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Best of the Wii Forum - Week 8 (GDC edition)

The hottest topics this week came from the big news stories out of the Game Developers Conference. These threads aren't necessarily exemplary or brilliant; they're just some responses to the big Wii-related information from GDC.

And I have five threads for you this week, for once. :D

Here are the best threads from the week of February 17-23, 2008:

5. WiiWare and Wii Fit release date announced!
- by Erebyssial

Both will be available in North America in mid-May. For now.

The responses to this news range from "yawn and snore" to "cool." We pretty much already knew roughly when these would be available, so... Moving on.

4. Downloadable Content announced for Wii!
- by Jayesler12

DLC will be handled in-game and will be bought with Wii Points. From the way it sounds, no current games will have the option for DLC, so no new songs for GH3. Maybe this is why Rock Band is going to be released so much later for the Wii. We can only hope.

This thread takes an interesting turn early on as people begin to debate the value and purpose of DLC in the first place. Jaysonguy and I started our own little argument in a different thread, but that one ended up being locked probably for excessive punctuation. Oh well. In this case, Jason and I seemed to agree anyway. How boring.

3. ***Mario Kart Wii*** ALL info
- by RE4WiiGirl

We got a boatload of new Mario Kart info from GDC, including release dates, online information, track numbers, screens, etc. Julie did a great job of gathering all the new info into one spot. This one is an exemplary thread. Awesome job.

2. Nintendo going to start charging for online play
- by

This was the biggest Nintendo news from GDC. The title of this thread is a bit misleading, but see my last blog post for my rant about all that. This is the thread that caused me to write that blog in the first place. The first post is fine - just giving us what was announced. But some of the replies are absolutely ridiculous. If you didn't see this thread before, check it out now. But make sure you understand the news story first.

1. You're Wrong, People DO Like Them, Facts Don't Lie
- by

Yeah, I'm sneaking a non-GDC related thread in at the #1 slot. In the on-going debate about casual vs. hardcore, mini-games vs. real games, etc., Jason shows us that many people actually do enjoy these "third-party crap" games. I don't even want to know the amount of effort he put into gathering the numbers in this thread, but he does a good job of proving his point, regardless of the rather conceited-sounding topic title.

Nintendo opens the door for pay to play

And it has caused several face palms already.

According to this article, Nintendo is introducing the Nintendo WiFi Connection Pay and Play feature as an option for developers looking to offer an online experience on the Wii. Nothing has really been announced yet other than that it exists. In short, developers now have the option of requiring a subscription fee for online games; up to this point, all online play has been free on the Wii.

Now for the facepalms. Since this is pretty big news, several threads have popped up in the forums. I know it's par for the course, but it seems that too many people read the article title and nothing more. Many are assuming that Nintendo is going to start charging a subscription fee for all online Wii services, a la XBox Live. In other words, they think that Wii owners will have to start paying for everything associated with the internet.

That's flat out wrong. For years, Nintendo's stance has been that consumers as a whole aren't willing to pay for online gaming. Some are, yes, but Nintendo is all about your everyday Joe, not your Joe Fielders who live for gaming. This announcement shows that Nintendo is finally willing to let publishers, who might not be able to afford free online gaming, charge for the service. It's entirely up to the developer/publisher, not Nintendo, on whether or not they'll charge for an online service.

In an ideal world, smaller developers will charge a small fee to provide support for their online experiences, while larger companies continue to offer their services for free. We'll see how that goes....

I am now Guitar Hero-less

Remember that episode of the Simpsons where Springfield's cable TV connection gets cut and all the kids wander outside, squinting at the sunlight, then discover the wonderful world of the outdoors? Yeah, that's nothing like how I'll be without Guitar Hero. :P

I sent my copy in today to get it replaced with the remastered version. The insert says to expect the process to take three to four weeks. Usually I'd expect it to be done in less than two weeks, since the estimates they give are usually pretty conservative; but in this case, I honestly expect it to take more than a month. Activision's track record with the Wii version of GH3 has been terrible, so all I can really do is expect more foul-ups.

