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Nintendo Wii – One step forward, two steps back (pt 2)

by Brandon on November 29th, 2006

The letdown.  When did I first feel disappointment with the Wii?  The moment I tried to take it online.  Setting up my wireless connection was super easy – “good,” I thought, they’ve thought this thing through.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.

WiiConnect24 is a joke.  There, I’ve said it.  As soon as I connected to the service, it told me it needed to update my Wii.  Okay – they probably had some features that they wanted to test as much as possible before release, and they were probably just the online features so delivering the final bits through the service made sense enough.  I’ll just wait 10 seconds while it downloads and applies the update. 

Then I’ll wait some more.  And some more.  About ten minutes later the anemic little progress bar showed some signs of life and soon afterward the download completed.  Okay now I’ll select my location from a large list of countries.  Why didn’t it ask me this during its initial setup?  Whatever, I’ll scroll down and select the US so that I can get to some online goodness.  But wait, there’s an update available that needs to be downloaded.  Again.  Are they serious?  Apparently they are, and another 10+ minutes of my first day with the Wii is spent watching a progress bar.  Little did I know, I would soon miss that little guy.

When I finally got online with the Wii I decided to check out their “Virtual Console” system and online store.  So off to the Shop Channel I go.  After entering my credit card information (including overcoming a REALLY ugly UI bug that resulted in entering the expiration date via guesswork), I purchased some Nintendo Points.  I decided the first game I would download would be Mario 64 – an old favorite of mine (even though I also own it on the DS).  So I stuck in an SD card and decided I’d download it there.  But oh no, the Wii had other plans.  It even told me, “Hey, I know you’d probably like to download this onto that there SD card.  That’s what I would want to do too.  Unfortunately, my designer was waaaaay too lazy to allow that.  So you’ll have to download it into main memory, and then go all the way out to the Wii menu, go into the obscure memory management page under system settings, and move it to the SD card later on.  It should only take about 10 extra minutes, have fun!  ”

Whatever, let’s just start the download so I can get back to looking at the rest of their catalog.  Surprise!  No background downloads on the Wii.  I mean, it’s not like some other console made this mistake and had to fix it in the last year after an outcry from the users.  Perhaps Nintendo just likes learning things the hard way?

Anyway this is where I quickly started to miss my old friend the lame grey progress bar.  Instead of him, I got an 8-bit Mario running across my screen picking up coins at random intervals, making annoying and non-rhythmic but repetitive sounds that I am certain qualify as a form of torture.  And he kept going, and going.  If it weren’t for the “mute” button on my remote, I’m certain I would have gone insane and started flipping over cars or something.

Once it’s done I find that Mario 64 is now taking up a slot on the Wii’s “home screen.”  Not in a “Virtual Console” menu, or even a “Virtual N64 games” menu.  No, it’s got a spot all to itself.  Yeah, that’ll scale.  Oh, and get this – when I go back to buy more Nintendo Points, I have to re-enter my credit card and billing information!!!  No option to save it.  No account to bind to.  What could possibly compel a company to make it unnecessarily hard to give them my money is beyond my comprehension.

So the Shop Channel and Virtual Console need some work. 

Continue to Part 3 to see what else they screwed up.

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