The Wii U is out in a matter of days and I must admit that I'm ridiculously excited. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword got the loins going, but the impending launch of a new Nintendo home console and the new multiplayer frenzy of New Super Mario Bros U is in a league of its own.
I'll admit that I was in two states of mind when Nintendo confirmed launch plans at E3 and in the subsequent Nintendo Direct presentations. It looks sleek, the games are varied and well put together, but I was still uncertain. Then the E3 after party came, where hordes of UK Press swept down to London to sample the delights of the GamePad. I was convinced, but still curious about the system's capabilities outside of simply running games.
Rest assured, with Miiverse, Wii U chat and the abolishment of Friend Codes in favour of the Nintendo Network, I'm a now happy bunny indeed.
However, then comes the concerns about price -- people I've surveyed, discussed Wii U with, raised uncertainty about whether the price tag justifies buying a whole new video games console. With tough financial times and Christmas looming, it can be easy to overlook the Nintendo Wii U -- but even at over £200, there are a solid list of reasons why the system is worth pursuing -- and here's why it's more than justified:
1) Another World in My Hands
It's the no brainer. The controller is one powerful and conceptually intricate beast that may not have you swinging arms about like it's 2006, but invokes a similar sense of "new" and innovation. Even with it turned off, from a production angle it's been crafted with that usual Nintendo love and care, moulding into your palms -- light enough to play comfortably, but with enough weight and refinement to justify the cost.
The screen alone -- coupled with touch capabilities, a microphone and speakers -- is up there with fellow handheld devices. It looks sharp, vivid and scales well in the flesh -- it may not be retina, but it does a fine job as a second window to the game world.
2) A Multiplayer Haven
I feel old. Remember the days when playing games with friends meant sitting around, working in teams and being as potty-mouthed as John McEnroe? Granted there are still a vast number of games to play locally with friends, but the Wii U is hoping to bring living room fun back to the forefront and with the second screen and asymmetric gameplay, it simply works. Nintendo Land, whilst it may look like this generation's Wii Play, carves new concepts with familiar settings -- it's more than the "pew pew pew" that you see in the recent UK adverts.
Once you grab hold of a few friends and try the Wii U in person, these ideas start to make sense. We were sceptical, but that "revelation" moment upon playing New Super Mario Bros U. or Game and Wario is a testament to Nintendo's simple, yet spot-on innovation.
We can only anticipate what full-on RPG games would be like or how first-person shooters can become a truly immersive experience with the GamePad's screen used in tandem with standard controls. An end to the old "screen watching" argument?
3) A Complete Package
I'm not the biggest fan of doing things in halves and neither is Nintendo. The original Wii was branded as "two GameCubes stuck together" and in some sense it may have felt like a rushed launch, especially with not having full MotionPlus from the off or releasing the Wii Controller Pro at the start. However, with the Wii U it certainly seems to be a case of lessons learned.
With PCs there's differing specs, and likewise with tablets -- one maybe able to run an app, another may not. The Wii U has the advantage here in that every owner will have the same controller and console configuration that games designed for it will work without hardware diversity issues. It's next generation without having to attempt to bolt together a separate handheld to console, for example, as Sony is trying with the PlayStation 3 and PS Vita at the moment.
The GamePad is ridiculously responsive -- a swipe, slight tilt, poke and press are all represented on the screen within microseconds. It may sound simple on paper, but it's a very refined gaming tool from our hands-on sessions.
4) The Mario and Zelda Tea Party
We all know glorious, high definition Nintendo games are coming. Pikmin 3 will crash land in early 2013 and the Wii U already has its sharp 2D platforming in New Super Mario Bros. U. There's certainly no need to continue to gush over how much potential there is for these key franchises, it's Nintendo after all -- enough said.
5) Strictly Social
Whilst the Wii U lures players in like Wario to gold coins, there's also a wide world out there to interact and play with. Enter Miiverse. Until now it's been a little hush-hush, but a recent unveiling by Nintendo boss Satoru Iwata has put the service into the spotlight. Exchange messages, screenshots and web cam all from the GamePad. There's still a lot of work to do, and it's an area that Nintendo are looking to improve, but with the system rolling out from day one, the Wii U will fully embrace online without hefty subscription fees.
With any new gadget there will be a lingering thought as to how long it will last before the next one. Nintendo may have made a mistake not jumping on the HD train early enough with the original Wii, but with Wii U's GamePad and capabilities of the console itself there is the capacity to grow for a good few years.
There have been many comparisons drawn between the Wii U's graphical capability and Microsoft's Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3, but it should be remembered that studios are still getting used to the new architecture. Both consoles have been in the market for over five years and if the Wii U can match titles at the end of their respective lifespans who knows what the Wii U's games will look like by 2015?
Some studios are already being accused of recycling past games as the market becomes a little dry. Enter the Wii U to try and do something that bit different.
There we have it, just a small handful of reasons why I feel the Wii U price makes sense. There are aspects of other systems that Nintendo can learn from and consider adding to the Wii U -- achievements, media playback, storage -- but these are small toppings in the grand scheme of things.
The Nintendo Wii U is a culmination of lessons the Japanese game maker has learned over the years -- instead of countless add-ons, the console is a sole package that's been brewed with the whole gaming experience and history in mind.
I had my reservations, but am now far more confident that Nintendo can replicate the success of the Wii and DS with the Wii U.
nry said: Consider as well, that any WiiU owner has a controller that most likely will, like the WiiMote, carry over to the next Nintendo home console too...might make financial sense in another 6 years...
True, true - I do like how all the old controllers can be used, including my Balance Board. Makes it less painful during the transition.
Amazon are selling future stock, as current pre-orders are no longer guaranteed for delivery on release day.
That's very interesting and something I hadn't realised. Interesting for anyone else to read as well, since it might not be too obvious. Thanks for letting us know