All thought and opinions are mine and mine alone.
--- --- ---
I feel lucky today, but I probably shouldn't. I should just feel smart, but I cannot help but feel lucky. I woke up at 7:30 AM on this day of Sabbath, and was at GameStop at 9:05 AM to pick up my brand new Wii U Deluxe Console and a copy of New Super Mario Bros. U. I gleefully get back to my house and immediately start unboxing my new console. Be it Nintendo, Microsoft, or even Sony, unboxing a new piece of hardware is always exciting.
The first thing I notice is a little display photo of the titled game on the spine of the game box. NintendoLand's symbol lays on NintendoLand's spine and the Mario brothers and Toad duo lay on the spine of Mario U. Other than the blue box and actual physical owner's manual, it's nothing out of the present-day usual. The bottom of the discs are surpringly black and I feel like I should research what format these discs are.
Anyway, I put it off long enough and carefully open the Wii U box. The first thing I get into are the console's wires and the surprises keep piling up. I was completely and totally aware of the HDMI cable that awaited me, what I wasn't ready for was the quality of that cable. The cable is quite long (has to be at least six feet) and the cable itself is very tough, it's definitely built to last. It doesn't have a gold-finish on it's tip but anyone who know's a thing or two about HDMI will tell you that gold is irrelevant. The system did not include a composite cable, this was another suprise for me. If you do not own an HDTV then you're SoL here. The AC adapter is what you'd expect and the "brick" seems larger than the one on the original Wii, it's still midget-sized compared the XB360's. The charging adapter for the controller is quite compact and should easily fit on most desks/entertainment systems. Ironically, it comes with less manuals than the first generation Nintendo 3DS. I got a good chuckle out of that.
On to the console itself. It was a little heavier than the Wii, but not by much. It was also about an inch-and-a-half longer and that wasn't surprising to me. Everything was compact and easy to set up. Then I get my first go at the now-famous Wii U GamePad. My immediate thought was "Wow, this thing is really light!" and the next thing was "Wow, this thing is surprisingly comforting!" Needless to say, I was shocked, I expected it to be at least the weight of the original Xbox controller, not the small one, but the Whopper burger. This wasn't the case as it seems to feel no lighter than the present-day Xbox360 controller, don't quote me on that though. The controller was comforting and it's definitely built for hardcore use as I don't foresee my hands cramping while holding it. If I had to complain, and I'm trying extremely hard to do so right now, then I would complain about it's gloss-finish. This thing is just asking for finger prints.
If you're expecting me to rant about the infamous day one patch, then stop reading. I had no issues. I expected to be able to push the Power button on the controller and have the system immediately boot. Yeah, I was wrong. On the initial boot, you need to manually turn on the console and the gamepad. I felt like it should have came synced to the console already, minor complaint. Syncing the gamepad to my television/cable box was a complete breeze, all I had to do was select both manufacturers and the gamepad did the rest. Setting up with Nintendo Network was easy as well, I just imported my Mii from my DS. Onto the patch, it took about 30-45 minutes for it to download/install. Seemed a bit much for me, but I could hardly complain as it was at least 10AM and I hadn't had any food at all just yet. After breakfast and a little internet surfing, I was good to go. Mii, patched, synced, synced (yeah, I put it twice), Nintendo Network, all were check and I was good to go.
The First Game
At this point, I already had friends showing up to play. 11 PM and it was already time for beer. Oh boy. Luckily I still had some Oktoberfest from last month stashed away. Give me a break, I can't do what you men drink, it turns me into a very unlikable person. Oh? The Wii U? Oh, I'm sorry I had to wait for NintendoLand to download something and install it, yeah.. oh well.. Anyway, we go through the motions and it's ultimately decided that I would take the gamepad since it was my console (and my beer.) We play a few rounds of the Zelda game and it was okay, it wasn't anything too special or nothing that we couldn't enjoy already. They got to swing their Wii Remotes to kill stuff with Link's sword and I used the gamepad to shoot arrows at the enemies. I would've just taken the Wii Remotes at this point. Next. We try Metroid Blast and it was fun game, although we didn't play it for very long. I took control of Samus's gunship while my friends were on the ground shooting. Seemed like a lot of fun, but we were curious as to what else NintendoLand had to offer us. Next we find Mario Chase which is easily the best multiplayer game of the bunch. At least, it seemed that way since we were already buzzing. I take the role of Mario and play a game of tag with my four friends who played as Toad. The camera on the gamepad showed my face on the TV screen and we all had a great laugh out of some of my facial expressions as they drew closer to me. Yeah, this was what it was all about, we were having genuine fun that we simply couldn't have on any other console and that sold me. It was well worth my money at that point. We play a few rounds of the Luigi's Mansion game and we had a blast with it as well, another unique experience but we still went back to Mario Chase more. Animal Crossing game was okay, but the player using the gamepad seems to have an extreme disadvantage when you're playing with four other people. No joke.
