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Episode 146: WiiWare Short Shorts

by Jonathan Metts - May 17, 2009, 11:07 am PDT
Total comments: 53

April NPDs and the WiiWare anniversary help us overcome the lull in game releases and news before E3.

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With E3 just a few weeks out, things are pretty slow in gaming land. Hence, we have a short episode this week, starting with a relatively brief New Business. As Jon catches up with Dead Space and Super Mario Galaxy, Greg forges ahead with Rhythm Heaven and Contra Rebirth, the new WiiWare game available in Japan. Jonny and James give progress reports on de Blob and Rune Factory Frontier, respectively (though not respectfully).

After the break, it's NPD sales data time. April was a tough month for everyone, except Nintendo thanks to a big debut for DSi and continuing dominance by Wii Fit and other evergreen titles. But where are Excitebots and Rhythm Heaven, and should we be worried for them?

We close by marking the one year anniversary of WiiWare, with the goal of celebrating it better than Nintendo did (which shouldn't be hard). There's a discussion of the platform's overall accomplishments and needs, and we each highlight our favorite WiiWare games from the first year.

Next week: our annual pre-E3 bonanza!

Credits:

This podcast was edited by Greg Leahy.

Music for this episode of Radio Free Nintendo is used with permission from Jason Ricci & New Blood. You can purchase their newest album, Done with the Devil, directly from the record label, Amazon.com, or iTunes, or call your local record store and ask for it!

Talkback

kraken613May 17, 2009

I totally agree with your, "a lot of hardcore gamers don't have a Wii." I know a lot of people who don't have a Wii. They don't there's  enough for them. Most are almost to the point where they are will to buy one if there's a big E3.

Mop it upMay 17, 2009

What WiiWare needs? Retail compilations.

Hardcore gamers are lamers. Softcore collecting is where it's at.

Quote from: Mop_it_up

What WiiWare needs? Retail compilations.

Yeah, actually.

Quote:

Softcore collecting is where it's at.

...no comment.

kraken613May 17, 2009

Did Greg say anything about his Excitebot's week count?

broodwarsMay 17, 2009

So Zelda 2's the next Retro-Game, eh?  Well, I have to agree with John: my hatred for that game is so strong I remember it quite well already without having to play it again.  It does a lot of interesting things, but doesn't do many of them particularly well (awesome temple music aside) and so comes across as just mediocre.  I must admit, though, that I'm very surprised Nintendo never remade this game ala Metroid Zero Mission, as with some major game design overhauls here and there this could be an awesome game.  But it will be interesting to hear James' impressions of the game considering all the experience he's built up over the past few years playing bad games, so it should be familiar territory for him.

EDIT:  Nice.  I see John has the same issue with Mario Galaxy that I have.  Granted, I did complete the game with 120 stars anyway, but still...great to see someone else have the same issue with how the game plays.

farnhamMay 17, 2009

About the NPD discussion

Pokemon Platinum sold 805k in march and 433k in april...and was released march 22th.. i believe you said that the sales were poor but 1.238 million in little over a month sounds pretty good to me..

Nice episode title.

I'm totally bad about WiiWare: I own maybe two WiiWare games. It's shameful, I know. I'm very happy with the game choice for the next RetroActive. I guess I'll save my thoughts on that for the proper thread.

YoshidiousGreg Leahy, Staff AlumnusMay 18, 2009

Regrettably when Jonny prompted me to begin talking about Rhythm Heaven I just went on from there and I had quite a lot of stuff to cover with Contra ReBirth as well, so this is going to have to suffice:

This is Week 4 of ExciteStrike

It may well not be mentioned on-air next week either with it beng the E3 show, but it goes on inside nevertheless...

Quote from: farnham

About the NPD discussion

Pokemon Platinum sold 805k in march and 433k in april...and was released march 22th.. i believe you said that the sales were poor but 1.238 million in little over a month sounds pretty good to me..

Yeah, you're totally right.  We didn't really cover the March NPDs in depth (that's one of the shows where I was out of town), so it didn't connect.  My apologies -- it's a pretty bad factual error that led into an ultimately pointless and misguided Pokemon discussion.  I guess the mania and remakes will roll on.

