Tuesday, January 24, 2006

What Nintendo Can Do to Improve DS Wi-Fi Play

After years of saying things along the lines of “Gamers don’t want to play their games online” and “There is no real demand for an online-enabled Mario Kart”, Nintendo has finally set up their own free online wi-fi service for their innovative handheld, the Nintendo DS (with Mario Kart being playable online, no less!). Although the service is very user friendly and runs quite smoothly, it still has a ways to go before being called the handheld equivalent of Xbox Live. Here are the things that Nintendo can do to improve the experience for gamers.

Add a lobby feature or a chat system. It’s hard to believe that Nintendo Wi-Fi for the DS is missing one of any online server’s key features – an option to interact or chat with the person you’re playing with, or to set up games and gab in a lobby. Maybe even voice chat would work ala Xbox Live. Hey, Nintendo, there’s a built in microphone on the DS – Use it!

Match up and play with people equal to your skill level. Instead of a feature that matches you up with players of your same or similar skill level based on your win/loss ratio, in Mario Kart DS you are randomly paired with four people. Who you are paired up with is not based on stats, they’re just randomly chosen to play with you. This is not a very good idea, as newer players are constantly getting pwned by players of superior skill level. This is one feature that Nintendo should have interpreted into the game from the beginning.

Hold Online Tournaments Simply playing and racing random shmucks from across the globe gets repetitive and isn’t very satisfying after an extended play session. Nintendo should really consider interpreting features that lets players play in online competitions. Hey, I’d love racing for an online-exclusive cup in Mario Kart DS, wouldn’t you?

Oh, and note to Capcom (if anyone from the company is reading this): MAKE A DS VERSION OF POWER STONE! Two screens and relentless action would make for some unique and exciting online battles. The game was multiplayer bliss on the Dreamcast – it should be no different playing online on the DS.

These things would definitely improve the online experience for all gamers who regularly play Wi-Fi on their DS. Lets hope Nintendo listens up and interprets some (or all) of these features into their fledging online service.


At 7:40 PM, Blogger Ender said...

I couldn't agree more. I LOVE Mario Kart DS, and playing online is a lot of fun. However, as you pointed out, it is a very stripped-down online experience. I really want an option to pick who I play with (beyond the friend code thing), and to communicate with my opponents. The microphone would be semi-ideal.

I also agree with the Power Stone thing. There are SO many games that I want to see on the DS. I am particularly interested in Resident Evil for the DS. Have you seen that yet? I hope the control scheme is bearable.....

On a side note, I have my Mario Kart DS friend code in my CAG signature; enter it in your copy of Mario Kart (assuming you have a copy), and hopefully we can set up a time to play some!

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