Earlier last month, Nintendo decided to cut off its wireless capabilities to their legacy console and handheld, the Nintendo Wii and DS respectively after nearly a decade of operation. This move, unfortunately, meant that various titles have lost some features from connecting online. However, there are some great memories to be had from the years of the Nintendo Wifi Connection service. This retrospective looks back at some of the highlights the service had to offer, from frantic online multiplayer to expansive downloadable content. As Nintendo fans move on to their next gen successors, they can be assured that the last generation of Nintendo titles has been a great one indeed.
Mario Kart Wii
While its predecessor, Mario Kart DS, was the first of the series to include online play, Mario Kart Wii made for an enjoyable online experience. Online play options were great, and the voting system to select courses was smooth and efficient; disconnections were handled quietly but did not, for the most part, disadvantage other players. Having twelve strangers compete against each other created a frantic yet wild ride and players could either select from a regional or global pool of people. While standard race courses were selectable, the battle mode (a frustratingly fun staple of the series) was also included, leading to a fast-paced competition between two randomly selected teams. Additionally, the game included online time trials as well as online-only scenarios, such as unique boss battles that weren’t included in the regular game. This is a shining example of how Nintendo should treat its future online infrastructure.
Monster Hunter Tri
Riding on the popularity of the Monster Hunter series in Japan, Capcom decided to bring Monster Hunter Tri overseas; the results were tremendously positive. The RPG was a critical and commercial success, and was a great addition to the Wii’s somewhat lighter library concerning the genre. Nintendo wanted a full online experience, producing a new model of classic controller for ease of play as well as a short-lived microphone peripheral in order to communicate to others while playing. Unfortunately, the wireless connectivity was dropped in favor of moving servers to the Wii U and 3DS iterations of the game, but still has a decent single-player campaign, something that’s usually nonexistent in these types of titles.
Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars
Super Smash Brothers Brawl introduced the Wii to online fighting games; however, it was plagued with framerate lags and disconnections. An accomplishment coming to North America due to the numerous licensing limitations, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars was a simple yet immersive fighting game which relied on strict timing over complicated combos. The concept of popular Capcom characters fighting alongside anime greats from locally the locally obscure Tatsunoko studio was a strange one that worked out in the fans’ favor. The online matchmaking system was top-notch, as it had a great balance between public matches and proprietary friend codes; the performance issues were few, and it really paved the way for improved online performance for Nintendo consoles.
Animal Crossing: Wild World
Animal Crossing for the Nintendo Gamecube introduced an open world of possibilities regarding Game Boy Advance connectivity and multiple players per save file; however, while it had potential, the game was arguably limited in its social interaction features. The third game in the series and second released overseas, Animal Crossing: Wild World utilized the Nintendo WFC feature to allow players to hang out in a host’s city. This led to expanded cities and item/pattern sharing throughout games, among other additions. Even though it was plagued with the somewhat awkward friend code system, the wireless functionality created a new social dynamic for the franchise, and it’s been a best-selling series ever since this title.
The Professor Layton franchise has been known for quirky lateral puzzles, so how could a puzzle game use online capabilities? Simple, by providing more puzzles! With each of the DS titles, players were encouraged to log onto the Wifi connection area to “download” new puzzles weekly; in actuality, the data for the content was tucked away in the cartridge, and connecting to Wifi allowed the puzzles to become unlocked. While most puzzles were harder variants of those encountered in the main game, a few of them introduced new concepts as well as some real headscratchers. Ultimately, the idea of extra puzzles created a lengthier playtime, and was expanded into the 3DS games (which had daily puzzles instead of weekly ones).
Warioware: DIY was the answer for those who thought they could make weirder games than the original ones. With a myriad of creation tools, one could feasibly make whatever they wanted with the right amount of creativity and craziness. What was great about this game was the ability to download user-made games and transfer them to the cartridge; there were leaderboards and a hub to check out new games created periodically. Additionally, a Wii version of the game, Warioware: DIY Showcase allowed players to play their creations on a television as well as view collectables and other designs. The depth of eight second minigames was infinitely expanded thanks to these two titles.