By Furious Francis
Some of the Wii U’s big games are starting to come out now. If your still skeptical of getting the system, check out my full review here. Nintendo has done a fantastic job creating the Wii U software to appeal to gamers and casuals alike. From the gamepad, to launch games, system features, and more, we’ll delve into everything the Wii U offers and what the future holds for Nintendo’s next generation system, then cap it off with my final score.
The Hardware – stylish and sleek
Nintendo has designed another small, sleek system with the Wii U. I received the 32GB Black model that came with Nintendo Land, a console stand, and a gamepad stand. The gamepad is big, but much lighter than it looks, and the grips on the back are very ergonomic. The Screen is massive, featuring a 6.2 inch resistive touchscreen, that displays games beautifully. The Wii U features all the buttons you would expect on the PS3 and 360 controllers, with a few extras: Four shoulder buttons, two clickable analog sticks, one d-pad, four face buttons, a start & select, center home button, universal TV control button, and Power button. The Wii U can display up to 1080p HD resolution and comes with a HDMI cable included in the package. Overall, the hardware is solid and Nintendo has done a fantastic job crafting the gamepad to work seamlessly and lag-free with the Wii U console.
The Graphics – waiting for games to push the system but acceptable for launch
Nintendo’s first HD system’s games look beautiful on my 47 inch Samsung LED. Nintendo Land has a surprising amount of detail to the characters, and the colors are vibrant and sharp. New Super Mario Bros U looks good but not quite up to the level of Nintendo Land. Mario’s first High Definition debut is no slouch though. The backgrounds, textures, and character models are all cleanly put together. ZombiU has some good graphical effects with the lighting and Rain, but some areas can look a bit blurry. I’m not sure if that’s due to the filter ZombiU runs to look darker or just blurry textures in general. Either way, the game looks good graphically as a launch title. Games like Assassin’s Creed 3, Madden 13, and Call of Duty Black Ops 2 running on the Wii U look very similar to their PS3 and 360 counterparts. The Wii U is just getting started graphically. Ports aren’t really the best way to judge a systems graphics potential. However, judging by the fact the Wii U can handle last generations’ best games and look just as good if not slightly better for some games, I expect fully optimized games made for the Wii U to look much better than current generation games.
The Gameplay – Dual Screen gaming is a huge step in the right direction
Gameplay is king. It always has been, and it always will be. Now that we got the graphics out of the way, lets discuss what matter the most, the games and gameplay. Nintendo’s dual screen philosophy really works. I am a believer in asymmetrical gameplay, and what it can do for the future of games. Nintendo Land show me a lot about what that means. The Luigi’s Mansion mini game for Nintendo Land is brilliant, and shows how asymmetrical gameplay is not only fun, but innovative. ZombiU is a game that goes with the Wii U like bread and butter. ZombiU’s gameplay was built from the ground up for the Wii U, and the gamepad. The gamepad is used for a variety of tasks like scanning a room for hidden items, quick swapping equipment, a very useful in game map, and motion Zombie tracker. Having the ability to quick swap weapons, motion track Zombies, and see a full detailed map without ever pausing the game once is amazing, and brings a sense of immersion to gaming that has been void in the last few years. Dual Screen gameplay opens up new avenues for gaming that I never thought were possible on a home console. The option to forgo your TV and just play on the Gamepad is brilliant. Gamers can enjoy a nice game of New Super Mario Bros U in the comfort of their own bed. Even New Super Mario’s boost block mode can turn the most casual player into a vital player in a core gamers hunt for all the star coins in New Super Mario Bros U. Asymmetrical gameplay is fantastic and Nintendo got it right on with their first concepts what it can offer to games.
Wii U System Features & Apps – awesome original and industry wide entertainment apps in one package
The Wii U is nothing like its predecessor in terms of system features. The Wii U is a online ready, right out of the box machine. Users can access, Amazon Instant Video, Netflix, Hulu Plus, and YouTube instantly. The Wii U is also a fully functional Wii that supports every game out for it. Plus the Wii U does upscale Wii games to 1080p. They are still essentially Wii games in 480p, but they will look sharper. If you have a Samsung LED or LCD display and have ever played Wii games on there, you might have seen the little green or black dots that flicker on the screen while you play. The Wii U eliminates those little flickering dots, so bust out Xenoblade and the Last Story and have at it. The Wii U also comes equipped with a fantastic web browser that supports HTML 5. Now for Nintendo’s Exclusive Wii U features. MiiVerse & the eShop, which I’ll detail below:
MiiVerse – highly innovative, unlimited possibilities
MiiVerse might be one of the most innovative non-game applications ever. Think the layout of Facebook, with the PlayStation Home Spots for every game. MiiVerse allows gamers from across the country to form communities around games, post messages for other gamers, and add gamers to your friend lists, It’s phenomenal. I spent three hours one night in MiiVerse chatting it up with my fellow ZombiU lovers. You can ‘Yeah’ other Mii’s post, which is similar to ‘like’ on Facebook. When you respond to a message or somebody ‘Yeah’s’ your post you’ll get a notification and have the ability to go straight into that post to respond. Games like Call of Duty Black Ops 2 have MiiVerse users already organizing multiplayer matches and tournaments. It’s something based on old idea, but done so well it could really drive the form of community gaming to a whole new level. Games like Nintendo Land and New Super Mario Bros U use MiiVerse as well. Players can expect to see balloons on the World Map in New Super Mario Bros U that contain posts or drawings from other users who collected all three star coins or didn’t take damage in the level. It brings a sense of community to single player game that’s enjoyable and non-intrusive. Nintendo Land has Mii’s in your Amusement park saying all sorts of things, and MiiVerse also allows players to give other users tips on how to beat a level or how they miserably failed. MiiVerse is just flat out cool! I can see it going big places, especially when games like Pokémon, Super Smash Bros U, and Mario Kart are released for the Wii U.
