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Staff Talk: Thoughts On The Wii U
Everyone has their own analysis of the Wii U. It’s almost like a sports betting circle. Some think it will be great. Some think it will be bad. Others think it will flop. While that group other there think it doesn’t even exist. … We aren’t going to talk to them. I asked some of the staff to give me their thoughts on the Wii U to compile here. The following in a sort of Staff Talk about the Wii U. Do you agree with any of these?
I will give Nintendo credit where credit is due: at least it’s trying to innovate. A controller that has a touch interface, thanks to that generously-sized touch screen, is not something completely radical, but at least it’s a new way to play games on the Wii U. Regardless, I can’t help but not care at all for Nintendo’s upcoming console. The Nintendo Wii was an unexpected success, and I can say I was among the people who thought it would be dead on arrival. With that being said, as the years passed, the Wii’s offerings were becoming less and less lustworthy, eventually becoming afterthoughts. What did Wii owners have to look forward to in 2011, other than The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword? Pretty much nothing. This is my primary concern with the Wii U.
Yes, the hardware, at least the controller, is unique, and yes, Nintendo is finally beginning to embrace the internet and the plethora of success it can bring them, but regardless, I’m worried the Wii U will not take off. The controller is sure to be the opposite of cheap, and bundle that in with the Wii U itself, and you could have a pricy console. The next-generation Xbox and PlayStation are bound to not be cheap, either, but at least they will far more powerful graphical performance than their predecessors. Rumor is that the Wii U is equally, if not a little more, powerful as the Xbox 360, and Nintendo might not be able to get away with that again.
Miiverse, at the very least, is a step in the right direction. It offers several ways to connect with other players, even when playing a single-player game. One feature that caught my eye was the ability to embed comments for different games. For example, for New Super Mario Bros. for the Wii U, when you die, you go to a black screen, and it shows comments made by other people who died at that very spot. In addition, you can post a message asking for help, publicly, and you can get replies that have that help you’re looking for. These are admittedly nifty features, though the question remains of how much players will take advantage of this. Usually, when I die, I just keep trying until I found the right way to do it, on my own. Gives me a sense of satisfaction. Still, though, with all that said, I remain extremely wary about the Wii U. Processing power looks to rival the Xbox 360’s and PlayStation 3’s, consoles that have been out for at least six years, and the unique controller could be a turn off for developers. Only time will tell.
I feel like I’ve said this before, but it is hard for me to get excited about the Wii U. I mean at least the original Wii was truly different than what anyone had seen before, and was marketed at an affordable price, but the Wii U just gives the impression of being a giant DS. Yes there will be differences, but think about it: the DS features dual screens, one of which is a touch screen, and because of the Wii U’s tablet controller, it will also feature dual screens, one of which will also be a touch screen.
From some recent speculations about Wii U, it is clear that the new system will function very similar to the DS. Case in point: Alien Colonial Marines. Back in March, Gearbox co-founder Randy Pitchford claimed that the Wii U version of Aliens Colonial Marines will be the one to own because “[t]here are some opportunities that are just not possible on any platform” due to Wii U’s unique controller. So how does the Wii U make such a large impact on Alien Colonial Marines? Well, it is hinted that the second screen will act as a motion tracker. Whereas Xbox 360 and PS3 players will probably have to hit a button and bring up the motion tracker to detect any threatening presences, the Wii U players will simply have to look down at their tablet screens. While admittedly a neat idea, it seems obvious that the motion tracker would function exactly this way if the game were for DS instead of Wii U.
Of course that is just one example, and to be fair to the Wii U’s touch screen, it does some things I like. One really simply thing I think is brilliant is that Wii U controller allows a person to play games on the device’s screen, and to therefore leave the television open to be used by someone else (but again, this conjures up ideas of a handheld device). So even if I view the machine as more like a DS, that doesn’t mean it won’t provide a positive overall experience. The odds are that Wii U will be a successful console, but it really doesn’t capture my interest as a gamer (or offer what I am looking for from games) as of right now.
The Wii U is necessary right now. Despite record sales numbers early on, nothing could hide the fact that the Wii wasn’t truly a next-gen console. Just as the GameCube wasn’t up to snuff with the PlayStation 2 and Xbox, the Wii was just technically inferior to the other current-gen offerings. Nintendo pulled it off though, because they stuck to their biggest strength: exceptional first-party development. With next-gen 2.0 on the horizon however, the Wii just isn’t enough. Nintendo was smart enough to realize this, and I think they are making the only decision they could have in releasing it now. I also think it will be a success, for a number of reasons. None of which have anything to do with the name.
Don’t be fooled, though: The Wii U isn’t truly next-gen, more like next-gen 1.5. It’s more powerful than the current systems, but the next Xbox and PlayStation consoles will almost certainly be the true next generation. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. People are hungry for the next wave now, and Nintendo is giving them their first taste. I think the make-or-break concept for the console is the Game Pad. You can’t deny the allure of tablet-based gameplay in today’s society, but the beauty of games is that everybody is on equal ground. In most cases, my controller is just like yours, but the Game Pad forces at least one person to play differently than everybody else. Not sure I like that. Still, nobody does party games like Nintendo, and I know I can’t be the only one who is genuinely excited about playing Mario or Super Smash Bros. in true HD.
I think cost is going to be an issue, despite Nintendo’s stellar track record in that regard. If they can make all this work with a reasonable price point, and the third-party support materializes like they hope it can, I think we can be in for a real treat and another financial bonanza for Nintendo. I wonder if Nintendo Land will be the next Wii Sports like Nintendo is banking on though. Again, the Game Pad is going to be the key there. And speaking of tablets, imagine if someone were to mod Microsoft’s SmartGlass to work with a Wii U Game Pad. Do you think that would cause said Wii U to blow up? I wouldn’t put anything past Miyomoto.
I’m half excited about the Wii U and half doubter. I like the system itself. I think it is really cool. The E3 presentation actually sold me with the bits of info they talked about. Then after the conference when people hit the show floor, I lost a lot of confidence in the buy. The controller’s battery life, frame reduction with two GamePads, and an almost need to use Wiimotes has me wondering if this is the next console for me or not. I don’t want to use Wiimotes. I don’t want to subject my friends to using last gen tech while I sit there with the new beast. I won’t let someone else use a GamePad because it will hinder how the game plays.
That is where the Wii U really fails for me. I think Nintendo really hit the nail on the head with the GamePad. The controller is awesome and if you throw out the battery life and frame reduction when playing with 2, I see no issues with it. It’s going to be great to play with. Yet with all these restrictions, it is almost like Nintendo wants to limit themselves with this great piece of tech. Why use Wiimotes for the supplement controllers? Why not come out with some similar tablet controller that can’t stream from the TV? Wouldn’t that take out a bulk of your processing issues right there?
That is really why I am doubting. There are just way too many questions this close to launch. This thing is launching in November, most likely. We still have so much we need Nintendo to answer. That scares me away from buying. Why are most games going to be 720p instead of 1080p? Why did those Batman screens look so dull and bland on the Wii U compared to current gen tech? What are the exact GPU and CPU specs? Why is Nintendo being so secretive this late? Why are they hiding important answers like this? It’s August, Nintendo. You have three months before you are launching your newest console that will last you the next 5 years or so. You need to open up. Not just to “answer the questions”, but to retain potential buyers and stop the doom and gloom talk that arises due to no answers.
That all being said, I want the Wii U to succeed. I want it to do great and get the support and see it flourish. I want to see all of my questions answered with great tidings. If Nintendo can pull this off and fill those game shelves with much less vaporware and much more credible titles, the train ride won’t die down even when Microsoft and Sony put their hands on the table.