Feature: WiiWare Games That Bit the Dust

And one we may still see

Today La Mulana finally arrives on WiiWare in Europe and North America, bringing an end to a particularly long development saga. Nigoro had already released the title in Japan, but problems apparently related to DLC content led to a number of delays, with original publisher Nicalis eventually pulling the plug on the localised version of the title. You can read more about it in our interview with La Mulana's director Takumi Naramura, but suffice to say that it was a rocky road with no certain end. Thankfully the developer didn’t let the problems hold it back, and EnjoyUp Games stepped into the breach to localise and publish, albeit without the troublesome DLC.

WiiWare has had its share of release sagas, however, due to a number of different reasons. Sometimes those reasons are financial, as we’ve seen developers back away from WiiWare due to low sales projections, or even the dreaded minimum sales payment limit. Cancellations also seem to come back to two major issues imposed by Nintendo, however, which can’t be easily dismissed as mistakes from the big N, but are problems nevertheless. We’re talking about the 40MB file size limit, which bordered on being restrictive in 2006 and is practically unworkable now, and problems developers have experienced with the stringent approval process, which can be costly and time consuming.

The size limit is very much a result of the technical capabilities of the Wii, and a reflection of the lacking internal memory, despite SD card expansion. The approval — or lot-check — process is also easily justified, as Nintendo seeks to maintain a minimum standard and functionality to any games on the WiiWare platform. There are examples of buggy, arguably broken games that have slipped through the net, but in general Nintendo has ensured that games, even if they’re not actually any good, at least function properly.

Still, La Mulana is a feel-good tale for those of us that have been waiting, but there are others that have either been cancelled, redirected to other systems or are, perhaps, still sitting in limbo. Whatever the case with each, here are some games that should be mourned by WiiWare enthusiasts.

Super Meat Boy was an early hope for WiiWare, an outrageously difficult but addictive platformer that would have found a good home on Wii. The problem was the Wii file-size limit, with Team Meat unhappy with the idea of cutting the game back to fit into 40MB. There was talk of a retail release instead, but it never surfaced, so those that want to play this one need to find another platform.

Sabarasa’s Protocol is an ambitious FPS project, but it seems that those ambitions weren’t a good fit for WiiWare, with confirmation earlier this summer that the title will be released on a “to-be-confirmed platform”. With Wii sales fading badly and Wii U around the corner, our optimistic hope is that it’ll be redirected to the Wii U eShop; time will tell.

Machinarium is a visually attractive and charming point-and-click adventure game, which sounds like a good fit for Wii Remote controls. Despite an initial announcement, the subsequent arrival on other platforms and WiiWare silence was worrying, and in November last year developer Amanita Design's founder, Jakub Dvorský, confirmed the cancellation and blamed the limitations of the Wii system and WiiWare.

We don't like Wii because the resolution is so low and there is a size limit on WiiWare of 40MB, which is so low for nowadays. It's crazy.

Still, the developer is apparently considering Wii U for its next title, so that’s one positive.

Super Motherload was an action-puzzle game that tasked you with strategically digging through different environments. All went quiet after an initial announcement, before a Super Motherload Kickstarter campaign emerged – which was unfortunately unsuccessful — promising contributors a PC or Mac version of the game. We naturally followed up with developer XGen Studios, which informed us that Super Motherload was cancelled on WiiWare, and that there are no plans at the moment to bring the game to any consoles.

Retro City Rampage is still confirmed for WiiWare, with a press release as recent as June still listing the Wii platform and setting a release period of Summer 2012. Summer is ticking away, but developer Vblank Entertainment is still saying that it’s coming without providing a firm date; pre-orders are being accepted for PC copies of the game. It’s supposed to arrive on all major home consoles, as well as Sony’s PS Vita, but we’ll believe it’s coming to Wii when it’s downloaded and running.

Which of these titles did you miss when they were cancelled, and are you still optimistic that Retro City Rampage is actually coming to Wii? Let us know in the comments below.