Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Nintendo's new games download service for the Wii launched yesterday. All the games on WiiWare are original titles, as opposed to the classic games on the Virtual Console.

Of the games that launched, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life As A King (or FFCC:MLAaK, for slightly shorter), was probably the most anticipated among gamers. That's because anything developed by SquareEnix is highly anticipated, and anything with the worlds "final" and/or "fantasy" attached are even more so.

This is not the first game I downloaded, however, because it was the most expensive of the launch titles and I'm a poor, poor man. And I'm not sure how much fun an RPG in which all the battles take place off-screen can be. Plus, this is the first game on a Nintendo console to feature the dreaded micro-payments. FFCC:MLAaK apparently features additional content in the form of costumes, buildings, character classes, etc. I'm not sure I can get behind that. But I'll wait for the reviews to come in before I pass final judgement.

The game I did download was a little indie title called, LostWinds, from Frontier. The premise is simple, but a lot of fun. You control the main character with the control stick. He can walk around and climb up small ledges, and that's about it. But with the wii-mote you control Enril, the spirit of wind. This is basically how you do everything in the game. You can create gusts to carry the main character over gaps and other obstacles, in addition to a few other abilities unlocked later on. This leads to some original platforming and puzzle solving.

Unfortunately, it's short. I finished it in around 3 hours (although I was missing 2 of the 24 collectable items). It's a disappointing length for an adventure game, but I guess downloadable games aren't going to be massive with the 48MB restriction.
Still, the graphics are really good, as well as the soundtrack. There's basically just one background song, but it's very pleasant and never feels repetitive.

Hopefully for the sequels a little variety in gameplay will be added, as well as some more difficult puzzles. But I still recommend getting this one, despite the $10 price point and length, if for no other reason than to encourage one of the most promising new Wii developers to continue to make games for the system.

No first party Nintendo games have been released on WiiWare yet, even though there were two for the Japanese WiiWare launch. In a recent Wired article with the main man, Shigeru Miyamoto, he commented about how independent games are a much bigger deal in the American market than the Japanese. This is probably why they decided not to launch first party games right out of the gate. Nintendo probably didn't want to steal the thunder from some of the smaller developers, and didn't think WiiWare needed the extra push in America. But I'm eagerly anticipating the online enabled Dr. Mario.

And with games like Strong Bad's Cool Game For Attractive People and Animales de la Muerte, it's nice to see such a promising lineup so soon after WiiWare's launch.

Now here's the real problem: after downloading about a dozen Virtual Console games, and one WiiWare game, my Wii system's memory is pretty much full. That means if I download even one more WiiWare game I'll have to delete several of my other game files just to make room. The Wii simply just does not have enough memory, and as of yet there is no support for external hard drives. You can save files to an SD card, but you can't play games directly off if it. After you've purchased a Virtual Console or WiiWare game you are able to download it again for free at any time, sure. But who wants to have to manage their games in this way? Not to mention that deleting it will cause you to lose any save data.

Nintendo really needs to address this issue. There are way more channel slots on the Wii menu than I could possibly ever fill with the memory restrictions. Here's hoping Nintendo has some sort of economical solution in the near future.

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