Nintendo Wii U eShop – dramatic improvements
This is where Nintendo has improved the most from last generation, the eShop. The Wii U eShop is vibrant, organized, and easy to navigate. Pretty much every physical disc based game is on the eShop ready to download, day one. Nintendo has done a nice job adding filers, and advanced search options to find certain titles as well. Having the ability to browse the eShop with just the gamepad will cause many gamers to buy games right before bed, mark my words, touché Nintendo, touché. The Wii U eShop is still missing a Virtual console but that should be coming soon, as Nintendo has stated they would love to have GameCube games on the eShop. Players can link their Club Nintendo accounts with the Wii U eShop, rate titles, watch videos, and download demos. It really is a fantastic start for Nintendo and a harbinger of good things to come for the Wii U’s digital offerings.
Wii U Versatility – pro controller support, wiimote support, external HDD support
The Wii U also has many options for control inputs. Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge can use the gamepad or Wii U pro controller. Call of Duty Black Ops 2 on the Wii U supports: wiimote & nunchuck, Wii U Pro Controller, and of course the Wii U Gamepad. Assassins Creed 3, Mass Effect 3, Trine 2, Darksiders 2, Batman Arkham City Armored Edition and more all support the pro controller in addition to the gamepad. The Wii barely had any games that support the classic controller at launch. Kudos to Nintendo and 3rd party developers for giving players options to how they control their games. I personally like the fact Nintendo is letting us plug in our existing external hdd to increase the memory avaialbe if we need it. I buy my games physically, so a large Harddrive that jacks the price of the system up is not appealing to me. But, if I ever do need more space I can plug in my $25, 250GB HDD I bought at Target last year.
Negative aspects of the Wii U – small, but issues none-the-less
The HDD size is pretty small. 8GB for the basic model and 32GB for the Deluxe model doesn’t give you much space to download games. Thankfully, Nintendo offers the ability to plug in your external hdd to give you some extra space. The Wii U can read up to 2TB in a single external HDD. So users who like to download their games can get however much space they need.
System & Software Updates
There is a big update when you boot up the system. Users should know that when downloading this update you cannot power off the system or it might brick it completely. It didn’t take too long for me, I timed mine at 45 minutes but it could be longer depending on your internet connection. All the games I have also needed to download software updates, which ranged from really quick: ZombiU 3 minutes, to kind of long: Nintendo Land 10 minutes.
No Optical Audio Out
Nintendo should have included an optical out on the system. It can make things kind of tricky for users with surround sound set-ups. Luckily for me, my LED has a Optical out like most modern HDTV’s. It still would have been nice for Nintendo to include the option for direct optical output.
No achievement system
Nintendo probably didn’t have the time to include one, and they could include one down the road. Many gamers see achievements as a way to get more out of their games. I also like to collect achievements, but by no means is it a deal breaker. There are gamers out there that love achievements and the lack of a unified achievement system on the Wii U is a bit disappointing.
Overall Analysis and Essence Rating – the Wii U is a system every gamer should own
The Wii U is a innovative, powerful, efficient little box. I was blown away by the system’s features and dual screen gameplay. The type of fun The Wii U brings is like when I first played the NES and Mario 3. The games available at launch have original content like ZombiU, Scribblenauts, and Nintendo Land, plus stables of the current generation like Batman Arkham City, Assassin’s Creed 3, and Call of Duty Black Ops 2. The eShop is dramatically improved over the Wii, providing gamers with instant access to full retail games and smaller indie games. MiiVerse is a innovative social application for the Wii U that will be a driving force for Nintendo’s online strategy. Hours and Hours of fun can be had by meeting up with gamers that play the same games as you, posting, and ‘Yeah-ing’ people posts. The elimination of friend codes have online gamers rejoicing, as you now make a ‘Nintendo ID’ that’s just like a Gamertag or PSN ID. Nintendo has set this machine up to be vital player in the marketplace for many years to come. The Wii U does have some issues like I noted above, but none of them are deal breakers or can’t be solved with a little ingenuity and patience. I recommend the Wii U to gamers and casuals alike. Nintendo has always proved they can bring it to both consumers so expect more of that with Wii U. The future of Nintendo’s exclusive first party titles has me salivating at what developers like Retro and Monolith Soft are cooking up on Wii U.
The Wii U is a must own system that every gamer should own. Dual screen gaming not only innovates, but makes the games we already love to play better. The system just oozes essence that creative developers will take full advantage of. Go out there and get a Wii U if haven’t already done so, and if you got one…..Game on.
Playeressence Wii U Review Score – 9.5/10 –
+Awesome User Interface
+No More Friend Codes
-Small internal HDD
-No system wide achievement system
-No Optical out
-long system updates
How are you guy’s liking the Wii U? Put them in the comments below. (Sorry in advance for any typos, or misspelled words. I proofread, but with 2000 words+ sometimes things slip through the cracks)