Steven explains why the Wii shovelware situation is worse than you might think. That and more in the glorious return of our always internationally-flavored mailbag.
What do you think of the Wii? I know it's quite the vague question, but after all of the success in the most unlikely fashion, what do you think?
- Smithers 2.1
Like most people, I'm shocked at the Wii's amazing success. The fact that people were still lining up for consoles in the middle of the summer after its launch is saying something. Even the hottest Christmas toys, like Tickle Me Elmo, didn't have year-round frenzies. But Nintendo has sustained it throughout its first year on the market, with no signs of slowing down any time soon. After the Wii's first few months of success, Nintendo said it was surprised with how things worked out, but it wasn't until a few months later until we all realized that Nintendo's surprise was genuine. If the creator of a product is taken aback by its success, then that's saying something.
What the Wii is doing is triggering a social revolution in video games, a phenomenon not seen with such force since Pong. I editorialized on that subject in the days before the Wii launch (read that here), and now that's it's actually happening in front of us, you can't help be be excited about it. Nintendo was 100% right when it said that technology was to a point where better graphics weren't going to cut it anymore. When you start talking about the next generations of consoles after this one, the first thing to come to your mind is no longer horsepower. It's all about interfacing with games. In 15 or 20 years when virtual reality may start to become a real reality, we can all look back on the Wii and know that without Nintendo's vision, we may have never gotten there.
Do you think Activision may bundle the songs available for download for the PS3 and Xbox 360 into an expansion disc for Guitar Hero 3 Wii? It seems like it would be a pretty good idea after around 30-40 songs are available and could sell it for $30 to $40.
Activision is working with Nintendo on making downloadable songs for the Wii version of Guitar Hero III a reality, but unless Nintendo (or Activision) announces plans for a Wii mass storage device (or fully enables the one already supported), it's probably not going to happen. That's too bad, because I highly doubt Activision will go to great lengths to make a version of Guitar Hero exclusively for the Wii when it could be spending those resources making a brand-new game across all platforms. That would make more sense financially than to just spend money on a single, platform specific version that costs less than the price that people would be willing to pay for it.
Activision will obviously be releasing more Guitar Hero games across all platforms, the Wii included. I suspect there will be GHIII "expansion packs" similar to Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80's on the PlayStation 2 before Guitar Hero IV comes out, but it's very unlikely to include any downloadable content found on the other systems. Activision wants people to download those song packs because of how profitable they are, and as I said, the company is working with Nintendo to try to make it possible on the Wii.
Are Game boy games still selling or not ?
Yes, but barely. Nintendo has all but cut support for the GBA, although up until a few months ago it was still selling. Outselling the PlayStation 3, in fact. However, major new titles have vanished, only leaving big movie multiplatform games to occasionally pop up on the handheld. There are still a lot of people in the world with a Game Boy Advance that's not even a year old, so there is some demand for software. It's not large enough for big retailers to carry anything other than Nintendo's best-selling GBA games, but if you walk into a major retailer, chances are you're going to find some GBA games alongside Nintendo DS games. I guess it helps that the DS can play GBA games, too.
okay so having the previous name "planet gamecube", you guys surely weren't around back in the day when The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was released back in 98'. or.....perhaps you were. anyways.....here's the thing. I'm a reader of Game Informer magazine and have been about 7 years (I also know Billy Berghammer had a hand in getting this site off the ground). the only thing is their review archive on their site only dates back to the year 2000. and I can't seem to find their review of Ocarina of Time ANYWHERE on the Internet. I mean I know the score it got but I want to read the review. Metacritic or anywhere else I've tried doesn't have it. and since you're the only site that actually answers my questions, I have to ask. where or how can I find that review?
- Ghost of Hyrule
Not everything is on the Internet, especially copyrighted material. There is no magical place that has every article from every video game magazine ever written. If you can't find a Game Informer review that old on Game Informer's own website, what makes you think you're going to find it anywhere else? If you really want to read their review that badly, you're going to need to track down the original magazine issue. I don't have advice for you on that front, unfortunately, other than to say good luck. You'll need it.
Oh, and we've been around since 1999. Just so you know!
I noticed that Nintendo stopped making the usb wifi adapter that allows the DS and Wii to connect online, instead they are now selling a Wii LAN adapter and only from their store. I was wondering if there were plans to connect the DS and Wii so that one could connect the DS to the Wii for online play. There was some talk about downloading demos from the Wii to the DS, but I'm not sure that's been put into action. What's the word?
The DS and Wii will be hooking up soon. That's been confirmed by Nintendo since a long time ago. Aside from eventually being able to download demos to the DS via the Wii, no one outside of Nintendo knows how else the two will interact with each other. Using the Wii as a wireless access point for DS online games would be a clever way for Nintendo to get more people to play DS games online. Nintendo is no longer selling the USB Wi-Fi adapter, so at the moment there is no official hardware solution to take the DS online. I wonder if Nintendo is planning to rectify that by using the Wii instead?
