Where to start...
So it's not really a mystery to anyone that my views on Nintendo are somewhat negative these days. I rarely speak positively about the company, and i barely see any reason why i should. Every game released for the console seems to be ports, remakes or games building upon recent succesful games e.g. Super Mario 3D World and Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze. I can't say that for sure, since i haven't played either, and although everything sounds great so far, naturally it doesn't hold up to the likeness of the Xbox One and PS4's lineups.
That said, i still don't believe that the PS4 or Xbox One is necessarily the better machines just because they offer prettier games, no my distrust in Nintendo comes from the fact that they KNOW the Wii U had to have many Nintendo IP's rolling out from the beginning, and while they didn't fully live up to that, they have managed to secure some stabile line ups coming this holiday - yet as i wrote earlier, they only build upon games that are fresh in the mind of people who have either owned a Wii, DS, or 3DS. I'm sort of saddened by this, 'cause it doesn't actually show the horsepower of the Wii U, rather it plays on favouritism of the beloved IP's, which if i may say, is slowly fading away and becoming a thing yesteryear, or some property of nostalgia. If you believe Mario or Donkey Kong holds the same statue as they did 10 years ago, obviously you're living in the past - and to be fair, most people are. I always discuss this with people, and they tend to say "yeah but Nintendo has always".. "has" - see this is a thing of the past. What they did do, doesn't matter in the light of what they are doing, and maybe i'll be wrong somewhere down the line - hope to God i am - but if i'm not? Well software aside, 'cause Nintendo IP's won't win over the majority, and 3rd party has left long ago, so what's left? "It's cheaper" would be the common argument. But does it hold up? I mean pricing and value are 2 different things, and is the Wii U actually worth its price. It's subjective, but compared to upcoming consoles, the answer is pretty much a solid no. Let me explain.
The dreaded external HDD
So in order to keep the Wii U at an affordable price, Nintendo chose to cut the internal space. They did so in the hopes that people already own an external HDD, or would buy the cheap and affordable ones on the market. This is somewhat strange considering older console on the market offers up to 500 GB, and still remain cheaper. Naturally there's a reason for that: The GamePad. But i'll get into that later. So you have 8GB or 32GB depending on you're choice. I chose 8GB, which wasn't 8 but actually 4GB with the spring update. Am i fool? No i'm a student, i didn't have enough money. Did i need 32 GB? No 'cause i like my games physical, so why am i complaining? Well i got some VC stuff down, and i have about 2GB left. Who's to say that i can ever update my consoles firmware in the future? Last update took several gigs, i'm not sure. Why don't i get an external HDD? Well why should i, i don't want digital sales - or do i? See here's the issues:
- Firmware and updates - i just wrote it before. This issue boils down to the fact, that further updates may be restricted due to the fact that YOU SIMPLY DON'T HAVE ANY SPACE
- Secondly, Nintendo seems to be focusing heavily on indie games and digital sales. Wind Waker just released 2 weeks earlier on the e-shop, Monster Hunter 3G has a great digital offer, buying Pikmin 3 or Wonderful 101 on the e-shop slashes the price of other games, and buying digitally overall earns you cash that you can use later on.
Games like Wonderful 101 and Lego City Undercover takes up a massive 10 GB and 22 GB of space. You see how fast even the deluxe 32GB model (which is in fact a 29) will dry up? Yeah, it won't be long till you used up all your space.
You're pretty much forced to get yourself an external harddrive for the best deals possible, for any promotions, and for games overall. Indies rarely come in retail. It's a weird way to punish your customers, and while many people seem to defend Nintendo saying "it's not Nintendo's fault", you seem to forget that this very much IS their fault. Nintendo knew this would be an issue, and their excuse was to "eliviate the cost" BECAUSE it would seem unattractive to do otherwise. They threw away the responsiblity, and how would an honest and slightly naive Nintendo fan see them embrace the digital age the way they are now. They're pushing it to a whole new level by buying chunks of a game online - that is if you have space!
