Five Thoughts On The Wii U
In a move that won’t surprise anyone, I bought a Wii U on launch night. Believe it or not, I’m not feeling the buyer’s remorse that I had anticipated. Here are my five overriding (mostly positive) thoughts on my experience with Nintendo’s new system.
The GamePad, as it’s officially known, is a nice bit of kit. It’s just weighty enough to feel satisfying in your hands without wrecking havoc on the wrists. The picture quality isn’t quite as sharp as your 1080p HD TV due to image transmission compression but it’s still impressive given the sheer amount of other features crammed into the thing. There’s not too much else to say other than it works well and seemingly has a lot more potential going forward than the Wii Remotes did (we haven’t even seen it’s RFID capabilities used yet).
Though not much to look at, the console itself is markedly more powerful than the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 though its resources are divided between rendering what you see on your TV and the GamePad. Will we see titles which look better than what the current generation of systems? I’m cautiously optimistic for the future but you won’t find anything in the launch software line-up that indicates this to be the case.
Packed-in with the Premium version of the system, NintendoLand fulfils its modus operandi of being a showcase for the GamePad though not all of its twelve mini-games are worth sticking with. The most successful ‘attractions’ are the ones involving hiding or chasing where the player with the GamePad has an advantage or disadvantage over others playing using Wii Remotes. You’ll need friends to get the most out of the experience as the majority of the single player games are either dull or brutally difficult to compensate for their brevity.
New Super Mario Bros U
Though my brother and I used the recent New Super Mario Bros 2 as a focal point to slam Nintendo’s current direction, I’ve come away from NSMBU pleasantly surprised. Sporting some of the tightest, most challenging level design in the NSMB series, Miiverse integration, five person multiplayer and touch screen play that’s genuinely useful and fun, this is easily the most original in the 2D Mario sub-series. The only thing missing is online play.
This is probably the secret feather in the Wii U’s cap. This social network allows players to share updates in the form of text and drawings, appearing as pop-up comments in-game and in a Twitter-like feed accessible through the system-level menu (though Nintendo has announced that it will also be coming to smart phones and other non-Wii U devices). It’s a lot of fun and quite unlike anything available on Microsoft and Sony’s consoles. The only drawback is that everything is moderated by Nintendo administrators who will eliminate posts that feature adult language or imagery (and, presumably, negative things about Nintendo).
Though some of the Wii U’s online issues have been widely publicised (the 1GB day one system update, accounts being locked to a single system, no system-wide achievements) I’m still mostly positive on this aspect. The dreaded friend codes are finally gone, replaced by a gamertag-like system and other users can be friended or followed directly through the Miiverse. Menus are far more intuitive, particularly the Miiverse and the eShop in part thanks to the high resolution touch screen. Though 1st party games have yet to include simultaneous online play, 3rd party titles like Call of Duty: Black Ops II do and appear to boast feature parity with their 360 and PS3 brethren.
Even the online catalogue is kicking bottom right out of the gate. Not only does it launch with a host of Xbox Live Arcade style titles like Trine 2: Director’s Cut and Little Inferno but also several full retail games like New Super Mario Bros U and ZombiU. It’s just a shame the latter follows in the footsteps of Microsoft and Sony and are usually more expensive to buy in digital form than on disc.
What are your thoughts on the Wii U? If you picked one up, you can add me as a friend and/or follow me on the Miiverse at JamesDay.