The announcement of the Wii U came and went with great fury, and within two days, Gamestop was sold out of its pre-orders. Admittedly, that is quite a feat, but the real question still resounds in my head: what exactly is everyone buying it for? I feel like Nintendo is trying to pull the wool over our eyes with this new console, and to be frank, I’m just not buying it (literally and figuratively). I’d like to discuss some aspects about the console, both for and against it, but allow me to preface all of my writing by saying that I am a very big Nintendo fan, and that I typically have purchased all of my consoles on day one (save for when I was a young buck and had to wait for Christmas). Let us commence.
There’s no selling the unit short here — The Wii U is leaps and bounds better in all aspects than its predecessor. With more processing power and beautiful 1080p graphics, no longer can reviewers and critics alike bash Nintendo’s console for not being graphically relevant. But is it too late? With all of the seventh generation of consoles reaching the downturn of their lifespans (by downturn, I mean in age, not necessarily in sales), we should be seeing a new batch of units coming out in the next year or two from both Sony and Microsoft. Will they put the Wii U in the awkward position the Wii was in during this generation, or will the Wii U still have the gusto to remain a contender? It’s hard to say at the moment, but what we can safely say is that with the addition of the upgraded processing and graphical power, the increase in internal memory, along with a much more simple way to increase memory, it is plain to see that Nintendo has built the Wii as it should have been back in 2006.
Immediate Satisfaction: Great
Long Term Satisfaction: Moderate to Moderate Low, at best
With the hardware coming up to speed where the rest of the consoles have been, we see third parties now showing support for the console. Gone are the days where developers had to ‘dumb down’ their programming to allow the lightweight contender to display what Sony and Microsoft owners were gloriously displaying in HD. This was great news from the beginning, seeing games like Batman: Arkham City, Assassin’s Creed, and other third party titles bringing support to the unit. We have even seen many original titles (see ZombiU, The Wonderful 101) make their way to the console, which are highly intriguing. Top that cake with an icing that’s as sweet as Bayonetta 2 being a Wii U exclusive, and fans are really anxious about this product. But let’s not be fooled. This ‘third party support’ is, quite literally, games that have been released for several months now in certain instances, with a few extra hours of content to entice players to buy for the Wii U. Is it really worth it? Depends on who you are. I know that the following behind Platinum Games isn’t that large here as it is in Japan, so Bayonetta 2 being a Wii U exclusive may not mean much.
So what does this mean? It means that for a little while, the games that come to the Wii U that were multi-platform to begin with will have a few extra perks for those who bought a Wii U. However, once that novelty wears itself out, it will be no different than the PS3 or 360 that is sitting in your house right now. Playing it will be different however, as the controller will be the size of a tablet.
Immediate Satisfaction: Good
Long Term Satisfaction: For those who own a 360 or PS3, will probably be pretty low, unless you are anxiously awaiting console exclusives, which is really TBA as some of Nintendo’s largest franchises only have rumor mills churning news out.
Nintendo announced that the Wii U will be compatible with the controllers from the Wii, which is a good thing. Granted, they will be taking up more space, and you still have to deal with that pesky sensor bar, but outside of that, everything is golden. Both editions of the console come with one of the new, fancy tablet-esque controllers, and new ones will cost you around $130, the most expensive singular peripheral since Microsoft’s Wi-Fi Adaptor for the 360. The good news is that Nintendo seems to be aiming towards only having one of those controllers active at any given time, meaning there really shouldn’t be a reason to buy any more per household (sibling rivalry will be reignited once more!).
The controller as a stand alone seems like a great idea. Here we have a controller with a large screen, a camera, speakers and a microphone, two joysticks, plus all of the familiar buttons built right into the unit. There are some demos that were shown during E3 that made use of the screen wonderfully, and the ‘tech demo’ game Nintendoland really shows off a lot of functionality. Wii Sports did too, but some of the more successful games on the Wii didn’t use the motion controls for functional gameplay. Things like that are a novelty: cool to see for the first hour or so, but ultimately pull away from gaming as a distraction rather than an addition. Nintendo has stated that all of their games will give players the ability to just play ‘normally’ but does that really solve the issue?
We can’t forget the ability to at any point send the signal of the game from the TV to the screen in your hands to continue playing the game and freeing up the television for other members of the household. My initial argument is why would you ever want to view something that should be displayed in 1080p on a high definition TV shrunk down to a 6.2″ screen. I’ve had several people come to me and say this is a great idea, because they prefer handheld gaming over console gaming and so forth, but I can’t help but wonder how strong the connection can be as you move about your house. Typically, one story is enough to ruin the connection between the Wii remotes, not to mention that the sensor bar would no longer be able to detect the controller’s location.
Immediate Satisfaction: Great
Long Term Satisfaction: Moderate
As I stated above, the hype for the Wii U is evident. Clearly there is a demand for the Wii U for various reasons. Some people are buying it because they truly feel it is the next best thing. Others are buying it simply because they don’t miss any console launch no matter what it is. No matter what the reason, I still believe there is less than meets the eye here. Nintendo deserves credit: they are trying their best to aim for the ‘core’ gamer once more. I do highly disagree with this approach, however due to a number of reasons.
- I don’t think updated graphics and a new controller type constitutes the next generation of console. This feels more like a refresh of the Wii not only in a physical aspect, but even in the marketing, with the naming convention being almost identical to the first. Wii 2 and Wii U are awfully similar. Something like this should have came out much earlier. I agree that this console was much needed for Nintendo, but I think the strategic approach may be a little off, at least as it relates to a United States launch.
- I don’t believe Nintendo is braced for the shift in market that this is applying to. A lot of the ‘core’ gamers have a hard time swallowing that the Wii U is going to be a gaming console for gamers. With the bitter taste in their mouth of the Wii, they are going to see it as something that families play together, or that older folks buy to entertain their grandkids. It is easy to see by the specs and the games coming out that Nintendo is all about serious business, but is it a ‘too little, too late’ moment, coming out exactly six years after the former console?
- Gamers are happy to see these mainstream titles coming out for a Nintendo based console again, but where are our big names at? Mario is in a rehash of a rehash of a game, but to play as Samus or Link, we have to use them in mini-games found in Nintendoland? This is exhausting. Twilight Princess launched in 2006 and Skyward Sword came in 2011, so our odds of seeing a Zelda game within a year of the Wii U launch is slim. And what ever happened to Super Smash Bros. 4?
I won’t even get into backwards compatibility, because I realize that I may be the only person who is passionate about the subject. I don’t like what any console is doing with it, to be quite honest, but watching Nintendo follow suit just bothers me. I am glad that they will let us transfer our data from the Wii to the Wii U, but then again, this has been available (see: Nintendo DSi>DSiXL>3DS) so I wouldn’t expect anything less. After all, if you’re anything like me, you would be quite furious to lose over 70 titles of Virtual Console and WiiWare games, right?
The Wii U is going to be a big buy this holiday season, but I am struggling to see the benefits of owning one beyond a year, when the other two big contenders are more than likely brewing up their latest batch of next gen consoles. Not to mention Ouya, the console that is launching with a price tag lower than we’ve seen in over a decade for a console, coming into the fray to really mix things up.
I now extend the question out to the readers: are you going to be picking up a Wii U? Let us know why or why not, and the reasoning behind it in the comments below!