We recently bought a Nintendo DS in New York and brought in to UK. We tried to charge it and it worked temporarily. Is it possible to get an attachment to make it work properly on UK voltage?
- Tony S
You'll need a voltage converter. They look like oversized power plugs, and they'll turn the 220v electricity that Europe uses into 110v power that your American Nintendo DS was designed for. They're widely available and not too expensive. Here's one from Amazon.
Well, First of all happy holidays and all the flowers that are sent in these days. Ok, now on to the subject, I've been a Nintendo fan since the NES era and I'm not too enthusiastic about any games that are coming to the Wii next year, we can obviously discard SSBB as its going to be a must have game but, what I ask is What else is coming to the Wii that its worth the purchase? is it only me or there is nothing too exciting for the next couple of months.
Thanks, great, really great page.
I'm sure there will be some good Wii games coming out next year. We just need to wait until Nintendo announces them in a couple of months. The Wii release calendar is a big void after Super Smash Bros. Brawl comes out, and outside of Mario Kart Wii and Wii Fit, it's hard to get excited for the future of the console. Nintendo has a big stable of franchises in its pocket, most notably Animal Crossing and Star Fox, that could be coming next year. But since Nintendo isn't saying anything, we're not going to know until later!
After two end of the year seasons and a whole year of Wii dominance, the analysts keep saying that the situation can change in favor of PS3 because its main titles will be released in 2008. In my opinion, this argument simply ignores the fact that great games will be released for Wii and X360 this year too. Really, I do not see any reason for any change in the current picture for the months to come. What are your opinion about this question?
Sao Paulo - Brazil
Analysts don't know, either, which is why they make predictions like this. At this point in the game, the PS3 has a really big hill to climb. Even though it's got big games like Metal Gear Solid 4 (definitely 2008) and Final Fantasy XIII (probably not 2008) coming out in the future, there's no reason to believe that Microsoft's or Nintendo's lineups won't feature games as strong. Let's not forget that Grand Theft Auto IV, which used to be Sony's trump card, is now multiplatform. Actually, Microsoft is getting exclusive downloadable missions, so really GTAIV is an Xbox 360 game.
The PlayStation 3 should make a respectable comeback this year. I don't doubt that one bit. However, I think Sony is going to stay put at third place, for this year at least. It will eventually be a success for Sony, especially if Blu-Ray wins the HD format war (and since Warner Bros. recently announced it would be switching to Blu-Ray from HD-DVD, it just might). But it's not going to catch the Xbox 360, and there's no way anything is going to catch the Wii this year.
Dear NWR Mailbag,
Just a quickie. When is the Wii gonna stop selling out within five minutes or so, I mean it's great for Nintendo, but horrible for me and my family who are thinking of trying to buy one. We don't want to have to order a $600+ bundle or stand in line at 6:00 in the morning. And one more, when will the Wii's price drop come in? That won't stop us from buying beforehand, but it would be great. Thanks, bye.
The Wii will be easier to find when demand for it starts dying down. If you asked me this last year, I would have told you that Wiis would be readily available by March. A year later, people looking for a Wii are finding themselves in the same situation as they did a year ago. This time, I'm going to say that it's going to be a lot later than March before they're easily available. I doubt this crazy demand is going to sustain itself for the entirety of 2008, but I would be dumbfounded if it did. Then again, we're all dumbfounded that the console is still generating Sunday morning lines 14 months after launch.
Nintendo isn't going to drop the price of the Wii until demand dies down. Why on earth would it want to sell it for anything less than $249 when people are lining up in droves to pay that much? Once Wiis start piling up in stores a bit, Nintendo may drop the price a little bit. I don't expect that to happen until the end of the year at the absolute earliest. More than likely, there will be a price cut next year.
My Wii died this week. I never thought it would or could ever happen. I'm very sad, the disk drive gave out and started messing up my disks. I called Nintendo and they are going to repair it for free! I cought my warrenty on the last day I bought my Wii exactly one year ago on the day it died (12-26). At least it will only take two weeks to get repaired! Its better than the 1 1/2 month it took for my 360 to get fixed. At least it was before Brawl and after Galaxy! I'd never had a problem with a Nintendo console or handheld before so it was weird when it happened. Has anything happened to your guys Wii's?
Nope. Nintendo's hardware is the most reliable in the business. Even so, there is going to be some bum hardware. It's the nature of mass-produced consumer electronics. Thankfully, Nintendo's customer service is pretty damn good, too. Nintendo's got all of its bases covered when it comes to making sure owners of its products are happy.
Now if it could only make those looking for Wiis happy....
