Sunday, June 24, 2007

History of Connectivity

Connectivity, a simple word that causes gamers to shiver upon hearing it. Ever since the year 2002 when Nintendo decided it would focus on 'it' instead of online gaming,
Viewed skeptical since it was announced and never quite took off. Was it really that bad or did gamers miss out on what could have been one of the most innovative/helpful tools to gaming?

Well first lets go back to what basically laid the foundations of Connecting:

The Past

The Super Gameboy while only allowing you to play your gameboy games it was the first form of connectivity, and starting with games like Donkey Kong '93, companies could program a special border when played on the screen and even adding some color to the games.

Like many other Japanese products, it got a second release that had a link cable so you could play multiplayer games, it was only released through mail-in forms in the US.

Pokemon came full swing giving even more life to the Gameboy new life, this is when Connectivity first started, Nintendo thought how Japanese gamers would love to have their Pokemon fight in full 3D, so with the use of the DiskDrive and a new Transfer Pak that attached to the N64 controllers expansion port you would be able to achieve this, eventually the DiskDrive was written out of the Pocket Monsters Stadium Game and they released it as a N64 game.

They later released a sequel that had more features including every Pokemon which eventually came to the US as Pokemon Stadium packaged with the transfer pak. A third version also came out which became Pokemon Stadium 2 in the US with all the new Pokemon from Gold/Silver. Other good uses like being able to transfer your players from the GBC Mario Golf/Tennis to the N64 game and unlocking mario characters on the GBC versions,

Rare tried incorporating it in some of their games like their two Disney licensed kart games and a killer app (besides pokemon) for the transfer pak that would allow you to transfer your face from the GBCamera to Perfect dark for multiplayer, however because of school shootings happening at the time this was removed and replaced with just a few unlockables if you had the GB Perfect Dark prequel.

In japan we saw a few more games like Mario Artist (64DD), and some robot games.
The transfer pak opened a lot of possibilities and even though it had a big installed based because of the Pokemon Fad we didn't see all it had to offer.And while it couldn't play gameboy games like the Super Gameboy (though if programmed you could emulate the game like in the Pokemon Stadium games), but not many people jumped on it.

Like in the NES something similar to the Super Gameboy was available for developers and the Press, but it was not available to the public.

The not so Present

E3 2002

Nintendo announces it will focus on off-line gaming and its multiplayer aspect with the help of the GBA. This met with a lot of bad publicity from the media as they saw it as gimmicky thing instead of online gaming which was the future. Even though the GCN-GBA cable had been announced with the Gamecube, and proved to be a nice addition to gaming.

It didn't allow you to play games on your tv (though Pokemon Box emulated it), but instead it worked more like an enhanced Transfer Pak, except that since you used your GBA, you could also display something on the screen and even transfer games to the GBA's limited memory so that you could play without any game connected.

Again it was the Pokemon games that got the most userbase from this. Pokemon Colosseum and Pokemon XD were a storyline improved versions of the Stadium games, while Pokemon Box was a sim type game like Hey you Pikachu and Pokemon Box allowed you to transfer any of your Pokemon to a Memory card so you could catch as many Pokemon as you'd want.

Games like Animal Crossing really used it like getting stuff from the e-reader cards, going to a secret island, having the island around you with you on your GBA and even transfering the NES games you found on AC so you could play them on the road, all without a cartridge.

The innovative Chao's VMU's from the Sonic Adventure Dreamcast games ended up working even better on the Gamecube with its GBA transfering, with you being able to transfer him between most GBA and GCN sonic games, even without a GBA game

Zelda used it in Wind Waker as an item to be able to find hidden treasures, while the underrated Zelda Four Swords Adventure game trully used full use of its features, being one of the most fun games I have ever played. Pacman VS also is the party game, for friends and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles while not the best execution it did live up to the name. Sadly to get 4 GBAs and 4 GCN-GBA cables was hard to do.

he new Mario Tennis/Golf used it for something similar to the N64 counterparts and other games like Madden let you make your plays in the screen so no one else could see. But even though it was regarded as a failure it had a lot more support that it did in the N64, even if most games just used it for a simple "unlock stuff from both versions"
For a full list of games that used the GCN Cable you can click HERE

Nintendo once again allowed us to play our GB games in the big screen with the gameboy player, while it was a little expensive it made gamers happy and was a form of connectivity. Though games couldn't use special borders like in the SGB days.

The Future?

While some saw Connectivity as a failure, it brought some very fun and very helpful additions that proved to be not a gimmick at all, for a list of some of the best features with "Connectivity" check out this article

Thanks to the Wi-Fi and blue-tooth capabilities of the Wii and DS, we have seen they are able to connect with each other, this itself is an advantage as we no longer have to get a separate attachment to connect them making it easier to get players to connect.
We have seen the new Pokemon Battle Revlution able to transfer your Pokemon to the Wii from your Diamond/Pearl games ala Pokemon Stadium, so that should prove Nintendo has not abandoned the connectivity and will announce more stuff along the way.

Hopefully we will see the some of the best features of Connecting back that we have seen, in the past and get more support, heck now i'd like even more expansive features. It I hope its not the end of GB on my tv, with the gameboy player from the Gamecube not compatible with the Wii, i'd like to see something similar built for the Wii, even a DS Player, as the game Trauma Center has proven, the Wii remote can also work similar to the stylus, or just using the DS as a controller while watching the DS screen on the tv, the possibilities are endless. Hopefully we see it happen.

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