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Nintendo Channel Impressions

The newly released Nintendo Channel for the Wii is in my opinion, one of the only Wii channels truly worth your time. It shows great potential, so I hope it will continue to exceed my expectations in the future.

The whole thing could be described as one giant shameless advertisement, since it consists of product information, videos, and demos. However, I found the whole thing to be rather interesting, so I’d use nicer words in my description.

When you first start it up, a “Digest” video is shown, highlighting recent game releases and videos that can be viewed on the channel. Clicking on the screen will instantly convert the it into fullscreen mode, but as a result the quality will be hurt a small bit. This is understandable, since every video is streaming from the internet, and the compression really doesn’t distract too much. The only thing that does distract you during videos on the Nintendo Channel is the frequent need for buffering, pausing your video for about 5-10 seconds before it starts playing again. Strangely though, I found that by pressing the B button on the Wiimote (this brings up a bar where you can select which part of the video you want to watch) during such instances, you’ll usually be able to stop the buffering and resume the video.

Nine pages of videos are shown on the main page of the channel, but you can easily find more by pressing the “Find Titles For You” button at the top. While you can’t view the entire catalog of Wii and DS games, there’s still hundreds of listed titles, each complete with basic information, a link to its official website, and sometimes a video or two. Included in this catalog are all the Wii Virtual Console games, which excited me because finding videos of those games is now much easier. Too bad some of these videos suck (Phantasy Star II, I’m looking at you). Sometimes it looks like whoever is playing in the video has never tried the game before, and as a result we have to sit through 40 seconds of the noob struggle with the controls. And after watching the above-mentioned Phantasy Star II, you’d never know it’s an RPG since all you see is the player shopping at a store. Exactly what was the viewer supposed to get out of that? Still, most of the videos do give you a fair idea of what the game’s like, and it sure beats blindly downloading the game and realizing how it plays after you’ve already paid for it.

Another interesting feature of the Nintendo Channel is the “Everyone’s Recommendations” section. You can fill out a short survey for Nintendo for any game you’ve played for more than an hour on your Wii. The questions are things like “Which gender was the person who most enjoyed this game in your household?” and “How old were they?”. In the search function of the Nintendo Channel you can search for games based on how people described them in that poll, but so far whenever I’ve tried to search for games that way, I haven’t been able to pull up any results. With time and more poll submissions I think that’ll be fixed, though.

The main attraction for many people (and reason enough to download the channel) is the DS Download Station. You can send demos of DS games to your DS through the Wii. If the demo selection keeps getting updated, this will definitely become one of my favorite parts of the channel. So far I’ve tried the demos for both Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword and Jam Sessions, which both played well and downloaded rather quickly. Now all we need are those Wii demos (and is downloadable content for retail games too much to ask?)…. but until then, I’m glad to see that Nintendo has finally started to embark on the right path in terms of bringing videos and demos to the user through the Wii.

By Josh60502

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