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The Wii U Review – Sleek, Nifty and Different

wii u main

 

First and foremost, Merry Christmas y’all! Hope everyone had a happy Christmas with lots of fun, food and joy! Also presents. Presents are pretty boss too.

Coming back from my hiatus, I thought I’d talk about the Wii U. The Wii U is Nintendo’s latest console entry and it’s first foray into HD gaming! True, they’re like, a generation behind to jump on that bandwagon (i.e. 10 years) but hey, whose counting right?

One thing that I find hilarious about the gaming scene is just how fickle gamers can be. I seem to recall quite a lot of hatred coming from fans and non-believers alike when Nintendo unveiled their new console, and to be honest I was among them. The controller just looked so bloody uncomfortable, and, well, honestly that was my only complaint. That aside, I figure, it’s Nintendo. They almost always pull out a hat trick in the end. Now, I’m still waiting for my 3Ds to have more than two games that I like on it (Rhythm Thief and Kingdom Hearts. Code of Princess was…ug…and I’ve got beef over Theatrhythm’s DLC), but Nintendo seems to be rushing to rectify their previous mistakes and failings with the new baby. So, how does the Wii U stack up?

wii_u_gamepad_system_update_screen

Once two hours had gone by and I was actually able to play the darn thing, pretty well! Yes, the rumors that you heard about the ridiculous updates you’ve got to wait for were not exaggerated. Thankfully, I’m not a sugar high twelve year old and I have other interests besides gaming, so I just went and occupied my time with a good book. Once the updates were done, I was ready to lock and load.

So, first off there’s the hardware. A lot of the complaints people made about the system are over exaggerated to the extreme. Many of you might have heard that the Wii U takes up two plugs in your wall to be able to play it. This is only sorta true. Initially I’d thought the internal hard drive was powered externally from some of the reviews, but it turns out the second “mandatory plug” is for charging your Wii U Pad while you play. I don’t know what the battery life on that thing is, but I’m told five to seven hours. All I know is that I played a little ZombiU and cleared three stages in Warriors Orochi without losing a single bar of power.

The system itself looks…weird to me. It’s like an overly large bar of soap. They basically took the Wii, then made it oval and elongated likely to compensate for the additional internal components. This isn’t a bad thing though. I opted for the white one because who doesn’t have three or four external hard drives just lying around these days. I figured the fifty bucks I would be spending for 24 extra GB of memory and a game I’ll never play could go instead towards getting two games at launch instead.

Wii_U_GamePad_-_White_1

The game pad is big and feels like the only controller for a Japanese game system that understood that Americans have really big hands. I didn’t suffer any of the issues other reviewers complained about, such as my hands cramping up or the pad being too heavy or cumbersome, and that’s considering I’ve got messed up nerve endings in my hands that make holding things for extended periods either painful or amusing (more often than not I just lose the feeling in my hands instead). I was able to easily play Orochi 3 Hyper and ZombiU without suffering, and I found the unique uses of the pad that each game had to be a joy.

One nice thing about the ergonomic design of the pad is that there’s a rest for your fingers in the back for when you’re playing more action oriented games (something else I don’t really see anyone mentioning). Overall, the gamepad feels great in your hands. What doesn’t, however, is the resistive touch screen. Why Nintendo still insists on using these cheap awful things is beyond me. As you would expect from resistive (your DS/DSi/3DS) versus capacitive (your iPhone/iPad/PSVita), you have to press down harder than necessary to make it recognize your inputs, it can be aggravating at times to make it respond accurately, the display isn’t as crisp as you’ve come to expect, and yes, it does not support multi-touch. The lack of multi-touch if nothing else will severely hinder the system in the future. There are a lot of interesting game inputs and designs that will have to be passed on as a result of this, and having spent so much time playing on my iPad 4 and Vita I have no idea how my DSi thrived without it!

