News Article

First Impressions: Japanese Nintendo Channel Update

Posted by Sean Aaron

Along with the 4.1J Wii system update, Japanese Wii owners have also received an updated Nintendo Channel!

The Nintendo Channel has long been a mixed bag: it provides Nintendo with a gateway into player's play habits (though you'd have thought this would be possible from the basic system given that the Wii has built-in networking capability) and also provides players with game trailers, short video features (most heavily leveraged in Japan) and downloadable DS game demos. Confusingly a good deal of the Nintendo Channel's content has been hidden behind the "Find Titles for You" button, which allows players to add ratings to their most-played games as well as check upcoming DS and Wii software releases and view additional marketing assets for them (where available).

It's long seemed as if Nintendo didn't really know what to do with the Nintendo Channel and its actual purpose was unclear. After the appearance of the Wii no Ma Channel it seemed possible that the Nintendo Channel would be sidelined, however this week Japanese Wii owners were provided with an updated Nintendo Channel which shows Nintendo still does consider it a valuable proposition. It's largely just a facelift, but it addresses problems with the existing Channel and helps make it more relevant to Wii owners.

The Wii Shop entry for the Nintendo Channel remains unchanged; the release date is the same and there is no separate update as with Photo Channel 1.1. Launching the Nintendo Channel causes a prompt to appear which gives the user a choice of going back to the Wii Menu or downloading the update which is performed through the Wii Shop channel and provides the option to simply download the Nintendo Channel again.

After the download completes the new Nintendo Channel automatically launches. You're again presented with the disclaimers to assent or decline to receiving contact from 3rd parties and to share your play data with Nintendo. You're also prompted to select whether you want to view videos in standard or high quality video output; all of these options can be changed later via an options icon at the top of the screen.

After your choices are made and the channel starts properly the difference from the old Nintendo Channel is readily apparent. Instead of playing a random video in a small window and listing the latest videos as single-line text descriptions, recent videos are now displayed at the top of the screen six at-a-time with a thumbnail of the video and then text description next to it which aids in quick browsing -- especially for non-Japanese speakers! Sadly you cannot quickly scroll through videos using the -/+ buttons, but the display does wrap around through 10 screens so you can click a left or right on-screen arrow if you want to go through them in chronological order of appearance as opposed to the old newest-to-oldest method.

Instead of the "Find Titles for You" button, there's now a range of icons at the bottom of the screen which resemble those found in the Internet Channel. Clicking the "star" icon brings up a choice of browsing the latest videos in a list format or browsing the most recent game releases in all formats including disc, WiiWare, Virtual Console and DS/DSiWare. As with the old Nintendo Channel you can filter this list to cover only Wii releases or DS releases and further filter to only include WiiWare, DSiWare or Virtual Console games and related video/image content.

All list-presented data has hidden buttons which are revealed when moving your cursor to the right side of the screen in a style reminiscent of the Mac OS X dock or Windows status bar when auto-hide functions are enabled. This will provide quick browsing via buttons that take the user to the top, bottom or middle of a list or jump a few entries at a time in either direction (you also have the Internet Channel option of holding B to "grab" the screen and use the pointer for scrolling). Here you will also find buttons for bookmarking game data pages or playing attached content where appropriate.

There's a pretty robust search function accessed via the "magnifying lens" icon which allows you to search for games by format, publisher, genre and ranking (more on that in a bit). You can also search for game titles via text as with the Wii Shop title search function. Both of these suggest a more comprehensive game database is now included with the Nintendo Channel than was previously the case and will make this a better resource for people looking for information on games. Games found using a search will usually have photos of box art, publication information, genre, number of players, media assets like screen shots or videos and ranking information based upon user-supplied ratings. Titles of interest can be bookmarked for viewing later in a separate list.

Clicking the "envelope" icon will allow you to create your own game ratings based upon games you've played on your system as was possible previously. I've not checked whether the same minimum play time of one hour is still a requirement before they appear in this list, but I would expect that to still be true. You can also review ratings you've submitted previously. Games that garner a sufficient number of ratings will have medal icons visible of bronze, silver, gold and platinum reflecting the overall user ranking of the title and these can also be used as search criteria if you wish to restrict searches to the most highly rated games (as of this writing the Sega "Video Adventure" title 428 is the sole Platinum-ranked game). The noteworthy addition to the ranking function is the ability to download play data from your DS and supply game rating information for DS titles. Next to the ranking icon is the DS Download Service icon, where DS owners can uplink their DS to download game demos for the DS/DSi.

Clicking the "crown" icon will show released games and Nintendo Channel videos according to user rankings and views respectively. The "notepad" icon next to it appears to contain a list of games played on your system ordered by length of time played and a list of bookmarked titles and/or recommended titles of interest depending on whether or not you've bookmarked anything.

This much-needed facelift should improve uptake of the Nintendo Channel as it now makes it easier to use and a more obvious resource for game information than it was previously. It's very likely this update will be rolled out worldwide in the near future so watch your Wii slot for the telltale blue light and be sure to download it when it becomes available.

