A year of the Wii U – how we’re going twelve months down the track
Last Saturday the Wii U turned one year old. If you bought a console on launch not only is your warranty up but you’ve now had your Wii U for an entire year. So to celebrate and to reflect, we asked the Vooks crew and some special guests for their thoughts on the Wii U and their year with it.
Everyone will have got something different out of the console and we all know the ‘official’ record of how it’s gone. But what about in the real world with real people?
Let us know in the comments below your thoughts and your memories and experiences with the Wii U so far.
Steven Impson – Vooks Writer / Vookcast
In its first 12 months, the Wii U has not become my primary platform. It started reasonably strongly with ZombiU and New Super Mario Bros U, but almost up until the launch of Pikmin 3 in July there was scarcely little else I wanted to play on the machine. That’s certainly not to say that the Wii U didn’t have a reasonable library of titles, quite the opposite in fact. I maintain that someone could have just a Wii U and have more than enough to play. For someone like myself who owned the other HD consoles though, there were few games exclusive to the Wii U that enticed me to turn on the console.
The Famicom 30th anniversary games have been a nice bonus with games like Super Metroid at a price of 30 cents, it helped stave off feelings of buyers remorse.
Things have improved fairly significantly for my Wii U since July however, with my console getting quite a bit of play with titles like Rayman Legends and Splinter Cell Blacklist. Neither game is exclusive, but they are generally a better experience to play on the Wii U when compared to other consoles. Rayman Legends in particular is about the best example of co-operative play on the system, where one player can use the GamePad and play the game with a completely different play style. Blacklist on Wii U on the other hand, is the most graphically competent version of the game.
Miiverse has been another interesting point of differentiation for me. Rarely is it a factor in choosing which platform to buy a multiplatform game on, but when it’s implemented well it adds a nice little extra element of connection to other players, without being intrusive. It’s a really smart little feature whose benefits are hard to clearly explain, but have a positive effect on players’ experiences with games.
I believe that the Wii U will only really come into its own in the next year though. With massive titles like Super Mario 3D World, Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros, 2014 is looking far more promising than the somewhat lacklustre 2013 in terms of Wii U and its games.
Mark Serrels – Kotaku AU Editor
I’ll never forget the announcement for the Wii U. The sense of disappointment. Nintendo, the company that had always done the Henry Ford thing — always tried to give consumers something more than a ‘faster horse’ – had succumbed to playing catch up. A controller that looked like a tablet.
This wasn’t something new, this was something a little… desperate. I was surprised I wasn’t surprised. I had become so accustomed to Nintendo redefining what I expect from video games, to changing how I interact with games, that being shown a console that wasn’t revolutionary was a little bit of a shock.
One year later I’m still not sure how I feel. In terms of games, I firmly believe the Wii U has become a console of note. Of the three next generation consoles it has the most games worth playing – but it’s had a 12 month head start. Of course it has more games worth playing. I remain worried about the Wii U. I worry for its longevity.
Nintendo is far from ‘doomed’ but the Wii U continues to have an uphill struggle ahead of it. I will continue to play and love Nintendo’s incredible games, but at the moment, in the UK, Knack is currently outselling Super Mario 3D World. I don’t want to live in a world where that happens. That makes me very sad indeed.
Ben Salter – Editor at MMGN, GamesFIX
The deep-rooted Nintendo fan inside of me, lured to the Nintendo 64, GameCube and Wii before any of their more populous competitors, wanted to love the Wii U. But a year after release, the terrible name, underutilised controller and, worst of all, an alarming dearth of games has positioned the Wii U as one of Nintendo’s biggest missteps — and I’m not convinced the powers that be know how to fix it.
With third parties eventually abandoning all of Nintendo’s recent generations, I bought a Wii U to return to the magical worlds only Nintendo can deliver. After a shaky debut, the 3DS is recent proof Nintendo can uphold a platform with its own software playing a lone hand. Unfortunately most on Wii U have been delayed until 2014 in a make or break year for the struggling console, but even having squandered a 12-month head start, 2013 did provide a couple of fleeting moments in which the Wii U emerged from its dusty coma to produce some of this year’s best games.
