Nintendo has had so many missteps in the realm of online gaming, I’m not so sure they still deserve to be as beloved in the hearts of as many gamers as they somehow yet remain. Even I still have a misplace affinity for the company. Sure it’s largely nostalgic in nature, but I still somehow own both of Nintendo’s newest systems … and I didn’t want to. I wanted the 3DS, sure, I’ll admit that one. But the Wii U? Absolutely not. No interest in owning/playing/looking at that system. The only reason I do is because of the Legend of Zelda special edition system. My obsessive purchasing impulses kicked in on that one.
The original Wii was a smash hit during my college years, because it was the perfect passive gaming system. You put a group of drunken co-eds in a house with a Wii, and you KNOW there is about to be some epic (motion-controlled) bowling showdowns. Hell, I wanted the Wii so badly, I bought it for $50 above MSRP from a guy who had decided to sell his and go for an Xbox 360. But the Wii debuted without any sustainable online connectivity at a time when everything was moving online, not just gaming. Facebook had begun to launch en masse to the public and not just to college kids, “tweets” were making their way into national news stories, the iPhone was a mere 6 months away, the original Xbox had found success with their online pay-service, Xbox Live. The closest they had mustered – so far – were eShops for the Wii and DS systems. Tiny microcosms consisting of some retro game releases and a smattering of original downloadable titles.
Jump-cut to: Today. My Xbox Live account is 6 years old. Various roommates of mine over the years have owned Xbox 360s, so even when I didn’t have one myself, I had an account because I was always near a system. Online operability is so intrinsically necessary in today’s world for a whole host of reasons, the most important of which is convenience. Sure I downloaded a load of the older NES, SNES & N64 games on my Wii, but the process was unintuitive and complicated. Thankfully all of the newer systems now just allow you to link a credit card to your account and download, but there was a time when it was required that you purchase proprietary points and use those in lieu of actual currency. Hell, because Nintendo had no account-based system, your purchases were not tied to you, but rather to your console.
In the last month+, Nintendo has actually taken the step toward unifying purchases and information into one account (almost a decade after everyone else) by introducing the Nintendo Network unified account. This is not to be confused with the Club Nintendo account (which they also sort of use to verify purchases, but not in any substantial way.) No, this is a real effort to broaden their online capabilities and unify users on both of their current platforms regardless of which they may own. Your Mii & (Nintendo’s avatar version of yourself) and your account nickname is now the same on both your Wii U and your 3DS. For once, Nintendo actually seemed to be righting some wrongs and gearing up for the real world of online gaming and operability.
BUT… that wasn’t the case. In October, Nintendo released latest games the still wildly popular Pokémon series, Pokémon X & Y. They announced then that two compatible services would be launched in December which would allow you to store your Pokémon in the cloud – Pokébank – and transfer them from older DS games -Poké Transfer. That due date was two days ago. Ever the woefully unprepared, Nintendo discovered that this big plan of theirs was in fact too taxing on their servers. (Servers which, I can only guess, had not been upgraded for the occasion.)
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At this point, there’s no word on when the services will be officially introduced beyond this pitiful message found on Nintendo’s website:
Nintendo and The Pokémon Company International have postponed the launch of Pokémon Bank and Poké Transporter – two software applications that were originally scheduled to launch for Nintendo 3DS on Dec. 27 – due to a large volume of traffic to the Nintendo Network service. Due to the high traffic, players are having trouble setting up Nintendo Network IDs and downloading content in the Nintendo eShop on both Wii U and Nintendo 3DS. We truly regret the inconvenience, and wish to reassure everyone that providing a solution is our top priority. We apologize for the delay and thank you for your continued patience.
I hope they get their shit together. I really do. But things just aren’t looking up.