A few months ago I made a post about the current situation of the Wii U and why, as an owner, I still believe that the console will succeed. Now I’m not asking you to go back and find that post, in fact, I would rather that you didn’t. This isn’t an episode of 24, you don’t need to watch every episode to know what is going on.
However, I hope that with this post. I can convince current and future owners of the Wii U to keep their eyes open and give it the support that it truly needs right now.
I’m writing this because I feel that the time is right, we now know what the PS4 and Xbox One can do and we fully have a grasp of what is and what is not worth our time. So without further ado; on with the show.
1. First Party Exclusives
Nintendo still boasts some of the best exclusive IP’s on any console, in fact I would say that it has more exclusives than both the PS4 and Xbox One combined. So far, Nintendo has released two first party games for the console, Nintendoland and New Super Mario Bros. U. Both these games are great in their own right, Nintendoland especially due to it’s incredible mini-games that fully utilize the GamePad and it’s resurrection of local multiplayer. I’ve had some of the best gaming sessions with the Wii U in regards to the local multiplayer and I think that’s something that the other consoles and even the PC are ultimately abandoning for online connectivity.
However, there is one issue I cannot ignore, the lack of third party exclusives/content. This could be due to a multitude of issues, ignorance (EA), financial issues (Ubisoft) or they just don’t get it (everyone else.) Don’t get me wrong, I think it sucks, but I also think that these problems can be resolved over time.
Nintendo has stated and confirmed that they’re announcing a behemoth amount of first party titles for the system, all of them are system seller franchises: Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros. and 3D Mario. We also have already confirmed titles such as Pikmin 3, Fire Emblem x Shin Megami Tenshi, Bayonetta 2, Wind Waker HD, Mario & Sonic 2014, Game & Wario, The Wonderful 101 etc.
Keep in mind that all these titles are set to release in 2013/2014, which means that the drought of games that we currently have at this time, will be fixed. Not to mention you also have Virtual Console for the Wii U which is a service that releases NES, SNES, N64, GBA, GB and possibly GC games for players to purchase. At the time of this post, Super Metroid for the SNES as part of a Famicom Anniversary, is only 30 Cents (!!!).
So with the Wii U you are not only getting some of the old, but you are also getting some of the new too and this is from one company mind you. You don’t see Sony or Microsoft releasing as many first party exclusives as this.
This was one of the biggest surprises for me from the console and something that should be more focused on from a marketing standpoint. You have a Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr love child where you can post in-game screenshots, send friend requests, follow people, draw or write posts and interact with millions of players all around the world. Not only that, but each game released for the console has it’s own dedicated community. So if you want to talk about the newest Mario game, you can in it’s own dedicated community.
This is an absolutely groundbreaking future and I don’t know why Nintendo is ignoring this feature in their advertising. Especially since our current generation thrives on social networking. None of the next generation consoles (at the time of this post) have anything like this and ultimately, it’s an absolutely brilliant concept that is executed well. Not only this, but it’s constantly improving over time with “quiet updates”.
It is also moderated and only allows users ages 13 and up to access this feature, so it’s perfectly family friendly. Also, if you haven’t completed a specific game yet, you can opt out of spoilers with the simple press of a button, which is absolutely fantastic.
Being able to simply press the home button to take a screenshot, log into Miiverse with a quick press of a button and post my question or awesome game achievement, all without interrupting the game itself, is amazing and definitely something I use regurarly, whether it’s a situation where I’m stuck on a game or a moment that I want to boast.
3. The Gamepad
The one feature that Nintendo absolutely loves to talk about is the controller, it’s called the GamePad. It is a tablet controller with dual analog sticks, D-Pad and a built in stylus that allows for dual screen gameplay. For example, if you’re playing Assassin’s Creed III, you can play the game on your TV and the map is one the gamepad, so if you’re lost, you can simply look down and see where you are and mark waypoints seamlessly.
Another big feature is the ability for off-screen TV play, basically what this means is that even with the television off or occupied by someone else, you can continue playing the game on your Gamepad without any interruption. This is definitely a big feature, especially if you’re a smartphone/tablet user and are used to the idea of playing games on a small screen. Also, being able to continue your game without the use of your television is absolutely groundbreaking and something that the other consoles are trying to copy.
