I was bought a Wii U in December of 2012 by my family and given the console on Christmas Day, however, to my friends’ astonishment, no-one had bought me any games, neither had I bought any myself. I had money and I had the option, I just didn’t have the need. When my friends asked “But why did you buy it in the first place then?” I replied in confidence “Because I know Nintendo is eventually gonna come through in the life-cycle of the system, I buy the console for Nintendo games, not third-party” and yes the sentiment still stands. When I play a Nintendo system, I’m looking forward to which land Mario is going to explore next, which Zelda world I will be inhabiting, what characters I will be getting to know. This console to me, is what every other Nintendo console has been and always will be: a vehicle to show what games Nintendo can make with their new hardware.
It still stands… just not as confidently…
Nintendo being a no-go-zone for software, especially triple-A content, is practically second-nature to consumers, as well as third parties. The Wii being a generation behind its competition didn’t help, but for Nintendo fans, this didn’t matter much. Sure, you’re not gonna get the next Call of Duty or Assassin’s Creed, but when you had the Disney-esque world of Super Mario Galaxy or the cross Twilight Princess/Wind Waker graphical presentation of Skyward Sword, did you really care? You were, as you always have been, engrossed in Nintendo. So, knowing what you do about the company you’ve invested so much of your time and money into, you bet on them again. If you’re heavily into video games as an art form, you’re probably going to get other systems regardless, but the Wii U is a no brainer, why? Because you want to play the new Nintendo games. “Play. The. Games” Reggie said at this years E3, unofficially making it Nintendo’s slogan for the expo. Only one problem there, Reg: There are none.
Let me give you a run down of all the (new) Nintendo Wii U exclusives as of now that may possibly be worth your time. Possibly.
New Super Mario Bros. U: If you’re not entirely bored of Nintendo’s blatant over-use of the New Super Mario Bros. series, then this might appeal to you. Despite the fact that the levels are as un-inventive as ever and the graphical presentation at this point is like taking a tire-iron to the head, Mario is as controllable as previous outings and if you’re new to the series, this could in fact, be great.
ZombieU: A janky, mechanically un-finished mess of a game coupled with the whole over-used “Zombie” thing. Despite the shortcomings, the thrill of trying to survive is pretty great.
Nintendo Land: This is the Wii U’s Wii Sports, essentially. It is as good.
LEGO City Undercover: Perhaps the most promising of the so far mentioned, LEGO City Undercover takes you into the world of Chase Mccain as he hunts down criminals in this Grand Theft Auto influenced world. With the many gameplay mechanics, such as wall jumps, pole swinging and using disguises to gain new abilities previously unusable, this game ends up using sharp satire, humor and gameplay to win over players.
Game & Wario: Basically a mini-game compilation, minus the fun of the previous Warioware game for the Nintendo Wii.
Five. There are five. Considering the grim critical assessment of Wario and ZombieU, also consider that Nintendo Land is essentially a tech-demo and I think it’s fair to conclude that something has gone wrong here. As if it wasn’t bad enough, Electronic Arts came out and said that they have absolutely nothing in development for the Wii U at this years E3. Things went from bad to worse. What happened here? Where did Pikmin 3 go? Was it not supposed to have released at launch? What about a new Metroid? Starfox? Anything?
Looking on the other side, where the grass is much greener, the Nintendo 3DS is thriving in the handheld market, due primarily to its abundance of software. With Ocarina of Time 3D, Super Mario 3D Land, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, Paper Mario Sticker Star, Pushmo and Fire Emblem Awakening under its belt, there is every reason to buy a 3DS. What does this have to do with the Wii U? Well, it actually serves to remind us that the reason people buy a system (most of the time) isn’t anything more complicated than they want to play games. Good games. When you take this away, you’ve lost your reliability from the exact people you are supposed to be pleasing and satisfying. If I walk into a cake shop and they only have bland, uninteresting cakes or even worse, no cakes, I am not going to buy from that company. There is nothing different here.
You kids might not understand this, but when I was a child, Nintendo stood for something magical. It might be an over-used analogy at this point, but Nintendo was the Disney of the video games industry (and for more reasons than they both never put their prices down… like, ever). Nintendo was a world of wonder that you could dive into, in fact, the whole family could and once more, it was the best offering the video games industry had. Nintendo at this point has their hearts set on making the Nintendo 3DS an amazing piece of gear to own but the Wii U seems to be left in the dust and it’s nobodies fault but Nintendo’s.
I’ll leave you with this: Nintendo said prior to the release of the Wii U that they did not like the direction the Nintendo Wii had taken later in its life-cycle and feels it neglected to supply demand to Nintendo’s loyal, hardcore audience. They also said the Wii U would be a different situation… and to an extent, I get what they’re saying. The Wii U’s gameplay options are more refined, more DS-related in control, more standard in its use of wacky, out there motion and touch controls. The Nintendo Wii U and its gamepad actually ARE pretty great ideas for a console, but it’s cut off at the source on the grounds that Nintendo has completely failed to supply the system with life support on ANY level. Nintendo needs to figure out what it wants to be. Does Nintendo want to permanently move into handheld territory? Fantastic choice. Does Nintendo want to supply other systems with its games? Great, the more the merrier for everyone, Nintendo doesn’t lose console money. Does Nintendo want to continue making consoles? Then they need to start acting like it.