Nintendo's recent updated reveal of its upcoming Wii U offered plenty of new information about new games, but there's always a catch or a gotcha with any new piece of hardware, so it's only natural that prospective Wii U owners were looking for the unexpected wrinkle last week. What is the projected battery life on the Wii U GamePad? Will we have to suffer through irritating Friend Codes again? Which colors of Wii U will be available at launch? How censored is too censored in the Miiverse? Over at Kotaku, Stephen Totilo gets to the bottom of things and asks Nintendo's Reggie Fils-Aime the difficult questions. Surprisingly, he actually gets back some informative answers. Here's a sample:
"There are friend codes, but it's not the existing friend code system," Fils-Aime said. "What do I mean by that? Here's what I mean: you will be able to identify people as friends and have a certain level of interaction vs. a different level of interaction for the more general population. The method by which you identify someone as a friend is a lot simpler than what's happening today with Friend Codes." (He declined to lay out the new Wii U friend code program just yet.)
The problem I believe people had with the Wii version, I told Fils-Aime, is that adults who owned the system felt like, hey, if I'm an adult, treat me like an adult and let me friend people I've met online without having to call a person and exchange a code or something like that. "Agreed," Fils-Aime said.
"You feel like those people will be happier?" I asked.
"Yes, they will be."
The existing Friend Code model can't be put to rest quickly enough, and of course I'm curious what Nintendo is planning to replace it. There must be a happy medium between protecting the children from wildly perverted sex predators lurking in the rose bushes outside the baby's window and allowing mature, responsible adults to befriend fellow players without the need to exchange a sprawling series of digits. Whatever Nintendo's compromise may be, my hope is that I'll have an opportunity to actually play online with the Wii U. I have small stack of Internet-capable Wii games, but never could find an opportunity to play with or against anyone I know on a regular basis. Outside of some token exchanges in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption and some glitchy attempts in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, meeting up with friends online for some Wii action just never came together. The Wii's positively lackluster online framework takes most of the blame for that; how I challenge anyone to a match if I don't know who's online at a given moment? Friend Codes need an overhaul, yes, but so does everything else about Nintendo's online experience.