Well newsflash Nintendo: not everybody wants to buy an external HDD for your console. In fact why was it so hard to keep it Format32 and not some unique Wii U format. I can take my external HDD for my computer, and plug it straight into the PS3 because they run the same format. What's the deal? And here's the last things i can't get over. You implemented USB 2.0 instead of 3.0. This means it's a slow situation we got going on, ultimately isolating you're choice of external HDD. You can't really use any USB sticks or those fancy small HDD's (they mostly run on USB 3.0 with backwards compatibility). In order to get a proper external HDD you need one with its own power source. Say hello to +50-100 dollars considering where you live.
So yeah. You're console can never be a 199 or 249 experience - we will always see a 300+ dollar machine, if you wish to take advantage of all games offered on the console, and all promotions on the e-shop. But 300 dollars is still 100 dollars left than the PS4, so it's not that bad. true, but let's take a look at something else.
Battery life on the GamePad
The GamePad gets a lot of flack - and i will soon express my opinion on it - but one thing that it's notoriously reknowned for, is its absurdly horrible battery life. Since the GamePad can't be turned off any other way than to actually go out of range of your Wii U console, and then press the off-button, you're sitting with a piece of hardware that has a battery life of 3-4 hours, and again: you can't shut it off. Not only is this waste in electrical consumption, but it's bad hardware design - a thing the GamePad really suffers. So what's the way to avoid such horrors as keeping your GamePad plugged in at all time (which seems to be the only way to have long sessions of gametime). Well you buy that new shiny battery. You know like the Motion+, the way it was "intended" to be, and of course the "intended" product would have an "intended" pricetag a little higher than you expected. Say hello to another 20-30 dollars on the table. Mouthwateringly attracting price. Now you're console is catching up to the coming hardware.
But all of this isn't REALLY necessary. Maybe you don't mind excluding yourself from some games and sales. Maybe you don't care about gaming for more than 2-3 hours, and bad battery time is not so much an issue. Besides indirectly loosing money, i may get where you are coming from. So lets look at some of the things that the Wii U doesn't offer, yet keeps it's price at a staggering 249 (for something not inherently stupid like the Basic Set, which i bought 'cause i'm an idiot).
Want to watch movies? Netflix? Oh you mean you're movies, like DVD's and Blu-Rays!
Yeah you can't. Appearently it's still the year 2000 for Nintendo, and including (AT LEAST) a DVD player seems out of place. Naturally this is also to cut the cost and make the machine more attractive. That's the business argument. The stupid argument is "we're focusing on delievering a piece of gaming hardware, that's focused on interaction and giving the player"-blablabla. Yeah you say that, yet you're giving us Netflix and TVii, yet you're still to cheap to include a DVD player that costs next to nothing these days. Most people own one i know, but it would be nice with a piece of equipment that could supply all my needs instead of 5 different ones.
Don't even want to go into the blue-ray talk 'cause naturally Nintendo wouldn't waste a dime on that, if they won't even give us a DVD player. In any case, if you're without either, you won't find it in the Wii U.
Wii Motion Plus and a sensor bar.
Because all who owns a Wii U owns a Wii. That might be somewhat true. I own a Wii. I've owned it since 2009, after selling my first one 'cause it dusted. Then game out some games i was really interested and i got it. Then came Motion+ and i didn't get that, 'cause i didn't need it for any games really. Then came Skyward Sword and i didn't want to buy a peripheral "intended" to be there from the start. What kind of bull is that? Once again you punish you're loyal (hehe i sold my first one) and truthful fans, that have been there from the start? Way to go you arrogant ... And yeah i know there's a lot of games that offered the Wii Motion+ like Red Steel 2, Wii Sports Resort or Wii Play, but i didn't want any of those... I almost bought Wii Sports Resort on sale just for the Motion+, but then i realized that i still find it unquestionably arrogant to force me to buy it, if i want to enjoy certain games, high profile ones at that. There's a reason Skyward Sword needed Motion+, cause the game could've easily been just as enjoyable with the Twilight Princess control scheme, or a classic controller support - it's because it sells! "But enemies were intended" shut up, i don't care what anything is "intended" to be anymore. You either make something completely, or you don't, and both Microsoft and Sony has been able to create peripherals that weren't needed for anything unless it was marked with a great big sticker on the front saying "B**** this thing is required, SO DO NOT BUY OTHERWISE" and it didn't prevent you from playing core titles. I mean it was a Zelda game for god sake!
