Review by CCoplien
"The Next Step for Nintendo is an Potentially Exciting One"
All of Nintendo's systems have been looked at with skepticism ever since the Gamecube. Remember how the DS was going to fail because no one thought the two screens would catch on? Remember how the Wii wouldn't sell at all due its lack of graphical upgrade and gimmicky gameplay, and how the 3DS would fail due to not looking as good as the Vita and the iPod take over? I remember all of that too, and so far everything Nintendo has innovated on has printed money. So it surprised me when people approached the Wii U with the same feelings. Many accused Nintendo of losing the "core" audience in favor of the casual market, and that this system would try to continue to appeal to those people, and in many ways it does. There is no need to fear though, as the Wii U is the most gamer friendly system they have released for quite some time.
First off, the graphics look great. They aren't at the level that many of us wanted out of a next gen system, as what has been released so far has been around the same quality as what is out on the PS3 and 360, but do remember this is early in the system's life span and that what is there is for mass appeal or ported over from another system. While I don't expect that graphical fidelity will match that of Sony or Microsoft's next offerings, I'm not too concerned as it is finally HD, and that the only gripe on how Wii games looked that I had is that it was not in HD, not so much the detail. I can understand how a lot of people want more considering how long it has been since last gen began, but the games should be about what they are giving you, not always how they look.
And games can give you quite a bit if developers will allow it with this system. That's where we enter the game pad. This thing is amazing. Sure, there are features that could be there, like a multi-point touch screen, analog triggers, and other things you will find that relies on pre-existing technology. What is there, however, made me see where gaming can go, and is so rich with potential. A lot of this is seen with Nintendoland, which comes with the system if you purchase the Deluxe Set. The gamepad allows for so many possibilities in asymmetrical gameplay, with multiplayer allowing for the players to be doing different things without having to look at the same screen, or being able to do different things that coincide with each other while playing single player. The possibilities here are potentially endless. Being able to play the entire game on the gamepad itself can work itself into the living room in a variety of ways, which could make the system almost worth the price of admission itself.
This is where the unfortunate "but..." arrives. The possibilities the Wii U invites is eerily similar to that of the Wii, even though much more with the "core" gamer in mind and a much less casual gimmick. The reason I say this is because while the Wii had a lot of potential for game development, 3rd party developers didn't seem like they wanted to be bothered with what was there, didn't know what to do with it, or provided and endless line of shovelware to clog the system. So far there is evidence of this happening again with Nintendo carrying the system through its life with their typical great games. While there were some great 3rd party launch games, many hot games aren't finding their way over and some games that were exclusive have worked their way on to other consoles.
Nintendo brought back the interface from the Wii, with lower speed. Once your system loads up, your TV will display your Mii, with what you've been playing and popular games in a circle around them, where you can find how many people are currently playing the game you select. You can observe all of this by switching out your display, as you control everything via the game pad (unless you're using a Wiimote). As noted before, the system takes a while to transition to anything, longer than even PS3 standards. Nintendo has promised software patches to improve this, but until then it is noticeable.
Speaking of software updates, something everyone has probably said or experienced is the initial update that is pretty much required to use your system as it was promised to perform. This update is huge and if it screws up can end up breaking your system. Those who don't have an adequate internet connection will be in pain with this, and hopefully Nintendo remedies this by including the software update in future releases of the system OS.
Now lets talk about the physical system itself. The system looks sleek, small, and appealing. It's slightly larger than a Wii, and side by side it could be said it looks like a natural evolution of that system. The system now has a light indicating whether or not a game is inside the console that is on at all times.The gamepad itself looks odd at first, but is actually very comfortable to hold and control. Just remember that after you play to wipe down your game pad. The finish on the game pad is the same as the finish on the system, leaving all sorts of fingerprints and marks during play. This is especially terrible after my kid plays with it.
I do love how I can use almost all of my Wii accessories on the Wii U, cutting back on what needs to be purchased on the system. However, I wish there could be more than one gamepad to be used at once which I still see happening somewhere down the line. It was also alarming to see that Nintendoland required motionplus even though the system doesn't include any Wiimotes for this to happen. If you didn't own or sold your Wii and are picking this system up, be prepared to spend some serious dough to make this thing multiplayer capable, and that isn't while going into including the new Pro Controller and what games will require that.
In somewhat of an ominous note, I could see this being Nintendo's Dreamcast. A system with good games, a good setup, innovative and promising, but overshadowed by the promise of their competitors. With the PS4 and Project Durango looming, who knows how long this system will last and maintain the attention of the public. One thing that you do know right now is that this system will play used games, something that isn't as certain in the competitors, so you can swap or borrow with friends or down the line pick up forgotten games for cheap. But the similarities to how attention shifted away from Sega's swan song to the later, more powerful consoles of its generation are similar enough to have me worry about this systems success.
With all that being said, this system is still worth the investment. I can't blame people if they want to wait until more games come out to justify the purchase as there still aren't a lot of games that would justify your attention just yet, but we all know that there are some on the way. Fans of Nintendo will know what they are going to get with this, great games, and great new ways to play them. If you want to enjoy your games and entertainment in a new way, look to the Wii U.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 02/11/13
Game Release: Wii U (Deluxe Set) (US, 11/18/12)
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