I haven’t played Super Mario 3D World yet, since nobody has a copy to sell me, but I hear it’s a beauty. Despite its age, Wind Waker in stunning HD was one of the best gaming experiences I’ve had all year and Pikmin 3 satisfied a nearly decade-long craving. While far too scarce, 2013’s Wii U line-up imparted satisfaction, and with a fluid control scheme, it was my (pre-surround sound) platform of choice for Netflix.
Nintendo could have solved my biggest gripe with a little bit of future proofing. The reboot of the Virtual Console has thrown the best retro games catalogue of the past 20 years into disarray. I would love GameCube and Nintendo 64 games on the GamePad — hell, I would use it daily if I could play the Wii’s Virtual Console off-TV. The abandonment of the established Virtual Console has been the Wii U’s biggest mistake.
Wayne G – Vooks Writer
Shortly before it’s release Nintendo Australia sent me an invite to come along to try out the Wii U before it was launched. I had been to similar events in the past for the Wii and some of the DSs and was rather excited. There was around 30 of us there, including some other Vookians and we got to test some of the launch titles, such as New Super Mario U, Zombi U and Scribblenauts. We all had a great time and I even more excited for the new console than before.
My brother and I turned up to our local video game store about an hour early to collect our pre-orders. There were about five or six other people there. That was the extent of the pre-order crowd. Feeling a little disappointed in the lack of an epic launch, unlike what I experienced for the Wii, I got home and set up the shiny new console. The first games I got were Mario and Scribblenauts. I loved the fact that I could play them off screen using just the Gamepad even though I hardly ever do. Games just look too good on the big screen.
I’ve not bought too many games for my Wii U. There have been some awesome fan favourites which I picked up like Pikmin 3, Wii Party and Wind Waker. It feels weird that the best game I have played on the Wii U is Wind Waker, a game that is around a decade old. But then I realise that it’s one of the best games I’ve ever played.
Super Mario 3D World is going to be my next purchase and is something that will keep me invested in the Wii U again now that I’ve played through Wind Waker.
As a Nintendo Fanboy it makes me a bit sad that first party titles are all I’m playing, but frankly the caliber of these games and the games to come are high enough to keep me invested for a long time.
Kristopher Jorgensen – Vooks Forums Moderator
I purchased my Wii U in the UK while on holiday there – managed to snag a ZombiU Limited Edition Pro bundle, which was pretty sweet (and we didn’t get that bundle here in Australia either). Of course I had to rush back to the apartment we’d rented to try it out – only to be swamped with a system update that ate my prepaid Wi-Fi internet. However, after getting that out of the way I finally loaded up New Mario Bros U, and had a blast. Packing it all back up to put into my suitcase and bring home was rather nerve racking, but it made it home alright and now has pride of place above my TV.
Since purchase I’ve also picked up Call of Duty: Black Ops II, 007 Legends (imported) and Assassins Creed 3 (which is still sitting on the shelf sealed, might I add). COD gets a good workout most often for its off-screen play, and my wife has a great time hindering my attempts to complete Mario U. Having the pro controller around is a blessing (I swear, it’s the best gaming controller available at the moment), and the ability to bring forward my existing Wii collection was excellent.
Just last month I got around to transferring my Wii saves and purchases over to the WiiU. Pretty seamless transition, and upgrading my previous purchases to the “new” editions was great. Who can’t say those Pikmin moving house wasn’t the cutest thing ever?
I’m looking forward to seeing what Nintendo can do with Miiverse. Hopefully we’ll see them not just in the living room (or bedroom, or dunny, or wherever you take the WiiU controller) and see some advances into mobile Miiverse access ala XBOX Live and PSN. Bringing the Miiverse to the 3DS will be a great way to kick start that process.
