So everyone knows the general view of Nintendo’s current generation console, the Wii U. Sales of the console have been poor, support from third-party developers has been disappointing and the whole concept of the system hasn’t been marketed very well. If I have to hear one more person say the Gamepad is just a ‘fancy extra controller’ for the Wii I’m going to hit them with it. It certainly was not the roaring success its predecessor was, and now as we go into 2017 the system will an early discontinuation with the imminent arrival of the highly anticipated Nintendo Switch.
In March the Wii U’s successor will hit the shelves and from the small details we’ve been given thus far everyone, including myself, will be very eager to bag a system. However I’m one that really loves my Wii U and I don’t feel ready to retire my gimmicky little system just yet. I mean I’ve still got a backlog of games to play such as Xenoblade Chronicles X and two Bayonetta games. So I thought I’d take some time to look back at the Wii U’s four year era and my time with it.
Nintendo’s Wii U was released upon Europe on November 30th 2012, at the time I was well into my second year of University and was excited about finally getting my hands on one. Sadly with Christmas just a month away, the need to purchase presents and prolong my food supplies trumped getting a new games console. My mate however threw caution to the wind purchasing one on release day and spending his December eating vast quantities of beans. I remember that day well as we spent a full 16 hours (yes we pulled an all-nighter) enjoying Nintendo Land and attempting to unlock every golden star.
The Gamepad is obviously the consoles major selling point combining the 3DS’s touch-screen with the Wii’s motion-control functionality. The Wii had Wii Sports and the Wii U has Nintendo Land, which really is just your average party game but the mini-games show off all the functionalities of the device perfectly. Games include a ghost hunt where players hunt the ‘invisible’ player with the Gamepad, a Mario version of hide and seek where the hider has a map, and an on-rails ninja star shooter where you shoot by flicking the touchscreen. If you’re reading this and own a Wii U but not this game I’d highly recommend procuring a copy as it’s a very enjoyable party game and even after 4 years I still pop back to play it from time to time.
Nintendo Land showed us that the Gamepad had a lot of potential for multiplayer and party games so it’s such a shame that that no other game really expanded on it further to create more multiplayer experiences. The convenience of a second screen however would play more into single player adventures. Zelda’s HD upgrades, Wind Waker HD and Twilight Princess HD, introduced a gimmick where your maps and inventories were all displayed on the Gamepad. It’s wasn’t a ground breaking move as it’s already been tried on the 3DS but it does streamline the process immensely having all of your weapons and healing items a touch away. I’ve recently been playing Final Fantasy XV in which you need to swap weapons and magic to cater to certain enemies and I feel myself missing this handy feature as pausing and shuffling your load-out mid battle really breaks up the action.
The handy second screen is why if fell in love with this console as it has many clever uses. Keen to hunt a Rathalos but TV’s not free? No problem. Found yourself stuck against a boss and don’t know to progress? Just pause and open up the browser. It’s not just restricted to games either, the convenience of a second screen is fantastic for applications like Netflix, Crunchyroll and the built in Internet Browser. I’ve lost count the amount of times I’ve been sat with family as they’ve mentioned new movie trailers or asked if so-and-so show is on Netflix. Being able to search for these answers before flicking the results on to the big screen has been a surprising but commonly used feature now with my console. This Wii U feature though has faded in more to the background though with things like the Chromecast allowing people to do the same thing with their phones.
What really bugs me when people talk about the Wii U is that people say it doesn’t have any games. It is disappointing how little support the Wii U has had from third-party developers and it still really grinds my gears that we won’t get an exclusive Zelda game (Breath of the Wild of course releases on both the Switch and Wii U). However there has been a smattering of great titles and in some cases series highlights in Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros: Wii U and that’s just the tip. Appeasing Zelda fans was the action-packed spin-off Hyrule Warriors, the addictively refreshing shooter Splatoon and a Fire Emblem title with an interesting musical twist in Tokyo Mirage Session FE#. The Wii U’s library may be compact but there are certainly a couple of gems to be found and of course if it wasn’t for the Wii U we wouldn’t have those obsessively collectable Amiibos.
I actually bought my own Wii U six months after its release but I was sold on it from day one with the all-nighter on Nintendo Land. But I have to admit my time with the Wii U of late has been rather quiet as games being released for it have slowed to a crawl, the only real use it gets right now is browsing Netflix or to show off movie trailers to family and friends. With the Switch fast approaching maybe now’s the time to return my backlog of games. I have this hope that one day that people will look back at the Wii U in the way we look back at the GameCube. Not a ground breaking console, the Gamepads convenient second screen certainly make an interesting compliment for games and I’d like to see this continued with the Switch, but it’ll be remembered most of all for its quirky but solid library of games.