I’m still spending time with the Wii U in order to create a full and proper review of the console. In the meantime, though, I figured it would be a good idea to present six things that are currently on my mind in regards to Nintendo’s new system.
I’ve broken them into categories: three things I love next to three things I hate.
What I love…
Gaming on the GamePad is wonderful.
In pictures and on video, the Wii U’s GamePad looks like a hefty Etch-A-Sketch built with the exact opposite of ergonomic comfort in mind. In use, however, the device is light and surprisingly pleasant to hold. Couple that with gaming on the device while in another room or as a family member makes use of the TV, and you’ve got a recipe for really satisfying play time. I was able to watch Turkey Day Football while pushing through Mario this holiday. That act alone was tremendous.
Finally, as disgusting as it is to admit, there’s something really great about needing to take a bathroom break and being able to continue your progress in your game. Be sure to tell your family that you’ve sullied the once pristine GamePad upon your return to the living. They’ll be mad, but playing New Super Mario Bros. U on the toilet was totally worth it.
This “Asymmetrical Multiplayer” thing works well.
“Asymmetrical Multiplayer” is part of what Nintendo’s waving around as a selling point for the Wii U. Up until actually sitting down with the console for hours on end, I thought the idea of making this unwieldy term a marketing bullet point was a little silly.
I was wrong. Asymmetrical Multiplayer is top-notch.
The whole thing clicked for me when I was playing Nintendo Land with my wife and two of our close friends. The replay value of multiplayer games where more than one perspective of play is offered is incredible. The GamePad user has an entirely different experience than players sporting the Wii Remote. This creates a nice, competitive rift between players that actually adds to the idea of teamwork and battle play.
Each mini-game in Nintendo Land was given more life by sporting Asymmetrical Multiplayer, and that’s good news for the future of Nintendo as a family game maker.
Nintendo in HD is top notch.
This last one is sort of a no-brainer, but seeing Nintendo games in glorious HD is a long overdue treat. New Super Mario Bros. U looks especially gorgeous with its vibrant colors and crisp resolution. In Nintendo Land, the patch-work doll aesthetic works well enough to appease even non-gamers into a subtle “ooo” and “nice” every once in a while.
This “love” point is also extremely promising for games like Pikmin 3 and obviously the upcoming Zelda title. Nintendo’s always had a penchant for bringing out the best visuals on their own hardware. Now that HD graphics are an option, I expect games like Pikmin 3 to be downright stunning.
Yes, we’re talking about tech Nintendo is extremely late to the party with. But, now that the Big N has arrived with great visuals, things look superb.
What I hate…
The GamePad’s battery life.
Perhaps it was a design choice meant to either cut down the cost of the Wii U or to reduce the weight of the GamePad. Either way, I’m not sure. What I do know is that the GamePad sports a paltry three hour battery life.
With a full charge, I was only able to game for three hours with the Wii U’s GamePad. After that, I had to move closer to the television and hook the device up to its individual power supply. Whenever my machine is not in play, the GamePad sits on its dock receiving a full charge. However, lengthy gaming sessions have consistently been interrupted over this first week of play by the need to recharge the controller.
That’s a bummer for parties and marathon play-throughs.
This thing’s got some mean load times.
If you’ve ever purchased brand new tech, and your reading a tech blog sort of pre-supposes that you have, then you know that nothing really shows off said tech’s age like its zip. From function to function, new hardware typically screams compared to the old stuff you’re used to.
With the Wii U, though, every thing moves slowly. Want to boot up a new game? There’s a lengthy loading screen before the application starts. Feel like hopping into the MiiVerse? Boom, enjoy another loading screen. How about posting an update to the MiiVerse while playing a game? Only if you’re ready to wait through 30 seconds of inactivity to do so.
There are rumblings that Nintendo will address the sluggish nature of the Wii U with an update in the coming weeks, but for now, the console feels, well, keep reading…
The Wii U feels unfinished.
No console launch is perfect, and the Wii U’s status on launch day is much stronger than the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. However, those machines launched a long time ago, and Nintendo’s been advertising its new product with features that just plain aren’t ready.
Things like Nintendo TVii aren’t ready and the aforementioned interface load times are evidence that Nintendo hasn’t tweaked its hardware as well as it should have.
Knowing that the Wii lost all of its momentum and entered a sales pace equivalent to sap dripping down a tree, it’s obvious that Nintendo needed to get the Wii U out this holiday. They needed a system on retail shelves before Microsoft and Sony introduced their next sluggers. The Wii U has a lot of potential as a great new console. However, the product that launched last weekend simply doesn’t feel ready.
Maybe if it wasn’t for the mandatory three hour patch that greets new users, the Wii U would seem a lot more sound.
I do love the Wii U. I’m enjoying my time with it. But, it isn’t as ripe as I hoped it would be.