Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection

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Logo of Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection
The worldwide Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection logo
“Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection is simple to use. Beginning with free access… we have removed one of the major barriers that have kept people from going online to play games.”
Reggie Fils-Aime, Oct. 18, 2005 Press Release

Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection (abbreviated as WFC) was Nintendo's free online matchmaking service that was used by the Nintendo DS, Wii, and Nintendo DSi. It began on November 14, 2005, on the same day of Mario Kart DS's release, making it the first Nintendo WFC-compatible game. The first Super Mario game for the Wii that had Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection compatibility was Mario Strikers Charged.

Instead of using user accounts, Nintendo used Friend Codes for games such as Mario Kart DS. Friend Codes were automatically assigned to a game when it connected to Nintendo WFC for the first time, and each Friend Code is unique, so two game units cannot have identical Friend Codes. While each game made different use of the system, there are typical options for Wi-Fi enabled games, such as being able to play against others worldwide or using the same regional version of the game.

As announced on February 26, 2014, the system was terminated on May 20, 2014 due to the shutdown of GameSpy servers.[1] Prior to its shutdown, Mario Kart DS and Mario Kart Wii were the most popular games on their respective systems. Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection was succeeded by the Nintendo Network, which will be shut down on April 8, 2024, on members of the Nintendo 3DS family and Wii U, and Nintendo Switch Online for the Nintendo Switch.

Usage

Logging in

Nintendo DS Lite displaying the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection logo
One of the Nintendo DS Lite's main selling points was its ability to utilize the service.
Nintendo Wi-Fi USB Connector
The Nintendo Wi-Fi USB Connector was intended for players without routers.

Players must have a wireless access point or hotspot, typically a wireless router. The router's settings may need to be adjusted to accept the system as well. The first time a player connects, a connection file is saved on the system using a step-by-step process. After the router and the Nintendo system connect successfully, the player can log in at any time. Common problems faced by first-time users include firewalls and parental controls.

In an attempt to widen the user base, Nintendo released the Nintendo Wi-Fi USB Connector. This device connects Nintendo hardware to the Internet, through the user's Microsoft Windows computer and an available USB port.[2] This is particularly useful for players without wireless routers or home routers using the WPA or WPA2 wireless security standards, when the Nintendo DS and games are only compatible with WEP.[3] This excludes Nintendo DSi enhanced titles, such as Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem!, but requires the player to be playing on a Nintendo DSi.

The Nintendo DS, Wii, Nintendo DSi, and Nintendo 3DS can connect with the Nintendo Wi-Fi USB Connector, but the Wii U cannot.

Also, a player could link a Nintendo DS to the Connection at Wi-Fi enabled McDonald's restaurants for free.[4] When no other option is available, it is also possible for a computer connected to the Internet to create a hotspot.

Wii LAN Adapter

The Wii can also be connected to the Internet with a wired LAN connection. For this, the Wii LAN Adapter has to be bought separately. It is plugged into one of the USB ports at the back of the Wii and offers a port for LAN cables. This can cause confusion with the term of a similar name because the adapter bypasses the need to look for a hotspot. The name Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection was chosen when the Wii was still in development and the only device able to access the internet was the Nintendo DS, which no LAN support was possible.

The Wii LAN Adapter is also supported by the Wii U, Nintendo Switch, and even PC (with driver).[5]

Matchmaking

Once logged into the service, the game system took players to the online lobby of the video game they were playing. Since there are no user accounts, Nintendo used Friend Codes and Wii System Codes. Friend Codes were automatically assigned to a game when it connected to Nintendo WFC for the first time. Each Friend Code is unique and it is impossible for two game units to have identical Friend Codes. In fact, each Friend Code is a 32 bit number and the games extend it with a 7 bit checksum to a total of 39 bits[6]. The player could not alter the Friend Code in any way, and the only way to get a new one was to delete save data on the game unit and connect to Nintendo WFC again. The player could register codes and usernames of another player using Nintendo WFC. Wii System Codes work in a similar manner but are exclusive to the Wii console's messaging service.

While each game made different use of the system, there are typical options for Wi-Fi enabled games. In Worldwide play, games were matched with a random player from anywhere around the globe. Regional play allowed players to battle other players with the same regional version of the game. Rivals mode paired players of similar skill levels. Friends mode allowed players to compete against other players with whom they have exchanged their Friend or Wii System Codes. This mode often includes more features, including voice chat.

Super Mario games that use Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection

Yoshi racing against another Yoshi on Mario Circuit in Mario Kart DS
Mario Kart DS used WFC for online multiplayer races.

A handful of games in the Super Mario franchise utilized this feature. They are listed below in order or release.

Nintendo DS

Wii

Names in other languages

Language Name Meaning
Japanese ニンテンドーWi-Fiコネクション
Nintendō Wai-Fai Konekushon
In Japanese, "Wi-Fi" is written as: ワイファイ

Chinese 任天堂Wi-Fi連接 (Traditional)
任天堂Wi-Fi连接 (Simplified)
Rèntiāntáng Wúxiàn Wǎngluò Liánjiē
In Chinese, "Wi-Fi" is written as: 無線網絡 (Traditional) / 无线网络 (Simplified).

French Connexion Wi-Fi Nintendo
 
Korean 닌텐도 Wi-Fi 커넥션
Nintendo Wai-Pai Keonegsyeon
In Korean, "Wi-Fi" is written as: 와이파이.

Spanish Conexión Wi-Fi de Nintendo
 

Trivia

The Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection logo on Yoshi's Island DS's pre-release box art

References

External links