The Wii has more special features than motion-sensitive controllers, a stand that tilts the system back and a power cord. The developers of Ubisoft's latest Wii game seem to have remembered and decided to support some more neglected Wii features.
The Controller Speaker: Did you remember that your Wii Remote has a speaker and that developers, if they have the time and money and desire, can use it to produce sounds from the Remote? The team behind this week's Ubisoft platformer, Rabbids Go Home, did.
One of the concepts in their new game is that a Rabbid — a bunny-like character — is alive inside the player's Wii Remote. If you shake the Remote at certain times during your playthrough of the game, he'll yell from within it. Or at least the speaker will make it seem that way. And when you toss him from the Remote to the TV, his yell transfers from Remote to TV, an imitation of the sound design used for the bow and arrow in The Legend of Zelda: The Twilight Princess. When the Wii launched with that Zelda game, Nintendo reps talked about the speaker enabling experiments in sound design. Not many have come to market.
The Wii Channels: When the Wii launched, Channels were a big deal. Nintendo offered photo and Mii channels, and later, a shopping channel. Games could have their own channels, which could be installed onto the Wii's dashboard from the game's disc. Mario Kart Wii offered a tournament-tracking channel. Wii Fit offered a fitness-test channel. The idea in both cases is that a slice of a game would be available to players even if their disc for that game wasn't in the Wii.
Few other Wii games have offered any Channels for installation, but surprisingly, Rabbids Go Home has one. Its channel even supports the system's online connection. The Rabbids Channel is similar to the Mii contest channel in that it lets players enter any Rabbids that they've morphed using the game's character editor into Ubisoft-administered contests. (The character editor is something of a Rabbid torture device, allowing you to paint, prod and pull the body parts of an always-game Rabbid.) There's a Halloween contest on the channel right now. You can enter a Rabbid or vote on the ones already submitted. A user can also download contestant Rabbids that they like to use in the game, either as the Rabbid stuck in the Remote or as one of those running around on the player's TV. I downloaded a pair from the now-closed Freestyle contest, which I snapped a photo of for the top of this post.
I'm not sure why these Wii features are rarely used. It's subject for future interviews I do with developers. At least Rabbids Goes Home serves a reminder that the options are there and can be put to good, creative use.