10 things Nintendo needs to fix before taking on Apple (photos)
Nintendo has placed Apple--not Sony or Microsoft--in its sights as its main nemesis. That's great, but Apple does a lot of things better than Nintendo.
1. Allow downloaded games to be transferred to new devices.
It's a huge sticking point for us, because we've seen it firsthand: if you buy a new DSi XL or Black Wii, there's absolutely no way to transfer your downloaded game content from one system to another short of buying the content all over again. Apparently there is a way to send both systems directly to Nintendo for file transfer in the event of a system repair, but this remains unacceptable.
Apple's criticized "closed" App Store system, with its support of multiple devices and easy method of re-downloading deleted software, seems like inspired genius by comparison.
The Wii and DS do support SD card storage for saved games and DLC (unlike the iPhone and iPad), but the internal capacity on Nintendo systems is primitive compared with the iPhone and iPad. The future of gaming is directly-downloaded software, and that takes up space. Instead of constantly clearing out the Wii and DSi's memory, how about bumping the capacity to at least 16GB?
It's baffling: so many great Game Boy and Game Boy Advance games, and Nintendo still hasn't found a way to release this library digitally for download like it has on the Wii's Virtual Console. Digging into that huge back catalog would be the fastest way to build up a response to Apple's intimidating App Store lineup.
While the iPhone OS seems to have pioneered the concept of apps, the truth is that the Wii has had a similar-looking grid of downloadable "channels" that predates the iPhone. Unfortunately, other than a mediocre Web browser and some other oddities, Nintendo's never explored using channels like Apple uses apps.
Facebook, Pandora, Google, and dozens more could thrive on Nintendo's Wii and DSi, turning them into multi-app machines--yet Nintendo still hasn't pulled the trigger. Even Netflix, while being a great add for the Wii, is only available as a disc. Despite being available for years, the Wii's current channels don't look much different than they do in the picture to the left.
Nintendo has a TV box with the Wii and a handheld with the DS, and the two still don't play nicely together. Other than occasional games such as Pokemon and WarioWare D.I.Y., most Nintendo titles live on one device or the other. Using the DS as a multiscreen Wii peripheral or the Wii as a method of storing DS games (like the PS3 does with the PSP) would be a start.
While the Wii and DS technically have Wi-Fi and are "online consoles," they're both incredibly annoying to use. Finding and sharing Friend Codes remains one of the most arcane processes in gaming, and neither system makes it easy to use the Internet for anything more than basic web browsing. Even browsing on the Wii Shop and DSiWare Shop seems to take far more time than it should. iPhone OS 4.0 is introducing centralized game invites, achievements, and functionality that should elevate iPhone online gaming to 360 and PS3 levels. Nintendo, you have the internet: use it.
A few notable and striking independent games do exist for download on both the Wii and DSi, but they're nowhere near where Apple is. We like the existence of games like Cave Story (pictured), World of Goo, the Bit.Trip series, and Nintendo's own Art Style titles, but these still feel few and far between compared with Apple's wide-open sea of independent games on the App Store.
While they may not all be good, there are thousands of free games on the App Store. It also generally holds true that iPhone prices for the same title tend to be lower than competitors, although iPad games do run higher. One huge advantage Apple's App Store has is its ability to dynamically adjust pricing, leading to discounts that lead to sales boosts later on.
Nintendo's always been reticent to make its game systems into universal gadgets, but Apple's Swiss Army Knife of an iPhone has changed the equation. Most children want iPod Touches because they can do many things. The DSi added dual cameras and AAC music playback, but it's still nowhere near as versatile as an iPod Touch (which costs nearly the same for its 8GB version).
Other than Mii creation, which is local, the Wii and DS have no way to create a Nintendo online account that could be used to add Wii Points, show game-playing histories, and link up with friends. We still believe Nintendo could create a safe way of enabling such an online system that wouldn't have to resort to the uncomfortable Friend Code process, and could also allow Nintendo to keep track of game purchases (thus allowing the re-downloading of purchased content to a new console, instead of the current absurd situation).