Why Wii U is Better Than You Think
Since Nintendo revealed the Wii U Mario Kart 8 bundle, it was hard to resist opening my wallet and shelling out $330 for the highly criticized console. I know performance and content wise my PC and PS4 have much more to offer, but I was drawn in by the magical and well-designed worlds of Nintendo’s trademark characters, especially now that they’re in glorious 1080p.
I struggled for nearly two weeks with not giving into desire because all of the negative hype surrounding the system. Surprisingly, my willpower stayed strong… until I decided to visit my local GameStop. My curiosity forced me to inquire about the excellent deal, so I caught the attention of the store manager and asked him to check how many were available for pre-order.
As his fingers tapped away at the keyboard I anxiously waited, expecting to hear there were no bundles left to reserve so I could move on with my life and stop obsessing. The tapping stopped and I was informed by the bald man that there was one left. Like any rational person, I took this as a sign from the video game gods that it was meant to be and within a week, I was the proud owner of a shiny new
Wii U. In my short time with it, I can say I’ve never felt better about a purchase.
Despite a lack of third party support and powerful hardware, Nintendo’s latest console has much to offer. To this point, it has been criminally undervalued, resulting in poor sales and lack of developer interest. Although the recent release of the spectacular Mario Kart 8 was enough to compel many to splurge on the failing system, raising sales by 666 percent in the UK, others still aren’t convinced it’s worth the hefty price tag. What they don’t know is the Wii U is a fascinating, unique piece of hardware that has amazing potential and is worth their money.
Nintendo always had a strong focus on creativity, being the first console to put emphasis on motion control, influencing Sony and Microsoft’s failed attempts to follow suit. Between all three new gen consoles, the Wii U was the first to push the envelope and offer a truly unique multiscreen experience.
Being pioneers of the handheld market, they created the GamePad so users could play strictly on the controller instead of the big screen, inspiring their competitors to react with Remote Play and SmartGlass. Not only does the tablet-like device come with cool features like the ability to control your TV, it offers a high resolution touchscreen, which Nintendo does a fantastic job of incorporating in their titles.
A prime example comes from The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD where the player can access the inventory using the GamePad and change gear without pausing the game. The touchscreen is also used in Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Director’s Cut for the hacking minigame, interactive map editing, and various weapon features. Small nuances such as these don’t make a huge impact, but do their part to create more innovative and engaging experiences.
Has Great Games and More to Come
At first Wii U’s upgraded specs compared to its predecessor caught the attention of third-party developers who were itching to create titles that made use of its second screen. Unfortunately, their enthusiasm diminished, causing many to jump ship and focus efforts on Xbox One and PS4 games.
Admittedly the console is in desperate need of third-party support, but that doesn’t stop it from having a solid library of current and upcoming exclusives. Nintendo has always satisfied loyal customers, reinventing trademark titles and keeping them fresh through decades. Recent titles such as Super Mario 3D World and Mario Kart 8 are both great and it’s because of Nintendo’s ability to alter their classic franchises, setting them apart from past installments. For instance, the antigravity features in Mario Kart 8 and remarkably creative new powerups in Super Mario 3D World added new elements to those beloved series.
With E3 just around the corner, it’ll be intriguing to see what new titles will be revealed for the Wii U. The machine already has several anticipated titles backing it, including Bayonetta 2, Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem, and the new Super Smash Bros. Also, rumors are surfacing on what games will be announced at next week’s convention, leaving the industry buzzing about the possibility of a new Legend of Zelda, Metroid, or Mario Galaxy. If true, Wii U may be in for the best lineup of all three consoles.
Perhaps one of the most important features of the Wii U is its ability to play a large list of games from previous Nintendo consoles. This feature is extremely important to the success of the console because it’s not offered by Xbox One or PS4, and it compels Wii owners to upgrade because it enables them to sell their old console and still play owned games. Since there are no DRM prohibitions, users are able to transfer all downloads from one console to the other. It also caters to nostalgic gamers who want to relive the glory days of the NES, SNES, or N64.
Not only is the software backwards compatible, the hardware is too. WiiMotes are usable, allowing current Wii owners to save money on extra controllers when upgrading. Other accessories such as the Wii Balance Board and Wii Nunchuk can also be used in titles they’re incorporated in. An adapter allowing use of GameCube controllers was also recently announced, creating speculation that titles from the console will soon be available on the E-shop.
Puts Strong Emphasis on Local Multiplayer
Nintendo has always provided us with great multiplayer experiences from classics like Mario Party to contemporary games like Donkey Kong Country Returns. The Wii U alone is host to a plethora of titles that put an imaginative spin on playing with others. In Ubisoft’s Rayman Legends, for example, one person uses the GamePad in order to cut ropes, activate switches, and move the environment around in order to create a less resistant path for players.
In the modern age of video games, playing on the same TV has gone the way of the dinosaur, replaced by online experiences. Sure, it’s nice to have your own big screen while gaming with friends, but it’s more compelling when competing or cooperating with others while in the same room. Trash talking over a microphone is so non personal in comparison to gloating to the opponent sitting right next to you. It’s also much more satisfying when your buddy is there to high five after you cooperate to solve a challenging puzzle or take down a difficult boss.
The Wii U may not be for everyone, but the overwhelming criticisms and hate directed at the system are unjust. Although it is greatly lacking in power, visuals don’t make great games, groundbreaking and captivating gameplay does. Besides, I’m a lot more impressed with the graphical quality of Mario Kart 8 and Super Mario 3D World than I am with Watch Dogs.
I love the Wii U because it offers features that other systems don’t, giving it an edge over the competition. I’m not insane, so I won’t even compare Wii U to the greatness of PC gaming, but as far as consoles go, it may be my favorite. Despite its minor flaws like unresponsiveness and the GamePad’s short battery life, it offers a tremendously innovative experience. It sets itself apart from its competitors, challenging gaming norms and refusing to follow the pack.