“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” – Arthur C. Clarke
Though connecting consoles is hardly impressive these days – especially when you can even play multiplayer games cross-platform, across computers and consoles from different manufacturers – there was a time when it felt like magic. Though the Wii and DS could link up and share information or unlock content on a game being used on either console, perhaps the fact that this was an extremely underutilised feature that made it feel so special, especially when it was done right.
There was the ability to download game demos from the Wii to the DS, of course. A handful of games could communicate with each other across the two consoles: the Wii’s Castlevania Judgement would have bonus content unlocked if paired with the DS title Castlevanie: Order of Ecclesia, for example.
Pokémon Battle Revolution and My Pokémon Ranch (a little known downloadable WiiWare title) could connect to Diamond and/or Pearl on DS; Geometry Wars: Galaxies unlocked an extra galaxy on both consoles if you were to link the two games.
A few Guitar Hero titles featured Roadie Battles when linked and Animal Crossing on Wii linked with DS title Animal Crossing: Wild World for a limited amount of cross-game item sharing.
A few language and word game titles were able to use the DS as a controller when in use on Wii; Final Fantasy: Echoes of Time allowed players to play together, regardless of whether they were playing the game on DS or Wii.
There may have been more than that, but the one that truly stood out to me as a game that went the extra mile is perhaps a very surprising one – the WayForward developed, WB-published Batman: The Brave and the Bold.
Based on the excellent cartoon – which had a deliberately old-school, somewhat campy feel – which saw Batman teaming up with a different hero in each episode, Batman: The Brave and the Bold was a 2D platform/beat ’em up game on both Wii and DS. Though they had similarities in look and feel, both were different games and each shared fantastic presentation, excellent animation and a very close adherence to the style of the cartoon they were based on.
The Wii/DS connectivity implementation was an unexpected stroke of genius, especially for a licensed game. The player with the DS version could control Bat-Mite – a fourth-wall breaking, somewhat meta character voiced brilliantly in the cartoon and the game by none other than Paul ‘Pee-Wee Herman’ Reubens – in the Wii game, using the touchscreen to move the character around on the Wii version. Not only that, but Bat-Mite can assist the Wii player with power ups and even Looney Tunes-style interventions in the form of anvils and bombs – which can be dropped on bad guys.
Though I’m sure the tech to implement this isn’t particularly impressive, it sure was back in 2010. Something I find even more impressive is that this is a licensed game; we gamers often roll our eyes at licensed games such as this, particularly when they’re based on kids cartoons -and with good reason. They can be shoddy, rushed games that satisfy no one except perhaps the odd, undiscerning kid or two who knows no better. However, the presence of Bat-Mite using the connectivity made possible via the Wii and DS points to the fact that Batman: The Brave and the Bold was definitely not a botched rush job. WayForward tend to have a pretty good track record and both of these games certainly live up to that reputation.
It’s a little sad that this feature wasn’t used in more games, though perhaps it’s understandable – how often would you expect gamers to buy both Wii and DS versions of a game, particularly back when they were released at full price? It’s a different story now of course, with both versions being available relatively cheap second-hand – but I’m willing to bet that very few gamers were able to utilise this very well-implemented and unique feature at the time.
As mentioned in my opening paragraph, we now commonly see cross-platform multiplayer, and even games using Sony’s PlayLink tech (where a mobile phone app can be used as a second screen and/or a controller) that’s been brilliantly implemented in a number of titles, in many inventive ways. Though it is less impressive these days, I still find myself bowled over that a cartoon adaptation – of a slightly obscure version of Batman – played host to the most ingenious use of connectivity on a couple of old Nintendo consoles.
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