So last week there was a lot of speculation, rumor “it just got real” commentary that the Wii successor may be making its way to E3 this year.

All I can say is: “Good”.

What surprises me is the features list of all these wonderful things to come: More advanced than PS3 and Xbox 360 graphics, HD, hints of Blu-Ray playability, a touchpad controller. What surprises me is that my inside sources are saying that these new features are apparently (I’m stressing that for my own credibility based off what’s been mentioned to me) the real deal.

Again, all I can say is: “Good”.

I actually don’t like the Wii. That said, I do like a large number of the games that I have for it. I’ve grown distrustful of the system due to my experiences with it last year, and every replacement system doesn’t fully fix the disc scratching problem, which intensifies that the Nintendo repair service wiped my console in vain, and for nothing. In short, I’ve written the Wii off in hopes of the next system. At least my reason isn’t the “Durr hurr hurr, the Wii has no good games, isn’t good because it’s not HD” rhetoric that so many people spout off. My personal Wii has wronged me one time too many, and it’s time to move on to the next one. I am mentally “done” with it.

But it’s not realistic to say that I wasn’t impressed with a number of other features: The poor online/chat support, the impossible Friend Code system need for the system, every game, and still couldn’t see if your friends were online or not, the lack of playing at least DVD, the underrepresentation of utilizing new Channels, the shoddy treatment of the Virtual Console and now WiiWare, the pointless game playing about not allowing us to use an SD card for memory for the longest time while telling us “we didn’t need it”, the software droughts (I think this year is going to be rough), the “Wii Whatever” series of games, which were little more than tech demos, the motion controlled games for the sake of using motion control, the 8 out of 10 shovelware games that lined the retail shelves…. HD wasn’t “Make or Break” for me. Sure, some games could have really used it, but it didn’t kill my enjoyment of many of the titles I played.

Yet the 3DS has given me hope that Nintendo is finally willing to move… well, within the last decade, anyway. With their little portable we’ve seen: Backward compatibility with DS games, the ability to transfer your DSi account and buy games from the service, a one, shorter Friend Code per system, the ability to see who is online, SD Card usage, a little more serious approach to online, the improved (initially) third-party support…. It gives me hope that they are trying to rebuild their name with their fans, because, like it or not, I’ve read enough comments over the last six years of people who swore by everything Nintendo feel like they’ve been left in a corner while the company went to pursue a new audience. Perhaps this new system can mend a few of those “broken hearts”.

I have my own “Wish List” for what I want to see on this Wii successor. Some of it is obvious, some of it is already rumored, but here’s what is going to push me into loving and wanting the next system….

* Backwards compatibility – I’ve never had as poor luck with a console as I have with the Wii, this coming from someone who also owns the 360. I’ve thought Nintendo products were infallible, but I think I’m cursed when it comes to the Wii. I want the new system to play my old Wii games without fear of the system cutting grooves and scuff marks into any disc I place in there.

* One universal friend code – The 3DS set this right. I want to keep moving this forward so I can see which friends are online, what they are playing, and the options to not only join into a game in progress, but to speak with them.

* Transfer my Wii account – I have a bought a fairly large sized number of Virtual Console and WiiWare titles over the years. Like the 3DS, I want the option to bring them all to a new system.

* Removable memory storage – No more locking games to the internal memory *ahem*SuperSmashBrosBrawl*ahem* in case something goes wrong. God forbid that I ever have to send in a system for repair again, but if I do, I want it to be like my 360 experience: Detach the hard drive, and when I get the console back, reattach it and reinstate my profile. And it’s like nothing bad ever happened.

* Improved online service – Stop playing “overprotective nanny”, and let me play online without lag and poor connections. They have a wonderful feature called “Mute” and “Report Player” for annoying idiots who play online games.

