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Yahoo Takes Issue With WiiWare

Wii consoleYou'd better watch out, Nintendo.  The casuals may be getting restless.  The company is probably used to the deafening cries from hardcore gamers begging for more Wii internal storage space, but now this morning Yahoo has a scathing editorial on its front page advising that casual gamers not sample WiiWare because of the crowded storage space and tedious Wii Shop Channel interface.  The article even takes a page from the world of blogging by snagging several images of Nintendo characters appearing frustrated or weeping from the official art archive to illustrate the point.

Here's a hint: make it easy for us to give you money. The Wii Shop won't save credit card information, which probably makes it slightly more secure, but inputting all those numbers with a remote control is silly and tiresome. That's nothing next to the inconvenience of having to fill out the billing address every time, though, and the Wii makes you do that in minute, exhaustive detail. Hey, Nintendo: If my Wii gets stolen from my front room, it's a safe bet the culprits already know where I live.

OK, so you've juggled memory around to make space and filled out enough forms to give a mortgage broker nightmares. Surely things get better when you actually start downloading games, right? No, Nintendo has a treat in store for you there as well. Once you've purchased your chosen game, you'll be greeted with a cheery (and, for some reason, orange) Mario running repeatedly across the screen grabbing gold coins. What purpose this serves isn't immediately clear. Presumably it's some type of progress bar, but -- as far as we're aware -- there's no apparent relationship between fat Italian plumbers, orange or not, and download progress. Maybe Mario's interminable transit symbolizes Nintendo gobbling up the revenue from your purchase. Who knows.

Nintendo certainly seems to think that it knows what it's doing, and while some of the shopping experience needs a little refinement, I don't believe the problems are as massive as this article paints them to be.  I suppose the bigger issue here is that it is Yahoo emphasizing these points.  Kombo and GameSpot and IGN can complain nonstop about these issues and it just sounds like more gamer kvetching, but the mainstream press latching onto the issue could be a sign of trouble brewing.

Something else about this article that caught my attention was the author's unfamiliarity with the supposedly mysterious orange Mario.  My generation certainly knows the origin of that particular Mario sprite and it's place in Super Mario Bros.  Do today's newer generation of gamers know their history?  Do they know why Mario looks so gloriously 8-bit in the Wii Shop Channel interface?  Do they just not get the reference?  Moreover, does the older casual audience recognize the character?  Does it matter how Mario appears as long as the download completes successfully?   

Finally, as an aside, it amuses me that the headline "Yahoo Takes Issue With WiiWare" would make absolutely no sense whatsoever if it were printed, say, fifteen years ago.