Editorial: The Wii U Experience

I have no character analysis today dear LusiArchetypes, but do not fret, the segment will return. As it stands, I have spent a fair amount of time with the Wii U now that it is out and my friend decided to buy one on day one. I cannot imagine that I will own the console for at least another year or two, but there are some positives about the system worth discussing.

Yes, you dumbass robot, I know how to play this mini-game you stupid piece of shit.
Lots of hand-holding, though.

The friend only owns Super Mario Bros U and Nintendo Land because, well, what else is there? I have largely only played Nintendo Land and while I will continue to maintain that the software should have been built into every Wii U unit without the need for a disc, I will also state that the game does an excellent job of showing off the system’s potential.

I use the world “potential” very specifically however, because Wii Sports did something similar, yet it was strongest use of the motion capabilities for an embarrassingly long time. Still, despite being a collection of tech demos, Nintendo Land trudges past all the poor marketing and horrible terms like “asymmetrical gameplay” and finally made me realize that the ideas behind the console can result in a lot of fun.

I have been using a specific simile to describe the experience recently. I feel like the Wii U is like Liar’s Dice. If you explain Liar’s Dice to somebody who has never played it, the rules are easy to understand, but the game does not seem like it will be any fun. After a few rounds, however, that same player will start to understand dynamics that were difficult to picture from just the explanation. The Wii U is similar. I fall asleep halfway through PR reps saying “asymmetrical gameplay”, but the experience that the terrible term refers to is a lot of fun and positively unique to gaming. Pitting one player with additional information against multiple other players working together with scaling levels of balance depending on the number ends up being an incredible amount of fun. The level of competitiveness reaches Super Smash Bros levels while simultaneously being more social.

These competitive multiplayer games – more so than the co-op games – showcase the absolute best use of the gamepad; the most distinct argument for its existence. However, other positives exist. Using touchscreen controls without covering up the screen the action is taking place on is an effective new control scheme and the gamepad – perhaps because it is heavier – has more accurate and sensitive motion controls than the traditional remote.

Truly horrible.
Horrible graphics.

But my positive experience with Nintendo Land did very little to make me desire owning the console. While I have had nothing but fun with the system so far, it does not offer me what I want out of gaming. I do like the addicting fun experiences, but PSN and Steam and flash games offer me that already. Perhaps not with the gamepad style, but while it has proven itself a fun new way to play, it is not yet an essential new way to play.

Once the first party software starts rolling in, I do not think the old hardware is going to cause much trouble for Nintendo. The Wii U will not print money like the Wii did, but although the true casual is a fickle crowd, I think Nintendo has carved out an unique place in the market. But, as a wise Australian has pointed out, the system is a first and second party software machine and Nintendo would be smart to stop pretending otherwise.

The Wii U is certainly making a strong argument for the best family or party system, but as for a return to the hearts of hardcore gamers? Well, I hear Challenge Mode in Super Mario Bros U is pretty tough, but tossing hardcore gamers a bone or two is not the same as finding a way to our hearts. Nintendo Land is a better game than Wii Sports was and I think the Wii U has the potential to be a much stronger system than the Wii was, but I doubt it will ever be the true gaming console that the PS3 continues to be. The Wii U is far more fun than I expected, but I am more than alright to wait for the follow-up to Mario Galaxy before I consider ever purchasing one.

What about you, LusiPads? Played the system yet? Or has Nintendo’s inability to effectively market the system coupled with the sour taste from the Wii made you almost forget its existence?

9 comments

  1. I will say this on a positive note: I think Nintendo still has the capacity to produce an amazing game with the WiiU. I suspect it would be a Metroid or Star Fox game, seeing as there’s more potential with the gamepad and those types of games than say Mario or Zelda. If that ever becomes the case, I’ll reconsider consider the system. I hope some division of Nintendo is focusing all of their resources and creativity on this right now.

  2. Yeah, and I’m with SN on Gamepad battery life. That’s currently a disaster.
    I know I differ from other Lcom staff on this, but I think Nintendo really picked up steam in their first party efforts by the end. I think Galaxy 2 is easily the best 3D Mario game and Skyward Sword was the best Zelda since Majora’s Mask (although the Prime series is far and away better than Other M). It didn’t really spill out to any other area of their decision-making or direction as a company, however

  3. Compared to the WiiU, the Dreamcast had better hardware for its time of launch, a better marketing plan, and better third-party support. And that turned out well.

  4. Very true. The Dreamcast also didn’t have the Wii precede it nor did it have first party Nintendo software. I think a failure would be good for Nintendo’s creativity and better for us full-picture gamers, but I don’t predict a Wii U failure.

  5. Well, the good news is that there’s plenty of room to expand, given that almost half of the battery compartment is completely empty.

    I really wanted to love Skyward Sword, but couldn’t because of the controls. I would instantly buy a Wii U if Nintendo released a HD port with Gamepad support…

  6. SN – I was just talking to my girlfriend about this. Although I think they did the best they could with motion controls and I appreciate the change in tactics (needing to swipe in a certain direction as opposed to just timing), I would still take traditional controls for the game any time.

    And I forget if I told you, but firsthand, the gamepad battery life IS that bad. I feel uncomfortable playing with it when it’s not plugged in. So quick to be drained.

  7. Only Nintendo would make a console where your WIRELESS GAMEPAD needs to be PLUGGED INTO A WALL SOCKET for any substantial use.

  8. “I do like the addicting fun experiences, but PSN and Steam and flash games offer me that already.”

    And this is the problem with Nintendo attempting to grab up casual gamers. Why would someone looking for casual gaming buy a Wii/Wii U if they already own an iPhone or an iPad?

  9. @Lusi: Yea, well only Nintendo would make a WIRED GAMEPAD that has to be plugged into a WIRELESS REMOTE for use!

Comments are closed.