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Wii U Review

The Wii was a toy that resulted in broken windows, broken hips and broken hearts. While it was considered a failure in the eyes of serious gamers, it managed to move the current generation of video games into a completely unexpected direction that would have millions of gamers flailing their arms about like they were being attacked by rabid crows. While it brought innovation to the gaming world, the innovation was often overshadowed by its lack of  “core” titles and current-age graphics. Competitors took note and created their own motion control devices to compete with Nintendo. While successful, they didn’t hold a candle to the Wii, which was more than affordable and sported a “family friendly” appearance that lead to its success. Oh, and being a Nintendo product helped, too.

Despite being a successful endeavor, Nintendo’s Wii never really did it for me. Call me a lazy slob, but I don’t want to move more than I have to. Some games did make the unique controls feel natural and not a hassle, so I did manage to get some enjoyment out of it. Games like Mad World, Okami and Nintendo’s own The Legend of Zelda series justified my purchase, but once beaten my Wii found itself shelved for long periods at a time. When Nintendo announced the Wii U, you can understand my frustration. They did use “Wii” in the title after all. The second coming of the Wii wasn’t something I was looking forward to, but it’s something I quickly fell in love with the moment I turned it on.

The Nintendo Wii U is the first ever Nintendo console to sport HD graphics. Its graphics won’t have the same effect the Xbox 360 or PS3 had on the market, since HD graphics are a standard at this point, but it’s truly a joy to finally see Nintendo games presented in the way they deserve to be viewed.  While the Wii U GamePad presents the action at a lower resolution, the same as the original iPhone, but it still seems to maintain most of the quality of what’s mirrored on the screen. In the very least, it’s more than good enough for displaying additional information you don’t want cluttering up the top screen. The 6.2” display is perfectly sized and the GamePad is surprisingly light and not a hassle to hold at all. I often find myself surprised at how natural the Wii U GamePad feels in my hand.

I love the GamePad so much I’m having a hard time going back to a standard controller. Of course, there had to be something to shit on my Wii Parade. The pre-launch rumors are true; the Wii U’s GamePad has an embarrassingly short battery life. Depending on it’s used, it can last anywhere from 3-5 hours on a single 2.5 hour charge. This is a joke considering that full-blown tablets such as the iPad last have at least 10 hours of battery life. While reviewing Little Inferno, I found my GamePad going dead at around 3 hours. If you have an outlet near you, it would be in your best interest to simply keep the GamePad plugged in at all times. Hopefully Nintendo does address this and will offer better battery life on Wii U GamePads in the future, but at launch it’s going to be a deal breaker for some.

When you think about it, the Wii U is a lot like a giant Nintendo DS. You have your main screen on top and your lesser screen on bottom. The bottom screen can supply inventory information, a separate perspective or game stats, while some games like Little Inferno will use it to lazily mirror gameplay. There’s potential here, and it does open up worlds of new fun to be had, but it’s ultimately up to the developers to utilize this feature.

The software on the Wii U is both a hit and a miss. While software like Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Instant Video are fully optimized for use with the Wii U, it seems that Nintendo’s own software isn’t. Booting up your Wii U takes around 20 seconds and each application you launch can take anywhere from 10 to 30 seconds to finally launch.

The backwards compatibility with the original Wii is a godsend for many gamers, although the lengthy transfer process made me loathe it. I likely will never take advantage of the backwards compatibility, but it’s nice to be able to shelve my white Wii and replace it with a stylish black beauty that doesn’t look out of place next to my Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. Of course, if you didn’t buy the Deluxe Set, you’re stuck with a white one. Instead of importing all your Wii games into your Wii U, you’re given a separate, ugly, circa 2006 menu that is only accessible with a paired Wii Remote. Just accessing this menu requires a painstakingly long reboot, but once it loads up all your original Wii content is available, assuming you transferred it via the official transfer tool. The lack of GamePad functionality and no GameCube controller ports on the Wii U really makes the backwards compatibility feel like an afterthought instead of a priority.

The Wii U’s interface is Nintendo’s attempt at making their online services seem friendly and alive. When you start up the Wii U, you’re greeted with a menu that has other people’s Mii’s walking around and broadcasting their posts, which were published through Miiverse. A lot of people enjoy sharing drawings of their favorite Nintendo characters, while others ask for help about a game you don’t own, all while misspelling the ever so difficult “you’re.” It’s cute, but pointless and gets annoying fast. It doesn’t help that Miiverse is a goddamn police state, even more than other online services such as Xbox Live or PlayStation Network. To test the waters, I drew a photorealistic fan art of Sonic the Hedgehog, portrayed by fire-breathing dildo dragon. It lasted four minutes before it was removed. This is fine and I’m totally not going to give Nintendo unneeded shit for deleting naughty photos; it is after all a family-friendly console from a family-friendly company. However, they deserve the shit they will get for deleting legitimate questions, opinions and criticisms for games on Miiverse. Take for example my response “No, it sucks.” I was not starting a blowjob circle jerk, but simple responding to someone whom asked if Little Inferno was any good. After my response was deleted, I responded back with “No, it’s horrible.” Guess what was also deleted? Yep. If you’re planning on using Miiverse, make sure it’s only to praise games and draw pretty pictures of kittens and rainbows.

Wii U Buyers Guide

With the slim pickings from Nintendo and third-party publishers, there’s really no real reason to buy a Wii U at launch. The Wii U is a huge step up from the original Wii and I do believe it has a fighting chance both in this generation and the next. After the launch window is over and the shelves start to restock with Wii Us and games from the franchises you love and new IPs start to surface, then the Wii U should be put down on your “must buy” list. Until then, in true Nintendo fashion, it will only collect dust.

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Like any good gentleman of the evening, Dustin has been around the Internet more than a few times. He's co-founder of Geekenstein Media, a regular co-host on the Nuts and Bolts podcast and co-stars in the Broke and Bored video series. He does a lot of co-things.

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