Leo Stevenson – News Editor at Stevivor.com
My year with the Wii U started off hot and heavy. There was passion and desire. I genuinely wanted to spend time with Wii U, but like many relationships, when one party isn’t putting in the effort it can go cold. Months went by when I would roll over in the night, nudge the Wii U and get a cold silence in response to my advances. I wanted to play with Wii U, but Wii U had nothing to offer me. Occasionally I’d get tossed a bone, but nothing really significant. The equivalent of a pity handy on your birthday after 10 years of marriage. Not that special.
We did watch a lot of Netflix together and every now and again we would have a rampant play session out of nowhere. Proving there was still life in the relationship. Something drastic would need to change though, lest we drift apart irrevocably. Many would assume that Wind Waker was that moment, but to me that’s like inviting your high-school girlfriend into your marital bed in order to spice things up. It’s never as good as you remember, your partner isn’t into it at all and your ex is just a reminder of all the better times you’ve had. While there’s undoubtedly fun to be had, I’d rather look forward instead of backwards. In doing so, there’s still hope for me and Wii U, if 3D World is everything it’s supposed to be and a steady stream of new experiences continue to flow, we might just make. Maybe.
Steve Wright – Editor in Chief at Stevivor.com
My Wii U, until very recently, went largely unused. That changed when The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD showed up on my doorstep.
I’ll bet most of you are saying the same thing this year. Hell, and if not, I’ll bet you’re saying you ended up buying a Wii U this year for the game.
Wind Waker was a big entry on my pile of shame. I had access to the game and a Gamecube, but never the motivation to get it going. The Wii U version finally gave me the kick in the pants that I needed, and I’m ever so grateful.
Playing as Link in gloriously beautiful cel-shaded environments made me feel like a kid again, and that’s exactly why Nintendo has found an everlasting place in our hearts. Sure, in 2013 they might be behind the times on many facets of the gaming industry, but they’re pretty damn good at making an emotional connection with the player.
Thankfully, Super Mario 3D World has ensured that my Wii U’s getting even more use (I hope the thing doesn’t break from the sudden over-exertion!), and I honestly hope that 2014 brings even bigger (and more frequent) titles that mean I’ll be dividing my time more evenly between home consoles.
Daniel Vuckovic – Vooks Editor in Chief
When the Wii U was first revealed it confused me, just like everyone else. The demos Nintendo showed didn’t look that much better than Wii games of the time and the name – oh boy that name.
But after getting our hands on the console, into my own house and being able to use it with my setup – it’s been a joy. My brother and I played this thing to death in November and December last year.
As the Christmas, New Year and whole Australia Day period drags on you inevitably have a few gatherings. This was the period, for me, where the Wii U was shining at it’s brightest. Sure, I could play games in bed on the Gamepad – a literal real dream, but having people around to play Nintendo Land with was fantastic. The best memory early on in the year was playing Mass Effect 3 again, on my the GamePad with a nice set of gaming headphones plugged in, in the dark, in my bed. Amazing.
And then nothing.
You can look at my activity log and outside games which I had to play to review the Wii U got little use. Sure there was the minor updates along the way, the Virtual Console promotional titles being sold at thirty cents and the odd game here and there – but the Wii U just sat there. There was no compelling reason to play it for so long.
Then I went to E3, played the future and still I waited. Lego City Undercover tied me over as it would have for most of you. Slowly and surely from there, it did managed to pick up momentum. Injustice, Monster Hunter, Game & Wario, then onto Pikmin 3, Rayman, Splinter Cell, Disney Infinity all came out and I tried them all. The Wii U has been played nearly every day in the last 3 months – it only took 9 months for it to happen. Super Mario 3D World is my current vice. It’s 11pm right now as I write this and I’ll go to bed and play it until I die too many times. It’s truly amazing.
The consoles future is a worry though. 2014 will be filled with great Nintendo games – but I’m going to have to go elsewhere to play things from anyone else it looks like. Shame, I really like playing anything and everything on that GamePad.