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Nintendo Needs DLC

June 19, 2009

One thing I truly love about this generation of games is downloadable content. Creating DLC for your game means that you not only care about it but you care that the fans keep playing it. However, DLC on the Wii is nonexistant. There are a few reasons behind this, as I see it. One is that the Wii lacks a harddrive and currently any USB external harddrive capability. DLC can end up being pretty hefty in terms of gigs, and the Wii just doesn’t have any gigs to spare. What makes this an even bigger issue is that the Wii Shop Channel more than has the capability to supply extra content for games like Mario Kart Wii and Super Smash Brothers Brawl, but effectively can’t because of the lack of storage space.

Super Smash Brothers has the advantage of having so much content stuffed in that it doesn’t really need DLC. At most they could introduce new characters and some official levels instead of the ones made in the limited-capability level editor. Considering how many levels and characters there are, though, the lack of DLC can be excused. I can’t honestly say the same for Mario Kart Wii though, which is interesting because it too has a plethora of characters and levels. The difference is that while Brawl is a game of skill, Kart is entirely a game based on luck. Each item box is a die roll, and most of the items are useless in the context of the levels. For example, the Golden Mushroom, which allows you to boost infinitely within a short span of time, will flat out get you killed in levels with no straight-aways and no walls. Meanwhile, a blue shell will almost always cause the first place player to fall to sixth or seventh. The game is not about how skilled you are at driving your kart, it’s about getting the best items, and each item you get is completely random.

The items in Brawl, however, do not determine the difference between winning and losing. Even if you get a home-run bat, a skilled player can still dodge you and land a death-blow. When a homing item is coming after you in Mario Kart, you have to let it hit. Maybe if that jump button let you do more than a pathetic, useless hop – i.e. let you jump over incoming items – there would be some skill involved. Or maybe some more defensive items for players in first place. Like an actual shield that goes up for only 2 or 3 seconds but allows you to survive shells and explosions.

My biggest issue with Mario Kart is that too many items in the game are useless or detrimental. For example, the POW block can be completely negated, and the thunder cloud, unless you can pass it on, punishes you for having it. Why are you punishing the player for having an item you randomly gave them, and why even have this item when there is a lightning bolt that hurts ever player except the one who got it? The thunder cloud is nothing but a badly designed variant of the lightning bolt.

I have a few other complaints about items too, like that the timing and distance on the Babomb makes it a bad idea to throw it forward, or how boosts don’t tighten your steering, making them suicidal in levels like Grumble Volcano. However, this post is about DLC. If Nintendo did decide to release some downloadable content with Mario Kart Wii, they could first of all fix the problems I’ve mentioned here and then some. Then, on top of that, they could give us new and more rehashed tracks. Who here wouldn’t love to see a Rainbow Road Track Pack, with all past Rainbow Roads included? Or what about packs based on specific games? So one pack would be the Double Dash Circuit and include 5 levels from Double Dash, one would be the 64 Circuit and include 5 levels from Mario Kart 64, etc. Mario Kart has a ton of history and as much as Mario Kart Wii is a conglomeration of old Mario Kart and new, it barely scratches the surface.

As great a console as the Wii is, it is a shame Nintendo decided to put it in such a different category from the PS3 and 360. It has USB ports, but they are currently useless. It has online connectivity, but only via Wi-Fi. It’s more than Gamecube 2.0, but I feel like there are too many issues holding it back. The biggest one being that no game on the Wii has any DLC, which means that any game that is released on the Wii is effectively abandoned to the masses. No fixes, no updates, no new content. That is a last generation mentality. These days games live and grow well beyond their release date. Nintendo games? Not so much.


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