Ranked online gaming is basically these hectic moments of desperation stretched out into infinity. With stat tracking, leaderboards and special extras such as “Striker of the Day,” for Super Mario Strikers Charged what should be a fun way to monitor your progress is often spoilt by a few bad eggs, who’ll noogie their own grandma just to improve their win/loss record on Chocobo Tales. But with Wi-Fi up and running, what can Nintendo do about the situation looking forward?
There are certainly options available to them. They could adopt a feedback system similar to that of Xbox Live, although this too is open to abuse and retaliatory feedback. We’d rather Nintendo’s big, long, grabbing arm hovered over another of Xbox Live’s innovations - the ability to choose whether to prefer or avoid certain players. Basically, let the idiots and the vagabonds cheat themselves under while you play against only the sane people [The friend codes are one solution, Ed.].
But the wider issue is how to define whether something constitutes cheating or not. Sometimes it’s obvious like the folks who drop their connection after a loss - a problem we’d like Nintendo to fix. Then there’s the worrying trend of Action Replay codes working online on select DS games - worse, it can be difficult to pick up on the more subtle effects in games such as Metroid Prime Hunters. Those examples aside, it all gets subjective. What’s the difference between constant snaking and merely boosting around the corners? If something’s possible within an unaltered copy of the game then it’s a legitimate tactic, like it or not. In this circumstance, someone needs to play the role of moderator.
Above: In games like Mario Strikers, using the right exploits means you can score a goal on even the biggest muscled freaks
Through the power of patches, publishers have the ability to tidy things up on Wii, as they do on many a PC FPS when experienced players begin sniping everything in sight. But this requires some kind of snap judgment as to when a gameplay mechanic should be outlawed. To our minds, there should be but one deciding criteria: whether or not the “cheat” is fun to do. It’s why everyone hates snakers, but no one minds that everyone’s been bouncing around like spring-loaded crickets for the last three years on Halo 2.
There’s an elite subset that think there’s a special place in Hell for those that use walkthroughs, but by and large how you play through a game is entirely your business. For some reason there’s been this aura wafting around our hobby like a Wario air biscuit. It says that we have to masochistically plow through our games as nature intended - a leftover skeleton, perhaps, from the brutishly difficult arcade wallet-emptiers from which our modern games originated.