With the Switch being officially announced, and only one real game left on the Wii U, and one that will also be launched on the Switch at that. I think we can safely say that the Nintendo Wii U is dead in the water. With that, I thought I’d take a moment to discuss the good and the bad of the console as there was definitely both.
First the name. It’s funny, the Wii took a lot of criticism for the name as well, but I think we all got kind of used to it. But by naming this console the Wii U instead of say the Wii 2, people didn’t fully understand it was a sequel to the Wii instead of an Update to the WIi. I personally don’t entirely understand the confusion with people thinking the Wii U was just a tablet add on for the Wii but there it is, people did. From the similar name, to the similar look of the console, to the similar graphics, people just thought it was the same console, so why buy? It’s been a much talked about issue and it was one of the larger ones that held the console back.
And that tablet addon? Well that never really functioned I think the way that Nintendo was hoping. They were hoping for divergent gameplay but really outside of Nintendoland and a couple other outside games, no one, even Nintendo, ever really used the gamepad. Instead it became a way to play your Wii U games without using the Television screen… a precursor in concept to the Nintendo Switch.
The menu… I have a love hate relationship with. I absolutely love the idea of the Miiverse and think Nintendo did a fair job of incorporating it. But I really never liked how they used the television to show recent things people are talking about in the mii community. I always wanted the menu on the TV. I feel like they could have done something else to bring the miiverse into the menu but I don’t know what. The menu itself was an evolution of what they had started in the Wii. You have tiles, you can arrange tiles. But it took designs from the 3DS as well. You could now change the number of rows on a screen and, more importantly, you could add folders which really helped keep the menus clean and organized. I will say, for whatever reason I like the simplicity of the Wii Shop menu a little more than what we got on the Wii U menu, but I think game developers liked the Wii U better as it did a better job showcasing various games that were out and on sale.
But really it’s all about the games. And to be honest, I really loved the games of the Wii U and feel like they have gone very under appreciated. Could there have been more? Hell yes! But I felt like where the WIi concentrated on casual games more, as evidenced by all the mario sports games, mario party games, and games like Wii Fit and Wii Music… the Wii U took a step back to the core gamer. Sure it had the updated version of Wii Fit and Wii Sports. But gone was the bevy of Mario Sports and other casual games. We never really got a stand alone Zelda or Mario, but I feel like that was largely due to the short lifespan of the system itself. We did get a Pikmin, a Bayonetta, what I think is the best version of New Super Mario, to date, a new Yoshi game, and another new Xenoblade, We also saw the creation of some great new IPs that I hope to see again some day in Wonderful 101 and Splatoon, as well as new takes o n old games like NES Remix and Super Mario Maker. And lastly we saw what has become a plague of remasters with the Zelda remasters. I will say I was kind of disappointed in the overall Virtual Console for the Wii U, it never really hit its stride as much as it did on the Wii… fewer games were released on it and many I still have to page back to the Wii in order to play, but it is sufficient. I was also disappointed that they never did start releasing Gamecube VC games, instead opting to release Wii VC games which I still find somewhat odd and puzzling. We did get Earthbound and Earthbound beginnings launched on the system’s VC though so I really can’t complain (sure I can!)
Overall, I feel like the Wii U has been a bittersweet system. Full of new and original ideas that Nintendo had never made before, but with launch dates that never really picked up the way that they did on the DS and the 3DS (both of which had a difficult time pumping out software early in their cycles). All in all, I think I ended up liking what I got from the Wii U slightly more than what I got from the WIi. I feel like had it gotten a couple more years and a bit more in the sales department people would have been more behind this system than what it ended up to be. I still rate N64 as my favorite all time console, but the Wii U has somehow squeaked into my top 5 I think. But then, I always have appreciated systems where there was a low level of shovelware.