What do I think of the Wii U? Well, this is the question I’ve been asked for about six days now, ever since I picked it up on release day, and it’s kind of a tough one.  The question has mostly been asked by gamers who are hardcore PS3 or Xbox 360 fans, and never have even bothered with the Wii itself. I can’t blame them really. I mean, I only feel there are maybe 10 great Wii titles in its entire library.

In the past I’ve only really recommended the Wii to people who liked to play Nintendo’s first party titles like Zelda, Mario, or Donkey Kong. Now the Wii U has come along, and people really want to know a good reason to pick it up. They see Black Ops or Assassin’s Creed III and it looks great on there, so it is peaking their curiosity. Not to mention that gamepad controller looks very interesting, especially to people who like sports games and love the idea of picking plays on the touchscreen.

Below is based on my experience of the Wii U Basic Set (White, 8gb) after only having for the first six days of it’s commercial release. Please keep in mind that this is only my opinion, and you should really try it for yourself, and continue to do research to form your own opinion. That being said…

Hardware

AWESOME: The Wii U comes with a HDMI cable which is a nice touch. I’m sure by now everyone has two or three of these lying around, but it’s nice not to have to track one down. The console is easy to set up, and is compact enough to fit anywhere on most entertainment centers or shelves. It also comes with the Wiimote sensor bar, as you use Wiimote’s from the Wii alongside the gamepad. They easily could have packaged that separately ($10), considering the Wii has sold over 100 million units, so they could have assumed that either everyone already has one, or they wouldn’t mind paying for one. Either way it’s cool that it’s in there.

The gamepad has a nice weighted balance, and feels great in your hands. The touchscreen works well, and is responsive to both the stylus it comes with and my finger. The universal remote feature is GREAT. I use it all the time now. It took all of 10 seconds to set it up to control my cable box AND my TV. You don’t even have to turn on the Wii U to use it. I find it mostly comes in handy when I want to adjust my TV volume, and change the input.

Sending your game to the gamepad is amazing. It works well with no lag, and has surprisingly come in handy a few times when my wife wanted to play, and I wanted to watch TV. I am unclear if this feature will be standard with every game released, but I hope so because it is very cool.

LAME: The battery life on the gamepad is ATROCIOUS. I’m talking 3 hours if your lucky. I’m recharging that thing every other time I play it. This is a big deal, and it is quite bothersome.

The console is pretty loud when it’s on. That fan is working pretty hard. This isn’t a big deal really, just something that I have noticed, and can be a distraction until you get used to it.

8 gigs? It’s kind of weird amount don’t you think? I think 16 or 20 gigs would have been more appropriate, but like I said you are able to attach external storage so that definitely helps. Even the ‘Deluxe’ set only has 32 gigs.

Software

AWESOME: The social networking aspect of the Wii U software is very cool. You can leave messages, chat, video chat, leave comments…it’s something that seems to work well so far and adds a cool way to bring gamers together to let them socialize in each others games.

The backwards compatibility with the Wii works well, and you can access the game through the Wii menu screen on your gamepad. This is also where you access the virtual console.

The online shop is quite easy to use, and it’s nice to have the option to digitally download games, especially if the physical copy is hard to get a hold of right now.

LAME: Did you read or hear horror stories about the Day Zero patch? Well…they are pretty true. Since I have the basic set it comes with 8 gigs. The patch was 5 gigs, and it took me an hour and half to download and install it. Not cool. So now over half of my internal storage is gone.

Most apps take FOREVER to open or close. It’s so noticeable I actually started timing them. It usually takes between 10 – 15 seconds to open or close them. I hope this is something that can be tweaked with a firmware update, because it’s very annoying. I almost don’t want to open anything other than the game.

Thoughts

Is the Wii U better than the Wii? Of course. It has all the best parts of the Wii, and now has an amazing peripheral in the gamepad, plus it can now run awesome third-party titles like Mass Effect 3, Black Ops II, and Batman: Arkham City.

Right now Nintendo is trying to smooth out the bugs in its system, much like any new console release will have to deal with. Can I recommend this console to you? Well as of right now, it depends on what you like as a gamer. For example: If you like FPS games like Call of Duty, then chances are you already have Black Ops II, and a whole network of friends to play with only with either your PS3 or 360. So you’ll have no reason to purchase the Wii U, and repurchase that game.

Right now this fall’s in the same type of recommendation as the Wii. Get the Wii U to play Nintendo first party games like Mario. And get excited for the possibilities of an amazing new Zelda, Metroid, and Smash Bros game. With the capabilities of its hardware and gamepad these games will be amazing. 

But also what happens when the Wii U gains traction? Now that it can play big boy games AND first party Nintendo games it has a bright future for sure. Everything else is up for speculation, and until Microsoft and Sony actually confirm their next-gen specs and a release date, Nintendo has time to play catch up.

 

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