Sometimes it’s hard to look at a console objectively and pick out its successes and failures with equal clout– especially when you are trying to justify spending over $400 on it– but amid the great leaps forward the Wii U has made in its quest to become Nintendo’s greatest console of all time, it’s painstakingly obvious that parts of it still fall far behind the lines that were drawn even by Microsoft and Sony’s now-last-gen consoles. So here’s a question for you:
What do you think so far? What are your favorite things? What don’t you like about it? Let’s hear all of it, and if you need some inspiration, here are the things I’ve compiled thus far:
I think most people were really skeptical when Nintendo said Miiverse would be this huge innovation that would change the way people game. Most of the folks I knew basically brushed it off as just another failed Nintendo gimmick like Swapnote or Wii Speak, and I was more or less in the same boat. The big N has a way of overcomplicating things to such an extent that a great idea can be marred by ridiculous technicalities like long load times, odd user interfaces, and baffling permissions that aim to keep the experience child-friendly.
All signs pointed to Miiverse being another one of these things, but then it actually came out and we all actually got to use it. If you’re one of our European, Japanese, or otherwise non-Wii-U-owning readers, you really have something awesome to look forward to here, because Miiverse is a Nintendo idea done right. Essentially what you’ve got is a Nintendo-specific “Twitter”, allowing users to post screenshots, talk about games, befriend each other, and ultimately have a more connected gaming experience. This might actually be the first time that everything Nintendo PR said about something came true.
After Nintendo clarified that the Wii U’s seemingly small hard drive was solid state (SSD) and not a regular hard disk, a lot of us Nintendo fans breathed a sigh of relief. Sure it was only 32GB at most, but SSD is a heck of alot faster than HDD, and this meant that we wouldn’t see the absolutely ridiculous load times of PS360 come to the next Nintendo console. After all, Nintendo is known for hating load and save times more than almost anything– and this move proved it. Right?
Wrong. It appears as though despite being solid state and despite having an entire gig of RAM to play around with, the Wii U OS is about as slow as they get. Switching apps takes upwards of ten seconds, opening a game can take upwards of thirty, returning to the home menu usually takes around 15, and some games (coughZombiUcough) have loading screens, then unskippable load animations, and then do the tricky Metroid-style door loading. It’s really sort of ridiculous, even taking into account the fact that it’s a console launch.
The Wii U Pro Controller
I think we all expected the Pro Controller to be a suitable device, but not some fantastically revolutionary piece of work. Like its spiritual predecessor the ‘Classic Controller Pro’, we thought it would get the job done, but would hardly be something to write home about. Fortunately for all of us we were really wrong, because the Wii U Pro Controller is arguably the most comfortable controller in existence; tied with the Xbox 360 controller at its worst. I’m not sure how the ergonomics team at Nintendo pulled it off (aside from basically saying “okay let’s do that thing the 360 controller did, only better”), but the second I held the thing in my hands I was extremely pleasantly (yea, extreme pleasantness) surprised.
It’s not just me either: Several friends of mine (even those who skipped the Wii and played more mature games on PS360) were surprised at how ergonomically comfortable the thing was, and after getting used the the button layouts several actually said they preferred it over other controllers. Nintendo wins!
Botched ‘Wii’ Mode
I’m not one to complain about backwards compatibility– after all, most systems don’t have it at all– but the way Nintendo did Wii U’s interaction with its predecessor is a little silly. For those unaware, you have to essentially boot up a Wii inside of the Wii U via the “Wii Channel” to access any old content, discs included. Downloaded games don’t show up on your Wii U home menu, and retail games can’t just be played in the Wii U’s “Disc Channel”; you have to boot up the separate OS entirely, almost rendering useless transferring everything over anyway, unless you’re trying to make $50 selling your Wii on eBay.
Things get even worse if you have virtual console games on an SD card. To use those, you have remove them from the SD card, reformat the card for Wii U use, transfer your Wii to the Wii U via that SD card, open the Wii channel, open the Wii Shop Channel, and then finally redownload all of your games to the SD card.
Yea, I know.
A Working Universal Remote
Even dedicated universal remotes take longer to set up than Nintendo’s side-feature of the Gamepad, which is great news for Nintendo as it means more families will actually use it as the go-to remote for controlling the TV. Being someone who has one of those big, clunky, laggy DirecTV remotes I can say that I really appreciate the faster response time and the newfound ability to not have to look for the remote whenever I want to watch TV.
Beyond that though, the real pleasure of Wii U’s TV remote is that I can do it while I game. Update installing? Switch to the TV. Game too loud? Turn it down in seconds. Someone else wants to watch TV? Two clicks and you’re switched over. It’s perhaps the most underrated tool that the Wii U has brought, and I would not be at all surprised if it became an industry staple, sort of like having a power button on game controllers.
No Nintendo TVii?
It’s not such a big deal for me personally, but the fact that Nintendo TVii didn’t make launch might actually end up hurting Nintendo in the long run. Why? Well, like the universal remote feature, Nintendo TVii was a positively brilliant way to get the families of gamers acclimated with the Gamepad without even playing games, and the fact that it’s actually easier to use and more feature-saturated than regular television remotes meant that (if parents or siblings could get over the stigma) people would actually prefer it to what they had used prior.
Add to that the fact that you can surf the web, play games, search for shows across multiple services, and TONS of other things meant that– had it made launch– it would have had a big early impact. Still, a December release date ain’t too far off, and the lack thereof might be inconsequential given that most people who bought the system at launch aren’t looking to use it casually anyhow.
Try his twitter!
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