[8 May 2008]
Well, here we are. This is like lying in bed on the day before my birthday, or Father’s Day, or Christmas. I have a vague idea of what could possibly be in that shiny, enticing giftwrap when I get up, I know what I’m wishing for, I know what I asked for, but I don’t know exactly what I’ll be opening when morning finally arrives.
Yes, Monday brings with it the launch of WiiWare, or Wii Live Arcade, or whatever you want to call it. Is it an innovative idea? Well, no, Microsoft and Sony have been offering original downloadable content for quite some time now, some of which defines the consoles it resides on (Everyday Shooter, flOw, Geometry Wars) as much as the big ticket items that get all of the publicity and the numbers. That it took this long for Nintendo to get on board is both a testament to the power of the library of old games Nintendo had at its disposal via the Virtual Console and yet another aspect of the online experience that Nintendo is shamelessly behind on.
This is not the time to dwell on the Wii’s shortcomings, however; the stable of games that WiiWare has lined up looks immediately appealing and very, very creative. Remember two years ago, when we were first hearing about the Wii and its nutty little control interface? Remember the promise that it held, as we dreamed of virtual swordfights and endless tennis volleys that actually increased our heart rate? Occasionally, that promise is fulfilled, but I don’t think anyone was suspecting the onslaught of minigames and PS2-with-waggle conversions that have ultimately come to define the system for those who would detract from it. WiiWare, on the other hand, is like a new beginning. Having independent developers create software for the Wii is like handing the reins to people like us, people who once saw the Wii as a system of infinite possibilities, now offered the chance to realize some of those possibilities.
Much like the Virtual Console, however, we really have no idea which of those possibilities we are going to get to experience come Monday afternoon. With that in mind, after the jump are five WiiWare games that would look great inside Monday’s shiny wrapping paper…
One of the beautiful things about the downloadable content on the current generation of consoles is the return of the 2D platformer, and LostWinds looks like a fantastic one. Not only do you have control of your avatar in LostWinds, you have control of the wind as well via the Wiimote, which can carry the little dude up and over particularly large cliffs, or impact the environment in a variety of ways. If the game uses this mechanic in the creative, surprising ways that can’t help but enter the mind when an idea like this presents itself (as opposed to using it as a crutch primarily devoted to getting across bigger-than-usual gaps), it could be utterly fantastic.
As a fan of games, of just about any games, I don’t know how Gyrostarr doesn’t look, just, awesome. It’s like a racing game with the style of Audiosurf and the speed of F-Zero, except with lots more shooting. These are games that are in the range of 40mb, for the sake of fitting comfortably on the Wii’s system memory. 40. How these developers made games like Gyrostarr and LostWinds look so stylish at that size is simply beyond comprehension.
Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People
Yes, I know, Strong Bad, Homestar Runner, and the rest of the gang kind of hit their peak in popularity a couple of years ago, and I might be cheating a bit here, because this particular game has been announced for June which makes its possible release on Monday a practical impossibility, but there are two other important factors at work here. One, the team behind Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People is Telltale Games, responsible for the episodic gaming renaissance that is the modern incarnation of Sam & Max. For two, the infomercial below is irresistable. Go ahead, try to resist:
Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People Trailer
World of Goo
Don’t like the fast action? World of Goo looks like just the ticket for the puzzlers, as you do the Lemmings thing with a bunch of little, animate blobs, building them together in all kinds of unique ways so that the rest of the little goo balls can get to the end of the level. I can’t wait to find out exactly how this dynamic is going to play, but from the previews that are out there, it looks just addictive and maddening enough to send me to the shrink for a couple of years.
World of Goo Trailer
We started with a platformer, and we’ll end with a platformer. This one’s more traditional in nature, but it’s all about the art style. This one’s not exactly a Wii exclusive, as it was originally developed using Microsoft’s XLNA development system, and a DS version will be coming out at some point as well. Still, when a game looks this unique in its style, you can’t help but be intrigued by the way that it may play. Based around the art of Luc Benard, it has this dark sort of hand-drawn beauty that three dimensions simply can’t do.
Eternity’s Child Trailer
I know there are a pile that I missed, like Square Enix’s Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as King, a conversion of the Flash hit Defend Your Castle, Dr. Mario Online Rx, and, hell, someone must be excited for the oddly-umlauted Protöthea, but these are the five that look to me like they are the ones that could define this new venture that the Wii is embarking on. How about you? What are you hoping for on Monday? Think the Nintendo Channel gave away the launch titles, or was the list of games they outlined a red herring? Leave a comment, enjoy your weekend, and please—try and get some sleep.
Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/post/wiiware-cometh/