Nintendo has really dropped the ball with their online service, namely the Friend Code system. I know my PSN and Xbox Live names, they’re both simple to remember because I got to choose the names when I signed up. The Wii and DS however I’ve been randomly assigned a number.

I’ve no idea what my Wii number is but I know where to find it. I’ve never actually played a Wii game online having only ever played single player games on the system but once in a while I’ve needed the code to have a review game gifted to me.

I’ve never really needed my DS code either. I’ve played games online like Mario Kart DS and Phantasy Star Zero but it’s always been against randoms so I didn’t realise until today just how utterly stupid the system is.

From what I can gather each game offers up an entirely new 12 digit Friend Code making for quite a few variants if you play a lot of games online. Throw in the fact that using a different copy of the game or different system creates an entirely new code and things get rather messy. I might be wrong with all this so please do correct me if I am. I haven’t had much experience with DS gaming online! Crucially for this tale, you have to find your unique Friend Code within the game. Sometimes it’s pretty simple. In the case of Pokemon HeartGold it’s really not as obvious as it should have been.

Dan Lipscombe messaged me this afternoon to ask if we could do a quick Pokemon trade so his Quilava could evolve (yes we’re both in our 20s and adults, honest!). No problems there you’d think. Wrong. So wrong in fact that I wish I’d been able to experience it while I was still writing my review. Unfortunately when I reviewed the game it was pre-release and none of my friends had a copy.

Dan asked me for the trade at 5.40pm, we stopped at 6.20pm so we could go our separate ways and watch Doctor Who. We managed it afterwards fortunately but it was nowhere near as simple as you’d think.

First of all we had to find our unique friends codes. That took until 6pm. The manual was very vague. I explored the Global Terminal thinking that if that’s where you go to trade with random players then surely that’s where you’d go to communicate with friends, right? Nope. In the end Dan found it on the Pal Pad, the problem was I didn’t have a Pal Pad because I hadn’t visited a particular floor of the Pokemon Centre. Went to the Pokemon Centre, acquired the Pal Pad and had my Friend Code at last.

Right then, I’ll go back to the Global Terminal as I bet that’s where you communicate. Of course not. Back I go to the Pokemon Centre. It’s 6.15pm by this time. We thought we’d found the right option this time but it looked like we could only voice chat there. Grrr. Off we both run to the union room at the top of the building. Nope, still no good. All I can see is an NPC, no Dan. It’s 6.21pm, we give up in favour of Doctor Who.

We return at 8.19pm. Dan says he’ll have a quick look to figure out what needs doing. My DS battery is running low at this point so I wait for his message. We try again at 8.30pm and three minutes later, finally (at bloody last) we make our trade.

It was a mess. If we’d had a typical friends list sort of thing like on the PS3 or Xbox 360, it would have taken seconds. And why on earth are some online functions available in the Global Terminal yet others are in the Pokemon Centre? Put it all together for goodness sake!

Blog a Day 93of365: Online Woes with the DS