List of messaging applications for Nintendo game consoles

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Ever since the introduction of the Nintendo DS in 2004, which is Nintendo's first gaming console to have wireless communication as a standard, Nintendo introduced a variety of instant messaging applications to suit each gaming console they released ever since. The following is a list of the messaging applications that was developed for Nintendo's consoles.


Pictochat logo.png
Type LAN messenger
Launch date
  • NA November 21, 2004
  • JP December 2, 2004
  • AUS February 24, 2005
  • EU March 11, 2005
Last updated March 22, 2012 (details)
Platform Nintendo DS
Nintendo DS Lite
Nintendo DSi
Nintendo DSi XL

PictoChat (ピクトチャット PikutoChatto?) is a communication utility that comes pre-installed on the Nintendo DS, Nintendo DS Lite and Nintendo DSi consoles. Up to sixteen people can paint and/or text chat with each other using it, connected wirelessly through a LAN-only, system-to-system wireless connection. It allows for simple input of keyboard text and written text/drawings. PictoChat received an Excellence Prize for Entertainment at the 2004 Japan Media Arts Festival.



The touch screen is used to type in letters with an on-screen keyboard or to draw and send pictures. Messages sent from the DS or DS Lite appear in black, while DSi systems feature an additional "rainbow" pen (see the last paragraph of functions). The keyboard provides enough Latin and kana glyphs to write in all languages supported by the system: English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese, plus Hungarian, Finnish, Portuguese and Dutch.The pictochat system can only send messages in a radius of 10 meters.

Four chat rooms (A, B, C & D) are available at one time, each with a capacity of sixteen people, for a maximum of sixty-four people in total of all the chat rooms.

PictoChat is preloaded onto all Nintendo DS, Nintendo DS Lite, Nintendo DSi, and Nintendo DSi XL units worldwide.

On the DSi versions of PictoChat, a rainbow pen can be used by tapping on the pen icon again once it has been selected. Content created using the rainbow pen can be read by PictoChat users on Nintendo DS Lite and original Nintendo DS systems. Additionally, the DS and DS Lite play a special sound when receiving a message written by a DSi user.

PictoChat inspired one stage design in the Wii fighting game Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

Using PictoChat[edit]

PictoChat has a very simple interface. One of the main techniques is to write or draw on the DS touchscreen with the stylus. Users can also type a message by touching an on-screen keyboard or by using the DS's control pad to select a letter and A to type it. In addition, users can drag letters from the keyboard to move them anywhere in the chat window. Pressing select or the retrieve button (the button under the Send button) will recall the image at the bottom of the top screen and copy it into the user's workspace. To make a different picture recall itself, the user can use the arrows on the touch-screen or the R and L buttons to select a different picture from the chat history. Pressing the far lower-right hand button erases the current chat window.

Clicking on one's name or another user's name will reveal his or her color and profile (which can be changed in the DS settings). When the user opens PictoChat on their birthday, it will greet the player, wishing them a 'Happy Birthday'.[1]

PictoChat animation[edit]

Albeit not an official function, PictoChat has been used to create short animations by drawing individual pictures on the Nintendo DS's touch screen and sending them frame by frame to the message board on the top screen. By pressing and holding down the left shoulder button and right shoulder button respectively to scroll through the pictures, it shows them at a frame rate of 7.5 frames per second, creating the illusion of animation. Several online galleries are dedicated to sharing PictoChat animations.[2]

Kanji Sonomama Rakubiki Jiten[edit]

The Nintendo DS kanji-English-Japanese dictionary 'Kanji Sonomama Rakubiki Jiten' (漢字そのまま楽引辞典?) contains an extension to PictoChat that allows users to input kanji characters in addition to the standard character set. This version of PictoChat also vocalized roman characters and kana when they are input. This software is only available in Japan.

Wii Message Board[edit]

Wii Message Board
Developer Nintendo
Type Email Client
Launch date 2006
Last updated November 6, 2012 (details)
Platform Wii

The Wii Message Board allows users to leave messages for friends, family members, or other users on a calendar-based message board. Users can also use WiiConnect24 to trade messages and pictures with other Wii owners, conventional email accounts (email pictures to console, but not pictures to email), and mobile phones (through text messages). Each Wii has an individual email account containing the Wii Number. Prior to trading messages it is necessary to add and approve contacts in the address book, although the person added will not get an automatic notification of the request, and must be notified by other means. The service also alerts all users of incoming game-related information.

The Wii Message Board is available for users to post messages that are available to other Wii users by usage of Wii Numbers with WiiConnect24. In addition to writing text, players can also include images from an SD card in the body of messages, as well as attaching a Mii to the message. Announcements of software updates and video game news are posted by Nintendo. The Message Board can be used for posting memos for oneself or for family members without going online. These messages could then be put on any day of the calendar. The Wii Message Board could also be updated automatically by a real-time game like Animal Crossing.

