Earlier this month Nintendo announced that the online service that drives its Nintendo DS and Wii software will be discontinued in May 2014. Any function in a DS or Wii game that relies on Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection connectivity will go dark, forever left to ping a server that will not respond. No more online racing in Mario Kart DS, no more global Super Smash Bros. Brawl matches, and no more DQVC shopping service in Dragon Quest IX. Those parts of these games and many others will be forever lost in just several weeks. Over at USgamer, Jeremy Parish wonders how future generations will look back on these impendingly incomplete games when parts of them are dead. Here he is talking about the impact of the shutdown on Dragon Quest IX:
I guess it's no big deal in the grand scheme of things, but I find it disappointing on a personal level. It means that second copy of the game I picked up for a future playthrough will largely be wasted. It's bad enough that I'll never be able to have a truly satisfying replay of DQIX since Street Passing comprised so much of the experience; bringing other players' avatars into my Quester's Rest and gathering the treasure maps they brought along kept me entertained at several consecutive PAXes. I can't imagine ever having another opportunity to be in the same space as several hundred other people actively transmitting DQIX Street Passes (remember, in the olden days before 3DS, that wasn't a passive system-level feature), so I'll inevitably miss out on an interesting social element that added high-level perks to the game. And now, with the death of WFC, I'll be unable to access another advanced feature of DQIX.
This isn't the first time that the online part of a game has gone dark, of course; PC gamers have dealt with this issue for years, while console gamers have only just started to experience it with games such as the annual Electronic Arts sports titles, Metal Gear Online, and Halo 2. The Nintendo shutdown looks to be the most high profile termination yet though with dozens of worthwhile games being crippled at once. Granted, it's been years since I played a classic DS or Wii game online and I doubt that there's still enough interest in those games to justify continuing to run the server infrastructure needed to play, but it still hurts to be know that these modes are going away. Nintendo also wants to nudge players towards their current products for sale. There's no new money to be made from Mario Kart DS after all this time, so why not encourage customers to pick up the upcoming Mario Kart 8 to fill the void? These aren't the first online modes to die and they certainly won't be the last. Take your favorites for one last spin while you still can.