1 Month Later: Wii U Review

-Jimmy Kovalski

The Wii U has now been out for a whole month in North America. So what are my thoughts after 1 month of owning the Wii U? I’m so glad you asked! Below are my impressions of Nintendo’s new console and why you should or shouldn’t buy it at the moment.

I found myself swinging to my nearest Wal-Mart on the night of the Wii U launch. I was curious as to how many people would be waiting in line and how many units the store would have. To my surprise there was only one person in line at about 10pm. So being the game/tech junkie that I am, I decide to go ahead and stand there so I could get my hands on the system. Then at midnight me and a total of five other people got our Wii U.

My first thoughts are just how easy it is to get your hands on one. Rewind six years ago. The Nintendo Wii launched to a fury of people dying to get their paws on the unique system. You could not find one anywhere that holiday season and for quite sometime afterward. Many people including myself thought the Wii U would be the same but that’s not the case. In fact, walk into any one of your local department stores or game stores and you will see that they have plenty just sitting around. What’s to blame for this? Bad marketing? Maybe Nintedno just made more? Maybe a little of both.

The Wii U actually outsold the Wii in its first week; 400,00 units to 300,000 but since has fallen of the pace of the Wii. I am and have been for some time kind of turned off by Nintendo’s marketing push. They are pushing the gamepad which is fine but they are doing it in a way that the casual market is thinking the Wii U is nothing more than an add-on to your Wii. Some even believe it’s Nintendo new handheld device. Now we all know the casual market is most of the time easily misinformed but I can easily see why in this case. Everything from the in magazine ads to their commercials show nothing but the gamepad. Also the name doesn’t help. Instead of an entirely new name they decide to go with the Wii U which many are just calling it the new Wii. I am sure that many kids will get a new Wii instead of a new Wii U on Christmas morning and maybe for months to come.

Okay enough on marketing and sale figures. That stuff is boring right? You guys just want to know about the hardware and software don’t you? Well it’s a very mixed bag. The system it self is pretty small and can easily fit into any entertainment set-up. For the first time you can now play Nintendo games in HD! The system comes with a HDMI port as well as a component port. The system actually come with a HDMI cable in the box! Now we are talking next-gen…..Anyway the system also comes with a few usb ports and a SD card port as well as the standard power supply and sensor bar ports. Interesting enough the system only supports Wi-Fi so you will not be able to hard wire your system to the internet. Depending on which model you get the system comes with either 8gb or 32gb of space. This is a awkwardly low number considering what you can get with a PS3 or 360 now and Nintendo’s push for digital distribution. Most games are a few gigs if you download them instead of buying a hard copy. This can fill up your hard-drive pretty quickly so it’s a shame Nintendo didn’t go with larger storage options. You can solve this issue by hooking up an external HD and the Wii U supports most of them.

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Now on to the gamepad. I was actually very pleased with it. It’s a bigger controller than you will be use to but it’s very light at weighing just over 1 pound. The controller also feels very great in your hands. The touch screen is a nice touch and works well. It’s not as responsive as other tablet or phone touch screens and even the Playstation Vita has a better touch screen but what is here gets the job done. Just be prepared for the controller to sometimes not pick up your touch which is a pain in games like Zombi U. The gamepad comes with its own AC adapter and cannot be plugged directly into your system to charge. This is pretty disappointing and even more so because the battery life of the gamepad is only around 3 hours. The gamepad also must be on at all times when using the system so even if you prefer Nintendo’s Pro Controller you will still need to have the gamepad on. The deluxe edition does come with a charging stand for the gamepad but if you bought the basic set you will need to buy one separately. I highly recommend getting one if you don’t have one.

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The system itself preforms well but has a few drawbacks. First the good. The overall look of the dashboard is very reminiscent of the 3DS home screen andI think the look could be a bit sleeker but it gets the job done. The one thing I really love about the Wii U is the Mii Verse. It’s basically an interactive forum where you can go and post whatever you like in each games respective community. You can even pause the game you are playing, take a screenshot and post it to the forums and comment on it or ask for help. This is an awesome feature and I want the next Playstation and Xbox to do something similar. Also a plus is friend codes are now gone and replaced with traditional usernames.

The Wii U also has a Wii channel that you go to so you can play your old Wii games. At this point the Wii U literally switches right over to the Wii operating system. All you old Wii controllers do in fact work with the Wii U for both new games and older games. Being someone who skipped the Wii I am glad that I have the ability to go back and play the games I missed.

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Unfortunately the Wii U has a lot of drawbacks at the moment. For one the loading is bad. I’m not even talking about the games but just going into the system settings can take 15-20 seconds to get into and another 15-20 seconds to exit them. This is with everything. It’s very disappointing and it makes the system just feel slow and not “next-gen.” The updates and downloads also take extremely too long. I have fast internet at my home but the Wii U still takes several hours to download anything. The first night I was greeted with a mandatory system update that took 5 hours. It takes me 2+ hours to download simple demos. This is unacceptable and hopefully it’s stuff that can fixed via firmware updates.

The system also has little things here and there that are just head-scratching. The act of adding friends is a bit of a hassle, your account is locked to only one Wii U system at the moment, you can’t transfer saves between systems, no achievement system, and other little things make this feel like a system that should have came out 5+ years ago. To this day I’m still finding little things that make me shake my head. Most people may not get upset about some of these things especially if the same market who bought a Wii buys a Wii U. The problem is that Nintendo had 6 years to observe all the good and bad things the other systems did and it feels like they didn’t improve or use any of it. At times this system really does just feel like a HD version if the Wii. Most of Wii U’s performance, interface and app problems can be fixed but for now this does nothing to differentiate itself from the other systems.

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At the moment of this writing Nintendo TVii is just now launching so I have not had the chance to mess around with it. It is a promising feature that we will cover in the future. I also haven’t had much exposure to the games besides a few. Nintendoland is actually quite fun and uses the gamepad very well. Zombi U is a great game that also uses the gamepad to the full potential. New Super Mario Bros. U feels like a Mario game nothing else. We here at GGN will have more coverage on the games as time passes but if you are looking for a good day 1 purchase I would go with Zombi U.

So should YOU buy one?

Final Verdict: Not Yet

The Wii U has a some potential. The thought of a HD Zelda or Metroid is mouth watering and the gamepad is actually an awesome idea when developers use it. The problem here is that there is just no games out now and not a ton of known games coming out anytime soon. The system also comes with a lot of weird corks that will get under the hardcore gamers skin. If you are a die hard Nintendo fan or just a tech junkie with money to burn, I’d say go for it. If you are not one of those then I highly recommend until the system has a killer app or until a price drop.

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