You may have heard of a new Nintendo console that sounds very similar to their last console. They call it the Wii U and it's taking America by storm, I think. Anyway, I got one of those things and the Wii U is actually a landmark moment in my video game life as it is the first console I ever brought home at launch. So here's what I think of this oversized DS for your living room.
Yeah: The Miiverse is actually brilliant!
I think we all know Nintendo's history with the internet. They either ignored it the past several years or didn't know how jack shit about the internet. I think the Miiverse is a gigantic step forward for Nintendo and they found a way to make it interesting and fun. The Miiverse is like this weird amalgamation of Xbox Live, Steam and that Nintendo magic. Friend Codes are gone (Yeah!) and the Miis have meaning again. (Fuck Yeah!) The Miiverse experience is mostly a giant bulletin board separated by game or app so yes, there is a Nintendo Land community and a TANK! TANK! TANK! community. Some have been hijacked by the insane like the Funky Barn and Rabbids Land communities (fucking Jim Sterling) and some are clusterfucks due to their popularity and game-specific Miiverse features (Nintendo Land, New Super Mario Bros. U) and yet it's one of the coolest online features on any console. What makes it so awesome is the option to go all Mario Paint and draw a picture or write something by hand. Oh, and there are a lot of artists in the Miiverse. Seriously, there are lots of talented artists in the Miiverse which makes for some impressive imagery despite its limitations.
The Miiverse is pure Nintendo in all the right ways.
Yeah: The eShop is actually user-friendly!
The Wii Shop was (and is) still a chore to navigate. It's even more of a chore now that there's an extra step or two to go to Wii mode. I think Nintendo learned a few things along the way and finding and buying games are much easier in every way possible. I just wish you can access the Virtual Console and WiiWare games from the current eShop. It's nice to see Nintendo adding day one downloads for full retail games, but I will stick with discs for now since it's not the standard.
Unyeah: Not everything works or works right.
On day one, the Wii U was missing a few things like YouTube, Amazon, Hulu and Nintendo TVii. Today, Nintendo TVii is still unavailable and the YouTube app is a mess. If the Miiverse is to be believed (and in this case it is), YouTube on the Internet browser is much better. The browser itself is serviceable, but it's not perfect. Giant Bomb works alright, but not everything will work properly. It's a bummer, but I never expected the Wii U to replace my laptop or my phone in that department.
Unyeah: And it took a lot of time to get shit to work!
That first night with the Wii U was spent setting up the internet connection, transfarring my Wii info to the Wii U and that dastardly update. That update was a fucker! It was until a good night's sleep later that I finally got to try some games. First world problems, I know. I guess if there's any consolation, I found out that Pikmin lived in my Wii the whole time.
Yeah: The Gamepad is a pretty sweet device.
I never expected to be playing games on the Wii U with the TV off, but I've been doing just that fairly often. It's not the best-looking screen I've seen, but the games still look great and the lag is not even noticeable. It's much lighter than I had anticipated and it's comfortable, just not Xbox controller comfortable. Then again, would I expect that level of comfort with a controller housing a 6" screen? Anyway, I see tons of potential with this device and hopefully 3rd party publishers can find cool ways to use the extra screen.
Yeah: The games, yo!
Nintendo Land is trying to become the next Wii Sports and it does in some respects, not so in others. First things first, motion controls and camera controls don't mix. It's more distracting than fun. Now that the big unyeah is out of the way, the games i have played are pretty neat. The personal favorite has been Animal Crossing: Sweet Day followed by Donkey Kong: Crash Course. As expected, Nintendo Land is better with friends, but some of the single player experiences are worth trying out. Nintendo Land is a decent package that gives newcomers the basics on how the system works and in that sense, it could be the next Wii Sports. It's also a decent minigame for us "experts" who eat, sleep and breathe Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Pikmin, pretty much anything Nintendo. However, I don't see grandma warming up to Nintendo Land like they did Wii Sports.
New Super Mario Bros. U
It's a Mario game. There's no big surprise or innovation this time, it's just a well-made Mario game where you have to save the Princess from Bowser. Stomp on bosses three times, drop down pipes, don't fall into pits, the usual. If you hate Mario, this game won't persuade you. If you love Mario, you're in for another great Mario experience. The most ironic thing about New Super Mario Bros. U is that the Gamepad doesn't add much to the experience. The game states that you can use a Wii Remote to play and the only reason to use the Gamepad is if you're either too lazy to turn on the TV or everybody else wants to watch Honey Boo Boo. Oddly enough, I haven't tried the multiplayer yet, but I can say it's chaotic based on the previous game.
I fucking love World of Goo. I don't fucking love Little Inferno, but I do like Little Inferno despite not really being a game in the traditional sense. To be honest, it's more of a fireplace simulator with a weird story attached to it. The objective is to burn things together to create combos which makes you more money to buy more stuff to burn. Lather, rinse, repeat until you finish the game. While I am disappointed that Little Inferno didn't move me like World of Goo did, it ended up being pretty addictive, humorous, dark and even a bit emotional at times. I have no problems recommending Little Inferno, but keep the expectations down a little.
It's impossible to say if the Wii U will be a massive flop or the second coming of the Wii, but I think Nintendo has something here that can be amazing if they don't screw it up. I don't see that killer app just yet, but don't ever count Nintendo out... that's what they're expecting. What the Wii U has now is a good launch lineup with a handful of games worth researching to find out if they're right for you. Yeah, there are some unnecessary ports like Mass Effect 3 and Batman: Arkham City, but people are enjoying ZombiU and Scribblenauts Unlimited and even the often ridiculed Funky Barn is getting some positive feedback. Maybe the Wii U is destined for great things? Wii will see.