GoldenPhoenixMay 18, 2009

Yeah for Greg pwning the Lindy Luthor! Don't see Greg get into many debates so it was a pleasure to here.

Mop it upMay 18, 2009

Quote from: Jonnyboy117

Quote from: Mop_it_up

What WiiWare needs? Retail compilations.

Yeah, actually.

Wait, seriously? Somebody agrees with me on this? Does somebody make mention of retail WiiWare on the podcast? Because if so, I might have to make this the first one I listen to.

GoldenPhoenixMay 18, 2009

Quote from: Mop_it_up

Quote from: Jonnyboy117

Quote from: Mop_it_up

What WiiWare needs? Retail compilations.

Yeah, actually.

Wait, seriously? Somebody agrees with me on this? Does somebody make mention of retail WiiWare on the podcast? Because if so, I might have to make this the first one I listen to.

Should be listening anyway.  >:(

Mop it upMay 18, 2009

I know I should, but my computer can't handle multi-tasking and I don't have a way to listen to the podcasts on anything else.

Believe me, they are on the list of incentives to get a new computer.

Quote from: Mop_it_up

I know I should, but my computer can't handle multi-tasking and I don't have a way to listen to the podcasts on anything else.

Put it on your speakers while you play DS nearby.  That's similar to what I often do, though I use my iPod and headphones.

Now I may be clinically insane, and in fact I'm pretty sure I am, but I own 21 WiiWare games and I like all of them and only regret buying one, just because I later bought a better version of the same thing.

Quote from: insanolord

Now I may be clinically insane, and in fact I'm pretty sure I am

QFT

GoldenPhoenixMay 19, 2009

This is day 1 of my pseudo strike against RFN until they mention the EXCELLENT Jungle Speed.

My favorite Wiiware titles are:

1. World of Goo
2. Alien Crush Returns (Fantastic pinball game to kill time)
3. Jungle Speed

Followed by a ton of other good Wii Ware titles like:

Cubello
Orbient
Space Invaders get even
Lit
Groovin Blocks
Tetris Party
Gyrostarr
Onslaught
LostWinds
Toki Tori
Strong Bad Series
Bonsai Barber
My Life as a King

Most of these are close to being in my top three. Pretty good for a "disappointing" service. And these are games that I've played, I'm sure there are others.

I don't even own half the games GoldenPhoenix mentioned and I still like all my games.

GoldenPhoenixMay 19, 2009

Quote from: insanolord

I don't even own half the games GoldenPhoenix mentioned and I still like all my games.

I usually buy them after I read a couple of reviews. The service, while being really slow when it comes to game releases is far better then people give it credit for. Is it perfect, or Xbox Live Arcade level yet? No but it still is far from dissapointing either when you look at the selection of good games. There are hidden gems in the collection.

I'd say that it's at least as good as XBLA; I go about as nuts with XBLA as I do on the Wii Shop but when you take away the classic games from XBLA I own more WiiWare games.

GoldenPhoenixMay 19, 2009

Quote from: insanolord

I'd say that it's at least as good as XBLA; I go about as nuts with XBLA as I do on the Wii Shop but when you take away the classic games from XBLA I own more WiiWare games.

Good point, most of my XBLA games are mostly classic games.

When we said WiiWare is disappointing (if we said that at all), we were referring to how the service is run and Nintendo's own involvement in it.  I don't think any of us disparaged the game selection or the games themselves; hence the latter half of the discussion when we talked about all our favorite games.  ;-)

I always got the impression that Jungle Speed was meant to be played locally with multiple people, which doesn't often happen around my Wii.

GoldenPhoenixMay 19, 2009

Quote from: Jonnyboy117

When we said WiiWare is disappointing (if we said that at all), we were referring to how the service is run and Nintendo's own involvement in it.  I don't think any of us disparaged the game selection or the games themselves; hence the latter half of the discussion when we talked about all our favorite games.  ;-)

I always got the impression that Jungle Speed was meant to be played locally with multiple people, which doesn't often happen around my Wii.

Yeah it is more of a multiplayer game but it is so much fun with great production values.

In regards to Wiiware, I agree, the most disappointing aspect is Nintendo's involvement, so if I didn't interpret that correctly then I am sorry. It does surprise me how many gems there are already though, it is a great counterbalance to something like XBLA.

