Review by papery0shi2
Nintendo at it's finest
Having been a student for many years, the Wii U is the first console that I've ever pre-ordered. Now I've got a job that has something resembling a salary. Having gotten so many years of fun and excitement out of my first-gen Wii, I decided to roll the dice on the Wii U by pre-ordering the 32 GB black deluxe set. So far, I'm glad that I did. This is a review of the Deluxe set that I've ordered specifically, however you can compare the two sets and fill in the blanks concerning what you may be missing with the basic set
What is (and isn't) included:
The black deluxe set comes with (almost) everything that you need to get started. It comes with the black console, power brick, sensor bar, HDMI cable (if you need component you'll have to pick it up separately), stand, tablet, tablet charger and dock, a plastic stand for the tablet, and the packaged-in game NintendoLand. What the game does not come with is one or more wii remotes. If you already have a Wii, you'll be able to use your current remotes. If you don't have wii motion plus enabled remotes, you will need to pick up a set of wii motion plus dongles in order to use them (at least for the game I've tried, which I will get into later).
Set up is pretty easy, although you may have to wait a bit (at least close to release day). Setting up the tablet controller, wires, internet, etc. was a breeze. Internet setup was standard. The system recognized the HDMI connection and selected the correct resolution and aspect ratio immediately. Yes, you now have the ability to play the new Wii games in HD like the rest of the world ; ) I understand the cost reasons related to the SD choice on the Wii, but for most Nintendo fans these days I suspect that the upgrade is going to be a nice change of pace.
Before playing any games I can tell that I'm going to like the tablet a bit. Even during set-up you can tell that the tablet is well integrated with the overall use of the system. At times the tablet display mirrors the TV content, and at others you see something different on the tablet screen while you are working. The resolution, colors, and refresh rate of the tablet are all rather pleasing on the eyes. The screen is touch sensitive, allowing you to interact with the tablet and games with both a press of the screen and the press of a button. Hidden away in the back is a stylus, which is a nice touch. I like being able to keep the screen clean while I'm playing with it.
One word of warning: You may want to bring a book along (at least at first)--the initial setup required two downloads to be made over the internet. The first was for the system itself, and the second was after I inserted the first game. The tablet showed the progress bar while the initial update was downloading, and it took at least 15 minutes for me to see any real progress. I switched to another activity for a while and eventually came back when the tablet alerted me that the download was finished. This is most likely going to be an early adopter problem--I suspect since today is the release date that Nintendo's servers are getting slammed.
Once setup is complete you're greeted by the Wii U main screen. While the 3D organization is different from the Wii, you should figure out navigation fairly quickly. One of the options is a standard Wii view, which appears to give you access to the original Wii OS for navigation and applications (very cool, I look forward to figuring out how to port over my apps and data from my old Wii).
Just like the original Wii, you create Mii avatars. This time you can use the tablet controller's built-in camera to create them for you. After selecting hair and eye color, you can snap a shot of yourself. The system configures several miis for you to choose from. It automatically recognized my glasses, and gave me an option to add my full beard to my mii (making avatar selection much quicker than before).
If you choose, you can also set up the tablet as a RF remote that controls all of the other devices in your media center. This is a nice feature, and is quick to configure. I selected my TV brand (Vizio), and the first remote configuration that I tried worked right out of the box.
In order to use many of the Wii U's features you'll need to create an ID for the new Nintendo Network. This in turn requires you to configure (among other things) a unique ID (that it says you cannot change), regional info, birthdate, etc. If you are uncomfortable providing this information you may have to limit the features that you're able to use. Personally, I don't care so it isn't a problem (they don't need phone, SSN, or anything that I felt was terribly invasive).
NintendoLand & first impressions of gaming experience:
The packaged-in disc for NintendoLand seems to serve the same purpose as Wii Sports did for the original Wii--to demonstrate how to use the features of the new system and show the user how to use the system's hardware and software. While Sports was ultimately very simplistic in graphics and purpose, it ended up being a lot of fun for most Wii users. Despite its relative simplicity, NintendoLand has a very similar feel, and it may be enjoyable for some time to come.
In NintendoLand you are greeted by Monita, a floating screen with a single arm. Monita shows you around the NintendoLand system, and introduces you to the tablet's controls as well as the mini games that are available to you. Mini games include fan favorites such as Metroid, Link, Mario, Yoshi, Pikmin, and several others. Despite the fact that I've already picked up two other games (which I will review later) my wife and I have been playing NintendoLand for several hours. It is a lot of fun. The interaction with the wii plus remote and nun chuck are (not surprisingly) very similar to the predecessor system, so I'm not going to go to deep into those features here.
The tablet provides a real gem here. Various games have different requirements--at least one tablet, at least one remote, just remotes, remotes and tablet, etc. Multiplayer games that include both remote and tablet (for at least two users, of course) are a lot of fun. No longer are you restricted to just one view on the TV or a split-screened view used in previous systems. Now one user can use the TV as a primary display while the other user can use the mobile screen of the tablet as well as the larger display of their TV. Simply put, the table offers exactly what you would expect--a combination of the benefits of a handheld with the benefits of a full console experience. It is simultaneously interesting and difficult to describe without trying it.
I've got to say, NintendoLand's combination of remote and tablet make me excited for future games. I have a feeling that we're just scratching the surface of what the combo can do. Hopefully game makers use their imagination and provide a new and unique gaming experience the same way that the Wii remotes changed the way that we view console I/O in the previous generation.
As a whole, NintendoLand is a great game offering firsts person shooter, puzzles, and more.
As a media center:
One of the things that Nintendo seems to be trying to do with the new system is tie together the media center the same way that the Wii did seemingly by accident. The tablet serves as a remote for your devices, the system gives you the ability to play games, and the system also comes preloaded with the biggest streaming players: Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu. I have currently tested the Netflix application and it seems to work quite well. Otherwise, they do exactly what you would expect. As a streaming player, the Wii U works just fine and the tablet controller (again) makes for a great remote.
If my 5 star rating doesn't speak for itself, I am definitely excited by the prospects of this new system. As far as I can tell with my initial interactions, Nintendo may have hit another home run. This last statement is worth qualifying, because as far as I can see all of the potential of the predecessor is here--it will just be a matter of Nintendo and other game makers living up to that promise. I can't wait to see what else the WIi U has in store for the future. (Especially the not-yet-deployed TVii feature.)
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Product Release: Wii U (Deluxe Set) (US, 11/18/12)
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