Wii U Review, pt. 1

It seems that whenever I buy a console, there is always a story involved. This time, the story was that I really didn’t have the money to purchase a new console, so I spent months saving gift cards from Christmas and Swagbucks, I finally was able to collect $125 in gift cards and a little extra to sign up for the power up rewards premium. I go through my ebates link in order to get $8 back and put in my order with the slowest shipping. After four business days it still hasn’t shipped… well it turns out my credit card halted it for fraud protection.

I did receive emails about the block earlier but had ignored it because my bank tends to send me a bunch of junk, as does gamestop (way to go everyone!). Well after calling both Credit Company and Gamestop, I got it all sorted out. And while on the phone with Gamestop I decided to request a better shipping method as I still wanted it for this weekend, they were nice enough to upgrade me to one day shipping free of charge, even though they were not at fault for the delay. Very cool.

I did finally get the Wii U on Friday and got it up and running. I had heard reports of hour long updates when people first start up their consoles, but they must have updated the firmware for the ZombiU edition of the Wii U because there were no updates to be found.

Yes, I decided to go for the ZombiU edition of the console… Why? I will admit that I am not a fan of not having the physical copy of Nintendo Land, especially considering it did take an hour to download that one. However, even with Nintendo Land digital and say halving the value of it, the value of having the physical copy of ZombiU and the Wii U Pro Controller more than made up the difference and I feel like it was a bargain. Especially because ZombiU was a game that I was interested in despite it not being a type of game that I usually get.

As I said, I got the Wii U up and running fine. I do think set up went much more smoothly than I recall the Wii going, so I think Nintendo has learned some lessons there. I downloaded Nintendo Land, Google Maps, and then purchased and downloaded F-Zero right away. One of the reasons that I wanted to buy it now was for Nintendo’s sale on F-Zero at only 30 cents, this was a bargain basement price that I had to get it for.

I tested out both Youtube and Netflix right away. I like both of their new interfaces and did feel like the quality of the video for both was much better than the Wii, though I don’t know if that was high def or that it’s wifi was better. Both could have been factors to be honest. It is nice to be able to use the Wii U Controller as a remote for these and even bring the stream off the TV. This way, I could potentially give my kid the controller to watch Netflix with while I watch a movie on the TV. Instantly I have this second TV in the house which is awesome. I don’t subscribe to Hulu at all so I had no way to test that out, though now that I have an option for my TV I am somewhat more inclined to pay for Hulu… if only they got rid of commercials!!

The TV features are also kind of cool. I love that the Wii U controller has a built in remote control, I almost prefer it to using my TV remote except for the fact that it doesn’t seem very good at saving my channels, or having a mute button. I also feel like they should have incorporated DVD & Blu-Ray players into the control, I mean why not?1 But maybe they will add that support at a later time.

TVii itself is very nifty. Built in TV guide, and I’ve played a little bit with the added information for what I’m watching but got a bleh out of using it in conjunction with a second rate drama show on a Friday night. It didn’t have much. Again, there didn’t seem to be a way here to take channels out of my options. I am an antenna user and it provided me with all the channels that I could possibly get if I had a really good signal and could get stuff from Milwaukee. But I can’t, so now I have to page through crap loads of random channels I’ve never even heard of.

The eShop definitely seems to be an upgrade to the Wii. It resembles more closely the user interface of the 3DS eShop which was a really good interface. I can’t help but miss the Wii version though, I thought the simplicity of it was quite good. Sure, it needed a few more bells and whistles, but not sure if I really like all the banners all over the place. I also am not sure how easy it is to find stuff. It is a little difficult to say right now just because my primary goal is for Virtual Console games which remain not on the eShop barring the aforementioned F-Zero.

The main Wii U Menu is quite good. Basically taking the evolution a step forward… 3 rows instead of 1 or 2. The rows are displayed on your gamepad with Miiverse stuff happening on big screen but you can swap these around. They also have a line of permanent icons at the bottom of the screen for various things that you will want to go to like TVii, the browser, eShop, etc. Although I couldn’t figure out how to delete icons which is more than a little perturbing to me. Instead there are like 5 or 6 unwanted icons in the last page to clear up the front page.

There are a number of apps missing from the Wii U that were mainstays on the Wii… no more weather or news which is too bad but those apps never worked quite right (you actually had to open the weather every now and then in order to get the main menu updated), I did like to see weather around the globe randomly though, and news too really. There is no Everybody Votes app anymore which is too bad considering that would have been fun with the MiiVerse, and there is no Mii sharing app which sucks cause where am I going to get my Micheal Jackson or Darth Vader from?

Speaking of Miis, the Mii creator returns, and I think they added some new hairstyles and eyes, but I’m not 100% sure of this. It seems like there are more options this time around, but not many. I wanted them to have a bunch more as well as other decorations somehow like the 3DS gets with their dungeon delve that lets you unlock mario hats and what not.

Lastly a bad note, it is pretty slow to move from app to app in the game or even app back to the menu. Supposedly they had a patch recently that is supposed to speed it up a bit but looking at times it isn’t a huge speed boost. I find this problem puzzling because the Wii was pretty instantaneous with most menu switches as was 3DS. Not sure how something like that can take so long but maybe it has to do with the fact that most things require connecting to the internet. On the Wii, the apps that took a long time were the ones that connected, but now everything kind of connects…

I will return with part two soon, this article got wordy enough as it was. The next part I will talk games and Miiverse so make sure to come back!

Show 1 footnote

  1. Not to mention that in this console in particular I am annoyed that Nintendo didn’t put in DVD or Blu-Ray playback support. Nintendo seems to have embraced the idea of making this a multimedia center, why have they missed these aspects?