I know, I know...this has been asked millions of times over, but I'm curious as to what your opinion on the matter is. With Solid Snake and Sonic now confirmed for Brawl, how many more 3rd-party characters do you think Sakurai will incorporate into the game? And of these, who do you think will make it? I'm expecting two to three more -- with these being Mega Man, Simon Belmont, and Sora.
None, actually. At this point in development, with only a month to go until the game's Japanese release, unless Team Smash has already included extra third party characters in secret, I think Sonic and Snake will be the only outsiders on the roster. I don't doubt Nintendo's track record of major surprises, but ever since Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune said that Nintendo hadn't approached him to put the Blue Bomber in Brawl, it seems unlikely that Sakurai would add additional characters at the last minute. There's no way Nintendo will delay the game again, either.
If it ultimately turns out that Sonic and Snake are the only two third-party characters in Nintendo's all-star brawler, I'll cry foul. Once Snake was announced as a starting character, that should have opened up the floodgates. Aside from Sonic, whose inclusion was inevitable, there should have been representatives from all of the granddaddy publishers. Mega Man should be there, as should someone from Namco. Actually, Snake seems somewhat out of place in the Brawl universe since he made his name on the PlayStation consoles. Yeah, Snake is awesome and all (especially Kirby Snake, but Simon Belmont would have been a better choice, in my opinion.
Oh, well. We'll see what Nintendo's got for us. It's only a month away!
If one of your New Year's resolutions is to regularly update the mailbag is another one to regularly update the Super Smash Bros Brawl data like you used to? Or are the writers of that section on strike with the WGA Television writers because either way, I am upset at the fact that it has not been happening for 2 months now.
We decided to temporarily drop the weekly Smash Bros. Dojo updates from our calendar because we needed to focus on getting all of our holiday game reviews done. We were all set to come back with them when Sakurai announced that the blog would be going on vacation. Figures! Once the Dojo gets going again, so will we. Also look out for a massive final preview soon, and check back to us when the game's out in Japan. We'll have something nice for you...
I don't expect to be the first person to have asked this, but I'm hoping you'll answer me anyway. Where can I find a Wii? Got any tips or pointers on how to find one? I can't find one anywhere and don't really know where or when to look...
You're not going to find one by just walking into a store. What you'll need to do is to regularly call your local retailers and ask when they usually get Wii shipments in. Not only on what day, but also when during the day. Some stores get shipments in the early afternoon, so getting to the store when it opens is not always the best bet unless it's being advertised in a Sunday newspaper circular. (In that case, get there several hours before the store opens.) If you get a solid date and time, be there early and hawk the right employees to make sure you get one right off the truck. That's really the only way to ensure that you'll get one, because the Wii is such a hot item, there's no guarantee that any quantity of systems will stay on the shelf for the whole day.
Is Elite Beat Agents easier than Ouendan? I've heard reports of it, but I do not know for sure. It seems EBA gets hard near the last level whereas Ouendan is extremely difficult.
- Kevin "Saturn2888"
Overland Park, KS
The original Ouendan is the hardest, with Elite Beat Agents and Ouendan 2 being a little easier. The final boss battles are still really hard in those games, but nowhere near as hard as Ready Steady Go was in the first game. If you're looking for the hard stuff, get the original in the red DS box. But expect a challenge no matter which game you play.
Hi guys, this is Jeffer the Heifer. First off I just want to say that I am a big fan of the site and the podcast. I tend to have the same taste as you when it comes to reviews and I really look forward to the Virtual Console reviews each week. That is the main reason that I visit your site. There aren't many other sites that review VC games and the ones that do aren't very well done. I hope you will continue providing this great service and I don't want to whine since you are willing to take the risk and pay for some games that turn out to suck. Thanks a lot!
- Jeffer the Heifer
We think it's ridiculous how the Virtual Console service is essentially a minefield to the uninformed consumer. Although a lot of people will remember playing many of these classic games, it's really hard to try new things without inevitably downloading a piece of crap. I think it'll happen more often than not, unfortunately. The sick thing is that even if just one person downloads a game, it's a profit for Nintendo and the company that published it. That means even the biggest piles of crap can still make money, which is why companies have no problems putting up games that are known to be bad. Shovelware is getting bad enough on the Wii. We don't want it on Virtual Console, either!
I purchased "Mini Desktop Racing" and "Extreme Offroad SE". I have no complaints about the graphics or music but I cannot imagine why Nintendo would put their seal of approval on games that are in such an unplayable state.
The control scheme in "Mini Desktop Racing" makes the game impossible to play. It is beyond frustrating to even complete the first track, coming in first place is hopeless.
This is not just my opinion about the game being bad. These games are severely broken and unplayable. I own every Nintendo system made and have purchased hundreds of games for Nintendo systems and this is the first time I have ever felt blatantly ripped off when purchasing a game.