SundoulosMay 19, 2009

I've worked in software development for a number of years now (though I'm not in the games industry); as a developer, given some of the restrictions (and hurdles) of actually releasing a WiiWare game on the Shop Channel, I have to wonder if I'd ever consider it.

I was doing a quick search for opinions about the matter and stumbled across this blurb:  N-Europe: More Developers Praise WiiWare  I suppose that I have to consider that the original source of the article was Official Nintendo Magazine, but I still found some of the quotes to be interesting and encouraging.


Medaverse's Jesse Lowther, lead designer of the upcoming Gravitronix talked about the low-risk financial prospects involved with WiiWare:

    "They gave us the tools we needed and let us run with it... There's no creative input from Nintendo, only technical input where the game must meet certain standards to ensure it doesn't brick people's Wiis. It's just a godsend for developers who don't want their ideas compromised. Plus, if the game doesn't sell well, we can generally shrug it off and begin work on the next one."

Semnat Studios' Daniel Coleman was also modest about working under banner of Nintendo's downloadable service:

    "There are no suits trying to control your creativity. They want developers to express themselves as freely as possible... This creative freedom is vital to the growth of the industry. It encourages experimentation and risk-taking. We are very fortunate to be developing for consoles since we're such nobodies."

But why choose to develop for WiiWare over rival services like Sony's PSN? Well, Shane Guilano of Autonomous Productions (the company responsible for the forthcoming Butterfly Garden - expect to hear more about that title soon) gives a very interesting personal anecdote:

    "Our company got to where we are today with perseverance, luck and the insight to develop a relationship with Nintendo when everyone still thought it was nuts to release a game system with a controller that looks like a remote control. Nintendo reached out to independent developers before the Wii was even launched in a way that was revolutionary. The whole vision for WiiWare, as Miyamoto has said publicly, is to foster this creative independent revolution. I once sat next to Phil Harrison at a Will Wright GDC talk in 2006 and he wouldn't even give me his card." 

So, I suppose that even though Nintendo is making some egregious errors in the eyes of some, they are doing enough that's right to foster continued support.  Here's hoping we see more WiiWare success stories soon. 

I also hold out hope that not all of our complaints fall on deaf ears at Nintendo.

GoldenPhoenixMay 19, 2009

Well from what I understand most are happy with it. It would be nice to see sales numbers though! The only source that we have is VGchartz, which Matt Cass. said is pretty accurate.

gojiraMay 19, 2009

My top three WiiWare games.

1. Lost Winds - The only problem with the game is how short it is, other than that I loved it.
2. World of Goo
3. Mega Man 9 - I'm not a huge fan of the series, but the idea of a neo-retro title blew me away.

I own five other WiiWare games, but I don't think they're that amazing.  They are Lit, Toki Tori, Tetris Party, Dr. Mario and Gyrostarr.  Lit and Toki Tori are both kinda similar in that they're puzzle/adventure type games.  I got through about 2/3rds of each before they lost their fun for me.  I'd only recommend them to fans of the genre.  I got Tetris more for my girlfriend who does play it a good deal.  I thought she might also like Dr. Mario, but I guess not.  I never play either game since I basically got my fill in many of the previous iterations.  I definitely regret getting Gyrostarr.  It's not a terrible game, but it does get boring quickly.  It looked a lot like N2O (a game I loved on PSone), but it doesn't compare. 

There are a handful of WiiWare games I do want to get (Orbient comes to mind), but I tend to spend that money on VC games or retail releases.

The only other game I've seen advertised in magazines (Nintendo Power) is Evasive Space.

ShyGuyMay 20, 2009

Man, Lindy and Galaxy. Galaxy and Lindy...

I don't know how much of Jon and Greg's "chat" on Galaxy made the podcast, I haven't listened yet, but wow.



Greg was correct in that my statement about playing so many Marios was pure hyperbole.  But I maintain that Galaxy isn't branching out enough past the tried-and-true formula of the other two games to REALLY impress me.  I'll grant that I haven't seen too much of the game yet, but what I've seen has been utterly predictable so far.

GoldenPhoenixMay 21, 2009

Quote from: Lindy



Greg was correct in that my statement about playing so many Marios was pure hyperbole.  But I maintain that Galaxy isn't branching out enough past the tried-and-true formula of the other two games to REALLY impress me.  I'll grant that I haven't seen too much of the game yet, but what I've seen has been utterly predictable so far.

