Though technically already available before (and offering new Wii applications from the Internet Channel to the Everybody Votes Channel), WiiWare is expanding in a big way today, offering new, downloadable games for the Nintendo Wii. As much as it looks to benefit gamers, WiiWare is also giving developers a chance to get their products to the mainstream without the hassle of finding a major publisher. Unfortunately, just because a creative outlet is out there, that doesn’t mean that’s what people are going to use it for, and there are bound to be plenty of titles that will hardly be worth the time it takes to download them, let alone the Wii Points. And that’s where we come in, pointing you in the direction of the games that are right for you with a feature we call Wii WareAbouts.
Part 2 of our look at WiiWare’s early lineup features four more titles of varying qualities. Today we’re highlighting the quirky Defend Your Castle, the much-hyped LostWinds, and the service’s two early shooters in Ubisoft’s Protöthea and Hudson’s Star Soldier R.
Missed part 1, where we took a look at Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King and the inventive World of Goo among others? You’ll find it here.
Defend Your Castle – As if the title wasn't clue enough, in Defend Your Castle you must protect your fortress from seemingly endless hordes of enemies. You'll do this by flinging, attacking and even converting the invading forces until the end of the round, when you can use the points earned to make repairs and improvements (such as an archery range and temple to create archers and turn your foes, respectively) to your castle before the next wave approaches. The developer has even made a few upgrades for its WiiWare release, like Wii Remote controls, four-player co-op mode and new graphics, though that last one may still not be enough.
Defend Your Castle may have a quite a few things going for it, but looks isn't one of them. While the simple schoolyard aesthetic certainly appeals to some, it will surely turn-off others, especially considering what some other WiiWare titles have managed to push out of the service's limitations. But, if you can get past the – pardon the pun – paper-thin veneer, Defend Your Castle can also be surprisingly addictive. Of course, given the fast-paced gameplay and new IR pointer controls, if the game doesn't transition well from the PC to Wii, it may never amount to anything more than a simple (not to mention free) Flash phenomenon.
LostWinds – While it may not have the brand recognition of Final Fantasy, if there's any game that can compete with My Life as a King as the premiere WiiWare launch title, it is LostWinds. Seeming more at place on a store shelf than as a downloadable title, the game looks to offer a compelling story to rival that of even The Legend of Zelda. In it, you play as Toku, a young villager trying to save his homeland, helped along by the wind spirit Enril as they try to uncover the other, hidden elementals and once again imprison the evil Balasar.
Apart from actually having a story, the gameplay also helps LostWinds standout. Instead of another mini-game collection, the the title is a side-scrolling platformer that has you playing as two characters at once. Using the Wii Remote, you'll control Enril, harnessing the power of the wind to help the Nunchuk-controlled Toku cross gaps, defeat enemies and solve puzzles as he explores the kingdom on his quest to rid Mistralis of evil.
Protöthea – Much like the enemies in the game, Ubisoft’s Protöthea suddenly appeared on the scene with an announcement a mere six days ago. While it’s doubtful that this top-down vertical scrolling shooter will be one of the system’s premiere titles (after all, it’s a port of a PC shooter released in 2005), it should be a solid addition to the WiiWare “launch window” lineup that fills the requisite shooter genre nicely for those not into Star Soldier R.
Gameplay wise, expect the usual assortment of power-ups, as well as dynamic enemy AI (somewhat of a rarity in the genre) to keep players on their toes. Oh, and no time limits…that’s always nice.
Star Soldier R – If you spent even a second in the 1980’s, chances are you've already played a game just like Star Soldier R. A vertical shooter in the vein of Xevious and Galaga (not to mention being a bit of a classic franchise in its own right), the game sends wave after wave of enemy ships after you which you must blast away with a variety of power-ups and upgradeable weapons. However, even though this game may have its roots in the past, Star Soldier R also has plenty of modern accouterments, like the online leaderboards. Unfortunately, for those looking to get the most out of their Wii Points, it does have its downside.
Instead of offering that traditional play-till-you-die structure, the main game is limited to just 2- or 5-minute sessions. Outside of the time attack runs, players can also take part in Quick Shot to see who has the fastest trigger finger. While trying to obtain all the bonus points and rank high on the aforementioned leaderboards may provide hours of playtime for perfectionists and fans of the genre (though the two aren't necessarily unrelated), Star Soldier R doesn't offer much for the rest of us, so just know what you are getting into.