First off, I want to welcome Nintendo into the "next generation". The Wii was great for what it was. It was innovative, it was cheap and really brought a whole new type of gamer into the arena, the casual gamer. I would say it is very responsible for extending the life of console gaming for several years. However, it lacked, and as the years kept going by you saw the technology slowly becomming irrelevant and the PS3 and Xbox360 got cheaper, added their motion and now they have taken the lead. Not to mention the lack of 3rd party titles not being able to played on the system and the Network inferior . . . the Wii just didn't have the legs to continue.
Step in the Wii U:
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I first had a chance to demo the Wii U back in July, and like most, I walked into it a bit skeptical. The controller looked awkward and distracting and uncomfortable and obviously you had to question if Nintendo could reproduce or even enhance the graphics of the current generation. The screen is much bigger than it seems in person, but Nintendo did a great job making it very ergonomic and comfortable . . . also the screen is of fantastic quality. I was demoing Batman: Arkham City on a 55 inch LED, beautiful display, yet I could barely keep my eyes off the Gamepad (tablet controller). The display can absolutely be stunning at times. I came away from the event extremely impressed and I thought the improvements to Arkham City were seen visually and in the way the Gamepad was used. Certain textures and details were noticed, which was impressive for a game that was a port and not built from the ground up using the newer technology inside of the Wii U.
Fast Forward 5 months, and nearly a month after playing with my Wii U deluxe version . . . I am even more impressed than before. The system is an absolute delight. The graphics I've seen by no means have blown the PS3 or the Xbox out of the water (normal considering it usually takes a year or more to start developing games to take advantage of newer technology) but they more than hold their own and in certain games you definitely see some lighting improvements and improvements in details (human skin more outlines, sewers look more realistic, etc.) that lead you to believe that this system truly has some horsepower behind it . . .especially when you hear the president of Nintendo say that none of the games that are out have even taken advantage of 50% of what the Wii U can do. That's impressive and I'm looking forward to what this system can bring to gaming. The Gamepad is even more impressive now that I use it everyday.
1. The Gamepad: Simply put, it is the best controller to EVER hit the market. Obviously a learning curve, but the simple convenience of having a map in your hands and having inventory management in your hands is something that just makes things easier. The builit in gyroscope, 2 analog sticks, bumps and triggers with a "this generation" layout all combines to fit any genre of gaming to perfection. There is also a built in NFC which opens up the door for a Skylanders type Pokemon game which could really turn into another frenzy. Sometime next year Nintendo is going to enable gaming with 2 tablets which should prove to make Madden much more interesting with the potential to draw up plays on the fly and keep play selections more secretive. It's also great that it serves as a Universal remote. I find myself picking the Gamepad up for everything now. Searching Netflix, Amazon and Hulu selections on the tablet is just much more enjoyable.
2. Portability: The ability to play games full version games like Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, Assassins Creed 3, Mario, etc. in the comfort of my bed on the Gamepad is something that I have already taken advantage of. The fact that you could be playing on your big screen in an online environment, have to run to the bathroom, and can move the game onto your Gamepad and continue playing is something we all have wished we could have at one time or another. I have seen pictures of people taking their console and Gamepad on an airplane, plugging the system up and playing COD while flying. Sure you have the Vita and 3ds for portability, but to get that full console version on the go w/o the need of a TV is pretty damn good. The console is also slimmer than the new PS3 slim.
3. No Lag: So what makes the Gamepad that ACE controller is the fact that the lag is non existant. They got the latency perfect and the stream between the TV and Gamepad is on point. This is something that Sony and Microsoft have to work on with the Vita/PS3 and Xbox/SmartGlass. Sure those systems may only have a 1/2 second lag in some instances but it definitely isn't perfect and neither the tablet or the Vita have the comfort gripping of the Gamepad, so when people say these are answers to the Wii U, none of those solutions can equate to what the Gamepad can do. Plus the Gamepad comes packaged with each system.
4. The Online experience (MiiVerse): So probably the most impressive thing so far with the Wii U is the fact that Nintendo absolutely NAILED how a video game's "online social community" should be with MiiVerse. This has probably been the biggest surprise with the Wii U. It is literally Facebook, Twitter, the internet, all wrapped into one with discussion forums, tips, fantastic drawings of famous characters. Every game has a section. You can enable tips within a game if you get stuck and you can leave tips if you choose. I'm not a Facebook or Twitter or Instagram guy, but I find myself on Miiverse alot. The internet browser is very quick and more enjoyable with the Gamepad than on other systems. There is also a free video chat service amongst Wii U users and it works very well.
5. No More Friend Codes: Once again, let's welcome Nintendo to the "current generation". The Friend Code thing absolutely sucked and they have completely done away with it and introduced the Nintendo Network. Much, much better. The online play is much improved on the Wii U, downloadable DLC that other systems get will be available on the Wii U. Plus it is free, which always is a plus. I don't think Nintendo will ever be as great as Microsoft in this area but they have to be competent and they are more than that with the Wii U.
6. Graphics - Games in full 1080p w/o a sweat if they choose, no upscale. No more stripped down games because the Wii couldn't handle them.
7. Gangsta - It seems like Nintendo has completely dropped its pushback against hardcore games and now wants all gutter titles on the system. This is shown by Ninja Gaiden 3: Razors Edge being much more gruesome than the regular Ninja Gaiden 3 on PS360. More blood and more decapatations and a harder difficulty level make the game. It actually turned a poorly rated game into a solid one by doing so. Nintendo is getting it.