That is EXACTLY what I was thinking, although it applied to some recent games in a certain other genre. ;)

Seriously it is WAY too early to pass judgment on Mario Galaxy after 20 stars. Also the gravitational and planetoid feature adds a brand new layor to the game and you will NOT find a experience like it elsewhere.

broodwarsMay 21, 2009

Quote from: GoldenPhoenix

Quote from: Lindy



Greg was correct in that my statement about playing so many Marios was pure hyperbole.  But I maintain that Galaxy isn't branching out enough past the tried-and-true formula of the other two games to REALLY impress me.  I'll grant that I haven't seen too much of the game yet, but what I've seen has been utterly predictable so far.

That is EXACTLY what I was thinking, although it applied to some recent games in a certain other genre. ;)

Seriously it is WAY too early to pass judgment on Mario Galaxy after 20 stars. Also the gravitational and planetoid feature adds a brand new layor to the game and you will NOT find a experience like it elsewhere.

This is actually quite true.  While I'm not that hot on Mario Galaxy, the game gets dramatically better around 50-60 stars when you start really delving into the Comet Stars (especially the Purple Coin Challenged, which tend to be lovely little challenging obstacle courses).  It's actually quite amusing that the game gets dramtically better after you get enough stars to beat it.

GoldenPhoenixMay 21, 2009

Mario Galaxy is basically unrestrained in what they could do and I think they took advantage of it. It didn't have to really stick to a certain theme beyond "planets in outerspace". They took the open formula and ran with it as can be seen in later levels, some things may have been a miss but there are more that were tremendous hits.

SundoulosMay 21, 2009

My only regret with Mario Galaxy was that they didn't use the Buoy Base music more often. :)

Well, Mario Galaxy is really the same formula with different play mechanics and a much, much prettier wrapper.  I love it, but I can see why other people might be jaded with it, really.  I lost interest in Mario Sunshine as much because it was too similar to 64, only with an annoying (IHMO) game mechanic with additional collect-a-thon options added.  At the very least, Galaxy gets my kudos because they streamlined a lot of that. 

And...Galaxy...well, I just love it because of the setting, the gravity field mechanics, and the neat musical score.  Playing it gave me the same feeling I had as a kid playing Super Mario Bros. 3 when I first encountered a Koopaling airship. 

I'm not sure how they would really change the formula too much, though, without taking away the other elements that make it feel like a Mario game.  Mario platforming has always been about just getting from point A to point B, whether it's getting to a goalpost, a key or a star.

And...please, Nintendo.  Please, for the love of all that's good and holy, let Bowser Jr. go the way of the Koopalings.  Feel free to bring the Koopalings back if you want, though.

Mop it upMay 21, 2009

I didn't really care for the comet stars in Super Mario Galaxy, they felt tacked-on because most of them involved completing a task you had already done with a time limit or with one-hit-dead. Great game otherwise though.

Quote from: Sundoulos

And...please, Nintendo.  Please, for the love of all that's good and holy, let Bowser Jr. go the way of the Koopalings.  Feel free to bring the Koopalings back if you want, though.

I couldn't agree more. Any one of the seven Koopalings has more personality and is less annoying than Bowser Jr. But I don't think Bowser Jr. is going anywhere, he has appeared in far too many games for that.

I'm not looking for them to change the formula.  I'd just like them to extend it somehow, and yes, that most likely includes some online functionality.  It'd be amazing to play through the game co-op with somebody as Luigi, for example.  To me, that would be a "Holy shit" addition that would get me interested.  Maybe for a sequel, but I doubt it.  Nintendo is pretty conservative with its big franchises...they tend to save all of their experiments for new IP.

ShyGuyMay 21, 2009

Sadly, the 3D platformer is a next to dead genre. Mario Galaxy is the only title moving it forward.

I can appreciate what Lindy is saying on an abstract level. He probably get's the same thrill playing Galaxy that I would playing Starcraft 2. Very little.

I'm not saying it's a bad game.  It's amazing, and probably the best 3D platformer ever released.  But I feel like I've done what it ask me to do two times over already, which makes me lose interest.

