Review: Wii U

I love Nintendo. From Mario to Pikmin I never struggle to enjoy myself while playing a Nintendo title. Lately Nintendo has done some pretty stupid things that make me criticize them a bit. Nintendo really needs to reformat its marketing tactics. First with the 3DS basically being marketed as a normal DS with 3D tacked on (which it’s not, it’s a whole new console with much better specs) and now with the Wii U. Most people were confused at first. “Isn’t the Wii U just a peripheral?” I’ve had friends come over to try the Wii U this past month who still didn’t realize it’s not just a peripheral, and these guys play video games daily. This is Nintendo’s biggest flaw in marketing right now; they seem to think it’s a good idea to put a lot of emphasis on specific points of new consoles, instead of the whole console itself. But you’re not here to see to me rant about Nintendo’s marketing. You’re here to read about my opinion on the Wii U; is it fun, inspired, and worth it? To answer those questions in a short sense: Yes, yes, and not yet.

The Wii U Deluxe Bundle (The one I bought and suggest buying) comes with a Black Wii U, Black Gamepad, a charging dock, Nintendo Land, an HDMI cable, stands for your Console and Gamepad, and a 32 GB hard drive. Being the Nintendo fan I am, I knew before they even announced anything that I’d be buying the next Nintendo console. When they did announce it, however, I was skeptical. Releasing hardware that has nearly the same capabilities of the consoles that are out right now was something that most people thought was a bad idea. I tend to be a lot more neutral towards how powerful my hardware is. For me, it’s all about the flavor of the game. When I want a powerful device, I want it for things like render distances. The Grand Theft Auto series is a perfect example of the kind of games I would want to have this kind of rendering distance in. When I think Nintendo, I think Mario, Zelda, Star Fox, Pikmin… and these games honestly don’t really need the kind of power we do for other games. The reason for this is because of their flavor and the design choices Nintendo takes in mind. The environments are usually “stages” with load screens and not completely open world, which opens more possibilities for better looking environments in a smaller scale as opposed to greater scale. I’m not giving Nintendo a free pass, I still wish the hardware was better, but I do think that this is why Nintendo decided to take this course.

Other than hardware specifics, the Wii U Gamepad is what people have in their minds when thinking about the Wii U. The gamepad is surprisingly light and comfortable once you get used to it. It features a touchpad, microphone, speakers, a camera, motion controls, dual analog sticks, four face buttons, a d-pad, start and pause buttons, four shoulder buttons, a home button, a power button and a TV button. The TV button allows you to use the Gamepad as a universal television remote, a neat little addition that certainly doesn’t hurt. I honestly really like the Gamepad. I think some games will use it magnificently while others will abuse it. I think once the Wii U has been out for a year or two developers will obtain the perfect equilibrium between Gamepad usage and TV usage.

Software time. Right now, the Wii U doesn’t have anything worth the $300-$350 investment. ZombiU, New Super Mario Bros. U, and Nintendo Land are all underwhelming games (Although Nintendo Land IS fun with friends/family and ZombiU COULD have been good with a few adjustments.) Once Pikmin 3, The Wonderful 101 and Wind Waker HD are on the shelves, the Wii U will finally have a solid list of exclusives to choose from. Some would say “The Wii U had, like, the best launch ever duh!” because of all the games that were available at launch. I’d argue that any gamer who is going to buy a console at launch should have already played Batman: Arkham City, Mass Effect 3, and Assassin’s Creed III, so that argument is pretty irrelevant. If you haven’t played said games on an Xbox 360, PS3 or PC yet, well I guess this is your chance to do it, but for the majority of launch-window buyers, we’ve already played these games.

The Nintendo Network and (specifically, the Miiverse) is a truly impressive experience. The ability to pause your game at any time to access a forum – essentially a database of information – and discuss the game with fellow gamers is something that I’m surprised hasn’t been done before the Wii U. It’s fun to log on and just communicate and socialize with fellow Wii U owners and Nintendo fans. Hopefully once the Wii U games more software the actual amount of people playing online games will significantly increase, because right now, the servers for the online multiplayer for games is usually dead or near dead.

The Wii U is fun. It really does feel like Nintendo is on to something. The gamepad, to me, can offer ease of communication between player and game, innovative puzzle dynamics and creative gameplay changes to mix-up the experience it offers. I have no doubt in my mind that Nintendo’s release will be positively the pinnacle of the console’s library, and am incredibly excited to see these games when the time rolls around. I’m very excited for E3 this year simply because it will allow Nintendo to show the skeptics the potential of the Wii U – hopefully. As long as Nintendo stays on track and continues there tradition of highly anticipated, well developed, fun games, I have no doubt in my mind the Wii U will not only be worth the investment, but it will be a success, which is what really matters in the end. If you’re looking for a console to play Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto on, stick with a Microsoft or Sony platform. If you’re looking for a console to play creative, innovative and simply fun games, look nowhere else but the Wii U… next year. Don’t buy it yet. It just doesn’t have enough games right now for it to be worth it.

Verdict:

Fun?: Yes, I’ve had a blast on the Wii U so far.

The next step?: For Nintendo. Sony and Microsoft need to keep doing their own thing and disregard what Nintendo is doing. They aren’t in the same competition anymore.

Worth it?: Not yet, wait until late this year or early next year.

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