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Wii

Firmware is the New Hardware

by Steven Rodriguez - November 24, 2008, 11:04 pm PST
Total comments: 28

Though I personally am starting to be annoyed by it, I believe the channels system for the Wii Menu is a good idea when considering those who maybe aren't so technologically advanced enough to navigate through more complex menu systems such as the PlayStation 3 XMB or the (now) old Xbox 360 dashboard. The thing is, though, that as we've just seen with the Xbox 360, the front end interface of a game console can be radically altered with a simple software update. There's no reason why a similar makeover couldn't be possible on the Wii.

Consider already that Nintendo is fixing (kind of) a major flaw in the hardware, the lack of storage space, with some promised software updates. Initially, Wii Channels or Virtual Console games could not be accessed directly off of an SD card, and the deletion process recommended by Nintendo to help clear up space was so convoluted and inconvenient that it was probably costing Nintendo lost sales in the long run. The fix, which will come in a future update, will no doubt help alleviate these issues. A previous software update has sped up the SD transfer process, showing that's it's possible to improve upon hardware with the right kind of software.

The thing that's most promising about this, however, is that it's completely possible for the Wii of 2010 to be orders of magnitude better than the Wii of 2006, even if both are using the exact same hardware. Nintendo could find some optimizations here and there to speed up the Wii Shop Channel, or perhaps rebuild it from the ground up to be just as easy to use as the Nintendo Channel. The possible future addition of memory expansion could require more advanced memory management tools, making it easier to sift through several dozen game saves, Wii Channels, WiiWare games, Virtual Console games, and other saved data.

Going even further, Nintendo could totally overhaul the Wii Menu if it felt so inclined, perhaps turning it into a more fully-featured menu where some of the stock channels are built-in to the menu or more tightly integrated into the console. Perhaps other channels could be collapsed into each other, like the Virtual Console Channel idea that many would like to see become an option, wherein all of your VC games can be accessed via a single channel. In fact, the concept of channels could be dumped entirely for a better layout or a more appropriate one depending on how much functionality Nintendo adds on to the console in subsequent, future updates.

Who knows? Maybe Nintendo can unlock DVD player functionality for all with the proper firmware update, as long as the console is technically capable of doing it in the first place. That's the neat thing about console updates nowadays, because you never know what fresh ideas, performance enhancements, bug fixes, and other goodies will be delivered to your hardware every time you update. This is only possible in an Internet-connected age. Nintendo's new console hardware will come eventually, but as long as Nintendo keeps evolving and refining the built-in software residing on the actual Wii console (and it keeps producing games we want to play on it), it may be something we won't much mind waiting for.

Talkback

ATimsonNovember 25, 2008

Quote from: WindyMan

Who knows?  Maybe Nintendo can unlock DVD player functionality for all with the proper firmware update, as long as the console is technically capable of doing it in the first place.

The *ahem* unofficial developers' community has already done so; there's no reason Nintendo technically couldn't.

KDR_11kNovember 25, 2008

The channel system is >>>>>> the 360's cluttered mess of a menu system, especially the new one that seems to consist of 90% ads. Channels are equivalent to icons on the desktop of a PC OS, I think they should remain organized "flat" (i.e. you select a VC game by its channel instead of console channel, then game) since that's faster to access and easier to get an overview of. I don't want it to end up like it's on the 360 where the list of games on your system is buried some 2-3 menu layers deep, the channels are the main purpose of the system and should be the first thing you see.

Nick DiMolaNick DiMola, Staff AlumnusNovember 25, 2008

Quote from: KDR_11k

The channel system is >>>>>> the 360's cluttered mess of a menu system

This, so hard.

Though I wouldn't mind a VC/WiiWare Channel as an option to organize all my games and un-clutter my main menu.

Quote from: KDR_11k

I don't want it to end up like it's on the 360 where the list of games on your system is buried some 2-3 menu layers deep, the channels are the main purpose of the system and should be the first thing you see.

Yes, yes, a million times yes. The NXE has improved it a bit, but it still takes quite a bit longer to get to a game on the 360 than on the Wii. The only reason I'd want a separate VC channel is if we got a real storage solution and it was the only way for me to access more games than I had channel slots on the menu.

MorariNovember 25, 2008

Quote from: WindyMan

This is only possible in an Internet-connected age.

Nintendo could always just send out DVDs with the appropriate firmware on it to all of their customers and let them flash the Wii themselves. :P

I do like the idea of a WiiWare/Virtual Console channel however.

My 360's menu constantly confuses me.  The colors, the flashing lights, all of the buttons, the words, sometimes there's sentences, pictures...it's madness.

GoldenPhoenixNovember 25, 2008

Quote from: Lindy

My 360's menu constantly confuses me.  The colors, the flashing lights, all of the buttons, the words, sometimes there's sentences, pictures...it's madness.

I hate the 360 menu now. It makes me appreciate the Wii's simple menu.

Wow, what a surprise.  I'm sure everybody else will be spewing their 360 hate any minute now.

Nick DiMolaNick DiMola, Staff AlumnusNovember 25, 2008

While I don't think there is any need for 360 hate, I don't think the NXE was a usability upgrade in the least. The menu is just plain awkward, and information never seems to be organized in a logical fashion.

In my opinion the XMB and Wii Menu are far more user friendly, and they make navigation to critical components much quicker and easier. Microsoft's forte has never been user interfaces, so this latest attempt is unsurprisingly a failure.

GoldenPhoenixNovember 25, 2008

Quote from: Mr.

While I don't think there is any need for 360 hate, I don't think the NXE was a usability upgrade in the least. The menu is just plain awkward, and information never seems to be organized in a logical fashion.