This really makes me question Nintendo's "Official Seal". I always thought that Nintendo had to approve the quality of games before allowing them to be released. Is that not the case?
If you've been a Nintendo fan for a long time, then you'll know that seal used to say "Official Seal of Quality." Nintendo removed the "quality" modifier once the Game Boy Advance started taking off, making it only the "Official Seal." Nowadays that only means products stamped with it are guaranteed to be compatible with Nintendo hardware. It's definitely not the guarantee it used to be.
Back in the late 80's, when Nintendo had a virtual monopoly on video games, it could enforce quality restrictions and quotas. An overflow of third-party software, both good and bad (mostly bad), is what caused Atari to go down in the early 80's. Nintendo knew that if it was going to make video games popular again, it had to avoid that at all costs. Its game approval process ultimately helped the industry in the long run, teaching third parties to come out with fewer good games instead of a deluge of crap.
But now? All console licensees (that's Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft) require is an approved game concept and a finished product that passes all of the technical requirements to ensure that it runs on the console without any (major) problems. It's to their advantage to have as many games on their systems as possible, since it increases the amount of software available to the consumer and the amount of royalties they'll take in from game sales.
The current way of doing things puts the "quality" problem on the publishers now. If a publisher keeps releasing games that don't sell well, that publisher will fail. It's been this way since the mid 90's because of the competition between Nintendo and Sega. Publishers knew that if they picked one system over the other, they needed to make a really good game for people to notice it. It wasn't until games consoles truly went mainstream in the PlayStation era that companies could get away with shoveling cheap games on unsuspecting consumers.
Shovelware is always going to show up on successful consoles. There's no getting around that. Usually, it's not a detriment to the health and well being of a console game library because no matter how many bad games came out, there were always as many or more quality releases to counter them. Shovelware was all over the place on the PS2, but you didn't hear many people complain about it, especially not Sony. Although the most vulnerable to buying a bad game is the true mass-market consumer, by the time that group started buying the PS2 at $199 and under, all the good games were $20 Greatest Hits. When someone who doesn't know any better sees "Greatest Hits" on a game box and a $20 price tag on the shelf, even they know that game is a safe purchase.
With the unbelievable success of the Wii, however, things have changed. All of the all the people that wouldn't normally buy game consoles until two or three years after launch were lining up to get a Wii on launch day. Many of these people are true mass-market. They know the Wii is fun, but don't necessarily know which games are good. (Unless, of course, they read Nintendo World Report every day.) They're the ones that make their purchases based on the back of the box and the price tag. Publishers recognized this, so they rushed Wii games to the market to capitalize on it. As the Wii continues to sell out all over the world, shovelware games are becoming more and more common because they know people who don't know any better will keep buying them. That will only encourage publishers to keep making them.
What are the alternatives? There aren't any clearly-labeled Player's Choice Wii games available yet. Almost all of the best games in the Wii library are of a premium price. Since price is a big issue for the mass-market consumer (and why wouldn't it be, if they don't buy a console until it hits the pricing "sweet spot") the cheaper games are going to get more of a look than games that are more deserving.
That's very dangerous to Nintendo in the long run, and it knows it. That's why it's acknowledged the problem—and it is a problem—that there are too many bad Wii games out there. What would normally be happening after two or three years into Wii's life cycle, after a strong foundation of high-quality titles has been built up and recognized, is happening only a year after the fact. The mass-market consumer that's looking for new games to play doesn't really know where to find them. If this continues for too long, people may think that the majority of games on the Wii aren't very good. That will take the wind out of Nintendo's sails in a big, big way.
There are two reasons why that's probably not going to happen, however. First is Wii Fit. It's going to be the next big thing for Nintendo, and if it markets the game right, the Wii may well be permanently entrenched as an American icon.
The other thing Nintendo is doing in order to head this problem off at the pass is the Nintendo Channel for All, which was announced by Satoru Iwata last October. Along with it delivering Wii game trailers, it will also have a feature that offers games suggestions based on personal preference and the popularity of other Wii games being played. It will do this be recognizing how many different games you've played and how often you've played them. With this feature built-in to the Wii, people will have an easier time avoiding obviously bad games, making it a little harder for bad games to do well in the market. We won't be rid them completely, but if it's enough for companies to think twice before publishing crap, it'll have worked out.
The bottom line: Shovelware isn't usually a bad thing. It's a sign that a console is a success. But having too much of it too early in the life of a game console isn't good, and it's even worse when the majority of the audience looking for new software is the mass-market consumer. I don't know if Nintendo had anticipated this occurring (probably not, since it didn't foresee the amazing success of the Wii), but hopefully the Nintendo Channel for All and other measures will make sure it doesn't turn into a long term problem for Nintendo. The last thing the industry needs is for a groundbreaking console to crash and burn like Atari did in the early 80's.