If there’s one thing you can agree on, it’s that Nintendo is striving for constant innovation in the way we play games, the GamePad being a fine example of this.
4. Nintendo TVii
Speaking of television, if you’re one of those people that gets their rocks off with innovative TV features (Here’s looking at you Xbox One), you should be proud to know that Nintendo TVii did it before it became infamous.
Nintendo TVii allows you to sync with your television and cable box, allowing you to not only surf through channels with the GamePad as a universal remote, but also the ability to adjust the volume and even turn off the television using the special TV button on the GamePad.
You can also mark your favorite television shows and movies and it will be specifically highlighted on the TVii guide if it’s currently airing or when it will air next.
If you’re a sports fan, you can also mark your favorite teams and get a complete schedule of their games and when they are airing, as well as scores of the games you missed. If you’re currently watching a game on the Nintendo TVii, you also have access to stats and information on your GamePad. So while watching the game, you can keep track of who scored and key plays as they occur.
Another cool feature is TV Tag, corresponding with Miiverse, you can pause key moments of your favorite show and provide written commentary and post them to share on Miiverse. Did something happen on the show that made you scream WTF! You can share it instantly with millions of people.
All this and planned DVR functionality make Nintendo TVii a stand out feature for television goers and for people that don’t want a mandatory Kinect staring into their souls.
5. Nintendo e-Shop
The Nintendo e-Shop boasts day one digital downloads of retail games, the ability to watch trailers and gameplay videos, rate the games you’ve already played and play games made by indie developers. You can also download demos of some of these games if you so wish.
The recently released Virtual Console service is a feature that has returned and offers digital downloads of classic games from NES - GBA. Not only that, but if you’ve already bought a select game on the Wii, you can get that game on the Wii U for a special discounted price. All Virtual Console games can be played off-screen using the GamePad.
Nintendo’s friendliness to indie developers means that a lot more games from indie developers will be coming in the future and the possibility of combining the 3DS’s iteration of the e-shop is also in the talks.
6. Nintendo Direct(s)
What is Nintendo Direct? Nintendo Direct is a series of broadcasts from Nintendo regarding games for it’s current consoles as well as the analysis of future games coming out for the consoles. Basically you are getting multiple mini-E3 conferences with Nintendo Direct, which could be a reason why Nintendo has opted out for a big showing at E3. This not only presents exclusive information directly to us, it presents another innovation from Nintendo that allows them to truly communicate with their customers.
Sony and Microsoft have nothing like this, new-game or console information is typically shared at E3 or conferences. Which is another reason why Nintendo is highly regarded. If you miss a Nintendo Direct, they are available to watch on the 3DS, Wii U or YouTube.
Just another way that Nintendo is keep consumers posted on the latest Nintendo news, without all the flashy Plasma Screens and Dubstep.
7. The Wii U is backwards-compatible, has free online multiplayer, no DRM and doesn’t block used games.
Well, I guess that is multiple reasons, but still, I think this speaks for itself. It’s the only console in the next-gen that boasts all these features. The fact is, Nintendo understands that people are not normally quick to adjust to new consoles, which is why that Wii controllers and peripherals are also compatible with the system.
Also, you can be at ease knowing that you can still enjoy Wii and Wii U games on your console without an internet connection nor do you have to worry about throwing your wallet at them in order to play online.
Oh and that thing about buying and sharing used games with your friends? Yeah you can do that on the Wii U as well.
There is a lot riding on the Wii U, but only the consumer can help the console. It truly is one of the most innovative consoles on the market right now with some fantastic features, while it doesn’t have jigawatts and terrabytes of confetti, it focuses on why we played videogames since it’s inception, because it’s fun.
Now that the curtains are open and the next generation has truly begun, only time will tell who will come out the victor. It’s going to be brutal, but luckily Nintendo already has an advantage with it’s early release and it’s showcase more with their Nintendo Direct(s) and the upcoming E3 conference. It’s not too late for Nintendo to make a comeback, all they need now is U.