In my opinion the XMB and Wii Menu are far more user friendly, and they make navigation to critical components much quicker and easier. Microsoft's forte has never been user interfaces, so this latest attempt is unsurprisingly a failure.

I loved their old interface.

EasyCureNovember 25, 2008

Quote from: Lindy

Wow, what a surprise.  I'm sure everybody else will be spewing their 360 hate any minute now.

Geez is this really necessary?

GoldenPhoenixNovember 25, 2008

Quote from: Lindy

Wow, what a surprise.  I'm sure everybody else will be spewing their 360 hate any minute now.

Wait is Lindy saying I hate 360 now because I really dislike the new menu's interface?

NinGurl69 *hugglesNovember 25, 2008

I had no plans of replying to this thread until I saw Lindenberg's comments.

oh.

ShyGuyNovember 25, 2008

I would like to troll the fact the 360 interface is technically software not firmware. It's an operating system's GUI running off a hard drive Windy, not an EEPROM! sheesh!

trying to derail the pending flame war

BranDonk KongNovember 25, 2008

A lot of people are using "firmware" incorrectly...one of those people is the author here. ShyGuy = correct. The Wii has never had a firmware update either, just "system menu" (and IOS) AKA "software" updates. The 360 has never had a firmware update...unless you hack your DVD-ROM.

GoldenPhoenixNovember 25, 2008

Quote from: Brandogg

A lot of people are using "firmware" incorrectly...one of those people is the author here. ShyGuy = correct. The Wii has never had a firmware update either, just "system menu" (and IOS) AKA "software" updates. The 360 has never had a firmware update...unless you hack your DVD-ROM.

Has the PSP had a firmware update?

KDR_11kNovember 26, 2008

No, only firmware downgrades.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterNovember 26, 2008

At first, I felt the NXE was weird and awkward. There were too many windows to navigate through. But I am getting used to it. My main gripe is that on my end its very slow and at times it freezes when its loading pages. There's too much going on and it causes it to slow down.

Ian SaneNovember 26, 2008

This topic made me think of something.  Do these firmware updates effectively give Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo a remote controlled off switch for their product?  Couldn't they release an update that breaks the functionality of the console itself?  Time to buy our new console so we'll just make your old console effectively useless.  Better upgrade buddy.  That's an extreme example and it likely would be illegal but they probably technically COULD do it and that freaks me out a little.  We're already afraid that our VC purchases have a Nintendo controlled shelf life.  Could the Wii itself have the same issue?

And even with the legality involved they could always bork the thing 10 years from now when only a small group of classic gamers would notice.  And even if this generation is safe, maybe next time they introduce some "licence to play" model where you don't own the console but rather just a licence to play games on it and after so many years they pull the plug.

I know it's scary doomsday stuff but it's possible.  With the movie and music industry telling me I don't own the DVDs and CDs I've bought but merely bought a "licence to use their IP" we know that big entertainment companies have this kind of mentality and will push to be able to legally have a remote off switch.

PlugabugzNovember 26, 2008

Software updates have an inherent problem that the Wii is already running into. Adding more functions via firmware updates uses more memory, which in Wii's case is already short.

I would love to see more accurate hairstyles around black culture for the Mii Channel (the dreadlocks one alone just ain't cutting it) but then who would want it knowing it needs 200 blocks?

Flames_of_chaosLukasz Balicki, Staff AlumnusNovember 26, 2008

Quote from: Plugabugz

Software updates have an inherent problem that the Wii is already running into. Adding more functions via firmware updates uses more memory, which in Wii's case is already short.

I would love to see more accurate hairstyles around black culture for the Mii Channel (the dreadlocks one alone just ain't cutting it) but then who would want it knowing it needs 200 blocks?

Well Nintendo can always go the Sony route and have their firmware flashed and reinstall it with the new firmware.

DAaaMan64November 26, 2008

Quote from: GoldenPhoenix

Quote from: Lindy

My 360's menu constantly confuses me.  The colors, the flashing lights, all of the buttons, the words, sometimes there's sentences, pictures...it's madness.

I hate the 360 menu now. It makes me appreciate the Wii's simple menu.

Ya the new interface is kinda weird. I like how their Mii's stand out front of their profiles though.

My immediate complaint though is that stupid thing all the windows "stand on", it blocks your custom background!  I agree (so far) that the old menu system was easier to use and understand. This new one definitely looks better though and has some neat features.

KDR_11kNovember 27, 2008

Ian, why exactly would anyone bother to flash a console to brick it? To push people to the new system? Fat chance, they'll run off to the competition instead. Do it really late like at the end of the next console generation? Why bother?

I can understand shutting servers down because they eat power but creating an update for an old console to destroy it? Why the fuck would you do that?

ShyGuyNovember 27, 2008

Quote from: KDR_11k

Ian, why exactly would anyone bother to flash a console to brick it? To push people to the new system? Fat chance, they'll run off to the competition instead. Do it really late like at the end of the next console generation? Why bother?

I can understand shutting servers down because they eat power but creating an update for an old console to destroy it? Why the **** would you do that?

Apparently you haven't installed XP service pack 3...

MorariNovember 27, 2008

Service Pack 3 is still fully supported and did nothing to break the system (anymore than it already was). In fact, Service Pack 3 extends the life of XP's support quite a bit. If you're having problems after updating, it's more likely that you simply have a bad hardware configuration. Outside of more well known problems like the .Net Framework conflicts, of course.

I do hate that backported "Windows Search" shit and wouldn't suggest anyone check it while updating.

Oh yeah, the "Windows Search" stuff is so annoying.

DAaaMan64November 28, 2008

I was pretty afraid to grab that update...

vuduDecember 03, 2008

Quote from: Ian

We're already afraid that our VC purchases have a Nintendo controlled shelf life.  Could the Wii itself have the same issue?

No one's afraid of this but you.

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