Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection
- “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. 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.
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. 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. 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.
Also, a player could link a Nintendo DS to the Connection at Wi-Fi enabled McDonald's restaurants for free. When no other option is available, it is also possible for a computer connected to the Internet to create a hotspot.
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.
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. 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
A handful of games in the Super Mario franchise utilized this feature. They are listed below in order or release.
Names in other languages
Nintendō Wai-Fai Konekushon
|In Japanese, "Wi-Fi" is written as: ワイファイ
Rèntiāntáng Wúxiàn Wǎngluò Liánjiē
|In Chinese, "Wi-Fi" is written as: 無線網絡 (Traditional) / 无线网络 (Simplified).
|Connexion Wi-Fi Nintendo
|닌텐도 Ｗｉ－Ｆｉ 커넥션
Nintendo Wai-Pai Keonegsyeon
|In Korean, "Wi-Fi" is written as: 와이파이.
|Conexión Wi-Fi de Nintendo
- Yoshi's Island DS originally was going to have Wi-Fi capabilities, but the feature was scrapped for unknown reasons.
- Termination of Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection Service for Nintendo DS / DSi and Wii Software. Nintendo UK. Retrieved October 26, 2023.
- Nintendo DS and wireless security compatibility (WEP & WPA). Nintendo. Retrieved January 1, 2018
- (Oct 18, 2005) Nintendo and Wayport Join Forces to Bring Free U.S. Wi-Fi Access To Nintendo DS Users. Nintendo. Archived December 23, 2005.
- Nintendo Online Store
- Custom Mario Kart Wiiki: Friend Code
- North American website (Internet Archive: Wayback Machine)