It’s not every day that a new console is launched. In fact, it’s been years since the last new TV console, the PlayStation 3, hit the market.
And with that in mind, we’ve gone all out to be comprehensive with the Digitally Downloaded review of the console. Read on for the thoughts of three of the team of the console and its hardware, as well as its future potential.
Find Mii on MiiVerse: Midori
I’ll be honest – the Wii U is not a console that ever really impressed me. I began gaming with Nintendo and have always made it something of a habit to pick up the latest gadgets, but I did not bother pre-ordering a Wii U. The tablet controller did not come off as particularly ground-breaking and the internals seemed middling. Nintendo reps were changing details to the point where it seemed like people in the company didn’t know what they were actually producing. After going hands-on, I am cautiously optimistic but convinced there is a market for this new system. If Nintendo can tap into that, this console has a bright future ahead.
I honestly (really) wasn’t sold on the Wii U at all. In fact, right up to the console’s launch date, I wasn’t all that interested in the Wii successor and didn’t see why anyone should be. After all, a console that was described as being ‘as powerful’ as the current PlayStation and Xbox doesn’t sound all that appealing at first mention. And the fact that the controller has a screen just looked to me to be another gimmick like the Wiimote and ‘motion controls’.
Apologies if you’re in the camp that actually liked waving your arms around like a lunatic to play a game. If you liked it, you liked it- I didn’t. Kind of the exact opposite way I felt about the Wii U was how I felt about the Wii. I really thought I’d dig the extra functionality of the Wiimote and snapped up a console at launch. I was as wrong about that as I’m fast finding I was about the Wii U though, because (so far at least) it’s a fantastic little console and has seriously blown away my expectations.
This is the first time since the Nintendo 64 that I’m legitimately excited about actually playing games on a Nintendo console and as an old school Nintendo fan, that’s a pretty exciting prospect.
Visually the Wii U looks a lot like the Wii at first glance. It’s similar in size and shape, and even the dashboard has a somewhat Wii-esque look to it.. well, the on screen dash anyway, as the controller displays something all together different and you can swap the functions at will between the two displays. More on that later though because I want to make sure I get across that even though some things may look similar (and you can still use a Wiimote for some things), this is an evolution of the form and function- not a stagnation or a retread.
For starters, the GamePad is cooler and already does more for games on the console than the Wiimote ever could have hoped to. The addition of a second screen experience means that the game you’re playing can now expand it’s borders and offer even more functionality than ever before on a home console.
I have yet to play something that offers ‘second screen’ expansion, but even playing games that don’t is a great time unto itself as you can play full-on games on the GamePad. I can’t express how great it is to play New Super Mario Bros U on the GamePad (and get the full console experience while doing so) while someone else gets to use the TV for an entirely different purpose- even playing another console.
And the GamePad offers pretty much the full range of options that you’d expect to get from a fully fledged portable like the 3DS too. It offers a camera (not 3D), independent volume control that actually does a reasonable job at surrounding you with audio, a headphone jack and more. It’s a great device that would be a solid ‘console’ even without the Wii U and its television displaying HD visuals behind it.
On those HD visuals- Mario, by the way, looks fantastic in HD. It’s really terrific that Nintendo finally embraced the technology of the day and added that beautiful HDMI port in the back of the Wii U because the Mushroom Kingdom never looked so good as it does now on the big screen, in all its 1080p glory.
A little note about the cables in the box since we’re on the subject of displays- there’s only an HDMI hookup included with the Deluxe set. If you’re going to be looking to use anything else, make sure you pick up what you need when you bring your console home because that’s all that’s in the box.
Now, a slight caveat: as great as I think the Wii U is at the moment, there are still some (more than likely) very powerful new consoles coming in either 2013 or 2014 courtesy of Sony and Microsoft. That’s something that might once again might spell a bit of trouble for Nintendo.
Releasing a console this early (which seems strange to say since this is the longest console life cycle… maybe ever) in the game and this far ahead of the competition definitely has both its advantages and its drawbacks.
