Topic: One Year Later: The WiiWare Launch Titles

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Hello, all. I am trying this out and might turn it into a blog of sorts if you would rather I don't post a weekly topic. I think it would be interesting to recap WiiWare titles a year after they have been released and see what has come from the releases and what is to come as a result. Furthermore, it could provide more discussion for those who play the game after a long while and give an opportunity to rethink opinions toward each title. Just a Warning: as 6 titles came out, this is going to be long.

Regardless, here's my first effort at the concept.

One Year Later: The WiiWare Launch Titles

1) Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King (Square-Enix, 1500+pts)
The WiiWare launch began with a big title from a big company. Square-Enix brought us a unique take on adventure by putting us on the other side of the king-knight relationship. Players assume the role of a young king who must bring forth life back to a kingdom destroyed by the Miasma (for reference, see the GameCube's Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles). In doing so, the young king obtains help from his two servants, but even they might not be enough to save the kingdom. The townspeople may help the kingdom by becoming adventurers and venture into unseen locations, and despite some RPG lovers' desires, these locations remain only seen through text logs of the heroes' adventures. Overall, the game is a large Micromanagement title with RPG elements tossed around in the FF:CC world.
Reception: The game received positive reviews from NintendoLife (9/10) and IGN gave it a decent score, as well (7.5). Other sites did not take it as well (such as Gamespot), but the game has garnered a general praise from fans, it seems. The biggest flaw that comes out quite quickly is the price. The game is the first of TWO WiiWare games thus far to cost 1500 points, and on top of that, the game has so much DLC that the full product price is around 4000 points! That's a lot of money at the start of WiiWare.
Outlook: The game sold very well, being the hardcore launch title to outlast all others in the Top 20, and even now it is resurfacing thanks to other Final Fantasy-related WiiWare releases. The game was so accepted that another game of similar style is coming out soon: Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a Dark Lord. Final Fantasy IV: The After Years is also coming to WiiWare, and Crystal Defenders R1 (already released) and R2 (coming soon) also came forth onto the WiiWare service. Seems that Square-Enix likes it some WiiWare.

2) LostWinds (Frontier Developments, 1000pts)
If there is one way to describe LostWinds, it is "Innovative Example of Good WiiWare Titles*" When the title was first announced months before the launch of WiiWare, fans became quite intrigued at what else could come from WiiWare, and most still are waiting for something as innovative. Players control two characters: Enril, a Wind Spirit, and Toku, a young boy that is now destined to save the world of Mistralis. An malignant spirit Balasar, long encased by the other spirits of the world, has burst free from his prison, and his evil remnants are slowly building anew. As Toku (played with the nunchuk) and Enril (controlled with the Wii Remote), the player must find a way to start bringing the spirits together and save the world before it is too late. Players go from puzzle to puzzle, using wind to carry Toku and other objects around the land in order to traverse further into caverns and into waterfalls. A unique experience, for sure!
Reception: This title was lauded as the best launch title for WiiWare, though it is not without flaws. The game's unique wind mechanics and atmosphere drew it great praise from both NL and IGN (9 and 8.2), but the extremely short length and at times repetitive cavern setting caused it to be knocked down a few pegs. In fact, the title feels almost like the first world to a longer title rather than a single adventure. To make matters worse, the extra statues hold no reward for collectors, only to keep people playing the game longer.
Outlook: Not days after the first title was announced, a sequel, LostWinds 2, was announced to be in development. A year later, and no information, not even a screenshot, has arrived. I personally believe that the game will be developed into a trilogy of sorts (the first had wind and earth, and there are four more spirits, Balasar included). Hopefully the sequel is more fleshed out, too.

3) Defend Your Castle (XGen Studios, 500pts)
While the title had been known for some time to be on the way, it still surprised some as to its sudden release. The game DYC is based off a webgame of the same name but with a more stylized and less violent design. The Player controls a hand of sorts and must protect the castle being attacked by an army of stick figures with buttons for heads, whether dropping the enemies from far distances or by spray painting them. Up to three more players can join in on-the-fly, and when that happens, the player who achieves the most points becomes "king" and chooses upgrades as he or she sees fit. There is no ending, persay; the game continues to become more complicated until the game becomes unplayable. There is also an easter egg worthy of Super Mario Bros. 3, but I'm not sure how to get it at the moment.
Reception: The title, being the cheapest launch title, has become the highest ranked of the titles at launch, and looking at how its sales fluctuate, it may be on the Top 20 for some time longer. NL saw that it was a little too shallow (7/10) whereas IGN praised the lower pricepoint and pick-up-and-play style gameplay (7.9). The game is what you see, so for five dollars, you get a fleshed out webgame on your Wii.
Outlook: Weirdly enough, despite the massive sales this game has received and continued to receive, XGen Studios has yet to publish another WiiWare title, not even an announcement. There is a forum on its website dedicated to the game, and I do believe more may come of it, but as for now, it is all quiet.

