Over the past 24 hours, I've already put a ton of playtime into my new Wii U console. After being slightly skeptical about Nintendo's new gimmick, the Gamepad, I wasn't sure whether the immense hype would pay off, especially after my initial disappointment with the Wii back in 2006. What could have been an immersive game experience eventually boiled down to simple waggle controls. Would the Wii U follow suit and disappoint with its gimmicks?
Not at all.
There are things about the Wii U that I love. These things undoubtedly make the Wii U not only a strong enough contender for a next-gen system, but prove that Nintendo, despite being a bit out of the ordinary when it comes to console design, still knows how to cater to hardcore gamers. With that said, there are also things I didn't like as much, or things that Nintendo could still improve. So without further ado, here are the top things I liked, and things I didn't.
Nintendo's very own take on Facebook, built straight into their console. What I love about this is how easy and integrated it is. For instance, I was having trouble with a level on Scribblenauts Unlimited, and with a simple button press, I was in the Scribblenauts Unlimited community section of the Miiverse, where I could immediately post my question.
It isn't all about questions and answers however. You can also opt to draw a picture or a message and post it to the Miiverse wall. Since each game has their own specific community walls, you won't have to worry about reading unrelated posts, and you can easily see what others are posting about that specific game. It's genius really. Being so well integrated, it's an excellent place to talk about your favorite game, and possibly even find new friends that like the same things you do.
Liked: The Gamepad
Aside from this being Nintendo's first HD console, the real spotlight is on the controller. I mean, it has a freaking screen on it! The gamepad allows you to do a bunch of different things, such as watch videos on it, use specific actions on games like ZombiU, or allowing it to give you a different perspective in multiplayer. You can even play certain games entirely on the Gamepad, and allow your family to watch their regularly scheduled programming on TV.
However the best part of the Gamepad is how it handles split screen multiplayer, or should I say, the lack there of. In games such as Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper or Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, one person can play entirely on the screen, while the other entirely on the Gamepad. It's truly a game changer when I can play with a buddy, without needing to share the TV's real estate.
Liked: Nintendo Land
While this isn't a Wii U specific feature, it did come bundled with the Deluxe edition, therefore I'm counting is as a thing I absolutely loved. I was initially worried about Nintendo Land. From what I was showed, I wasn't initially impressed. While the mini-games resembled their Nintendo licensed counterparts, I wasn't blown away by being able to play a mini version of Luigi's Mansion.
I could not have been more wrong. Nintendo Land is just as much a fully fledged game as any other Wii U launch title. Containing 12 mini-games based on Nintendo franchises like Zelda, Donkey Kong, Mario, Animal Crossing and Metroid, you'll find that each and every franchise is beautifully represented in Nintendo Land. While the game can certainly be enjoyed on your own, you'll really have a blast playing any of the six multiplayer specific games with your friends and family. It was debated whether Nintendo Land could dethrone Wii Sports as the best pack-in launch title, and it has without a doubt succeeded.
Didn't like: So many cables
The Wii U is a little cumbersome when it comes to hooking it all up. You have your standard power cable, which also has a huge brick attached to it, the HDMI cable, the sensor bar cable, and then you also have a separate power cable for the Gamepad, which is absolutely essential for prolonged gaming periods.
It's not a huge deal, but it's definitely not as quick and easy to set up like other consoles.
Didn't like: Ahh the loading!
The Wii U suffers from some horrible load times when switching between apps. Whether you're in the Wii U menu and wanting to check out the eShop, or in the middle of a game and you want to hop back to the Wii U menu, the loading between each action can take somewhere up to 30 seconds at times.
Didn't like: Ports don't look as good
Games specifically built out for the Wii U like New Super Mario Bros. U and Nintendo Land look absolutely stunning on the Wii U, and undoubtedly showcase just how far Nintendo has come to finally enter the world of HD. Most of the other titles available for the Wii U, which are mainly ports, don't fare as well. Madden 13 for example looks good when the players are close up, however as soon as the camera zooms out, you'll see the graphics diminish quite a bit. It's no fault of the Wii U, and more so of the developers, as they probably need time to get used to the transition of a new console. Still, it is a bit jarring.
A pet peeve: The face buttons
This problem pertains mainly to me, however other gamers who are used to playing on the Xbox 360 will surely find this difficult to get used to at first. The A and B buttons and the X and Y buttons are switched. This is fine when you have time to look down which button to press, however when the on screen prompt says press the X button, your brain will automatically think to press the left face button, instead of the top one.
I can't blame Nintendo for this one, as their face button set up has worked the same way since the Super Nintendo. Again, not as big of a deal, especially if you're migrating from the Wii. For me however, it'll take some time.