A long ways from head-2-head "Blades of Steel"
Design note: Split DS and Wii content down page vertically
Nintendo's handheld device was coined "DS" for "Dual Screen" shortly before its release in November of 2004. However, it would be another year before the system launched its own Wi-Fi network, which has played upon the following popular titles and franchises:
**Caption: Nintendo's DS has offered Wi-Fi since shortly after its 2004 launch
- Mario Kart DS
- Tony Hawk's American Sk8land
- Animal Crossing: Wild World
- Metroid Prime: Hunters
Although users can link to Nintendo's wireless network through a supplementary Wi-Fi USB connector and personal 802.11b or 802.11g compatible routers, the primary connection is made through popular hotspots. These are network areas designated by Nintendo itself, including popular locations like McDonald's (there's your reason to indulge in a Big Mac).
There's no charge for connecting to the 6,000+ hotspots in the U.S, or for playing the first-party titles (like Mario Kart DS ) developed by Nintendo. However, third-party (independent) game makers are entirely within their rights to develop games that charge a supplementary fee to gamers for using the wireless network.
Although no challenger to the massive expanse that is Microsoft's Xbox Live [http://www.gizmocafe.com/blogs/gizmo_cafe_blog/archive/2006/11/07/98769.aspx], Nintendo brags that over one million unique visitors have logged onto the DS Wi-Fi network. After the release of the much-anticipated Metroid Prime: Hunters , allegedly 2 out of every 3 game owners played the title online.
**Caption: You'll need to find a Nintendo Wi-Fi hotspot to use DS multiplay
Our Take: Although Nintendo is concentrating its efforts on hotspots that filter gamers into less than optimal environments (giving them reason to visit certain fast food joints), it's a great wireless network with some quality support that should only grow with the DS itself.
Nintendo has been making consoles for a very long time. Although Atari and Coleco opened the doors to home systems back in the '80s, it wasn't until the 1985 release of the Nintendo Entertainment System, or NES, that gaming outside of the arcade became a mainstream activity. The Wii [http://www.gizmocafe.com/video-games/wii-review.aspx]is Nintendo's latest attempt to regain ownership of the market it once held in its back pocket, and strong support for a built-in Wi-Fi network should help that.
**Caption: Connecting to the Wii network, WiiConnect 24, is easy via Wi-Fi
The Wii marks Nintendo's first console foray into the online gaming community, and it will enter the battle with the following weapons (or games, if you please):
- Mario Party 8
- Mario Strikers Charged
- Pokemon Battle Revolution
- Super Smash Bros Brawl
- Forever Blue
- Battalion Wars 2
- Animal Crossing Wii
Nintendo wants everyone to know that it's following three important principles in creating a Wi-Fi network for the Wii:
That makes it a lot like the DS [http://www.gizmocafe.com/video-games/nintendo-ds.aspx], which used hotspots at various popular locations to act as access points for the network.
In all likelihood, Nintendo's demand to keep the service free will depend on the amount of third-party support. Since those developers other than Nintendo will be able to decide whether or not to charge for Wi-Fi connectivity, it could mean the difference between "free" and "free" with a *. In addition, it's simplicity will also depend on its no-charge status. If Nintendo remains committed to charging nothing for its Wi-Fi network, then it's unlikely any complicated (or, perhaps exciting) features will ever be released.
**Caption: Although the Wi-Fi is free, it'll cost you to download hits from yesteryear
Since the Wii is only in its infancy, it's hard to gauge just how popular its Wi-Fi network will be. One little bit of information we should pass along is the "Virtual Console", which offers Wii owners the ability to download the best games from yesterday. So, it might not be so long a ways from head-2-head Blades of Steel after all.
Our Take: Considering the no-charge nature of Nintendo's Wi-Fi and the low cost of the console itself, Wii online gaming might be a very popular (if simplified) activity.