Thursday, November 29, 2012

First Impressions: Wii U

I'm sure those of you who care have already looked at what the Internet has to say about this console. I'll be the first to tell you that I am extremely empathetic when it comes to designer decisions. Although some decisions are just terrible on all levels, I believe that there is justification for creating a system as different as the Wii U. And end all be all, I don't hate it. When you think about future consoles and how Microsoft and Sony are going to be "better," what will be authentically innovative about those platforms? Sure they'll be stronger and faster, but they'll still have the same fundamentals, games, and controllers. Way to go Nintendo. You've always shocked us with new concepts, even if the Wii was arguably I mistake on many fronts.

Unfortunately, there's a 5 GB update that has to happen right out of the box. I just got to stare at my brand new shinny system download for almost an hour. While we're on the subject of memory, let's get something out of the way. Yes, the largest system only has 32 GB of space. But guess what? You can hook up an external harddrive by USB. The people who cry about it drive me bonkers because if you really wanted to, you could put a terabyte of memory to your system. XBOX 360 will only allow for 16 GB of external space on their Slim 360s. Just think about it.

While it was downlading I was also playing with the controller. Believe it or not, the weight of my 360 controller is about the same as the gamepad, which makes the gamepad extremely light. It's not a PS3 type of light though. I feel like this touch screen is actually durable and will last me awhile and a couple frustration shakes if need be. Anytime I hold my PS3 controller, I feel like I'm going to break it by pushing X too many times. The button layout is actually really natural. Because it's a big rectangle, it looks awkward. Holding it feels completely natural. I'm totally OK playing with just this controller and skipping over the pro controller that they also released.

One of my favorite things about the DS is that you can draw stuff. I just like sending people pictures. Is that too much to ask? I feel like Nintendo is super known for this idea of a drawing pad, and it's something that adults and kids love. If you turn on the system, you can see the eight most popular games being played on the Wii U right now. Random bubbles will pop up from different Miis around the world, and you wouldn't believe how much time people put into their back and white drawings of their favorite game characters. By that feature alone, I like the Miiverse more than XBOX Live and PlayStation Network. Honestly, everything just feels a little more personal. 

And now it's time for the games. At first I picked up Nintendo Land and Mario because they were exclusives that I knew would show off the systems new capabilities. But of course the only thing people really care about is how it stacks against other systems. The Wii U is in HD, so yeah, it looks just as good as everything else. Period. Moreover, I think this will be my main system from now on. The two pictures above are Batman: Arkham City. For starters, everything that you need from your weapons menu is available at your fingertips. You just click and it's activated. It also uncluttered the HUD because you can see that my map and objectives as well as any intel will pop up on the gamepad instead of in a tiny box on my TV. I can also play the entire game in another room. The whole thing. Nothing was missing from the console version. It's kind of like the PS Vita for Nintendo. There's also an impressive emersion tool that caught me off guard. Nowadays, almost every game has radio dialogue that happens to exchange information. So when Batman talks to Alfred, Batman's voice occurs on the TV while Alfred's occurs on the gamepad. Like a real radio. Think about the spacial hearing that's going on. It's genius. If games do this in the future, the auditory emersion of a game will be altered forever. I thought it was one of the most intense and successful game emersion tactics I have ever encountered. 

End of review, beginning of gushing. I freaking love this thing already. I can't wait for hardcore RPGs to come out for it. It won't be that much different for gameplay, but if I had a search bar on my gamepad for a particular potion with having to search for it alphabetically, I would be so, so grateful. The first console MMO was announced just last week, and I think that's totally fitting. If I could put the Wii U in one sentence, it would be, "The Wii U is the perfect combination of PC and console gaming by using the gamepad as a makeshift keyboard or hot key system." 


  1. Yeah thanks for the review. I really like nintendo because it was the system and games I grew up with. And although i think tablets are going to make their way as a staple in the living room/way to control the television multimedia entertainment center. I don't know how much I buy this concept as a mode for gaming. It saddens me to say this but for some reason I see this being Nintendo's final console. I just have this feeling...

    1. You know I actually think that's totally possible. Since I've written this, I've played three more games (Mass Effect 3, ZombiU, and Mario), and I feel like a lot of people just dropped Nintendo as a realistic choice all together. Mass Effect 3, in my opinion, didn't translate well to the system because they didn't remap the controls like they should have. For example, on the XBox controller you push A to run, which is pretty easy to do. But the A on the gamepad is the button that's the furthest away from joystick to look around. It is SUCH A PAIN. I seriously couldn't play it anymore. That being said, I think BioWare was just being lazy.

      Nintendo need a crap ton of damage control to get even close to surviving. I was at GameStop the other day looking through our pre-order titles for the Wii U, and there are maybe twenty titles for next year. That's super duper low. I also think some major Japanesse companies and franchises (like Final Fantasy) aren't even interested in this technology.

      But who knows. It took a couple franchises to get Microsoft and Sony rolling, so maybe we just need a year to figure it out.

  2. I agree--great post and really useful for all us poor slobs who don't have one yet.