Nintendo’s attitude seemed to change with the release of the Nintendo DS, their dual screen portable with WiFi connectivity. Launched in the US in 2004, it took Nintendo a year to launch their own online gaming network for the console. The network, which is free for anyone with a Wifi connection, has a handful of games that support online multiplayer, from the acclaimed Mario Kart DS to the first person shooter Metroid Prime Hunters to the most recently released Starfox Command, and more Nintendo DS online games are in the works.
In 2005, back when the console was being called Revolution, Iwata showed up at E3 with the first look at the console with the promise of built-in WiFi connectivity, something that Sony will have for the PS3 but that Microsoft decided not to add to the Xbox 360 (although a WiFi adapter is available). Iwata promised not just online play but something that they called the Virtual Console, which would allow older games created for Nintendo’s previous consoles up to the Nintendo 64 to be downloaded and played on the Revolution. It seemed like Nintendo was beginning to bring in features that both the other consoles along with the PC had all along.
However, things took a different turn at the Tokyo Game Show in September 2005 when Iwata introduced the Revolution’s controller. Looking much like a TV remote, the controller added motion sensing to games and had the promise of adding new gameplay ideas for developers. The controller became the talk of the video game world and at last May’s E3 Nintendo’s booth was the in-place to be with massive lines of people wanting to try out the games with the console’s controller.
However, Nintendo still said little about online play for the now newly renamed Wii console. Iwata talked at E3 about their plans to have the console download new content, such as Virtual Console games, while people slept at night but there was still little to no info about online multiplayer. Indeed, games that people would assume to include online multiplayer, such as the Wii exclusive first person shooter Red Steel from UbiSoft and Nintendo’s own first person action game Metroid Prime 3 Corruption, were revealed to not have any multiplayer features.
Nintendo for the most part stayed silent about their plans for the Wii during the summer following E3 but earlier this month the company finally announced their launch date and price for the console in the US ($249 on Nov. 19). Unfortunately, their online multiplayer plans still remained a mystery after the announcement at least for the US market. Oddly enough, Nintendo revealed that the Wii would have some decidedly non-game online features, including a version of the Opera web browser and “News” and “Weather” channels that would be updated via Nintendo’s WiFi network. Online messaging would also be included, even though cell phones. But the big question of online multiplayer remained a mystery. At Nintendo’s Japanese press event held a few hours before the US event it was revealed that the Wii would have some online multiplayer games, including Battalion Wars 2, Mario Strikers Charged
, and Pokemon Battle Revolution
, but there’s no word on when those games will appear in the US.