Wii Sports, Wii Play, Mario Kart Wii, Wii Speak Channel, Wii Sports Resort, Super Mario Galaxy & Super Mario Galaxy 2 use the Message Board to update the player on any new high scores or gameplay advancements, such as medal placements in the former two titles, completions of races including a photo, audio messages, and letters from the Mailtoad via the Wii message board. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Super Mario Galaxy, Super Smash Bros Brawl, Elebits, Animal Crossing: City Folk, Dewy's Adventure and the Virtual Console game Pokémon Snap allow players to take screenshots and post them to the Message Board to edit later or send to friends via messages. Except for Nintendo GameCube games, the Message Board also records the play history in the form of "Today's Accomplishments". This feature automatically records details of what games or applications were played and for how long. It cannot be deleted or hidden without formatting the console itself.[3]

Subsequent system updates added a number of minor features to the Message Board, including minor aesthetic changes, USB keyboard support and the ability to receive Internet links from friends, which can be launched in the Internet Channel.

The Wii Message Board is partially supported on Wii U via Wii Mode. Players can still receive internal messages from various Wii games that support this feature. Since the Wii U neither supports WiiConnect24, nor has its own Wii Friend Code, it cannot receive messages from or send messages to other sources or players. Consequently, the Wii U's Wii Message Board lacks an Address Book. Additionally, the WiiConnect24 service is to be no longer available as of June 28, 2013, completely ceasing data exchange functionality of the Wii Message Board for all Wii consoles themselves, whether as messages or game data.

The Wii Message Board is partially succeeded by the Notifications app on both Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, albeit the app does not support sending messages. It is also partially succeeded by the Activity Log app on the same consoles in terms of recording and saving historic data based on the user's activity and game play.

Wii Speak Channel[edit]

Main article: Wii Speak
Wii Speak Channel
Wii Speak Channel titlescreen.png
Developer Nintendo
Type Online voice-only chat
Launch date December 5, 2008
Last updated March 27, 2009
Platform Wii

On October 2, 2008, Nintendo announced that Wii Speak would have its own Wii Channel. The Wii Speak Channel can be unlocked for download by a 16-digit Wii Download Ticket, included with the Wii Speak package upon purchase. Those who enter the 16-digit code on the Wii Shop Channel are allowed to download the Wii Speak Channel, which was launched on December 5, 2008.[4] If for any reason, the download ticket was lost or used on another Wii, users could obtain a new download ticket via email from Nintendo. Prior to the launch, customers could download the Wii Speak Channel Download Assistant, a channel which gave information about the release of the Wii Speak Channel. After the release, the Download Assistant updated itself into the actual channel.

The channel allows users to chat in one of four rooms with Wii Friends using Wii Speak online.[5] There is no limit to the number of people that can be in each room.[5] Each user will be represented by their Mii, which will lip sync to their spoken words. In addition, users will also be able to leave audio messages on the Wii message board for other users, as well as make audio captions for their stored photos. Users can also share photo slideshows and comment on them.[5]

This channel is not available for the Wii U's Wii Mode, due to the Wii U lacking its own Wii Friend Code, and WiiConnect24 support, albeit the Wii Speak peripheral itself does function on the Wii U.

Swapnote/Nintendo Letter Box[edit]

The Exchange Whenever Diary
Swapnote/Nintendo Letter Box
Developer Nintendo
Type Online chat
Launch date
  • JP December 21, 2011
  • NA/PAL December 22, 2011
Last updated October 31, 2013 (details)
Platform Nintendo 3DS
Nintendo 3DS XL

Swapnote, known as Nintendo Letter Box in PAL regions and Itsu no Mani Kōkan Nikki in Japan, is a messaging application for the Nintendo 3DS. Swapnote was released on December 22, 2011 in Europe, Australia and North America via the Nintendo eShop, and can be downloaded at no additional cost, and is pre-installed on newer systems. This application allows users to send hand-written/drawn messages to registered friends via SpotPass either or other users via StreetPass.[6] The app also allows users to freely embed pictures and sounds into their messages, and it also lets users change the position and the orientation of the picture and sound icons. Features are unlocked as players continue to send letters, such as the ability to hand-write/draw 3D messages, with additional stationary and features unlocked by spending Play Coins. Messages sent and received can also be saved indefinitely, in spite of the 3000 message limit. Additional stationary can be obtained via certain Nintendo related events, such as using specific software, or by saving them from other people's messages.

