Nintendo’s Wii U was the first of the new generation consoles to launch. It came out in November of 2012 and, after the initial fanfare of new technology and a strong selection of launch titles, it’s all gone a bit wrong. Sales have been poor, third party developers have been unwilling to commit, and Nintendo have been left scratching their heads. Obstinately refusing to make a price cut (based on how the console is already sold at a loss – a common practice) hasn’t helped matters, and with the Xbox One and PS4 now set for a release later this year it’s clear the famous Japanese firm are in trouble.
Outlets have recently slashed the price of the console in an attempt to boost sales, so with this is mind it’s time to offer a reappraisal of Nintendo’s latest hardware. You can now pick up the Black version of the console for £200, a deal which comes with the revolutionary controller and a copy of the widely praised Nintendo Land. Nintendo have, through dedication and innovation, made the finest games in the world over the last 30 years. With the impending release of some major franchise titles this looks set to continue, so why has there been so much doom and gloom from naysayers? The poor sales aside, this is a console which has a lot to offer, and here are just a few of the reasons why it’s worth a look.
The Game Pad
It’s excellent, frankly! Nintendo’s touch screen game pad remains the major selling point for the console; the ability to take your games away from the TV screen to play elsewhere is a liberating, fun experience. Its use in games (when playing normally on your TV) has yet to be fully exploited, but several upcoming titles should really utilise this element
There is already a wide selection of excellent titles, some converted over from the PS3 and Xbox 360. Rave reviews have met; Trine 2: Director’s Cut, Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien, Assassin’s Creed, Mass Effect 3, Super Mario Wii U, Need For Speed Most Wanted, Nano Assault Neo, NBA 2K13, Scribblenauts Unilmited, and Batman: Arkham City. Much of this lot was released on the console’s launch, meaning 2013 has been a very dry year to date for the Wii U, which has compounded its problems.
At the recent games show E3 plenty more titles were announced; Splinter Cell: Blacklist, The Wonderful 101, Skylanders Swap Force, Legend of Zelda Wind Waker HD (a re-release of the Gamecube classic), Watch Dogs, Donkey Kong, Deux Ex, Sonic The Hedgehog, EarthBound, and Super Smash Bros all promise to be must have titles.
Whilst Nintendo’s games are often dismissed as not being serious enough for hardcore gamers, this is something of an unfounded myth. The Wii has some astounding games for all sorts of gamers, and notable titles like the landmark Metroid triology, Okami, Xenoblade Chronicles, World of Goo, Lost Winds, Zelda: Skyward Sword, Mario Galaxy, and No More Heroes are all available due to the Wii U’s backwards compatibility. Retro gaming fans should also rejoice as an incredible back catalogue of games from the SNES, N64, and Mega Drive’s heyday are available for download on the Virtual Console. So it’s not all doom and gloom on the games front.
Five Vital Upcoming Releases
The first instalment, Rayman Origins, was one of the best games of 2011 – it has since been shifted to most consoles, been a surprise hit, and won international critical acclaim for its sheer sense of escapist fun.
This follow up threatens to make the most of Nintendo’s latest hardware. It’s only out on the Wii U to begin with but there are huge expectations for Rayman Legends. No pressure on designers Ubisoft, then. You’ll be able to buy it in early September.
A lesser known series which began its life on the Game Cube, Pikmin is a real-time strategy game which was last seen in 2004. Almost a decade on the new game (produced by none other than games genius Shigeru Miyamoto) was released in Japan just last week. It has been met with rave reviews in Japan, with the notoriously uncompromising Famitsu magazine awarding it 37/40. It’s released on 26th July in Europe.
Although expected in 2014 there is a great deal of excitement surrounding this title. It’s an exclusive to the Wii U and is based around action/hack and slash gaming violence. The original (released by Sega in 2009) met with rave reviews and was heralded as a masterpiece. Bodes well for the sequel!
Mario Kart 8
The SNES original (released back in 1992) remains very dear to so many, but the Wii version is arguably the best of the series. If Nintendo can build on this (and preview videos look excellent) then this should be a real winner. Taking to the Wii U’s Game Pad would also be an excellent new feature!
A Monolith Soft game set for 2014, it’s by the same company behind the stunning Wii title Xenoblade Chronicles which met with rave reviews. What they did on the now underpowered Wii was sensational, so with this new hardware at their disposal expect something incredible here.
Personally, I’ve also always found the concept of “mature” games (the vast majority of which involve massacring everything in sight) to be something of a silly contradiction. Games are about escapist fun, and in my experience few games companies have delivered this sense of joyful abandonment as much as Nintendo.The difficulties with the Wii U to date aside, the console is a fine product and, now thanks to the price cut, it’s a far more affordable prospect for many.
Resting at £200, you can’t really go very wrong with picking up a Wii U with Super Mario Bros Wii U, and then hunting down the stunning Metroid trilogy from the Wii. The latter is a landmark game series superior (in my opinion) to titles such as Halo and Call of Duty and shouldn’t be overlooked. Now, with a raft of new titles on the way, such as the pictured Super Mario 3D World, there is plenty to look forward to in the second half of 2013.The Xbox One and PS4 will have plenty to offer, but will they have the same out-and-out zest for innovation and fun as Nintendo’s finest work? You can decide for yourselves, but do consider Nintendo when you wonder what gaming fun is really all about.