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User Comments (23)

bboy2970

#3

bboy2970 said:

Japan get's more awesome stuff before the rest of the world, shocker...........

KnucklesSonic8

#4

KnucklesSonic8 said:

I've always loved the Nintendo Channel but once I saw all the features of the update this past Wednesday, I got really excited. I hope we won't have to wait months just to get this... Great new additions. I love the crown system, being able to bookmark pages, provide ratings on DS games (that's such a great addition! I was waiting for this!) and provide more accurate ratings. All in all: Best Wii Channel yet. I can't wait for this.

Also:
"Sadly you cannot quickly scroll through videos using the -/+ buttons, but the display does wrap around through 10 screens so you can click a left or right on-screen arrow...." - Did you try the D-Pad?

Machu

#5

Machu said:

Ooh I look forward to getting that update, hope we do. I use the Nintendo Channel quite a bit, and the DS demo's are ace. But it is badly laid out and the random vid gets annoying.

428 has me really intrigued, though I know I'll never see it on my PAL Wii.

Monkeh

#6

Monkeh said:

What's so great about this channel? You can watch all the trailers and stuff right here on NL. And you won't have to use up 500 blocks or something..

Egg_miester

#7

Egg_miester said:

i love the nintendo channel and i check it every monday for updates, can't wait for the new one to come stateside

@monkeh there are some videos that are nintendo channel exclusive

Sean_Aaron

#8

Sean_Aaron said:

I'm pretty sure it's the same size, though I'll check tonight. I'll have to test out d-pad functionality, that would be good and didn't occur to me since -/+ is the normal shortcut.

@Monkeh: As great as NL is we don't cover everything; there's also original content on there. In Japan there's special Gamecenter CX episodes focused around challenges using games on the Virtual Console and other original video shows featuring demos of Nintendo games.

In Europe there's features on WiiWare devs (the first of which focused on the team behind NyxQuest), so it's not just trailers.

Sneaker13

#9

Sneaker13 said:

The DS demo's are awesome. It made my wishlist longer with games I would normally not buy. I'm glad I played the demo's because I would have missed a couple of gems. Ninjatown, Lock's Quest and Soul Bubble. Keep the demo's coming. I would love Wii demo's too. Make a purchase a lot more easier.

motang

#10

motang said:

Rest of the world really needs this update soon, sounds like a huge improvement over the previous release!

Bensei

#11

Bensei said:

Finally the rankings are visible and useful for users!

Now we only need chum buckets for really bad games!

Stuffgamer1

#14

Stuffgamer1 said:

This looks AWESOME! Let's hope it hits outside Japan really soon!

One question, though: Does it have a more inclusive listing of VC games now (assuming it was ever as lacking as NA's is with updates)? I'm sick and tired of the Nintendo Channel not recognizing the existence of most VC games released in the past year (excepting new console and big number releases)!

Rawk_Hawk

#17

Rawk_Hawk said:

They never update VC games anymore. I am not able to provide any feedback for Majora's Mask and I played that well over an hour. They need to do more spotlights on the VC. They always do vids for Wii Ware and Dsi Ware but never the Virtual Console. There are thousands of Wii's sold each month and I'm sure some of new Wii owners may be interested in classic games.

Sean_Aaron

#18

Sean_Aaron said:

D-pad does allow for scrolling between pages, so that's nice.

I've looked at the list option some more; there are three in total. The latter two of mine aren't populated; one of those must be the bookmarks; the other I'm not certain. I've not rated anything on my Japanese Wii so it's possible that the other is a recommendation list.

The gameplay data one lists all the games you played and seems to indicate the amount of time each game was played in hours and minutes and the number of play times. You can sort the list by either of these and all channels are included. I'm a bit annoyed that Super Smash Brothers Brawl is the highest in both instances with 271hr. 54min. play and 78 times played given that I only put the game in the drive once to test it and it's all from the previous owner! Makes me wish I had formatted the machine after getting it!

My 2nd in terms of time is Mahjong Taikai Wii at 10hrs. 12min. -- look out for a review of that from me soon!

2nd largest number of plays? Wii Shopping Channel at 62; 3rd is Super Darius at 20; 3rd is Mister Driller World with 17. It's weird, I have the impression I've played games on my Japanese Wii more than I actually have. I cannot wait for this to come to the rest of the world to check out the stats on my PAL Wii.

mjc0961

#19

mjc0961 said:

Cool. Let me know when this comes for American Wiis and I'll be updating ASAP.

Stuffgamer1

#21

Stuffgamer1 said:

@SandMan: How droll. Not only am I quite certain there will be an NLife article about it whenever it happens, I am now going to try to remember to send him a PSN message about it just to make absolutely sure you're proven wrong. ;)

Objection

#22

Objection said:

And this is not the update we got this week right? Hmm, problem is, its a nice facelift, but the Ninty Chan is still fairly useless in my opinion.

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