Now that the advertisements are on television and the games are being announced the Wii U is coming closer and gamers are getting excited. More hard core fans who look for its weaknesses, looking at its memory capabilities and decisions Nintendo have made, but it’s obvious that interest has been raised, especially with some of the upcoming titles.
With some unique exclusives such as Bayonetta 2, a title though long dead there are reasons for gamers to have a newfound interest in what the Wii U is capable of but Nintendo are falling into traps that are almost expected of them. Nintendo never appear to push hardware capabilities to the max, they tend to look to innovate, but at a time when Microsoft and Sony will be pushing for more processing power and better graphics can Nintendo survive on what could be just a gimmick? And a gimmick that Apple and Sony have already used too.
To be cynical the Wii U looks and is shaped like an external drive you would find on a desktop PC, which is the same design as the Wii. I’m sure Nintendo would argue this is to make sure the machine fits nicely in the home without taking up too much space. This is of course the case and its rounded edges does give it that stylish look. The new touch screen control pad also looks good with its 6.2-inch display taking centre stage, with the controls to either side of it. Along with this controller there is also the “pro controller” that can be bought and used for the more action intensive games where the use of touch screen is not needed (or can be used by a second person).
It’s fair to say that the Wii U is not looking at a new design, but it does look better than its predecessor the Wii, especially with the more rounded edges. It will be interesting just how innovative games can be with the new controller, or will it just be a costly waste, we’ll have to get a chance to try out more games when we have the chance.
Nintendo have pushed a lot of the advertising into the controller itself, especially when they first showed it off at the announcements. Basically the new controller feels like a normal gamepad but with the touch screen in the middle. Noticeable changes have been made since first showings to improve the feel in the hand, changing the controls to be more like the PS3 and Xbox 360 rather than the original Nintendo 3DS feel. There is also a built in camera that can be used in game, one example is Mario Chase, a hide and seek style game that makes use of it.
One worry of course would be the weight of the unit itself, especially during long gaming sessions but at 500g this is not really going to be that much of an issue. The controller also fits in the hand quite nicely, but there may be issues with this for the younger player with smaller hands. As this is a family orientated games console of course the controller is made to take the rough and tumble of use so hopefully won’t break too easy. One interesting issue is that the touch screen itself is only single touch, not double like the iPad or PS Vita which is a step back in terms of usability.
The controller uses a MicroUSB recharger, with premium versions having a dockable cradle. On full recharge there is an average of about five hours of gameplay which should be more than enough. Charging can take up to about two and a half hours.
The Wii U has been designed to be an entertainment system, not just gaming. It can be used as a universal television remote, but for the more social there is also the ability to chat, and the “Miiverse” social network gives the gamer the ability to connect with players all over the world. Add to that the internet browser, eShop for downloadable games, there is plenty to do. This can be done all through the controller too if required, freeing up the television for other uses.
All processing for the controller is done in the main unit itself, the controller is pretty much a dumb terminal and acts as the user interface to the make Wii U itself. You’ll only get one GamePad on purchase but the main unit can support two though there are no titles at the moment that can support this. One of the main issues and one that has been mentioned on social media like Twitter though is the storage space on the Wii U itself, this comes in 8GB or 32GB varieties (32GB being the premium pack) and for a modern console this seems fairly low, especially when games for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 can take up huge amounts of space. It’s safe to say that Nintendo know what they are doing when the space is so low (right?) but it’s also possible to stick an external hard drive into the main unit if you want to boost the space up to a more reasonable size, it’s surprising though that it’s so low.
One of the most important thing for gamers of course is the launch titles that are going to be available, here are some of them: Nintendo Land, ZombiU, FIFA 13, New Super Mario Bros U, Mass Effect 3 Special Edition and Trine 2 Director’s Cut. This is a fairly nice broad spectrum of games to start off with and I’m sure that Mass Effect 3 will be a huge title for fans (though quite a few will have already played it on other consoles). Football fans have also been kept happy with FIFA 13.
It’s easy to be critical with the Wii U, it’s Nintendo up to its old trick of holding back on pushing the hardware and moving ahead with innovation instead. Touch screen is not as unique as the motion controllers were with the Wii, but they are also a popular interface right now, so fans will probably look at the new controller and be interested. It’s interesting though to see how the hard core gamers will react, many have a love for Nintendo and will most likely take an interest but they are easy to be unimpressed when things are not up to spec.
The fact is though if the Wii U can hold up against the current generation consoles AND survive when the next generation are released then it will stand a chance. Nintendo have to build up a strong fan base for the Wii U quickly before they are lost in the wake of the huge potential of next generation hardware.