Christmas has come and gone, and we've got wishes that Santa didn't fulfill.

We don't think it's because we're particularly naughty (though that is, of course, a decision ultimately left up to the big guy in red); we just think it's because our wishes are things that maybe aren't exactly his territory. Rather, our wishes are for Nintendo Co., Ltd., and they concern these shiny new Wii consoles that we got. While they have been a lot of fun to finally have in our own homes, they've also presented us with a laundry list of little annoyances.

None of these issues are particularly huge (though some may become so, someday), but they all feel like they either limit our enjoyment of the console, limit its potential, or even limit its overall value. We are, though, reasonable people; the suggestions we make here aren't about remaking Wii in radical ways. All should be possible, given our understanding of the nuts and bolts of the console. It doesn't feel like we're asking for the sun and the moon here; just a better experience. Frankly, a console with Wii's potential deserves it.

And so, our wishlist for Wii. May our wishes be fulfilled.

Playing With Friends

If there's one thing that's been a lighting rod for the Wi-Fi Connection since its introduction with Mario Kart DS, it's the Friend Code system. For every new Wi-Fi Connection game you buy, you get a new friend code. You hit up your friends for their new codes (often friends you've already got registered in your other games), plug each other in, connect (communicating in another fashion), and pray that you see each other.

The clarion call has been sounded: do away with this "new codes for each new game" nonsense, and go with a single code. IGN actually thought this would be the case going into the system's launch, because the Message Board—part of the system software—has a 16-digit code called a Wii Number that enables messaging between Wii systems. The Mii Channel took advantage of these relationships to enable you to trade Miis with friends as well, and Elebits leverages the Message Board to let you send custom levels and game screenshots to friends.

Unfortunately for advocates of this arrangement, Pokemon Battle Revolution, recently released in Japan, seems to indicate this is not the case, instead offering the now-traditional one-code-per-game setup. Whether future games will take advantage of Wii Numbers or not is hard to predict. However, what advocates of the "one code to rule them all" system often forget is that the one-code-per-game system provides a very important function: segmenting games you may want to play with only a handful of people from games you may want to play with any and all comers. When Animal Crossing for Wii is released with its rumored WiiConnect24 functionality leaving your town gates open all night, and your Address Book is filled with random people you met in N-Sider Chat who just wanted to play a couple rounds of Tetris—people you certainly wouldn't trust with an axe in your town—the advantage becomes clear.

What it comes down to is that the friend-list system, in its current state, is woefully undeveloped. It's not even immediately evident that such a list even exists, as it's hidden within the message board, where there's no indication that befriending individuals will be reflected in your actual games. There's been talk of the Wii's online network being "launched" in early 2007, whatever that means, so perhaps Nintendo is aware of this, and plans upgrades. That said, we'll happily make suggestions nonetheless.

First off, there are the aforementioned friend code issues. The ease of a single code with the flexibility of multiple ones could be accomplished with a simple set of permissions for each user. In the Wii friend list, you'd be able to set a default permission for each friend. A simple "always allow" or "never allow" toggle. It would be the first step in game-specific friend list customization, wherein you'd be presented with the ability to edit your default list of friends when you enter the online mode in any game. You'd likely leave the list as-is for most games, assuming you intelligently set up your default permissions, but you'd be able to allow or disallow anyone in your list that you wouldn't want showing up in your game of choice.

The second significant suggestion is to separate the friend system from the message board, where it's currently embedded. Sure, keep the address book around, but use it only as a message-sending front-end, not an actual management system. Just like with games, you'd be able to allow or disallow anyone from your friend list from being accessible via the message board.

Free of the message board, the friend list could take on a much more entertaining shape. You can already assign a Mii to each of your friends, so why not take that to the next level? Why not have the option to manage your list of friends using the Mii Channel interface? Friends would all walk around and interact with each other in a main lobby, and you could even have the option of flagging certain Miis with different-colored pants, which you could then use to group them by category. Maybe make all of your family members wear one color, all your online friends another, and all of your real-life friends in yet another. You could then enter lobbies populated only by that set of friends, and maybe even chat with those that are online at the same time as you.

The main idea here is to really play up the idea of a community, which is the whole idea of the Wii, is it not? At least, that's the PR we all got to explain the very name of the console. The Mii channel is neat in its own right, but using it as a front-end for actual friend-based interaction is its true potential. Let us walk our Mii around and talk to our friends with it, Nintendo. Let us have group chats in flag-based lobbies, and carry those groups over directly into a game, where we can all play together. Let us see little profiles for our friends, containing data about what they've been playing, or letting us see if they're online or not. There really is an absolutely amazing network here, sitting squarely in the realm of obvious potentiality. We can only hope that the 2007 "launch" will incorporate but a fraction of this.

Miis and Remotes: Neutered

When I first heard the Wii remote would have built-in memory, I was excited! Every remote owner could have their own profile, Mii, game-stats saved to it... or so I thought.

At present, the remote's internal memory functionality is crippled to the point of useless. Sure I can put copies of my Miis in there so I can at least look like myself while playing at someone else's house, but why aren't my Mii's Wii Sports stats transferred too? Why can't I save my progress and records when playing with a Mii from the remote? And how come there's no option for a personal statement or profile like even the DS offers in Pictochat?

The Wii remote's internal memory offers so many possibilities but is only using such a little portion. Allow future games to read and write profiles, stats, and other things tied to the Miis, Nintendo -- my friends would be much more inclined to buy their own remotes if they knew they'd be able to take their Smash Bros. Brawl achievements home with them.