First, they sent out a version of the game with a major audio problem. As a game built around an audio experience, you'd think that QA would catch something like that. Second, they took several months to fix the problem, even though it would seem like a simple fix. Third, their solution is simply inconvenient for game-owners; rather than come up with something more convenient, we're left without the game for weeks.

And lastly, the worst part of it all.... I asked Red Octane support about when the remastered version will replace the old version in stores. The answer was simply that it won't be, at least not any time soon, not even from Red Octane's website. Instead, they're making new purchasers go through the same process of getting a replacement disc.

I understand their economic reasons for all of this, especially since most people wouldn't even know about the problem if they weren't told. But that doesn't justify this major screwup or the poor handling of it all. My only hope is that publishers (and/or developers, whoever was at fault for this) in general will learn from this mistake. I can't see something happening like this again, though, unless Nintendo accidentally forgets to put the weapons in Mario Kart, Bungie forgets to put the multiplayer in Halo 4, or Capcom forgets to put zombies in Resident Evil 5.

Best of the Wii Forum - Week 7

This was one of those weekends where I just had too much to do. It's a welcome feeling as far as I'm concerned. Most of the stuff I've been doing I've wanted to do, so that makes it all good.

Here are the best threads from the week of February 10-16, 2008:

4. Sonic & Knuckles Idea
- by Broc_Samson

You may be thinking, "Jordan, come on. We all know that game ideas in the forums are worthless because they'll never actually be made." That may be true, but Broc went to great lengths to show us how he thinks the Sonic franchise could be improved. Basically, he'd like it to go back to its roots. And unlike most game ideas, this isn't too far-fetched.

3. Uh Oh! Will The Quality Of Games Go Down After This?
- by bob_newman

Yeah, it's bob again. I seriously don't mean to keep highlighting his stuff, but his threads are usually original and inciteful.

bob wonders what kind of affect Miyamoto's death will have on Nintendo's games. Just read the the replies. It's a good thread in every way.

2. Game anger!!!!!!!
- by amirbrandon

This is full of good stories. Take a look.

1. Too many Minigames? You were saying...
- by

This is the epitome of a great thread. bob takes a common myth about the Wii and turns it on its head. He backs it up with stats and everything. It doesn't get much better than this.

Now if more people would follow bob's example.... I know some do occasionally, but more should step up more often. Now get to it!

Best of the Wii Forum - Week 6

Step through this portal and I'll take you back to a simpler time, a better time, when chrome and hair-poofery were at their finest.

Don't look around too much... You might be a little frightened. Just look here. This is the best thread from the year 1985:

How do you get past Hammer bros??
- by Totodile

Ignore the timestamp. It can't be true. Only someone legitimately from the 80s could be a fan of Toto.

I know you probably want to stay here in the 80s and re-witness (or in some cases, witness for the first time) the dawn of the Golden Age of gaming, but too bad. We have to go back.

Here are the best threads from the week of February 3 - February 9, 2008:

4. Wii Plagued By Fan Service Requests, Remake Wishes Hurting Gaming
- by Jaysonguy

I'm highlighting this thread for two reasons, one of which is entirely selfish.

1) Jason has outlined something that needed to be said in the Wii forum. This thread serves to inform some forum-goers of their folly.

2) Jason never responded to my reply, in which I tried to debunk the claim in his topic title. I'm still waiting. ;)

3. Games that people said were good but [you] didn't like
- by theweakbear

This is a very general thread idea that surprisingly hasn't been posted a million times. In fact, this question has only been formally asked a few times in the Wii forum that I've seen. A topic like this gives people a chance to speak up against hyped games that they didn't enjoy so much. Sometimes we just need to let those things out, you know?