* Revitalize the Virtual Console – If they allow me to carry over my already purchased games (and they better), I’ll kind of forgive them for all but totally dropping one of the top three reasons I bought a Wii. But they need to continue moving the service forward, adding more games to the platforms already in place. Is it time to add Gamecube to the roster? I think so, but there are enough games left for 2-3 titles a week. This one game every 2-3 months has to stop.

* No more motion control in games for the sake of motion control – Metroid Prime 3. That’s all you need to say. Sure there were other titles that did motion control justice, but how many of the titles that were on the Wii truly needed motion control in them? Even Nintendo has toned down things. If it’s used intelligently and can provide a gameplay experience that traditional controls never could, I’m all for it, but few games did, and if it isn’t going to make a game play better, I don’t want to see it.

* Improve relationships with third party developers – Nintendo promoted the odd game here and there, but they never really worked with developers to get more out of the Wii. And there were a lot of once intended exclusives that they could have helped promote. They never really worked with developers on finding ways around restrictions, which is why they lost titles like Super Meat Boy and Retro City Rampage, two titles that scream the old NES play aesthetic. And yes, Nintendo DOES have the power to veto games if they feel that they are not up to par. Perhaps they better consider that for next time so we aren’t flooded with endless pet simulators and mini-game compilations. Sega, Capcom and EA really did some unique titles for the Wii, as did a few smaller devs. Pat these guys on the head a little harder next time, because they had the Wii’s back.

* New IP – The “Wii Whatever” series, and Endless Ocean are pretty much all that was “new” from Nintendo. Perhaps Last Story and Xenoblade will be added to that list if they actually see a North American release. But where are the new characters, Nintendo? You know, the ones we would be begging to see included in the next Super Smash Bros. title?

* No more 10-20 year hiatus on franchises – Punch-Out!! and Donkey Kong Country have finally been brought back. Kid Icarus and Pilotwings are getting 3DS love. What about Waverace, or a new Starfox shooter where the crew stays in their ship this time, or F-Zero? Mario, Link, Samus and Pikachu are all well and good, but Nintendo has a whole stable of great characters and franchises to fall back on those four for everything. Where’s that new Pikmin that was mentioned, anyway?

* No more plastic gimmicks – No more snap-on wheels, or “Zappers” (was it really like the gun of old?), or items that are released and fall by the wayside like Wii Speak and WiiMotion+, or look to never come out like the Vitality Sensor. The Wii Fit Board was supported more than anything, but where is it now? I want a good motion controller, and I want a good traditional controller. Nothing else unless it’s integrated properly as a can’t live without it feature that is here to stay. My closet can’t take any more junk.

* Don’t forget the “New” audience – This comment really stuck with me a few months back from the NPR Marketplace regarding 57 year old Elizabeth Bewley:

“She and her husband started playing every night for at least an hour. After six months, they got tired of the workouts, so Bewley figured she’d just get a new disc for Christmas.

Bewley: But we were really disappointed because all the ones I saw are really like video games.”

Old-school fans felt largely abandoned over the Wii. The 3DS doesn’t look to offer much to the “new” crowd, and something tells me that Nintendo is going to try to keep the old crowd this time with the promise of all the bells and whistles of this new system. I don’t care for many of the “general audience” titles (the “tech demo” thing, as well as they seem like all they are designed for is to push variant controller hardware), but I think it wouldn’t be fair to abandon that user base as well. There’s no need to be bipolar about game distribution. Something can be made for everyone. But I think casual gamers deserve better quality games, especially if they’ve stayed with the hobby this far.

And of course I’d like to see at least DVD playback (if nothing else), HD (it’s time, Nintendo), and all the cool, conceptual ideas that the 3DS seems to be bringing to the table (I want better 3DS/new system connectivity than what we got for GBA/Gamecube and DS/Wii). And weird, but true, I actually did like the Weather and News Channels. I’d actually like them to stay. A little more frequently updated, but I want them around for the next one.

So how about you? Any similar wants? Something different? Sound off for… Discussion Time(TM)!

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Filed under: nintendo gaming