Mario Kart Wii and SSBB had the new hook of playing online.  If they didn't have that, I'd probably feel the same way about them.

Quote from: Lindy

It's amazing, and probably the best 3D platformer ever released.

As long as we agree on this there's no problem.

I just expect more from Mario and Zelda (i.e. I hold them to a higher standard), and I feel like those series are treading water at this point.  In spectacular fashion mind you, but treading water nonetheless.

NWR_DrewMGAndy Goergen, AlmunusMay 22, 2009

I don't disagree, Lindy, but I still think that Greg has a point when he says that most of the FPSes released in the last 5 years fall under the same umbrella.

GoldenPhoenixMay 22, 2009

Quote from: DrewMG

I don't disagree, Lindy, but I still think that Greg has a point when he says that most of the FPSes released in the last 5 years fall under the same umbrella.

Most FPS games from a single player standpoint are still pretty much following the same formula Half-Life created back in 1998. Which would be fine if there weren't a truck load of FPS games released each year. The online aspect has evolved (though I do not think rewarding people who play the most so they can kill people easier is a good innovation), especially in games like the Battlefield series. Even at that though a lot of what we see in regards to online modes are pretty minimal evolutions of Half-Life deathmatch or the various mods released for it like Team Fortress, or Counter-Strike.

This is really apropos of the new episode, which you guys haven't heard yet, but I want to type it so I don't forget it...

Today I realized how awesome a new on-rails Star Fox could be with four-player online co-op. (One person plays Fox, another Falco, etc.) Finally, you could talk back to your squad-mates and actually do something strategic with them.

Quote from: Jonnyboy117

This is really apropos of the new episode, which you guys haven't heard yet, but I want to type it so I don't forget it...

Today I realized how awesome a new on-rails Star Fox could be with four-player online co-op. (One person plays Fox, another Falco, etc.) Finally, you could talk back to your squad-mates and actually do something strategic with them.

I'm trying to keep my expectations for E3 low to avoid disapointment and that didn't help.

GoldenPhoenixMay 22, 2009

Quote from: Jonnyboy117

This is really apropos of the new episode, which you guys haven't heard yet, but I want to type it so I don't forget it...

Today I realized how awesome a new on-rails Star Fox could be with four-player online co-op. (One person plays Fox, another Falco, etc.) Finally, you could talk back to your squad-mates and actually do something strategic with them.

That would be very cool

broodwarsMay 22, 2009

Quote from: GoldenPhoenix

Quote from: Jonnyboy117

This is really apropos of the new episode, which you guys haven't heard yet, but I want to type it so I don't forget it...

Today I realized how awesome a new on-rails Star Fox could be with four-player online co-op. (One person plays Fox, another Falco, etc.) Finally, you could talk back to your squad-mates and actually do something strategic with them.

That would be very cool

Yeah, it would be so long as you could still play the game competently solo as well.  Wouldn't want a repeat of Resident Evil 5's idiotic Sheva AI during offline play (which really hurts the experience), would we?

In terms of FPSes vs. 3D platformers, I agree that the core FPS formula remains unchanged (but I mean, it's a genre, just like puzzle games or fighting games, so the genre tropes will always be there).  However, if you look at Super Mario 64 in 1996, the big FPS that came out in 1996 was Quake.  Compare Quake to the FPSes today and it's like night and day.  Yes, you're still walking around shooting people in 3D levels, but you have co-op online and offline, massive numbers of people fighting together at the same time (64, 256, etc.), a boatload of stat tracking, RPG-style character outfitting and experience-point leveling, downloadable levels, the ability to record movies of your gameplay and send them to others, the ability to create and trade levels (a big deal in console shooters), and some stories that are actually decent.  The featureset in today's top-tier first-person shooters has increased by several orders of magnitude.  This is mainly out of necessity, since FPSes have flooded the market so developers needed something to set their games apart, but that's the way it's unfolded.