2. How much did/does Wii Sports contribute to the success of the Wii?
- by WolfWatch

I don't remember why, but I had just thought of this question before I saw that this topic had been created. Wolf poses the question of what Wii sales would've been like if Wii Sports hadn't been bundled with the Wii. It's a thought-provoking question. Sorry, I don't have a portal that could take us to that alternate universe, though I'd definitely take it if I could, just to satisfy my curiosity.

1. Great Wii games coming out that no one probably even knows of
- by Jakendo

I'll be honest - this thread was almost put on the number two slot, then I remembered that Blast Works is one of the games featured in this thread. That bumped it to number one. :D

I knew about all these games before this post. Boom Blox is Steven Speilberg's game, Blast Works was demoed on On the Spot and looks awesome, and Ninja Reflex was also demoed on On the Spot and looks... decent. Maybe. As Jakendo says, maybe it'll be fun for multiplayer. I could see people coming over and saying, "Let's play that ninja game," followed by the sound of bottles opening and drunkenness ensuing.

StarTropics - the Zelda killer

You might've noticed that I recently posted my first user review in about five years. You should read it before reading this blog entry, because this is only meant as a commentary to complement the review.


Done reading? Good.

When I was a little kid during the NES days, my mom would take me to a local game rental store on rainy days. I got to choose one game, and I could only play it for three days. But instead of trying out a bunch of different games, I'd usually rent the same ones over and over. Baseball Stars, Metroid, Ninja Turtles, Punch-Out... But my absolute favorite was always StarTropics. Something about it fascinated me, even though I never had the game long enough to get very far into it.

When it was released for the Virtual Console, I downloaded it simply to experience it again. You know, nostalgia. That's really what the VC is for. But after playing it for about an hour, I realized that it's good for more than just nostalgia, and it's more than just a Zelda clone - it's an amazing game.

StarTropics is the beautiful baby of Zelda and Zelda II. It was released three years after Zelda II, so the developers (headed by Genyo Takeda, most recently famed for coordinating the entire Wii hardware project) had had a chance to gauge public opinion about both games. They could see what was great about each one. The dungeons are the highlight of the original Zelda, no question, so StarTropics borrows heavily in that area. The exploration aspect was also great in Zelda, but I think Takeda's team realized that it was a bit too much for most gamers, so they took the more linear route seen in the overworld of Zelda II. You can still explore, but you always have a goal; they eliminated the random and often pointless wandering.

StarTropics uses the exact same health system as Zelda - a string of hearts that can be added to via hidden heart containers. But unlike Zelda, none of the extra heart containers are simply given to you, such as after defeating a boss. Every heart container is hidden somewhere in the overworld, and they're actually hidden pretty well. You have to go out of your way and intentionally hunt to find them. The reward for defeating a boss is the satisfaction of never having to go through that dungeon again; the reward for exploring is a heart container.

And the enemies. Some of them take up to seven hits to kill. Others help you solve puzzles if you pay close attention to their movement. The bosses are all unique and take dozens of hits to kill, except for the one that can only be killed by solving the puzzle in the room. Some dungeons don't even have a boss. Some have more than one. Again, this borrows from Zelda but improves on it.

My point in all of this is that the StarTropics formula was superior to the Zelda formula back in the day, and it even trumps the current Zelda games. But for some reason, Zelda got all the praise. It's probably the "epic" fantasy environment in Zelda that the masses find so appealing, and that's totally understandable. But the Zelda series does have some issues, and I think it would be beneficial for the creators of the next Zelda to look back on StarTropics and see how the Zelda formula can actually be improved upon.

Best of the Wii Forum - Week 5

In case you didn't notice, we had a couple surprises last week. For one, Rock Band was finally announced. Too bad we don't know anything more than that it exists. We also had a rare visit from a Gamespot staff member in the Wii forum. Aaron Thomas decided to stop in during the review process for Endless Ocean to dive online with some forum members. That was probably the only way he was ever going to test out the online functionality of the game, but who cares.... A teh biassed Game$pot staffer in the Wii forum. Hath Hell frozen over?