After a few.. no.. a lot more rounds of Mario Chase, we decide it's time for lunch and then Mario U. I skip the download/install and the console simply downloads it in the background and allows me to play the game. However, it's worth noting that on my next boot of the game from the Mii Plaza that it did it manditory install of whatever it was that it downloaded. Whatever. So, I once again take up my gamepad and my friends play as the Mario brothers and the Toad duo. The graphics are a step up from the Wii, you definitely couldn't have done what Mario U has done on the Wii. However, it seemed like more of the same to me. My friends were getting themselves killed and I was trying to place blocks in their path so they wouldn't meet that untimely death. We loved Mario U but it wasn't long before we went back to Mario Chase again. Did I mention Mario Chase is insanely fun?
First Solo Play
I haven't touched any of the single player NintendoLand games. Maybe sometime this week. I surf the menu for a bit and I hope Nintendo does something about the loading time on the games Mii Plaza. Going from the Mii Plaza to.. well.. most anything can seem like a bit of a chore. I fail to make sense out of this considering the Wii U is using quadruple the RAM of the PS3/XB360. I'm hoping it's just a bug that will be fixed in the future. The web browser is probably the best web browser available on a console right now, but it's still no substitute for a PC. The ability to stream YouTube on my gamepad and immediately shoot it over to my TV is a big plus. I don't have a Netflix subscription so I couldn't test that, although I've been told that it works fine. Nintendo TVii isn't available at the time of this writing. Nor is Hulu Plus (not a subscriber, don't care), or Amazon Instant Video (I do use this.) It's a little disappointing that Nintendo seemed to be banking on Nintendo TVii (especially when Reggie announced it alongside the price/release date.) I guess I cannot complain too much since I bought the console to game on, but it still kind of bums me out to a certain level. It'll be irrelevant once these features go live in December, but I'm a day one buyer.
I surprisingly like the Miiverse feature. Haven't done any online multiplayer yet, cannot comment on this one. It seems to be an advanced social network that's obviously influenced by Facebook (comment/like on a post.) It's a great way to share your achievements, frustrations, and overall thoughts. It's also a great place to socialize about the game you're currently playing since it gives the author the option to label their post as "spoiler." How cool is that?! The ability to draw and express yourself on Miiverse is really cool and I like what they're trying to do here. If you're having a good conversation with someone over Miiverse then you can add them as a friend, and talk or even game with them on a later date. Stuck on a part in Mario U? No problem, go to the Miiverse and ask a question or simply browse through the discussions that are ongoing. It's a genius way to share you single player experience with people. A lot of potential with this feature and I hope it takes off. It's genuinely awesome.
I took a few glances at the eShop Channel to see if any demos were available (they weren't) but what I saw had me very excited. You're able to not only view Wii U games, but 3DS and Indie games as well. You can also purchase full-length titles through the eShop and the interface is very sleak and compact. I didn't spend too much time on the eShop as I have nothing to buy on there and there were no demos. It seemed all right overall.
I got some upclose and personal time with Mario U. I've gotten a few hours into the main game and that's all I've had the chance to explore. It's what you'd expect out of Mario. It's genuine fun but the challenge here is definitely apparent right out of the game. This game is much harder than and of the other "New" Mario titles. It's enjoyable though, and the fact that I was able to play it at the table brought upon me a new form of freedom that is nearly mindblowing when you think of how much potential this feature has.
Well, my initial impression is pretty positive. There's some definite flaws though, the main one being the load time from the Mii Plaza and it's pretty killer. Other than that, it's difficult for me to find things to complain about. The interface is slick and easy to use. The online capibilities are much better than I expected. The gamepad is lightweight, but also durable while being comfortable. Although, I did find the sound on it to be a little low in volume but the quality of that sound was good. The graphics are pretty, the games that I have played are enjoyable, and the overall experience is very positive. Unfortunately the lack of Nintendo TVii still bums me out, but it's something that will be remedied next month, so it's not really worth diving into all that much.
Would I recommend the Wii U? I want to say "Yes!" but it's still too soon to say. Everything from the overall capabilities of the Wii U to the absolutely astonishing potential that console has, it's really hard for me to give it anything other than a recommendation. Especially if you're into local multiplayer. This is definitely the home console for local multiplayer. It simply cannot be beaten in that aspect, especially with games as fun as NintendoLand.
Right now, I like the console, if not love it. But it's really soon, but I hope it takes off and does well for both hardcore and casual gamers alike. Nintendo has definitely gotten it right this time. Very nicely done ...