When you compare Super Mario 64 to Super Mario Galaxy, the featureset hasn't expanded that much.  Not that it has to - Galaxy is undoubtedly an amazing achievement - but when I speak of my initial "meh" reaction to the game this is a primary reason.  It's certainly a very innovative game, but I feel like it's innovative within the boundaries of the 1996 formula.  It doesn't expand that formula into other areas like co-op (the ability to have one person use the Wii Remote isn't true co-op in my opinion, and is more of a neat bonus), or any sort of online play.  That's what I mean when I say that I feel like I've seen Super Mario Galaxy before.  It's because there isn't anything in the game that I feel is 100% new or groundbreaking; it's just the old formula executed to absolute perfection.  And that's awesome, but I think it'll be appreciated more by gamers that haven't played Super Mario 64 or Super Mario Sunshine, so that newness is still there.

If we'd gotten as many platformers in the last decade as we've gotten FPSs there'd be that kind of innovation in the genre. Sadly the genre is next to nonexistant outside of Nintendo these days, especially the 3D variety.


EDIT: I just realized that Lindy's reaction to Galaxy is basically the same as my reaction to Super Mario World.

Quote from: broodwars

Yeah, it would be so long as you could still play the game competently solo as well.  Wouldn't want a repeat of Resident Evil 5's idiotic Sheva AI during offline play (which really hurts the experience), would we?

I don't think Star Fox friendly AI could get much worse.

Quote from: insanolord

If we'd gotten as many platformers in the last decade as we've gotten FPSs there'd be that kind of innovation in the genre. Sadly the genre is next to nonexistant outside of Nintendo these days, especially the 3D variety.

Totally agree.

Quote from: insanolord

EDIT: I just realized that Lindy's reaction to Galaxy is basically the same as my reaction to Super Mario World.

Do you mean in comparison to Super Mario Bros. 3?  I can see that.  I didn't buy Super Mario Bros. 3 when it was released (in fact, I've never beaten it), but I played the heck out of Super Mario World.  When I went back to play SMB3 when it came to VC, I couldn't believe how similar it was to SMW.  It felt like I was playing SMW all over again.

broodwarsMay 23, 2009

Quote from: Jonnyboy117

Quote from: broodwars

Yeah, it would be so long as you could still play the game competently solo as well.  Wouldn't want a repeat of Resident Evil 5's idiotic Sheva AI during offline play (which really hurts the experience), would we?

I don't think Star Fox friendly AI could get much worse.

Sheva's AI in RE5 is right down there with Slippy's, only worse because she's wasting your ammo and your health items when she's being an idiot.  She won't even use any other weapon than her frickin' pistol, and when she's low on ammo she races ahead of you and breaks item crates open so she can take the ammo before you can (and it's not easy getting the ammo back cleanly once she gets it).  When surrounded by enemies she stands there and just shoots instead of retreating to get a better shooting angle, and when she dies YOU lose.  At least with Star Fox AI, you only had Slippy to deal with and him getting shot down usually had no real damaging impact on your playing experience (in fact, it usually improved it since you didn't have to hear some squeeky 30-year old doing their worst 10-year old boy impression).

Quote from: Lindy

Quote from: insanolord

If we'd gotten as many platformers in the last decade as we've gotten FPSs there'd be that kind of innovation in the genre. Sadly the genre is next to nonexistant outside of Nintendo these days, especially the 3D variety.

Totally agree.

Quote from: insanolord

EDIT: I just realized that Lindy's reaction to Galaxy is basically the same as my reaction to Super Mario World.

Do you mean in comparison to Super Mario Bros. 3?  I can see that.  I didn't buy Super Mario Bros. 3 when it was released (in fact, I've never beaten it), but I played the heck out of Super Mario World.  When I went back to play SMB3 when it came to VC, I couldn't believe how similar it was to SMW.  It felt like I was playing SMW all over again.

Yeah, for me it was just the other way around. SMB3 is my all time favorite game and you'd think something so similar would be great for me but I never really got into World despite playing through it multiple times. On the other hand Super Mario 64 is in my top 5 and Galaxy, something very similar, has joined it there.

vuduMay 31, 2009

Quote from: Lindy

I didn't buy Super Mario Bros. 3 when it was released (in fact, I've never beaten it)

Are you fucking kidding me?!?!  The director of Nintendo World Report hasn't beaten Super Mario Bros 3 or Mario Galaxy?  This calls for mutiny!!!

SMB3 was at a weird time for me.  I pretty much skipped it and went straight to Super Mario World.

And yeah, I gotta beat Mario Galaxy.  It's a hole in my resume for sure.

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