An Ode to the Wii U

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.

Year One of This Generation’s Consoles.

Today, December 19th, 2014. The Xbox One, from here on out to be referred to as the Xboned, has a sale price at target for $350. You get the xboned, Assassin’s Creed 4, Assassin’s Creed Unity, and a $70 gift card. Which puts the system plus two games at the astounding price of $280. Really good price for a system that has only been out for a year. Now I have been considering shelling out the $$ for a previous gen system now that prices have died somewhat. 360 is currently sitting at $200 and the PS3 is sitting at $250. Both come with games, generally I’ve only wanted the games that come with the PS3. In retrospect I think the PS3 ended with the best games of the system but that is a conversation for another post. But this did get me thinking of whether it is worth the price… even at $280 to buy an Xboned, and this relates to the issues that Wii U had after its first year of selling systems. Certainly the xboned has sold more systems in its first year than the Wii U did, though the Wii U sold more in the first couple of months. After one year, the xboned has sold 9.4 Million units globally while the Wii U has sold just 8 Million Units after two years. That’s bad for the Wii U. PS4 is sitting at 16.6 Million Units after one year. That’s bad for the Xboned.

The biggest complaint about the Wii U after a year was that it had no games. This was undoubtably true, but after a year, the xboned seems to suffer from the same fate. So I kind of wanted to compare the two. I will probably leave PS4 out of this discussion. As a Nintendo fan already I can say that PS4 has more games out now than the Xboned does, and has a very strong lineup coming. I think the PS4 will likely be the console to beat throughout this generation and the numbers are hard to argue. For this comparison. I am going to completely ignore anything that is not exclusive. Why? Because cross-platform games are completely irrelevant when it comes to comparing consoles. I don’t care that Xboned has Assassin’s Creed 4, so does the Wii U. Sure the latest version of Madden is not on the Wii U, but I don’t care about games which require yearly updates with little changes in them  in order to maintain some sort of relevance in the game space. I may count a game which is limited time exclusive but it’ll lose points for eventually losing said exclusivity.

Looking at the best games of the Wii U through their first year…

  • Nintendoland was the launch title they went with that would hopefully sell the system like Wii Sports did, it didn’t. Nintendoland is OK, but not great and I probably wouldn’t have bought if it wasn’t included even at $20 it would have been a questionable purchase.
  • Little Inferno has largely been hailed as a great game and though it has since been released on other platforms, I have heard tales that it isn’t nearly as good without the gamepad functionality.
  • New Super Mario U… It is hard to argue that the game is super fun. it is one of the best of the retro Mario games with really good design. It’s expansion-esque Super Luigi U, which I will not count as a separate game, was a nice though expensive addition to elongate the life of the game.
  • Scribblenauts Unlimited – A cute addition to the series. I like it better than the Unmasked game, but not as well as previous incarnations of the series. I wonder if this series has gone the course, but it still was a pretty good game.
  • Tank! Tank! Tank! – I hear this is a super fun game if you like multiplayer. I haven’t the crowd to play with so I never bothered to pick up the game.
  • ZombiU – I loved the dynamic of starting a new character everytime you die. Very roguelike and cool for a zombie survival game. This game puts survival back in the genre and is overall really good for a launch title. It doesn’t get as much kudos as it should.
  • Pikmin 3 – Amazing addition to the series. I fear the series continues to not sell well and I’m not entirely sure why. I kind of like 2 a little better but this game ranks a close second. Definitely worth a buy.
  • Wonderful 101 – A great idea, unfortunately that has largely been reviewed as a meh game. I have yet to have enough time to really play it.

I did decide not include remakes on this list like Zelda: Wind Waker. And I also tried to stay clear of indie titles because there are a lot and I haven’t played a lot of them. So yeah, overall not great library, especially if  you consider not many people have even heard of Little inferno and tank tank tank.  There were also a few more but not really even to the meh level that wonderful 101 and Nintendoland get.

On to the Xboned.

  • Crimson Dragon – I admit. I was kind of excited by the game. Panzer Dragoon is a very highly regarded game, though really the RPG is what gets the regard, not the rail shooter. It got pretty bad ratings, generally sitting at 50%, but still kind of want to play it anyway.
  • Dead Rising 3 – A good solid game… Good Exclusive. I probably wouldn’t buy it personally but that’s me, to be honest i wouldn’t likely buy ZombiU if it hadn’t come with my system, I’m not a scary game guy.
  • Forza Horizon 2 – Honestly out of all the games before Sunset Overdrive, this is the only one I had heard about that I really wanted to play. Not sure why, I haven’t really been interested in racing games for years.
  • Ryse – This was supposed to be one of the biggest games going into the launch but never really panned out. I would put it in the Nintendoland column.
  • Titanfall – A good solid game, though the amount of hype before versus the amount of talk after is a little disturbing. Probably their biggest game during their launch period.
  • Project Spark – Wonder how much the failure of this game led to the purchase of Minecraft?
  • Sunset Overdrive – To date, the biggest game that gives you a reason to buy an X-Box One, and really the only reason I would seriously consider buying one. The game looks fantastic. Mad props to Insomniac Games.

