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Previews

WiiWare

Preview: A round-up of the first games for the download service

NGamer takes a look at the games bound for Nintendo's new WiiWare game download service, due to launch into action in the New Year.

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Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Little King and the Promised Country
The WiiWare daddy, both in terms of excitement levels and name length, Square Enix's FF CC: TLKatPC is not a replacement for the full Crystal Bearers game - that's still heading Wii-wards - but an all new 'country-building RPG'. Set after the original GC Crystal Chronicles, the game casts you as a king who lost his kingdom in the power crystal shenanigans of that earlier title.

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Dr Mario
Recent goings on in the Dr Mario camp have been shadier than a back-alley dentist, but the WiiWare announcement clears things up. One second it was ESRB rated for Virtual Console release, the next it was dropped. Why? To make way for this all-singing, all-dancing Wi-Fi-enabled pill popper.

Traditional pill-swivelling action returns - with Mii avatars - joined by a follow-up prescription of the Germ Blast minigame seen in Brain Training 2. Where Germ Blast was originally intended as a winding down exercise after a punishing mental workout, any sense of calm is obliterated here by adding four-player co-op into the mix. Should be fun.

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Pokemon Ranch Channel
Not to be confused with the Mr Mime-powered smut of 'Pokémon Raunch Channel', this title will instead let you download your DS Diamond and/or Pearl bestiary to a farm paddock on the Wii. Once there, you can survey the worryingly angular-looking 'mon as your Mii, taking pictures of yourself with your captured chums. It's from Ambrella, developers of the similarly throwaway virtual pet GameCube Poké-offering Pokémon Channel, so don't expect this to go far beyond the Poké-petting zoo concept currently outlined.

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Mojipittan Wii
Developed by Namco and based on a hiragana tile-piling Japanese variant of Scrabble. Try to guess whether this'll make it to western shores...

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Maruboushikaku
Does exactly what is says on the tin. Maru translates as circle, bou as line and shikaku as square. A puzzle game involving circles, lines and squares? That's all we've got after three hours of trying to decode the screenshots. A baffling puzzler from Nintendo themselves.

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Minna de Puzzloop
Another puzzler, this time a jazzed up take on DS title Actionloop. Flicking marbles at other marbles was a doddle with a stylus, so expect some form of remote aiming here. We weren't huge fans of the original - here's hoping WiiWare doesn't become a dumping ground for dud franchises.

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Joy Sound
Basically, Xing's Joysound karaoke machine melted into WiiWare form. It's developed by Hudson, and you'll need their separately sold USB microphone to use the software. Interestingly enough, the download's not a one-time deal, with updated track lists working their way from Hudson's music mother brain to your console via the magic of eight-hour downloads.

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Okiraku Ping Pong Wii
Better known for the coffin-flinging antics of Guilty Gear XX, Arc System Works are turning their eye to the gentler world of ping pong. From the sounds of things this is to be just as comprehensive (if not more so) as Rockstar's middling offering. As well as both automatic and manual movement controls, there's four-player doubles and remote implementation that will add top spin or back spin based on swing, and not some cheap tap of a D-pad direction. You hear that rumbling, Liu Ping and co? That's the sound of your imminent demise. Better get some sales in before Okiraku launches in Japan in March.

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Star Soldier R
We saw videos of Hudson's vertical-scroller a few months ago, but little did we know it was a WiiWare title. This version will play much the same as the original (available on Virtual Console) with five- and ten-minute high-score challenge 'caravan modes' and online leaderboards. Hudson are also releasing Bomberman through the downloadable service, though info and screens have yet to manifest themselves. Come on, Hudson - let's see Bomberman!

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