The bottom line is that we just don’t know what the specs are going to look like for the consoles that the remaining two-thirds of the big three will be bringing to market. If they’re drastically more powerful than the Wii U, it could be a problem for Nintendo once more. History may repeat and developers might again find themselves working on beastly-looking games for the neXtbox and PS4- then porting them to the Wii U with less than top-flight, stunted versions.
Hopefully not though. Hopefully the Wii U can at least remain competitive in the specs department with the rest of the ‘next gen’ and keep rolling along. The launch alone was definitely a step in the right direction as Nintendo hit all it’s marks and had the Wii U’s catalog loaded with digital and retail offerings, a Super Mario title on the shelves, and plenty of ‘Mature’ rated games for older audiences available.
Yes, I know a lot of the third-party titles are just ports of games that are out now (some that have been out for a while) but it still says a lot about where Nintendo’s collective head is and what the company is thinking. They covered all their bases- even the online ones -and didn’t just play to the core fan base. That’s not something you usually see from them and it’s a very welcome sight.
Everything’s looking good right now. With guys like Gearbox’ Randy Pitchford saying things like the version of the upcoming Aliens: Colonial Marines to get will be the Wii U edition (thanks to the motion detector being mapped to the GamePad), things certainly seem more evenly rounded than they have in years for Nintendo. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next, and that feels good to say.
Keep it up guys.
Well, I hope to get one soon. Anyway, thanks for your thoughts guys! it'd be nice to know how long you guys spent your times with the new console, if possible.
It's a great console – you'll love it!
As for how long I have played it, in addition to the two preview events, my Activity Log is currently saying around 30 hours across three solid days of play since it launched in Australia.
There are several things Nintendo needs to fix asap:
1. The lock-ups. I've had about 10 lock-ups since Thursday, all in different applications.
2. The constantly spinning disc. Even when I'm not playing the game on the disc, it constantly spins, kind of annoying.
3. Letting one choose a different resolution for Wii mode, because I can't change my monitor to 4:3 when using 1080p, which is necessary for Virtual Console games.
Some things nice to have would be:
1. Being able to control Miiverse and eShop with the remote..I don't understand why they don't let you do that.
2. A user-programmable remote. I'm using an Eizo monitor which uses a remote to switch inputs, adjust volume, etc. But it isn't listed as a manufacturer, so I can't use the GamePad to replace the remote.
Also have a question:
'play on the tablet with a Wii remote'
How did you do that? And in which software? I don't seem to get it to work.
The Deluxe console does come with a vertical stand.
Yeah, yikes on those major UX bugs…got to agree with Matt that the console had to be rushed a bit (or, rather, the OS UX development went over schedule surprise surprise :p). That chunky Day 1 patch is a dead giveaway as was Iwata's sheepishness when he addressed it several days after launch.
That big TVii update seemes scheduled to drop in a couple weeks. Hopefully Ninty will address a bunch of things.
While a tad disappointed that they could not get the UX smoother out the gate, what with all their years to study the competition and plenty of resources to acquire the talent to build it, it will be the part of the console that evolves. Looking at the 1 gb they have tucked away for system processes, Nintendo may have quite a bit planned…
Appreciate the thoughts, guys. You really make it sound like you are having a blast with it and turning me a bit green (with envy that is) as a result.
I am fascinated with their mii-verse experiment and will be closely watching how it evolves. I too shake my head at the excessive censorship, but I applaud their attempt to build something unique and tailored to this platform. It does not have to be facebook. It does not have to be twitter…those two already do a great job being themselves. It does need to deliver exactly what was promised…a common thread to link together game players in a useful, playful and seamless way.
They have also promised that a future smart phone app will allow customers to check their feed anytime. I am so skeptical they will be able to get this out in any kind of decent timeframe, but oh man I applaud the ambition.
Looking forward to the future DD article "Wii U vs 3DS – Does the majority still NEED need a dedicated handheld?" 🙂
I've heard about the lockups, but I haven't seen it personally. If that's seriously widespread, that's gotta be fixed asap. Almost as unacceptable as the beast of a day one download…
I do agree that MiiVerse doesn't need to be Twitter – and shouldn't try to be. However, it needs to be a service that people want to use, even though they already have 2, 3 or more social networks that they actively use.
