Impressions / Nintendo Channel goes live in the US

I am a total sucker for the Wii’s calming, blue disc drive light. Every time that thing flashes, signaling that I have a new message, the little kid inside me starts jumping for joy and I rush over and turn my Wii on. Usually it’s a stupid message from a friend but every once in a while it is something awesome. Like today for instance. I roll out of bed, walk into my living room, see the blinking light, turn on my Wii and what do I see? The Nintendo Channel is ready for me to download! Sweeeeet.

So about four minutes later I’ve got the brand spanking new (unless you live in Japan, then it is a couple months old) Nintendo Channel downloaded to my Wii. The Nintendo Channel, at it’s most basic, is a way for Nintendo and other third party companies to advertise to you. Sign in and you can watch videos of upcoming Wii and DS games, get info on all of them and even purchase them with the click of a few buttons. Nintendo will also track what games you play, if you wish, and recommend others you might like. Most excitingly though is the ability to download DS game demos straight from your Wii. Sounds like some pretty great stuff, especially for Nintendo, but how does it all work? I spent the morning messing around with the new Channel and I have to say other than a few odd choices I’m pretty impressed.

Simple is as Simple Does

If there is one thing Nintendo has down pat it is ease of access to their information. I’m an avid gamer, obviously, and the 360 menu screen still intimidates me at some points and…well, we don’t even need to go into the PS3’s interface. The Nintendo Channel is no different from the rest of the Wii channels in its stupidly simple ease of use. The first time you click in you get an explanation on what the channel is, an option to receive advertising messages on your Wii message board pops up, and the channel asks for permission to collect information on the games you play. Then it loads all the new information and videos and then starts sucking out info on what you’ve been doing, if you allowed that option. Once in, you’ll get a big friendly list of videos and some new Zen like calming music that seems to have become the staple of all the Wii’s channels.

You can easily browse through a selection of videos on the bottom of the screen, where I’m guessing all new videos will start appearing once updates are made, or go to the top and do a search for any game you want. Or any game Nintendo wants you to find. Right now the list is a bit scant with only Nintendo games listed and a few third party games. Hopefully this will grow as time goes on and more third parties get involved in the Nintendo Channel. Once you see a game you like, you can click on it, get a brief description of the game and watch a video of it. You can also click a link that allows you to purchase the game or a few links that will take you to websites related to the game. Unfortunately, buying the game is done through the Internet Channel and thus clicking the purchase button automatically takes you there. This is a bit of a pain because if you decide not to buy the game and continue browsing you have to go all the way back into the Nintendo Channel, replete with it updating again.