I swore I wasn’t going to get a Wii U. Of course not. Silly idea. Another console under the telly. Why would I want to do that?
But it is very nice. A lot nicer than I expected. And even better after the enormous update that it insisted on performing just after I’d plugged it in. Actually the thing that got me excited in the first place was the potential for media management that the device brings. The large controller with a screen is a great way to browse for and view media, and you can also use it to turn your telly on and off. If Nintendo play their cards right (historical fun fact – they used to sell playing cards before they sold video games) they could make this into a proper media hub with the benefits of dual screen that the controller brings. Microsoft have “Smart Glass” which is a big step in the same direction, but Nintendo sell you a complete solution all in one, rather than relying on you bringing a Smartphone to the party. If it all comes together, say in three or four enormous updates, I can see folks in the family really appreciating the ability to find and play media on Netflix, Love Film and the various iPlayeresque services.
The hardware is impressive. The remote screen is very good and there is no noticeable lag between it and the main screen. The fact that it is a resistive touch screen doesn’t cause problems, and even makes it easier to use a stylus where required. The worst thing about the shiny black devices is that they really do attract fingerprints and dust. However, we finally have a Nintendo device with proper video output. The HDMI plug just goes straight in and produces nice looking video and surround sound.
The games are great too. If you get a Wii U you must get NintendoLand. No ifs, no buts. You’ll also need to dig out 4 Wii controllers too (preferably with Motion Plus) to get the full five player action, but it is worth it. The “asymmetric” games are great. My favourite is the one based around Luigi’s Mansion where you have a ghost (who uses the big controller see where everyone is) sneaking up on players who have only got there torches to see what’s around them. I don’t think NIntendoLand will have the same long term appeal as Wii Sports did, but it will really make all your Christmas parties go with a swing.
We also had a go at Zombie U, which is quite frankly terrifying, Super Mario which brings Mario into high definition and adds some very interesting variations with players able to use the controller to change platform the environment and finally Tekken, which is, well, Tekken.
One surprising thing about the Wii U is the number of launch games available. The actual arrival of the console has been fairly low key in my opinion, perhaps because they haven’t made a huge number, but the range of games available is very impressive. Some of them (step forward EA with FIFA 13) are just Nintendoised versions of their offerings on other platforms (and in the case of FIFA it’s FIFA 12 too) but some look very interesting.
If you want a glimpse into an interesting video game future then the Wii U is well worth a look.