Despite being a successor to PictoChat, Swapnote's messaging model is not based on the standard instant messaging model as PictoChat has always been, as the application lacks in instant messaging features such as keyboard functionality, chat rooms, and live-continuous messaging.[7]

On July 5, 2012, Nintendo updated the Swapnote application to feature six different colors of ink, with only one color being available per message.[8] On April 11, 2013, Nintendo updated Swapnote yet again, this time bringing even more new features, including the ability to take photos or record audio directly through the application, as well as the ability to undo drawings, and use different colors on each page of a message.[9]

On October 31, 2013, Nintendo abruptly suspended the Swapnote/Nintendo Letter Box SpotPass functionality after discovering minors were sharing Friend Codes with strangers who had exploited the messaging service to allegedly send pornographic imagery.[10][11] Additionally, the Special Notes service, which were also sent via SpotPass to promote Nintendo games, has also been suspended. Nintendo issued an apology to those who had been using the application in a responsible manner.[12][13]

Wii U Chat[edit]

Wii U Chat
Wii U Chat logo.png
Developer NERD
Type Online chat
Launch date

NA 20121118November 18, 2012
PAL 20121130November 30, 2012

JP 20121208December 8, 2012
Last updated November 18, 2012 (details)
Platform Wii U

Wii U Chat (Wii U チャット Wī Yū Chatto?) is Wii U's online chat solution, powered by the Nintendo Network.[14] The service allows the users to use the Wii U GamePad's front-facing camera to video chat with registered friends. While video chatting, only the Wii U GamePad is needed, since on the TV, the same picture as in the GamePad's is shown. Users can also draw on the GamePad during a chat session.[15]

If there is a game or another application already running, the Wii U GamePad's HOME button ring will flash indicating that there is an incoming call. The idea of the feature was originally seen in the introduction trailer of the Wii U in E3 2011. However, users won't also be able to use the service as a multitasking application, therefore not having the ability to make video calls without interrupting game play. Nintendo is currently working on a future update that will make video chat possible through multitasking though.[16]

Wii U Chat arrived in a "day one" update on the same day the Wii U launched.

Similar software[edit]

A DS game called Ping Pals is based on PictoChat, featuring an advanced range of options and capabilities. However, both users must own the game, making it less useful and widespread than PictoChat. Due to PictoChat being built into the system, Ping Pals received very negative reviews.

Clubhouse Games (42-All Time Classics in Europe) has a chat function similar to PictoChat, with added colors and extra features.

The game LOL has a similar interface to PictoChat but the gameplay itself is different.


  1. ^ Nintendo DS Birthday Greeting. YouTube (2011-11-19). Retrieved on 2013-08-23.
  2. ^ Crecente, Brian (2005-03-30). "Oddities: Animated DS Pictochat Drawings". Kotaku. Retrieved 2008-02-27. 
  3. ^ "Reasoning Behind the Wii". Nintendo. September 14, 2006. Archived from the original on December 9, 2006. Retrieved September 14, 2006. 
  4. ^ DeVries, Jack (2008-10-02). "WiiSpeak Gets a Dedicated Channel". IGN. Retrieved 2008-10-02. 
  5. ^ a b c Casamassina, Matt (2008-10-02). "Interview: Cammie Dunaway". IGN Wii. IGN Entertainment. p. 1. Retrieved 2008-10-14. 
  6. ^ Wahlgren, Jon (2011-10-21). "Kid Icarus, Kirby Getting 3D Classics Makeovers". Nintendo Life. Retrieved 2011-10-22. 
  7. ^ Swapnote bringing messaging to the 3DS – The Tanooki. (2011-10-23). Retrieved on 2013-08-23.
  8. ^ "Swapnote Updated to Feature Additional Colors - News". Nintendo World Report. Retrieved 2013-09-18. 
  9. ^ by JC Fletcher on Apr 11th 2013 5:45PM (2013-04-11). "Swapnote update adds photo, filtering features". Joystiq. Retrieved 2013-09-18. 
  10. ^ 2013-11-02, 3DS写真交換停止 任天堂 わいせつ画像送受信防げず, Asahi Shimbun
  11. ^ 2013-11-02, 任天堂:未成年わいせつ画像交換で3DS向けサービス停止, Mainichi Shimbun
  12. ^ Notice about service for Nintendo 3DS software Swapnote. (2013-11-1). Retrieved on 2013-11-1.
  13. ^ by Andrew Brown on Oct. 31, 2013 5:45PM (2013-10-13). "Swapnote, Flipnote 3D Discontinued". Nintendo World Report. Retrieved 2013-11-01. 
  14. ^ Wii U Chat Application Spotted On Packaging. Pure Nintendo. Retrieved on 2013-08-23.
  15. ^
  16. ^ Wii U Video Chat Makes You Quit Games, But Nintendo "Hope To Improve". Siliconera (2012-11-12). Retrieved on 2013-08-23.