A few weeks ago, I had high hopes for the Wii U, Nintendo's upcoming console. After all, I have a Wii. I love Nintendo characters. The Wii U looks like the Wii, and even plays Wii games. But like a lot of people, I was never completely happy with the Wii. I never felt there was anything wrong with the processing power of the Wii. However, there are problems.
Wii and Wii U, Same Name and Same Problems?
These are the positive aspects of having a Wii
- Games that don't scare people who don't play video games
- Virtual Console
- Backwards compatibility with Gamecube discs
- Online play exists
- Games with depth are far and few
- Lack of quality WiiWare titles
- Online infrastructure is stuck light years behind Sony, Microsoft
I have little hope for whatever online shop Nintendo puts up for the Wii U. As the 3DS and DSi have shown us, it looks like they're sticking with this once a week release plan. Maybe they will release a some cool games. Maybe they will release all the games they have ignored for the Wii's Virtual Console. Who knows? As for any original downloadable games for the WIi U, well...I have endured years of hoping the Wii's WiiWare service will improve, and it never has. Yes, there are quality games, but they are far and few in between. Maybe they will throw us a demo once in a while.
As for online play within the games, there is even less reason for enthusiasm.
The Problem Lies with the Creator
There have been rumors that friend codes are gone for the Wii U. If that is true, then it's a step in the right direction. Friend codes aren't the entire reason people criticize Nintendo's online infrastructure though. The Wii might have been okay if it allowed us to communicate with other people online. After all, isn't the Wii supposed to make it easier to bring us together? It has done the complete opposite. If I enjoy playing against a random stranger online, I should be able to talk or add that person. There may be some EA games that are able to do this, but Nintendo games still don't let anyone talk with strangers. The Wii U will be no different, as far as I can tell. I read a recent post on another gaming site where they quoted Shigeru Miyamoto talking about this topic:
"A key word for Nintendo in the online sphere has been creating an experience that's comfortable for all players, so we'll still look at that and stick to our idea of trying to create an online experience that's welcoming to everyone."
This could give hope to some people that Nintendo plans to let gamers have more freedom when interacting online. However, I only see the words "comfortable for all players" and "welcoming to everyone" as code word for "No, we will not let gamers talk to each other or even add each other online, we do not want to be sued for anything bad happening." After all, if the Wii U's goal is to piss no one off with the online experience, then the goal must be to bore everyone in the process by making it impossible to see anything that one person in the world could find offensive. They have forgotten adults play their games too. I should be able to play a random person in Mario Kart, then add that person after the race because he's a good match for me. I don't see that happening for Nintendo's Wii U games. It would be epic if Mario Kart Wii U had a hub station where you could walk around, meet players, and challenge them to a race. The longing for a real online community within the game makes Mario Kart Wii disappointing every time I play it. Animal Crossing is another game that should benefit from a more open online structure. Besides any EA title that might be more online friendly (and even then I'm certain you still can't talk to people), Monster Hunter 3 and Tatsunoko vs. Capcom are the only Wii titles where you can add random people to a friend list after playing them. With the above quotation by Miyamoto, I have zero hope the situation will get better. I used to have hope, but it's gone. This is the man who refuses to believe that Zelda games will benefit from a deeper storyline, therefore he's not the type of person who changes his mind easily. Shigeru Miyamoto is someone we should thank for many things, but not for supporting a stranglehold on the online capabilities of Nintendo's consoles. Nintendo treats us as if we are all five year olds who need protection.
The Power of Mario
There will be nothing wrong with the Wii U's processing power itself. Most Nintendo games don't need to look realistic. Nevertheless, it would be surprising if they fixed their online problems. That alone might be enough to convince me to wait for a PS4. Maybe I'll even give Microsoft a try. My desire for an online community could prove more valuable than Mario as time goes on.
From a sales standpoint, the Wii U will sell enough to keep Nintendo in the top three for many years to come. However, gamers are losing trust when it comes to how they handle their online shop/online play. Any console sales lead they might have early on with the Wii U should lose steam if the mistakes remain. But I have not completely decided if I'll skip getting a Wii U. The power of Mario has that much of an effect on me.