The day of this writing is a sad day for me. After ten years, the online service for the Wii and DS has shut down, leaving behind over 250 titles that lost some sort of functionality. Despite a few pointless hurdles like friend codes, the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection started with Mario Kart DS and was a good free service that brought me thousands or hours of entertainment. I still played its games all the way up to its very last day, and I will miss all the good times had. It was a bit tough to narrow some of these down, but here are the ten games that I will remember the most fondly.
Best described as “MMO-lite,” Monster Hunter skips all the small-time questing and focuses on only the hugest of the huge. Basically an eternal boss rush, the game pits up to four players against large monsters who are as fierce as they are ugly. Although the game was a real drag at times, especially during the beginning when more gathering needed to be done, taking down that tough hideous monstrosity that almost made me its lunch could be an exciting and satisfying experience. I actually wasn't very into the game itself, but huntin' and chattin' with the myriad of different folks, laughing, smashing, crying together made it all worthwhile.
Phantasy Star 0
Another sort of “MMO-lite,” this game has players fighting through small-time enemies in randomly-generated areas as they make their way to the big bad. This action-RPG had some design issues, like very small windows of opportunity to dodge strong attacks, but it was still fun enough to play through with a friend. Like the areas, the equipment found was partially randomly-generated as well, making for a wide variety of loot. Unfortunately, armour didn't change the appearance of a character, so there wasn't any fun found in outfitting them.
It might seem a bit like cheating to have not one, not even two, but three games as one entry, but the reason for it is that the online portion is the exact same for all three, and all three could link up with one another. Although Diamond and Pearl were the first to bring the Pokémon series online and were a good start, these three games brought it to the next level by including the Battle Frontier, which is by far the most fun thing about Pokémon. In it, there were five different modes in which to team up with a friend and tackle all the hardcore trainers. As every match was a double battle, planning with my teammate was vital, ensuring that our moves compliment each other and don't cause any hindrances, and I had a lot of fun doing so. Combined with the usual trading and battling options made it the complete package.
The Conduit certainly falls short when compared to the best of the genre, but it offered enough differences to make its twelve-player online worthwhile. Using weapon sets instead of loadouts gave it an old-school charm, as well as other key differences like no sprint button and no ADS. Although it had an XP system with level ups, they didn't unlock anything and were just for show, which was fine with me. It's just a shame that it didn't function all that well. It took minutes to get into a match, and things could lag pretty badly, to the point where opponents are killed 10-15 seconds after they're shot. It was fun when it worked though, and I had a few good private matches as well.
Call of Duty Black Ops
Although I would never argue that this game was better than the other versions since there are some things it was missing, it's still about as good as it could have been on the Wii, and it's a great version of the game for people like me who love the Wiimote controls. I had a lot of fun partying up with a few key members of a different forum and shooting some n00bs... or more often being the n00bs that get shot. That's just the way it goes, gotta pay your dues and all that. Matches could be connected to in seconds and ran mostly smoothly, with no ridiculous lag like other Wii shooters. It was also one of the very few Wii games that ever received patches, which fixed some glitches, re-balanced a few things, and added in a couple extra features like painting other party members blue.
ExciteBike World Rally
Although this was more like a remake than a full-on sequel, ExciteBike is always a fun time. Though the online racing was fun, it wasn't terribly exciting and didn't have much to it. The real meat of the online came from the track sharing that the game allowed. It was a lot of fun to see what kind of tracks people created, and how they differed from my own. The track would even include the creator's best time, and so it was a fun challenge to see if I could top it. Custom tracks could also be used in private games, so they could even be raced on with distant friends.
ExciteBots: Trick Racing
The sequel to ExciteTruck went all out, including adding a 6-player online mode. Using stars as currency, the game allowed people to make bets on each race, and could double, triple, or even quadruple their bets if they raced well enough. The stars could be used to purchase colours and designs for the various racing machines, adding in a bit of customisation. Though there wasn't much interaction between the racers, it was still fun to see who could out-trick each other, and observing other players was a good way to learn how to make the most out of each track. There was also an option to save and send replays to other players.
Animal Crossing City Folk
Animal Crossing is a series I never paid attention to, because it sounded exceedingly boring. When a friend of mine had to take a few months off work to recover from surgery, she told me about a game she had bought to help pass the time, and that it had online play. This game, of course, turned out to be Animal Crossing City Folk. Despite it sounding uninteresting, I decided to buy the game to help her out. It ended up making for the perfect format to talk and hang out, and we had a lot of fun showing off our clothing and houses, and sharing our discoveries of fish, gyroids, and other such things. It's the kind of game that is shaped completely by the people with whom it's played, and those few months were some of the best gaming I've experienced.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time
Released on both the Wii and DS, this is one of the few - if not the only - game with cross-compatible online play. The Wii version was basically the DS game on a Wii disc, with its two screens placed side-by-side and its only extra features being a Mii mask and higher-resolution graphics, but it functioned surprisingly well. As I didn't have a DS at the time, it made for a great way to play the game with a friend across different systems. We had a lot of fun stomping through the dungeons and outfitting our characters with the wide array of clothing and weapons to be looted, so much so that we completed all twelve of the game's difficulty settings, as ridiculous a number that seemed. The game was also a little glitchy, but this just further increased the fun as we would discover a new glitch or unintended shortcut to mess around with each time through the game.