8. First Party games - Nintendo has always been the king of the First Party Titles: Mario and all his games (including Mario Kart), Zelda, Donkey Kong, Smash, Metroid, Star Fox, Kid Icarus, Kirby, Pokemon, Pikmin, XenoBlade, F-Zero, Fire Emblem, Animal Cross, etc. It's only going to get better with the new capabilities and better graphics. Keep pushing out these games . . . they are what make Nintendo what they are today.
9. Backwards Compatability: Pretty much all accessories and games from the Wii work on the Wii U. That's a big plus as many households already have a Wii (whether in use or not) and most have 2 controllers or more as they use it as a "party system". So saving a hundred bucks or 2 on not having to dish out for extra controllers is a great thing IMO. Plus its good to have the big library of the Wii for new adopters to choose from.
10. NO properitory restrictions like specific memory. You can use standard SD cards and you can plug in up to a standard 2 TB USB external drive to add to the space of the system.
1. Will it have more legs than the Wii: It is clear that the graphical capabilites of the Wii U will soon overtake the PS3 and the 360 as developers get comfortable with the newer technology. The GPUPU is by far more advanced than what this current generation can push. The big question is, how will it compare to what the PS4 and the 720 can push out? Obviously you would think that those 2 are going to be stronger than the Wii U, and that is fine, but the gap cannot be as big as it was with the Wii and the PS360. I have heard various things on both, but I think it helps Nintendo that these competitors don't want a high pricetag like when the current generation consoles dropped. You don't have to be the strongest system to win a generation but you can't be weak to a point where people can't work with the hardware that you have out.
2. The Hardcore Gamer and Building up the Wii U Base Online and Offline: The Wii forced many hardcore gamers to jump ship and now Nintendo is doing their best to regain some of that group back. It will be a challenge. Nintendo truly missed a golden opportunity during this "online era" and "Call of Duty era" to build up its base and now they are literally starting from scratch. You would think that a person with a 360 or PS3 is going to stick with that community into the next generation, and Nintendo has to show that it can get some of these gamers and build an infastructure that is respected enough for others to buy into. The capabilities are there this time around but it will be tough when you give the competition a 6 and 7 year headstart.
3. 3rd party Developers: No doubt its a good sign that Nintendo and the Wii U were able to get games like COD: BO2, Arkham City, Mass Effect 3, Darksiders 2 on the scene at launch. Also good when you have a 3rd party title like ZombiU that seems to be a big hit and you steal a series like Bayonetta from the PS360 and will launch a sequel on your system only. Problem is, Nintendo needs ALL of these big titles going forward. Grand Theft Auto 5 needs to be on the Wii U, as well any other major titles that are on both of the other systems and not on the Wii.
4. Minor things that add up to annoying ones: No DVD Playback. BluRay is understandable because that is Sony's baby but atleast give us the DVD option. This is more of an issue with the Wii (which hacks made it a DVD player, not sure if the same can happen with the Wii u) but it would have been nice to have a 1080p DVD upscaling player even though it comes with all of the major streaming services. Also the batterly life on the Gamepad is only 4 hours and change. Now there is an accessory that makes the battery life over 10 hours and its rather cheap but still its a negative. Ironically the Pro Controller gets like 80 hours, so its odd that they couldn't do better on the Gamepad.
5. Name/Price - People are still getting confused with the Wii U. Some think its a new handheld, others think it is an attachment to the Wii . . . Nintendo tends to confuse people wit the names and that could be a problem upfront. Also I do believe the pricing is spot on . . . however with the current gen systems at a lower price, I want to see how Nintendo markets themselves as the better alternative because you still have naysayers who think Nintendo and the Wii U is an inferior product. All challenges for the rest of the year and into 2013.
Not going to go over everything but some of the games that are out on the system as of now:
1. NintendoLand - Bundled with the system - The Wii U's version of Wii Sports in a sense that it really shows off the uses of the Gamepad and the Wii U. It however is MUCH more in depth than Wii Sports. 12 attractions featuring famous Nintendo icons and these aren't just shallow minigames. They are challenging and alot of fun. As corny as NintendoLand may sound, the vision of what the game is trying to accomplish more than does that and I think it is a favorite amongst everybody.
2. New Super Mario Bros U - Gorgeous graphics, The best and most difficult game of the "New" Series . . . Nintendo never goes wrong when they bundle with a Mario 2d Scroller. Love the new additions. Great game.
3. Zombi U - A thriller entry into the Zombie Survival series. No this isn't shoot em up bang bang Call of Duty . . . this is I'm a normal person, the world is filled with Zombi's, I have a cricket bat and a few guns and stuff on the way and I have my survivor bag. The Gamepad is used absolutely PERFECT in this game and the whole concept of you dying, another person being sent to find the Zombi version of you and relocate your survivor bag to continue the mission offers some intense moments. Very good exclusive for Nintendo
Ninja Gaiden 3: Razors Edge
Call of Duty: Black OPs 2
Assassins Creed: 3
Epic Mickey 2
Trine 2: Directors Cut (Eshop - full 1080 . . . very nice)
Batman: Arkham City
Tekken Tag Tournament 2
Sonic Allstar Racing: Transformed
Future Games in 2013:
Lego City Undercover (Grand Theft Lego)
Super Smash Bros U (3ds/Wii U crossplay)
Mario Kart U
3d Mario Game (Mario Galaxy 3?)
That's it for now, here are a few trailers.
Lego City Undercover: