It is that time of the decade again, the moment that every boy and girl waits for a man with magical gifts comes into their lives for a single night to give them something that they never dreamed of playing. No I am not talking about christmas, I speak of a console launch! Specifically the launch of Nintendo’s tablet/console hybrid, the Wii U. I have spent the entire past week paying attention to my Wii U, it’s features, it’s figure and of course it’s looks. There have been high’s and lows in our relationship but everyone deserves a chance to develop a beautiful thing in their lives, even U. The Wii U is like Nintendo’s second chance for a lot of us core gamers that used to be loyal to the brand, so there is definitely something inside that has me rooting for Nintendo. So allow me to give you the lowdown on how my date with the Wii U went.
When I First Met U
Console launches are always something that gets the blood pumping, it’s similar to game launches but because there isn’t one very often it has more love involved. People waiting outside at midnight to get their hands on that sweet blue box, the love between the fans that has them exchanging usernames on their 3DS or PS Vitas, and there is a hint of connection, knowing that everyone in line is excited to see how their childhood friend Nintendo has developed. That would be the assumed case of the Wii U launch at least, the Wii sold hundreds of thousands of units the first it was released in America, over 600,000 to be more precise, so one of the biggest surprises to me was that the launch for the Wii U was extremely disappointing. A lot of retailers did not have a midnight launch, possibly because Nintendo decided to release it on a sunday, and even if a store was having a midnight release for the console there was not many people waiting in line to get one. In fact many stores still had Wii Us in stock after closing the first day it was released. It may be helpful for people who don’t have the time to go to the store at midnight to pick up a console but it definitely does not look good if you haven’t gotten people excited for your system by the time it launches.
After picking up my Wii U I also picked up 5 games along with it, Epic Mickey, Rabbids Land, Scribblenauts Unlimited, Tank! Tank! Tank! And Zombi U. Nintendoland also came with the Wii U as I got the deluxe bundle which also included a couple of stands for the system and a charging dock for the gamepad. The packaging for everything seemed pretty nice, although I was disgusted at the sensor bar that was included with the system. Not because it is a bad sensor bar but I was hoping that Nintendo would begin to move away from the wii remotes instead of trying to squeeze every bit of life out of them, but I opened up the second portion of my box and saw the Wii U console, almost smiling at me and as I unwrapped it I told it “I’m only doing this because it’s U”. The console is very easy to set up though, it was nice of Nintendo to include an HDMI cord for their console, as if they are trying to show people that it can play with the big boys now and include 1080p. The power supply block that connects to the outlet was a bit bigger than the Wii’s but it almost looked exactly the same, it even has the same input that the Wii had, which was a bit confusing. The gamepad looks a little bulky at first, after dealing with multiple different tablets that have become popular over the years holding one like a controller seemed like it may be an uncomfortable challenge but the Wii U’s curves drew me in and surprisingly felt just as comfortable as the average controller.
When Wii Touched
One of the biggest turn offs to the console showed up right as I turned my Wii U on, there was an update that lasted about an hour. For many PS3 gamers this is something that a lot of us are used to but it does not make it any better, so I turned my TV off and read on the internet about all the Wii U forums to see just how my first date would go, a huge warning for future Wii U owners or Wii U owners that have not connected to the internet yet, a lot of internet forums say that you can unplug the Wii U during the update process so that when you turn it back on the update will download in the background, I highly suggest against doing this because it has a high possibility of bricking your console making it useless and unplayable! So after the long update had installed I looked through everything that the systems main menu had to offer, I set up my Wii U to control my tv and it even has the option of allowing the gamepad to control your DVR box but I do not have DVR therefore I did not utilize this function. The Wii U can have multiple accounts on the system for different saves and online accounts and such but it felt like Nintendo was treating me like I had never seen a feature before, multiple profiles is not something that is new, not only is it the average for a home computer with multiple users but the PS3 and Xbox 360 have had multiple profiles since the beginning of their launch. One of the cool things I thought about the profile though was the accessibility of your miis, instead of going through the process of creating your cartoony similar all I had to do was open my 3DS, send my mii over to the Wii U and my profile was all finished. I set up my Nintendo Network ID so I could check out the Miiverse and I found possibly the best online community that I have seen on any platform, if there is anything that I think the Wii U does better than other consoles it is the online community. Instead of people being shut down for giving their honest opinions or a place where there are inappropriate non-game related topics, the Miiverse allows gamers to discuss their favorite games with other people that want to also discuss. It allows you to post drawings, text posts and screen shots and so far from what I have seen the community is incredibly friendly, it almost seems incredibly surreal that so many gamers have such a great attitude and it really made me enjoy the experience a lot.
You can also go back to playing your old Wii games on the Wii U or you could transfer your data from your old wii so you can keep your saves, either way you have to emulate the original Wii’s OS just so you can do any of this and it was a bit of a hassle. Another thing I found really troublesome involving the wii is that the Wii Shop is completely seperate from the Wii U E Shop. Instead of merging all of the content together you have to emulate the Wii to be able to access any of that older content. While it isn’t a huge deal, it definitely is a little inconvenient. For those of you who aren’t worried about the Wii Shop and just want to play your Wii games it may be a bit more of a hassle than you would like because emulating the Wii OS requires you to be connected to the internet so you can patch the emulator onto the Wii U. This is a real disappointment for people who aren’t connected to the internet, especially the casual players that bought the Wii U because of brand name, because they won’t be able to go back and access a lot of their old library without some form of inconvenience.