And yes, I was slacking last week. I wasn't so much busy as a bit depressed in general, so I didn't read as many threads as I usually do. If you created an amazing thread and I haven't mentioned it here, I apologize. You'll just have to create another one next week. ;)

Here are the best threads from the week of January 27 - February 2, 2008:

4. If Wii follows DS track record in the future we will see a bright future for the Wii
- by Cyber-

Despite the redundant title, Cyber makes a good, simple connection between the DS and the Wii. Not many people jumped on the chance to discuss it, probably because his reasoning is sound. In a forum too full of pessimism, Cyber brings a bit of hope.

3. Are games too long these days?
- by bob_newman

bob promised us last week that he'd post some good topics, and he made good on that promise. This thread brings a busier gamer's perspective to the table. Long games can be awesome, but they can also be daunting when you want to play through them again. The vast majority of people who voted said that games aren't too long, and the responses reflect that. Overall, it was a good discussion.

2. What should EAD Tokyo's (SMG dev) next game be?
- by TacoJelly

This is a loaded question. Do we want another Galaxy, or do we want something completely new? This teams last game, before Galaxy, was DK Jungle Beat, so TacoJelly thinks that they should work on a true DK platformer. Not a bad idea. But will Nintendo go for the new idea or just cash in on the old? Could a Galaxy sequel work or would it be overkill? Like I said, it's a loaded question.

1. How Nintendo Can Make Old and New Gamers Happy at the Same Time
- by

I told you bob made good on his promise. This topic immediately stuck out to me as a great idea. I've been realizing more and more lately that developers might be going back to their roots and bringing us some more cIassic gameplay. We saw this with Mario Galaxy and its more linear level design and quasi-2D platforming areas. But bob suggests that it could've been even better with one simple change - a difficulty setting. I responded in that thread that it pisses me off that Nintendo didn't include this in the game, because it would've been incredible.

Best of the Wii Forum - Week 4

This past week was probably the most interesting yet in 2008 for the Wii forum. No More Heroes was whisked to store shelves on the winds of critical acclaim, and I think this boosted morale for the most part. There was also a rousing discussion of Suda51's comments about the Wii and a long-winded debate about the appeal of Wii Fit. We also saw an extra-annoying number of Brawl threads, some shouting about Lucario and others claiming to know the full roster of the game. And apparently Luigi is sometimes confused for being hispanic..... but we won't get into that.

Even though this week was interesting, I didn't actually bookmark many threads to include in this feature. Maybe that was due to a lack of time on my part, or maybe I was just lazy, I don't know. Anyway, here are the best threads from the week of January 20-26, 2008:

3. People only buy what they know
- by bob_newman

If you haven't noticed yet, I like topics with some meat to them. That doesn't necessarily mean that they're long, but rather that they took some work to come up with. Although this thread doesn't present anything novel, it's an organized presentation of a significant problem with developers of Wii games. If nothing else, it serves to inform people of some of the reasons behind the Wii's lackluster third-party effort. People complain about it all the time, but many don't really know why they have to complain in the first place. Hopefully this thread has helped some understand the business a bit better.

2. Innovations Suggestion Thread
- by wiretoss

The worst thing about this thread is that only one person actually took the time to give a suggestion. Wiretoss asks a good question - if so many people like to complain about the Wii remote not being used to its potential, what would you do differently? Apparently no one has thought that far ahead yet. This topic is great because of the possible responses... unfortunately nobody really took advantage of the opportunity.

1. You want good games for the Wii? You gotta buy them
- by Durffen

Like I said above, I like topics that have some work put into them. Durffen took the time to scrounge up sales figures for a bunch of games to show us how the problem that bob_newman addressed actually plays out in a concrete way. Although his call for Wii owners to buy good third-party games probably won't do anything in the big picture, the thread itself is still worthwhile as unarguable proof of the problem.

