When you hear “next generation” as a gamer, you start to picture photo-realistic graphics and movie quality games. In reality, you usually get enhanced console features such as online gaming and improved graphical capabilities. So while we’re at the end of the Nintendo Wii’s lifecycle and have seen the Wii U in action, we can start to see how the console will evolve in the future.
When Nintendo launched the Wii back in 2006, people were claiming that it would be the next revolutionary product. Almost six years later, the Wii is a dust-collecting machine in elderly homes across the globe. What happened in that time span, and what needs to be done to avoid the same fate for the Wii U?
Are you ready for a revolution, again? – The Wii U has to use its new gamepad in unique ways in order to draw customer attention. If developers aren’t able to use the screen in effective ways, the Wii U will be a glorified Xbox 360/PS3 with Nintendo characters and an expensive controller. While putting useful items such as maps and menu screens on the controller would be a cool feature, making gamers look away from their HDTV’s to the Wii U gamepad can break the immersion of the game. However, if someone wants to use the TV your Wii U is hooked up to, using the Wii U screen to play your games is an amazingly useful tool. At E3, Nintendo showed off specific games using four Wii-motes and one Wii u gamepad, which effectively made the person using the gamepad be less involved with the game than the others. This really stuck out in two games, New Super Mario Bros U and Just Dance 4. In the Mario game, the four Wii-mote users would play the game normally, while the gamepad person would help them out by placing blocks in the world. In Just Dance 4, the four Wii-mote users would dance around like usual, while the gamepad person got to change the dance moves up. Not only is it bad enough that the Wii-motes still exist, but to have the person with the Wii U gamepad be effectively left out is a puzzling move. If developers are not more innovative than this, it’s going to be a long journey in last place for Nintendo.
Launch Lineup – While the Wii U’s launch lineup looks good on paper, looking closer at the games reveal a troubling realization; haven’t we seen these games before? Batman: Arkham City, Mass Effect 3, Ninja Gaiden 3, Darksiders 2, and Assassin’s Creed 3 will all have been available elsewhere when the Wii U launches later this year. While all these games are either good, or look good (besides Ninja Gaiden 3) it’s hard to imagine people that are interested in these games haven’t already purchased them on Xbox 360 or PS3. So while Mass Effect 3 is an amazing game, it’s not going to get people to run out and buy a Wii U the day it comes out. Which leads us to the games that people will buy a Wii U for, Nintendo exclusives.
Unfortunately, there are only two Nintendo exclusives that aren’t just mini game compilations like Nintendo Land; New Super Mario Bros U and Pikmin 3. Pikmin 3 is more of a niche product, while Mario Bros U has a wide appeal and can attract a large audience – it is Mario after all. Mario will be called on once again to sell systems to crowds of all ages, and will be the hot game of the year for potential Wii U owners.
Online functionality would be nice – First off, Nintendo needs to leave friend codes as far away as possible for the Wii U. How awful would it be to, once again, have to add people based off 12 to 20 random numbers. While we’re at it, how about an online system that works properly? If Nintendo truly wants to take back the “hardcore gamer,” they need to put in features that are universally accepted throughout the community. Online gameplay is a main stay in the gaming world, and Nintendo falls way behind in the category.
Phase out the Wii-motes – I alluded to this earlier, but the fact that the Wii-mote is still used on the next-gen Nintendo system is a bit perplexing. Gamers were tired of the Wii-mote and its motion control style a few years into the system’s lifecycle, so why bring it into the future. Nintendo should limit developers to make games fully compatible with the Wii U gamepad before messing around with the old controllers.
Price – The Wii U didn’t leave much to the imagination since it has been shown off in detail already, but the price of the system can initially determine whether it will be a success or not. Nintendo needs to sell it for $300 or less in order to have a hit on their hands. They can’t overprice their new system like they did with the 3DS over a year ago. A big price drop six months after the 3DS launched left a bad taste in consumer’s mouths, and cannot be repeated with the Wii U.
What are your expectations for Nintendo going forward? What other features would you like included in the Wii U? Will you buy a Wii U, and for what price? Let us know in the comments below.