Mario Kart Wii
The venerable kart racer zoomed to the Wii in style, bringing with it a robust online as part of its list of additions and alterations. I've never been a fan of this series, but this one stood out way above the rest to me for various reasons, one such part being the online. Upping the total racer count to twelve, there was never a dull moment on the road, with a large assortment of items flying about. Win or lose, I just loved the unpredictability of it all, having to be ready for anything that rocketed my way. With both regional and worldwide options, it was always easy to find players.
I joined the GameFAQs board for the game for a few years, and joined in many creative private rooms that set up a lot of great races. And though I typically placed in the back ranks, it was still a tonne of fun. Even battle had its fun moments as I aspired for 9999BR, and the new team setup worked well for online. The leaderboards gave me a glimpse of how my friends were faring in time trials, and we could even exchange ghosts to show each other tactics and shortcuts. The twice-a-month tournaments also helped provide even more reason for popping in the game again and again.
Out of all these games, this is the one I'm truly sad to see go. For my taste, it just got nearly everything right, which was far from the case with every other Mario Kart game. At the same time though, it's tough to complain about the value this game brought from six years of free online.
Some honourable mentions include: Battalion Wars 2, Bomberman Blast, Call of Duty Modern Warfare Reflex Edition, Conduit 2, Dr. Mario Online Rx, Endless Ocean Blue World, Fortune Street, Goldeneye 007, The Last Story, Picross 3D, Tetris DS.
Farewell to Nintendo Wi-Fi. I hope that Nintendo Network gets some replacements for these games soon!
No mention of Tatsunoko vs. Capcom?!? List invalid.
In all honesty, I was pleasantly surprised by the appearance of Phantasy Star 0 on the list. I wasn't sure how many people actually played that game, so I wasn't expecting it to show up. But it did! W00T!
Did anyone play Bomberman Land Touch! online? That game was a....blast....online. (pun COMPLETELY intended!) Sad to see it go, even though I haven't played the online mode in yeeeeeaaaaarrrrrrssssss....
I had my eye on Fortune Street for a long time and I fully intended to pick it up one of these days so I could play it with you guys. When I found out about the closure of the WFC, that was the first thing I thought of. Damn, no Fortune Street.
@GameDadGrant I did play Bomberman Land Touch a few times online, though the lag was unbelievable. I played maybe five or six matches and it wasn't even playable.
For me, the top WFC games for each platform were also the first: Mario Kart DS and Mario Strikers Charged*. Ironically, snaking is what kept me coming back to Mario Kart DS online: the races were terribly boring with just four players, 100cc, and the more interesting tracks nixed. Snaking kept races a lot more interesting, I thought. I obviously preferred "pure" Mario Kart racing with friends scattered around the living room, each with their own screen, but the online snakery was a decent substitute.
And then Mario Strikers Charged came along and was so good that it basically ruined Mario Kart for me forever. That was just a magnificently balanced and action-packed game, and the online play was surprisingly smooth. I rarely noticed any latency issues, and they usually took the form of slowdown rather than objects skipping around. Unfortunately, where Mario Kart DS's snaking actually saved online play for me, the exploits people managed to find in Strikers just ruined the game.
Mario Kart Wii is up there too, even though I'd soured on MK by then. That game had some pretty solid online features. And I did my best to enjoy SSB Brawl and Tatsunoko vs Capcom online, but the lag was always so frustrating in those games. And I put some decent hours into Metroid Prime Hunters when that launched, played some buddies from IGN's DS boards.
And there were a few games with leaderboards that I occasionally enjoyed, mostly Sin & Punishment 2 and MotoHeroz.
* I think Pokemon Battle Revolution came first on Wii, but that was turn-based so whatev
You know, I should have been more fair to Mario Strikers Charged. I gave it to my nephew who I think never played it. It was really damn good, but it was so balls-out hard that I lost enthusiasm for it pretty quick. But that was just a symptom of where I was at that particular moment. I didn't want something that required a lot of skill. I wanted something easy.
I wasn't good enough for Mario Strikers Charged and she left me. I should have been more hardcore. Oh, the regret, how it stings my eyes...
Oh yeah, sometimes the lag was absolutely TERRIBLE in Bomberman Land. I used to play with IGN regulars back in the day, and while we did have laggy matches, we also had lag-free matches that ran like butter. The lag-free matches came up like, 8 or 9 times out of 10. But when we got those laggy ones...ugh. Really painful to play...if not impossible.
I think I'm one of the very few that actually enjoyed playing Brawl online. I do agree with the listing of Mario Kart Wii, Black Ops, Pokémon, and ExiteBots. I also had fun with Bomberman Blast, Bomberman Land Touch, Water Warfare, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, and yes, even Wii Music.
@kriswright Yeah, after the first tournament or league or whatever, the game really threw you in the deep end. You have to learn to defend, and the tutorial does a bad job teaching that. But once it clicked, me and my homeys couldn't get enough.
I think I played most of these games with you other then PSZero,Black Ops, and Echos of time Mop it up and I think I had the most fun with you playing Monster Hunter Tri and Animal Crossing:City Folk. Monster Hunter Tri for its co-op play and team work and just chatting and having fun with the game.For Animal Crossing I think it was just chatting about what has been going on with our lives and making up various games to play within the game. It was a nice bonding game that brought together the community.
What a great list! Brings back such great memories! Games from this list I played online a lot (including with Mop it up!): MH3, PSZero, PKMN (Gen 4), The Conduit, ExciteBike WR, FFCC, MK Wii. I'm trying to think if there are any that weren't on this list that I would include in my own top 10. Brawl for sure. Maybe one or two others.