New kid on the block: WiiWare, Nintendo’s answer to XBL and PSN

Thumb - Image 1In a few days, Nintendo will be launching WiiWare games in the US and in Europe. Does the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 have anything to worry about now that there’s one more player that delivers downloadable casual games? Read the full article to find out more about WiiWare and some of the games you can look forward to downloading from the service.

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It’s no secret that the Wii has been responsible for a huge rise in the casual gaming market since its release. As successful as it is though, It wouldn’t be fair to say that the Wii has a monopoly on the casual gaming market among the seventh-gen consoles. After all, the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 have their own share.

On the other hand, no one can doubt that a fair portion of the Wii gaming community is composed of casual gamers. And with the number of Wii consoles out there, it would be a fair assessment to say that its casual gaming community is greater than the Xbox 360’s or the PlayStation 3’s.

Even though Nintendo has a kung-fu death grip on the casual gaming market, the 360 and the PS3 both offer something the Wii hasn’t thus far: downloadable casual games (via Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network).

XBL and PSN deliver a regular stream of casual games straight to your box without you having to get off the couch. Since the Wii didn’t have a similar service, this meant its competitors owned a portion of the gaming population that the Wii couldn’t touch. At least, thats the way it will be until a few days from now, when WiiWare launches.

Console skirmish: The battle for downloadable casual games

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WiiWare is Nintendo’s answer to XBL and PSN, it delivers games straight to the box. Its launch signals the start of a new battle in the console war, since it means that the console will soon be actively competing against XBL and PSN in the online gaming arena.

However, some people may see the Wii as something in a league of its own. Since it targets a different group of gamers, Wii hardware and game sales haven’t historically been seen to steal from the 360 and the PS3’s. Perhaps the same will be true for WiiWare – perhaps its total number of downloads per month won’t even compare to the figures generated by the XBL and PSN. Who knows?

At any rate though, the WiiWare service will mean more reasons to buy the Wii and help convince more people to purchase the console.

Here’s another thing: perhaps the bigger worry for Sony and Microsoft isn’t whether gamers will flock to the Wii or not, but whether developers will. A few months ago, Develop Magazine wrote an article on how Nintendo is pulling in developers to make games for WiiWare by pointing out how expensive it is to make games for the PS3 and the 360.

For developing studios and groups that are just starting out, the cost of making games would certainly be an important factor in considering which platform to commit to. If the Wii is successful in drawing in developers, it would certainly be a hot spot for fresh and original games, which is of course to the Wii’s advantage.

Now. What does the WiiWare have in its arsenal to throw back at XBL and PSN? With that question posed, it’s now time to check out the games! With a monumental amount of them being released when WiiWare goes live, you’d have to wonder how you’re ever going to choose which ones are worth the buck.

Via the Wii Channel, Nintendo will provide descriptions of each game so you’ll know what you’re downloading of course, but here are some games we have our eyes on.

Animales de la Muerte

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It’s not Grand Theft Auto, but it looks like it’s going to be just as bloody (if not bloodier). Animales de la Muerte follows Marco and Mario Mendoza, who have to dispatch zombie animals from their uncle’s zoo. At their disposal are a whole barrel of weapons – they can be anything from machine guns, to pink chainsaws with heart stickers. It’s a very cute game… and at the same time mildly disturbing.

Animales de la Muerte isn’t all about the gore though. Aside from having to rid the zoo of infected animals that have turned into zombies, you’ll also have to save the ones that haven’t been infected. Bah. Who are we kidding? It’s all about the blood and gore great artwork and animation too. The game is expected to be released in September.

Toki Tori

You remember Toki Tori? He’s this cute little egg-shaped chick who once starred in his own game on the Game Boy Color. Well he’s back, folks, and he’s cuter than ever. Like Toki Tori on the Game Boy Color, it’s your job to help the round-eyed chick rescue his siblings that are still trapped in their eggs.

It’s a puzzle game at heart, but it has platform elements as well. In the game, you’ll be given a wide variety of items to rescue your siblings – items and weapons that no chicken in his right mind would use. But this is a video game, so what the hell. You’ll even be using a gun that’s like the one in Portal.

Dr. Mario

Dr. Mario Virus Buster for the Nintendo Wii's WiiWare, info and details - Image 1 If an Italian plumber prescribes you pills, you’d likely think twice, but this is Mario we’re talking about. Mario is donning his stethoscope once again to play doctor in Dr. Mario Virus Buster for WiiWare.

A bunch of Wii-specific features promises to make this Dr. Mario game as fun as its predecessors. One of the best features is the option to use your own Mii instead of Mario when you play the game.

You can follow this link for more information, and to watch a detailed video tutorial for the game.


LostWinds is one of the most gorgeous looking games we have seen for the Wii. The game follows the story of Toku, a young boy who happens on a Spirit Stone containing the wind spirit Enril. With the help of Enril, Toku will use the power of wind to brave the dangers of the world of Mistralis and to defeat the curse placed on it by the evil Balasar.

Toku will use the wind to dispose of his enemies as well as to affect the world around him. He’ll be able to use Enril’s power to do everything from flying, to blowing flames into enemies, to blowing water on soil to grow seeds. He can even use the wind to smash enemies into the ground using a vortex.

The visually pleasing art of the game looks like that of a storybook given life, and from what we’ve seen of gameplay videos, it’s going to be a pretty fun adventure as well. You can check out some of them by following this link.

Final Fantasy: My Life as a King

Last, but certainly not least, is Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King. This game costs 1500 Wii Points, the most expensive WiiWare title we know to date. But hey, it’s Square Enixso, so what’s there to complain about?

My Life as a King deviates a lot from the usual formula of Final Fantasy games. For one thing, this game isn’t an RPG; it’s a world-builder. Which means no dungeon-crawling, no grinding, no impossible 12-chest challenges. This game takes place after the timeline in Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles for the GameCube.

You start out with an empty town with just a castle and a crystal. You’ll have to start from scratch. By using the power of the crystal you’ll be able to create buildings, and in effect, draw in people to live in your city. Since your citizens also have their daily needs, you’ll also need to build everything from weapon shops to bakeries.

To power up your crystal, you’ll need to recruit soldiers to find them for you. That’s right, you’ll no longer have a party that just goes on random quests. Remember that in this game, you are the king now: You don’t fight the horribly difficult bosses. You delegate. Find out more about My Life as a King by following this link.

WiiWare games will be available from anywhere between 500 to 1500 Wii Points. The service will launch in the US on May 12, and in Europe on May 20 with games being made available on a staggered release schedule: two to three new games will be offered every week after launch.

From the looks of it, WiiWare’s going to launch on a really good note. How good though? And how will it compare to the standards of downloadable casual games as set by Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network? The lineup of games does show a lot of promise, and from here on out things could only get better and better for WiiWare.

As things stand in the online DLC arena, everyone’s got the ball on their court. It’s still too early to see who wins the battle – but once this new kid on the block drops in on everyone, we expect it to be a tight battle between the three console giants. Watch out for more WiiWare updates here on QJ.NET!

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