with the inclusion of Opera web browser on the Wii, Nintendo has provided a platform for independent developers to launch their own Flash based games onto the console. First, I will take a look at the Flash games that started it – hybrid games that can be played either on the computer or the Wii. Then I will introduce you to new titles specifically designed for the Wii. Finally, I got a chance to get some answers about the future of independent Wii Flash games from a pair of devlopers who are helping to build it.
In order to make a traditional game enjoyable on the Wii there are just two unique considerations: screen size and input. To make sure the entire game board will be visible during play the developer must not exceed the screen size that the television can display. Also, while the Wii now boasts the ability to connect a USB keyboard, many games use only the mouse for input.
Shooting games are particularly well suited to a hybrid status. Users can blast aliens with a mouse click on their computer, or experience more immersive game play by using the Wii remote gun style. Other games that test the player’s hand/eye coordination adapt well to dual status. There are, of course, exceptions to the rule. One website is even offering a set of educational Flash games that have been modified for play on the Wii.
Wii-Specific Flash Games
Now that the Wii has been around long enough for innovative indy game developers to tinker with it, we are starting to see the rise of a whole new type of Wii Flash game. These games are targeted specifically at the special controls of the Wii. They can support the use of up to four Wii controllers and take advantage of things like how close the player is to the screen or what angle they are holding the controller.
The process of developing this type of game has been greatly simplified by a group of programmers at Wiicade. They have created a toolkit that makes it easier for developers to take advantage of the Wii’s unique features.
Using this toolkit game developers have created games like Tetromino Challenge, a “falling block game” that ads a new twist to this type of puzzle game – literally. In order to turn the falling blocks players must actually twist the Wii remote.
If you have a few friends over you might want to check out Sheep Happens — a four player game that challenges players to keep their sheep safe. The player who can keep the wolves at bay longest wins.
What’s Next: Q A; with the Wiicade developers
The developers at Wiicade were kind enough to answer a few questions about where Wii games are headed.
As Flash-based Wii games grow more complex and take advantage of more of the Wii’s future, I asked them if we were likely to see these games move from free online play to a commercial status.
Dkj’s response was: “Anything can happen right? Realistically though I think the freeness and indy feel of these games is what draws people to play them. While there are some breakout games that have made the jump from Flash to console, it’s very rare. We did try to apply to the WiiWare program to try to make that jump easier for the author, but Nintendo has yet to get back to us. “
Right now, the Flash games are on the Wii are mostly mini-games. Will we ever see large epic games on the Wii?
Jbanes of Wiicade fielded this one: “…it’s perfectly possible to see longer, more sophisticated games. Just keep in mind that these games are expensive to create and thus will tend to be few in comparison to the mini-games available.”
With all of this unofficial creation going on, I was curious to find out if the developers at Wiicade had received any official response from Nintendo. Once again, Jbanes was kind enough to answer.
“Nothing official. Unofficially, my feeling is that the new functionality added to the final revision of the Opera browser was a comment directed at us. Something to the effect of, ‘Nice work guys! Let’s see what you can do if we give you more.'”
Based on these responses, it looks like we can look forward to a bright future for Wii-based Flash games, because they are similar to the gameplay of any of the games available on their webportals which were just like the pkv games. Nintendo’s unofficial reaction seems to be a good sign. The latest updates that Jbanes spoke of could have just as easily gone the other way: locking independent developers out rather than giving them new tools to play with.