Naturally you don't get it with the Wii U, once again they want to eliviate any cost that might interfere with an attractive pricetag. So you either own one from the start, or you buy a new one, either way say hello to 20-60 dollars (either you find sales or that old seperate Motion+ peripheral, or you get the all new controller which is the price of a game - yeah that sucks). Who is even to say that you own a Wiimote, maybe you sold your old one to get the Wii U.
So once again, for the full experience, drop an extra dime.
Is there anything of value in the package?
Yes. A free HDMI cord. Appearently the same basic logic for all the other things doesn't apply to this. You may own 15 of these cords, but you get one for free. Even though it's the cheapest thing and i could jab at Nintendo even further, this is a nice move. "We didn't know people would be so quick to change out their old TV's for HD TV's" said Miyamoto about the Wii's SD limitation. Sure they did, and Nintendo knows this now.
So what's the single worst thing in the package?
Unfortunetly the worst thing about the Wii U console is also it's signature. The GamePad. This piece of equipment held great potential. Something not even Nintendo could live up to. It has bad resolution that results in muddy graphics if you wish to take advantage of off-tv play, which is an entirely stupid reason to buy a home console, and i know of no one who has used it to an extend that justifies this piece of hardware. Notice those red and green squares on the GamePad up there? Yeah that's the "extra" gameplay that the GamePad user gets from playing New Super Mario Bro. Wii U. They summon blocks that doesn't alter anything in the game other than to piss of your friends by making it harder for them to reach the goal. I guess that's a feature now.
It's a squeeky piece of plastic that can't be shut off (like i said earlier), so it's battery time wears down quick. So far there's not really any software that offers anything to vary the gameplay, though it does cut off the splitscreen features from some games which is nice to an extend. Any game that does deliever some alternate function with the use of the gameplay, is often just an awkward and unpleasent experience, even though the idea may have been good. This includes games like the Assassin's Creed 3, Wonderful 101 and Nintendo's supposed flagship title Pikmin 3. Most of the time i throw away the GamePad and simply use the Pro Controller for more precise controls. Oh the Pro Controller is another thing you would want to buy in order to get a much more realized experience. It costs the same thing as a game, so yeah.. you're f*****.
Now why does it anger me so much, that this GamePad is part of the system? Because it's part of the cost. This thing is almost as expensive, if not more so, than the console itself. I don't understand how a piece of plastic, with bad battery life, a bad restrictive touchscreen (that doesn't support multitouch) can be so expensive. It has something as stupid as an NFC field on it (near field communication) just to play on the Skylanders succes. Why would you include that, and not something that might have actually mattered.
Nintendo loves their console, but in order to get the full experience, you're actually toppling the cost of a PS4, that with it's 400 dollar pricetag offers you MUCH better specs, 3rd party support, and a controller that does offer touch-functions, but doesn't evolve the controller into a beast. Besides that it doesn't consume electricity like a beast, it gives you a blu-ray and a DVD, and it gives you a headset and an HDMI cable. All the things that isn't exactly "required" to game, but still seems all the more attractive, and here's what really has me scratching my head.
According to Nintendo, when the Wii U came out, they sold it at a loss. They had to sell one Deluxe Set plus a game, in order to gain profit. Now that they slashed the price by 50 dollars, this obviously requires 2 games sold.
Sony came out the other day, and said that in order to sell their machine with a profit, they have to sell the console plus 2 games.
Do you understand my worry here. The Wii U, albeit a stronger machine than the PS3 and 360, is so inferior in comparison to the PS4, that these exact statements has me really worried for Nintendo. What are they doing? They have sacrificed so much to make the price of the Wii U attractive, yet they sell it at a loss the same as Sony.. how?! Well GamePad is how - or so i suppose.
Like i mentioned early on, price and value are two different things - some can't afford a 400 or 500 dollar machine next to a 250 machine, but with regards to value, you may see my point; many people wish Nintendo wouldn't treat their own hardware as toys, and instead realize how these machines are becoming a very common thing in the household. In any case i can't tell you what they plan on doing next, 'cause it's too much of a mystery.