Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection has been one of Nintendo's biggest pushes with the Nintendo DS. Two of the most successful series to take it on have been Mario Kart DS and, of course, Pokémon. But the waters have been rough. When Pokémon Diamond and Pearl first came out of the gate, we finally had online battles and trades, even at the expense of Nintendo's unwieldy Friend Code system. The other inclusion at the start was the Global Trade Station. Excellent as it was to be able to search for any Pokémon you wanted (although you must have seen the Pokémon in your game already), it hit a stale patch when everyone demanded a Dialga or a Palkia for a Bibarel or a Honchkrow. Later advancements such as Wi-Fi Plaza and games followed, although none particularly stood out. Game Freak has really explored the potential of Wi-Fi with the forthcoming fifth generation though. Existing features like the GTS have been upgraded, now with features such as random battles against other players.More interesting is the recently revealed Global Link, which allows players to upload their save files to the internet to access extra features and effects on the game. The Pokémon Dream World allows players to obtain Pokémon not in the Isshu Pokédex, as well as Pokémon with abilities not normally held. Downloadable content is also accessible through the Global Link, although the only confirmed DLC features so far are new C-Gear features and songs for Pokémon Musical, although I have to give Game Freak the benefit of the doubt and think there will be more possibilities revealed.
Another feature I'd like to give passing praise to, even if it doesn't fit in with the rest because it is local wireless instead of Nintendo WFC, is the High Link. Players can interact with each other in the Isshu region, as well as engage in competitive or cooperative missions. This is another great step in the right direction for multiplayer action in the series, as players can finally interact with each other outside the confines of the Union and Wi-Fi Rooms.
I can only praise Game Freak for every advance they make in Wi-Fi and wireless features in the games. My only complaint is that they have been slow to leak out. I am of the opinion that multiplayer needs to be focused on more in the games. Series creator Satoshi Tajiri has said before one of his original concepts for Pokémon was a mental image of monsters and insects crawling along a link cable between two Game Boys. In fact, one of the original reasons for multiple versions with different Pokémon available on each (aside from breeding an immortal cash cow) was encouraging trade between players.
This brings the games forward, but at the same time, goes along to fulfilling a goal that has existed since the very beginning. Many a fan has clamored for a Pokémon massive multiplayer game, and Black and White's advances in Wi-Fi and wireless bring those dreams closer to reality. Pokémon was imagined as a social experience, and that thought is being implemented very well in the fifth generation. I'll see you online, my friends.
Looking Forward can also be read on BulbaNews.