Yesterday Nintendo opened up a new page for it’s forthcoming Wii Video Service Channel “Wii no Ma.” The channel, which will be released in Japan on May 1st, allows you to populate a room with up to eight Mii’s to live in a real time virtual life while you watch and rate original videos that are delivered through the Wii’s internet connection.
But the “Wii no Ma” room isn’t just a stylish Japanese table and a slick flat-panel TV for your Miis to enjoy. You can also use the in room calendar to get information and trivia about different dates and holidays, and travel to different partner businesses (say a fast-food chain) to download coupons to your DS and use at an actual store, or even sign up for free samples to be delivered right to your door!
While all of these features are certainly intriguing, I honestly think it is too hard to tell wheather this channel will be useful or just a beautified internet advertising scheme until I’ve actually had it on my Wii for a while. Sure it is exciting that you can sync videos with your DSi to watch on the go, but not if the videos aren’t any fun to watch in the first place. And with the vague promise of original content and no established series or shows it’s really anyone’s guess whether the “family friendly programming” will have more in common with the Discovery channel, or a video-segment on Sesame Street. On the other hand, new and original content could be just what the Wii needs to push it ahead of competing consoles video-services that focus mainly on media you can buy and see elsewhere.
Sometimes I feel that Wii Channels are either extremely useful and get checked often, or are download once and are rarely opened again, but I actually rather enjoy Nintendo’s video efforts in the “Everybody’s Nintendo Channel,” and I’m looking forward to seeing what “Wii no Ma” will bring to its iconic table. But what do you think? Are you chomping at the bit for more console video-distrbution or are you already bored by the whole concept to begin with? Oh and one more question: in Japan getting coupons through your cellphone has become extremely common at chain-restaurants and there’s little doubt the DS coupons will be similarly received, but what about in other parts of the world? Would you be embarassed to belly up to the counter with your DS to demand a free drink with your meal? Or would you go to a place you’d never even been to just to take advantage of your DS’s newfound barganing powers?