I did find it really nice that most video streaming services were available on the device when I turned it on. While some of the services took a couple of days to actually be available, it was really cool to see that they had Netflix, Youtube, Amazon Instant Video and Hulu Plus ready on the system out of the box. It isn’t anything new for a console but since it is right in the middle of the screen when you turn it on the first time it may bring more people to the console. The console also has a video chat service, similar to skype, but I did not get to experience the application much because I don’t know any people with a Wii U. You can friend people from the Miiverse then call them but I have already had that happen to me a couple of times without warning and it’s a tad bit annoying. The video chat doesn’t interrupt what you are doing, instead a blue light flashes on the gamepad’s home button. Whether calling strangers is your thing or not though, that is your choice.
Mii and U
Now down to the guts of what you probably want to read the most, that is the selection of games for the console. I started my experience off with Nintendoland, Nintendo’s game to show off the benefits of using the gamepad and other things that their new console can do. The game is a great deal of fun for local multiplayer, although most games revolve around the concept of the player with the gamepad being able to see things that the other players cannot it still can create a lot of intense moments. Unlike Wii Sports on the Wii though Nintendoland is not as accessible with it’s new introduced gamepad and the classic character gameplay that more of the core audience would recognize. Where Wii Sports used simple, well known mechanics such as swinging a tennis racket or bowling a ball, Nintendo land has people frantically chasing mario or swinging the Master Sword in hopes of achieving victory. It is a game of unfamiliar topics that may not transfer over as well and it may result in Nintendo losing of Wii fans. But the game is not meant to cater to those audiences, Nintendoland instead is trying to cater to the Tablet crowd that plays the miniature games on their touch screen devices. A lot of concepts that are on Nintendoland are not far off from games I have seen on other touch screen devices. Sure Zelda and Metroid couldn’t work as well as it does on this console but some games are as simple as drawing a path or moving the pad left and right. Overall the game is a great experience and is definitely a must buy for Wii U users because it will show what you are going to get out of the system and how much enjoyment you will have.
After getting Nintendoland out of the way I popped in Tank! Tank! Tank! To play with a couple of friends, because we had so much fun with Nintendoland we hoped it would give us the same experience. Tank! Tank! Tank! was definitely fun for the first bit of rounds we had but it became stale after playing the same thing over and over, after a while it definitely was a little obvious that it used to be an arcade and I was pretty disappointed that I paid full retail for the game. Basically the modes you have are Single Player and Multiplayer. In Multiplayer there are a couple of different modes, there are simple modes such as free for all or team deathmatch or you can go up against a giant monster cooperatively that can either be an AI or the player with the gamepad can control it. The singleplayer felt very similar to multiplayer where you are fighting off more giant monsters from your city and it was even more monotonous that the game makes you go back and play old levels far too much to be considered fun at all. Overall Tank! Tank! Tank should have been made a downloadable title and if I knew what it was before I purchased it I would have waited until it was worth $10 or less.
Rabbids Land was next on the list and it tended to be exactly what most knowledgeable people would expect from a Rabbids games. Rabbids land is another set of minigames for people that want to pass around a controller and play a worse version of Mario Party. While the game says it can have up to four people playing that really means that four people can run around the board from turn to turn. The local minigames really aren’t too fun and don’t feel challenging, plus after a couple of play throughs you will be tired of playing the same ones. It almost feels like the Rabbids have not moved on from the Wii days and they either need to be put to rest or find a new BWAH!
Zombi U, the game that all of the hardcore Nintendo fans hoped would be the saving grace of the console. Being excited for the Wii U I really hoped that Zombi U was going to be the game that made the console for it’s launch and would hold me until the next big title came out and luckily I was right. Zombi U is about no specific character because every time you die you become a new survivor. The game involves the survivors waking up to what is typically a british guy yelling at you for being an idiot, encouraging I know. The game throws you objectives in order to survive while learning the backstory of the games universe during your missions. These missions usually involve finding other living survivors, searching for materials to survive or just fending off zombies from your hideout so you aren’t overrun. The game uses the gamepad perfectly for inventory and mapping as well as using an in game device that allows you to see things you can’t see with the naked eye, it also allows you to hack into computers and other neat things. The game has a great creepy vibe and zombies will do their best to scare you, if you are impatient at all you will die, especially if you aren’t on your toes. The game uses all the tricks known from survival horror games to try and bring your character into the zombie world and if they get you then the next survivor you play will have to kill the monster that you created.
There are a lot of other titles for the Wii U that I played that I will be reviewing later but these are some of the titles that were really worth mentioning because they aren’t on any other console, these are some of the games that will define whether or not you will play the Wii U or if you will keep on your PC, PS3 or 360. There are other great titles but they won’t be making it into the article right now.
Wiill You Be Mine?
It is a safe type that thinks it is being wild, like the girl who thinks that her first kiss was wildly dangerous. It may be a safe bet but is it really something that will satisfy what you want? Nintendo has come a long way from the Wii and even though it was overdue it’s still enjoyable. There are a couple of titles that are pretty fun although it may be best to wait until Christmas to get one so that there is a little bit of a wider selection when you are picking out games. I would suggest popping into your closest retailer before deciding whether you want the console or not, typically they have a demo booth up that allows you to demo Rayman Legends or another big title. If you are thinking of buying for your children or other young ones then it is a great system especially if they enjoy the touch screen games. The Wii U hits and misses in a lot of places and it’s hard to judge just from the launch whether or not it will hold up for the coming years but for right now it’s pretty nice.