Speaking of the screen itself, some games such as ZombiU utilize it as a map, aiming reticle, inventory and at times second screen for puzzles or mini-game activities. This is, by and large, a gimmick. There is NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT!!! I don’t understand why gimmick = garbage to so many people. Playing ZombiU I pretty much only gave the second screen much thought when I was scanning my room for items, which was tedious and didn’t have to be a part of the game, but, as a launch title you’re expected to shoehorn as many of the systems “unique features” as possible, so, whatever. I knuckled down and dealt with it in Uncharted: Golden Abyss, I’ll knuckle down and deal with it here.

Other times you get to use it to actually play your game. As advertised (and “lovingly inspired” by the Vita), the Wii U allows you to synchronize with your console and keep playing elsewhere in your house. What they don’t tell you of course is many games don’t support this function, as they’re busy using the pad for other things, but it was pretty cool in Orochi. How great the range is and your mileage with this feature are both exaggerated unfortunately, but not quite as bad as others have put it. I’ve got my gaming set up at one end of my house, and my sleeping quarters at the other. While tinkering with the system settings to get the mac address to set up my Wii U on my wireless since I was too lazy to get my laptop, I was able to take the pad all the way to the backroom with no problems. Moving a few feet to the left to sit on my bed I immediately lost my signal.

I'm disappointed that this was the most interesting toilet related thing that came up when googling "ivory throne"...

I’m disappointed that this was the most interesting toilet related thing that came up when googling “ivory throne”…

I tested this again later with Orochi, because every male gamer on the planet took one look at this system and was like “I can play my console…IN THE BATHROOM!!!!“, I found no issues connecting there. My ivory throne (because you all wanted to know this) is about the 3/4 point in my flat, and at most there would be a slight hiccup when loading new content. Moving to the bed I found I was actually able to recline and game no problem after giving the pad a few seconds to orient itself with the Wii U. By and large, no, you’re not going to be able to go to Grandma Pookie’s house and keep your signal, but if you’re on the way to the can and you don’t want to stop giving Heihachi the business, you should have no problem unless the only bathroom in your house is three stories up (although honestly, if you’re going to Grandma Pookie’s and you don’t think to simply plug up your Wii U in a corner and play using your pad instead, you kinda don’t deserve the ability to do so in the first place…)

Navigating the menus is easy (are easy?); the setup is exactly the same as it is on the 3DS. The action on the TV with the millions of other mii’s in the world is annoying however; you will be spammed by the messages of every Tom, Dick and Harry in the world. I’m sure there’s a feature to turn this off, but as much as I was tired of reading about JilliNATR’s cat Mr. Boobums, I didn’t really spend enough time in the menu to bother trying to change it. I found it kinda weird that I couldn’t run around, especially since the other mii’s kept pushing me, but, whatevs. I’m just cool like that I guess.

Let’s see, what remains without me reviewing a game in the process of talking about the system? The pad’s screen is ugly. I’m sorry, but it is. I mean, okay, let me be nice, I was impressed with the graphics, especially considering that it’s streaming wirelessly…buuuut…I’m coming from a Playstation Vita and an iPad 4 here, so, the screen is ugly. Also, it’s several shades brighter than everything else, but not in a good way. The screen on the pad looks like someone left the gamma and the contrast too high, which overall makes the colors look washed out or certain smaller details (like your map in Orochi) blurred. Again, why Nintendo didn’t use a higher quality screen is beyond me.

Just a simple "categories" function, would that have been so hard? I mean, come on! Even Sony finally got it together!!!

Just a simple “categories” function, would that have been so hard? I mean, come on! Even Sony finally got it together!!!

I suppose all that’s left is to talk about the eShop. It still sucks.

 

Overall I’m very pleased with my Wii U purchase. It’s a lot of fun, the graphics are pretty, and I’m looking forward to playing a version of Ninja Gaiden 3 that doesn’t suck out loud. Another nice incentive that Nintendo offers you to buy games you’ve already bought on other systems (aside from exclusive content) is the fact that most of them, like Mass Effect 3 and Darksiders 2, come with all of the DLC their PS360 brethren had to pay for, for free. I dunno about you, but I’ll be picking up quite a few multi-platforms on the Wii-U instead.

Oh, and that statement about fickle gamers that I never really finished earlier? Every retailer out there completely sold out of pre-orders within days, so clearly Nintendo is doing something right! Peace 😀

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