for Nintendo's customer service team, as the company's official forums include a stickied announcement for anyone whose system has been rendered inactive after installing version 4.2.
"The symptoms most people are describing usually occur when the Wii has been modified. However, some of you also mention your system has never been modified," an administrator on the forums wrote. "We'd like to help get your system working properly again. If you're experiencing problems with your Wii console after downloading Wii System Menu 4.2, and you believe your system has not been modified, please give us a call. If we find that you have a normal system and the update caused your system to not work, we'll repair it at no charge."
Those who choose not to update the Wii firmware are unable to access the Wii Shop Channel, making it impossible to purchase Virtual Console or WiiWare titles or download additional utilities, like the News Channel or Forecast Channel. Nintendo of America's customer service line is 1-800-255-3700 and is open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Pacific time every day.