Until MiiVerse is a permanent part of our lives – i.e. it's on our phones as well – I can't see that happening. Already I'm logging in each day after work to find I am well and truly behind the conversation. It then becomes hard to be a part of the conversation.
But it's a lovely interface and the ability to post screenshots is great. I have my fingers crossed this develops quickly.
It's happened to me a lot on Nintendo Land, but no other game. I suspect it's more of a Nintendo Land problem than anything else.
That's funny, because I've never had a lock-up IN a game. Sometimes when starting a game, but mostly in Home-Menu applications and when switching between them.
Why does my comment not show up? I wrote for like 20 minutes xD
I'm sorry you lost your post – it does happen from time to time with Disqus. 🙁
If you'd like to post your thoughts again I'd love to read them!
Well I try again, hope this time my comment does not disappear.
I personally like that certain offensive words are being blocked and post being rude/offensive removed. There is already enough stuff going on on the Internet and I do not really always enjoy that. I personally love Miiverse. It is easy to come in contact with other users for game advice and a chat in a friendly way. The only thing I must agree on is that it is indeed limited. The fact that you can't post anywhere else but the game communities. I'd for instance would like to be able to post on my profile, so only my friends can see it, also other none gaming communities would be welcome in my opinion. Overall I very much like Miiverse, but It could use some upgrades.
The gamepad I LOVE! I love how it looks, feels, works and weights. I've been using it for a while now and the (apple) Ipad I got now feels like complete crap. Ok, not complete, some stuff runs better on a Ipad, and other stuff can be used. But the typing is so much easier with the little pen included and the build in stand like curve on the back is a real outcome to hold up the gamepad with just one hand without getting cramps after a while. I always get to struggle after a while using the Ipad.
Also the browser I love. It is fast and again easy to use. A small disappointment is the fact that you can no longer watch youtube video's from the browser since the last update of youtube. But there is a easy work around which is to replace "watch?=v" with "embed/" then the video will open up full screen and can be watched. I hope this will be fixed in the future, but then again look how often youtube changes their website.
A other small disappointment is that the browser does not support hotmail, which I personally use. Also facebook doesn't look that stunning. If there would be made apps for that I would be happy.
Personally I deeply hate the youtube app. It looks so different then what we are used to so I just can't get used to it. I also hate that it just plays all the video's it found on the list that came up from your word search. Maybe there is a way to turn it off, but still I won't be using it. Also the design got something from the PS3 and does not really harmonize with the rest of the WiiU design in my opinion.
For the games I've played so far, which is not much. I've fully played one Ubisoft game. It was full of little bugs. They where not that annoying, but they where there so… that was kinda… well not a turn off but they just shouldn't be there. I also saw that other users where having way more dramatic bugs, some that if they accrued to me I would consider the game unplayable. I think that Ubisoft just quickly threw in the game for WiiU release and hope that in the future they will be paying more attention to it.
Once the WiiU froze, but again this was with a Ubisoft, a app to be precise. I had to take the power of the console to be able to turn it off and start again.
The home screen of the WiiU I again love, haha. All apps can be easily found and look quite stunning. I also like that you can see the other users Mii's walking around and shouting out their posts. It really gives you the feeling that you are out there, not alone at home.
I do agree with you guys that the waiting time between the home menu and apps/Miiverse is to long. If they could chop it down to a half it would be perfect. For games I understand it takes a while to start, also I am used to get 2/3 logo's thrown at my face before the game starts, not to forget the often included intro's.
Overall I really like the WiiU but hope they will be improving Miiverse and their games.
Btw, for the notice. I only have experience with pc's, the old Xbox and PS3.
It worked this time! Thank you very much for taking the time to leave us your in-depth response.
I agree with you regarding YouTube. On the Wii U YouTube is a natural fit and should be a lot of fun, but that application is very poor. I'm sure it will be updated at some stage though!
Glad to hear you're enjoying your time with the console overall though – it's a great little piece of tech.