First Impressions: Wii U

I’m certainly not a stranger to being late to the party. That’s the main premise of this blog, after all. But when I bought a Wii U a couple of days ago, I didn’t think I’d missed much at all. In terms of sales and available software the Wii U does not have the best of reputations. I mainly bought it in preparation for the games that aren’t yet out (SMASH BROS.). But I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of options I had. It’s not like I’ve paid no attentions to the Wii U releases, but they’ve piled up.

This... may have influenced my decision to get MK8.
This… may have influenced my decision to get MK8.

Other than Nintendoland, which was included in the package, I decided to get Mario Kart 8. For one, that’s some pretty looking Mario Kart. for the other, it comes with your choice of a free downloadable game. The selection wasn’t bad, but in the end I just had to go with HD Wind Waker. Boy, this is a game that really benefits from the remaster. it might as well be a full-on remake. It’s freaking stunning. In fact, in spite of the lower horsepower, most of what I’ve seen on the Wii U has been incredibly graphically impressive. Their stylised visuals take to HD like a duck to water. Even the UI is noticeably pleasing to the eye. And with what they’ve shown of stuff like the new HD Zelda, it’s only going to get better. But what about the gamepad? It’s easy to see why this thing utterly failed to appeal to the mass market that the Wiimote attracted. The Wiimote, at least in concept, was an exciting and intuitive new way to play games. The Gamepad is more bamboozling to a non-gamer than a normal controller. It bamboozled me just a little bit when Nintendo first revealed it. And worst of all, to this day a lot of people think that the Gamepad is just an add-on for the Wii. Mass brand confusion is not good for sales!

Marketing-wise, they really haven't done much to dispel the 'add-on' misundertanding.
Marketing-wise, they really haven’t done much to dispel the ‘add-on’ misundertanding.

In practice, the Gamepad is actually pretty neat. It’s like Nintendo brought the DS’s second screen to a console. The possibilities it opens up for multiplayer have been, so far, really fun. It just suffers from the Vita’s problem of having too many dang functions. It’s unfocused, and it’s no wonder third party support has once again been lacking. Even Nintendo themselves don’t seem to be using the features they chose to cram into this thing. I mean, they’ve only recently started talking about its Skylanders-esque ability to integrate toys into in-game content. It’s not like they’ve just added it: it’s been there, unmentioned, this whole time.

I remember seeing this in a store once and not buying it. Never saw it again until now
I remember seeing this in a store once and not buying it. Never saw it again until now.

There’s one thing that really makes me glad that the Gamepad exists, though. I took a look at the e-shop and was pleasantly reminded that Game Boy Advance titles have been made available as downloadable games. I crossed my fingers, and… YES. Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga. The one I missed. The one that everyone says is better than the DS Sequel, Partners In Time, which I also enjoyed a great deal. Could it even be better than Bowser’s Inside Story? Or could it be that Dream Team Bros. wasn’t kind of crappy after all, and I’ve just gotten tired of the Mario and Luigi series? Well, I’ll be finding out, and I won’t need to turn on my TV to do it. I can just use the gamepad like a Game Boy Advance. I can’t take it on the move, but I carry around way too much portable entertainment anyway. So consider me well and truly satisfied with my Wii U for now. And with what’s coming up,  I’m guessing I’m going to stay satisfied for a good long while yet.

-Jesse (@BackBlogGuy)

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