Star Wars: The Force is Leashed for Wii owners

The XBox 360 version of The Force Unleashed, which is shown in the recent webdocs from Lucasarts, and the PS3 version both feature a unique combination of the Havok physics engine, Pixelux's DMM (a material physics simulator), and NaturalMotion's Euphoria (a real-time animation generator). The result seems to be a fun and immersive experience like we've never seen in a Star Wars game before. Rather than focusing specifically on how the force powers look, the developer has placed a heavy emphasis on how everything reacts to these force powers. But you can see that for yourself in the videos.

Haden Blackman, the project lead, says that "the power of the next-gen systems" is what makes this possible. The Wii, however, is excluded from this statement. Although the Havok physics engine is available for the Wii and has been used in several Wii games, it wouldn't provide the meat of the experience in Force Unleashed. The real disappointment is that neither DMM nor Euphoria are available for the Wii, so the Wii version will lack the most compelling facets of the game - namely, throwing objects and stormtroopers around and seeing how they react. IGN reports that the developer of the Wii version, Krome Studios, "has programmed its own physics engine to handle all of the game's Force powers." Apparently this engine works, but it isn't nearly as cool as the other versions.

When Nintendo revealed the Wii in 2006, they made it clear that they would be focusing more on cheap, energy- and space-saving components rather than high-end graphical prowess. Genyo Takeda, manager of the development of the Wii, explains the reasoning for not going the route of Microsoft and Sony: "During development, we came to realize the sheer inefficiency of this path when we compared the hardships and costs of development against any new experiences that might be had by our customers." The idea was that game experiences can't really improve simply with better graphics. Things will look better, but they won't necessarily play better.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed takes that idea, tosses it through some glass, smashes it against some crates, and flings it into the distance. Nothin' but Tie Fighter.

Better technology can allow for more fun to be had in games. Of all game-makers, Nintendo should know that all it takes is some creativity, and developers will use what they have to come up with fresh, fun ideas for games. Luckily, since Krome Studios can't focus on the reactionary elements in Force Unleashed for the Wii, they're working on more in-depth and fun lightsaber control via the Wii remote. The result should probably be a good game, but we have to feel a bit disappointed that this great lightsaber control can't be coupled with the other amazing elements of the game.

Best of the Wii Forum - Week 3

This week was boring. That's all there is to it. I only have three threads to highlight this week, and two of them came today. We did see a lot of SSBB delay threads. If creative users were as excited about posting as SSBB fanatics, the Wii forum would be the best on the net.

Next week will be different. .. Right? :?

Here are the best threads from the week of January 13-19, 2008:

3. Has anyone here...actually played Ninjabread Man?
- by icarus212001

What can I say, I love the name "Ninjabread Man." If there were an award for best-titled awful game, this would win it every year for the rest of time. But that's not entirely why I'm highlighting this thread. Icarus poses a good question and even mentions one of my favorite lines from Super Paper Mario.

2. Parents and the Wii
- by Console_Gamer93

This is a cIassic case of readers neglecting to persevere to the end of a message before responding. And this one isn't even that long. The author asks if anyone else has tried to teach their parents how to play a more hardcore game like Metroid Prime 3. Half the people responded with games that their parents like to play. We know that parents like to play Wii Sports. That's not the question. We want to know if your parents like something like Zelda or Mario, something that requires a bit more cIassic gaming technique like, say, pressing buttons. And that's a great question that I've never seen in the Wii forum. Hopefully more people read it correctly....

1. 10 Random VC games to play while you wait for Super Mario RPG
- by Phantom_Leo

Every Monday, Leo posts the Nintendo press release for new VC titles available. And every week, his thread is bombarded with "STILL no Mario RPG!??!!?"s. In response, he created a list of adventure/RPGs currently available on the Wii that people who enjoy Mario RPG might be interested in. This was a great idea, and I'm sure plenty of people downloaded some of the titles on the list.