In this, the Year of Luigi, the Wii U is an outstanding option for console gaming.
Forget the launch lineup, forget the mixed messages, forget the initial price point and forget the early marketing efforts. The Wii U that piddled out of the gates in November of 2012 was a very different system than the one we’re looking at today.
The Internet, TechnoBuffalo included, has lately been yammering on about the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. The next generation of home gaming is officially upon us, friends, and these new systems are the proverbial champagne cracking on the heel of the bowsprit of the ship of tomorrow.
Or, wait, are we the champagne and the consoles the ship? No. We’re the ships, the consoles are the bottles and the games are doing the christening.
Look, whatever, you get it. We’re using the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 to herald the coming of a new age of console gaming. Bully for us.
In all this pre and post launch coverage of Sony and Microsoft’s newest efforts, the Wii U sits quietly, waiting for a fresh set of owners and a chance to shine.
Here’s the thing: in terms of quality, value and sheer volume of good content, the Wii U is the brightest gem in the recent home console lineup.
The Old Adage of Bang for Buck
Let’s start by coming at this argument strictly in terms of money spent. The best Wii U option today is the Wind Waker HD bundle, in my opinion. $299 will get you a Deluxe Wii U, a digital copy of Wind Waker HD and a unique GamePad.
That leaves plenty of dough to pick up additional games. Round out your collection with Super Mario 3D World and Pikmin 3, and you have a stellar starting library for $420, if you pay full price on both of those games.
$420 won’t even get you a PlayStation 4 and a retail game this holiday. It’s not even enough to buy the Xbox One by itself. For current home consoles, $420 is best spent on the Wii U this fall, purely in terms of value.
Now, consider that the Wii U is the last home console with free online play, and you’ve got an extra card in its deck. The Nintendo Network is free, it now features user names (finally) and offers stuff like Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and Hulu.
But, right, what about games?
A Stunning Lineup, Right Now
- Super Mario 3D World
- Pikmin 3
- The Wonderful 101
- The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD
- New Super Mario Bros. U
- Nintendo Land
- LEGO City Undercover
- Sonic Lost World
- Wii Fit U
- Wii Party U
- New Super Luigi U
- Chasing Aurora
- Wii Sports Club
Those games represent exclusive Wii U efforts that are genuinely worth their current price points of admission. I won’t argue that the Wii U has always been in great shape. It hasn’t. Its launch lineup, like most launch lineups, was lackluster. Delays and changes pushed its launch window offerings way beyond its first several months at retail.
At first, the Wii U was sort of a stinker in terms of what was available for purchase.
Today? Things are much better. The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, simply because they are brand new consoles, can’t compete with a full year of software releases. I’m not suggesting that these consoles will never be good choices, that’s absurd. I’m saying that this holiday, the Wii U is the clear holder of the biggest and best spread of exclusive software.
And, finally, it has a genuine system seller. Super Mario 3D World absolutely destroyed when its embargo lifted. The game saw a wealth of praise in the way of Editor’s Choice badges, 9s and 10s from critics around the gaming sphere.
All of that love pushed it to the top of Amazon’s best seller charts, too. The screenshot you see above this line was taken on Nov. 20, two days before Super Mario 3D World‘s release and directly in between the launches of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
That’s right, in the middle of two brand new consoles, an epic holiday season and a whole swath of new software, Nintendo nabbed the top spot on Amazon with a Wii U game. Of course, it was Mario. Super Mario 3D World deserves the commercial action, too. Here’s a slice from our review.
Personally speaking, there hasn’t been a Mario game like this for me since Super Mario World. I love the Galaxy games, but the SNES entry always got my nod for the best of the best. Super Mario 3D World approaches that level. The lens of nostalgia might keep the older game in higher regards for me, but Super Mario 3D World is simply fantastic.
It’s one of my new favorites.
The best part? Things look just as good for the upcoming deluge of new software.
Great Games on the Horizon
Let’s move on to the unreleased efforts.
The games I’m looking forward to most on the PlayStation 4? inFamous: Second Son, Uncharted, Hohokum (yes, seriously) and DriveClub. I won’t be able to get these titles on my PC, and I want them.
How about the Xbox One? Same conditions… Halo, Sunset Overdrive, maybe Quantum Break and…wow, that’s it right now. Titanfall looks amazing, but I’ll play that on my PC.
As for the Wii U? Super Smash Bros., Yarn Yoshi, Zelda, Mario Kart 8, X (from Monolith Soft), Bayonetta 2 and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze.
What’s with the gap in offerings? It comes down to one major reason, really. Nintendo has had a full year to work on its software. We know these games are coming because they’ve either been announced or alluded to, and the Wii U’s catalog has had the luxury of more time on its side.
Surely, this time next year the horizons for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One will be far and away more crowded. These are new platforms, though, and new platforms almost always lack games.
This holiday, the one that caps off 2013, enjoys an obviously valuable purchase that’s going largely overlooked. The Wii U, in my mind, is the best current home console. That won’t excite or please a lot of you, but it’s where I stand.