4) Pop (Nnooo, 700pts)
Pop is what many can consider the Indie game for the WiiWare launch: it was the first title for Nnooo, and the team seems to be rather small. What some might see at first-glance is a simple point-and-shoot arcade title, and while that is the basic premise of the game, there is much more behind it. Players aim reticules at bubbles as they move from one end of the screen to the other, and in each wave of sorts, the bubbles are divided into different styles or colors. Popping the same style or color gains combos, and with the shake of a Remote, a selected bubble grows and can pop many more bubbles of the same traits. There are also special effects, such as a darkness effect, restricting the sight of the screen to a "bubble" around the reticule. The game, like DYC, is pick-up-and-play, so anyone can join in at any time, though that makes for quite a handicap.
Reception: The game received positive reviews from NintendoLife for its unique and, at times, addicting gameplay (8/10). Other sites were not so positive: IGN felt that the game was flawed in design and even glitched on them a number of times (6.0). The mixed reviews and the competition among other launch titles caused this game to be the first to fall from the Top 20 (albeit, not the first WiiWare game, period, to vanish from the Top 20).
Outlook: Since the release of Pop, Nnooo's website has been changed a bit to focus more on new versions of its WiiWare title, one for the IPhone and the other for DSi (two actually: Pop Plus: Solo and Multi). There is no outright confirmation of any future WiiWare titles, but DSiWare is looking like a good direction for the company, from what I've seen.

5) TV Show King (Gameloft, 1000pts)
There were a number of surprises at the launch, and this casual title came about without any prior knowledge of its existence, and perhaps for good reason. Gameloft began its number of WiiWare titles with a quiz game, TV Show King. Up to four players choose Miis to play in a quiz show where they must point and select the answer to about 3000 possible questions. Sometimes, a wheel is to be spun for more or less money winnings, used with the Wii Remote's shaking. The game ends with a two-player lightning round, and the winner is found with the most earnings of the four.
Reception: Reviews were mostly in the mediocre range for most sources, citing the game's usage of the Wii Remote Pointer to be poorly designed; if you see someone choose an answer, it becomes easy: just follow the smart player's response. Also, the AI was found to be terribly slow, in more ways than one. IGN gave it a 6.2, citing it showed some promise but failed, and NL followed up with its own 6.
Outlook: Since the release of TV Show King, Gameloft released a wide variety of titles, though as of this writing, Gameloft has been very low in WiiWare output. As for TV Show King, a stand-alone Wii release came out in the Fall of 08, and IGN gave it an even lower score! As for any more Gameloft support, we know of at least a couple (Toyko City Nights and a Sexy Poker game) games to come out soon enough.

6) V.I.P. Casino: Blackjack (High Voltage Software, 700pts)
The other surprise release came from a surprising source: High Voltage Software. HVS had showed off its upcoming Wii release The Conduit and WiiWare titles Animales de la Muerte (now no longer WW) and Gyrostarr (which came in June 08). However, this title had not been discussed in any way beforehand, but perhaps there was a reason behind that. VIPC:BJ is just what it sounds like: a blackjack title. There is more to it than just clicking "Hit Me," but not a lot more. It has a number of achievements for players to play toward to try and keep the player playing, and multiplayer DOES exist, so there's something there, at least.
Reception: IGN gave this title a slightly higher score than TV Show King (6.5), and NL agreed to an extent (6/10). The game was seen as a no-frills blackjack title with perhaps 2 dollars too much for a price. Among the other titles, it was seen by other sources as the weakest. Surprisingly, it outlasted Pop on the charts, showing that there is love for card games out on WiiWare, somewhere.
Outlook: While no VIP Casino sequel has been announced, HVS has released a number of WiiWare titles since launch, including Gyrostarr, High Voltage Hot Rod Show, and the Akinai Studios-published Evasive Space. Apparently HVS has more to come, too. We'll just have to wait and see.

The Top 20 Chart: One Year Later
Here are the pathways of the WiiWare Launch Titles over the course of the year:
There you can see that there is no telling when the launch titles will finally all disappear from the Top 20, especially DYC.

So, go out there and replay some of those old games. Have they changed in your eyes? Thoughts?

Edited on by 0-Watt


This is great. I'd love to read more. (Am I the only one who thinks TV Show King is great? Get a few drunk friends in the room and it's a hoot.)




@ chicken brutus
lol yes it is alot of fun



Good article. That was quite a good read


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