And that is pretty much their lineup. I guess I could probably include Killer Instinct in the meh column as well, but their free to play method annoyed the crap out of me more than anything. I don’t care if the game is decent, that was bullshit.

Overall, personally I liked the games more on the Nintendo side, Xboned had a few good ones worth going after but just to me not as many. I realize this opinion will be different for those who disregard any game that doesn’t have mass murder as not a “real game,” but I just have a hard time caring about said people. I very much enjoy violent games, why can’t those people enjoy fun games that aren’t violent? It doesn’t make sense to me.

To me the more concerning part is the next year of the xboned. With the end of the first year, you were starting to see production of games ramping up for the Wii U with Bayonetta 2, Super Mario 3D World, Mario Kart, Smash Brothers, and more on the next year. And we were already hearing rumors of Xenoblade X and the next Zelda. With Xbox One… the only thing in the future I have heard about is the next Halo, and I just don’t care.

People, I feel, overrate the games of the first year. In modern consoles, the first year is almost uniformally crappy, even with the PS4. I can excuse that. It’s what that follows that REALLY matters. And both the Wii U and the PS4 have solid lineups planned for next year.  And Nintendo had a good lineup this last year and it was announced at this point last eyar too. That Microsoft has nothing planned but Halo 5 is extremely disturbing and I think even at an amazing price of $280 for the Xbox One. I’m sorry Microsoft… I will pass. I’d rather pay $250 for a PS3 with The Last of Us…

Lego: Marvel Super Heroes Review

I definitely have the feeling that there are too many Lego games at this point. Lego Star Wars was an amazing game. It made you say FINALLY, there is a good Star Wars game. But it also made you say, OMG this is a good Lego Game. Traveler’s Tale Studios did what any good company should… they made more… a lot more. At first it was just a couple of sequels to Star Wars, but then they started branching out. And now we have lego versions of Indiana Jones, Batman, Harry Potter,  Lord of the Rings and now Marvel. The problem is that though they have changed licenses and the graphics have advanced. The formula has maintained largely the same. Break some bricks, build some stuff by holding “a” and find secret areas to unlock secret characters for freeplay. It has gotten old to be sure. Continue reading “Lego: Marvel Super Heroes Review”

Favorite Zelda Games

With Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD for the Wii U now out in stores. I feel the need to reflect on the zelda games that I prefer. This list is in order from least favorite to favorite, and is also only including console Zeldas, not portables, and does not contain versions I have not played.

Legend of Zelda – Original
Ok, so I really enjoy this version of Zelda, but I will be honest in saying that this enjoyment mostly comes from nostalgia. I remember as a kid going to a friends house and seeing it for the first time and thinking it was amazing that my friend owned this game and wishing I could somehow get it (which never happened). However, the game itself is not easy to figure out what you are going to do. I like the exploration within the game but the level of which it just throws you into the game with little to no direction is difficult to muster. Other games that left it open in the series like this one weren’t so harsh in this manner.

Ocarina of Time
I would guess this would surprise anyone reading this blog. Most people find Ocarina the best of the series and one of the best games of all time. Don’t get me wrong, this game at the time was extremely good, without a doubt. However, I feel anyone who plays it now and actually still thinks it is the best in the series is letting the nostalgia get to them. The reason this game was so good was because it really was the first of its kind. It did things no other game had done, and reinvented Zelda in a way that is still overpowering the series (much to reviewers dismay). However, I personally don’t feel the game has aged overly well. This might be because every game that has occurred since Ocarina in the series has copied it so heavily. The sad fact is, of all the Ocarina-like Zelda, Ocarina of Time is the worst. Nintendo refined the series so much after this point that it put this game to shame. Continue reading “Favorite Zelda Games”

Franchises Nintendo Should Bring Back

At long last, Nintendo will finally be releasing a new version of Pikmin in a couple of months. It’s about freaking time. Now Pikmin isn’t exactly the oldest or most ignored Nintendo franchises, but it was a series that seemed to me to be made for the Wii platform (and the remake of Pikmin 2 proved this). So I’m glad they decided to bring it back because this is easily one of my favorite newer franchises of Nintendo’s. Over the last few years Nintendo has brought back a lot of old franchises including Kid Icarus, Punch Out and heck even Fire Emblem finally seems to be getting its due. But this only got me thinking… what other franchises long forgotten should be brought back? This is what I came up with… Continue reading “Franchises Nintendo Should Bring Back”

Wii U Review pt 2

In my previous post about the Wii U, I discussed many apps and features that come with the Wii U. I realized later that I did forget to mention the browser so I thought I would give it a brief mention here. I do really like the browser that was instituted within the Wii U. The Wii U browser is, I think, the best browser so far on a Nintendo system, and If eel that it works perfectly in conjunction with a tablet like system that allows you to easily enter in addresses via an onscreen keyboard. I especially enjoy that I can now easily surf while watching television. Continue reading “Wii U Review pt 2”