Real Talk By: Ms. Throwback

When the Wii U was first introduced, I had a truly throwback moment.  Nintendo is a company that isn’t afraid to innovate, and while it means that they succeed in areas that other companies cannot, It has also helped them make some of the worst mistakes in the history of the industry. Whenever I hear the announcement of a new console no matter what the name behind it , I get excited.  With Nintendo it’s a little different though.  They have been there since the very beginning of console history.  We have seen them invent the analog stick, rumble feature, 3-Dimensional gaming, the only truly successful handheld gaming console, and yes, while you may remember Microsoft doing online gaming like never before, Nintendo invented it.  The Famicom was online capable in Japan.  In a time when people didn’t know what the word internet even meant, Nintendo was there.  In the video game industry not one company has come as far as Nintendo, not one has succeeded as great, nor have they failed as epically. Needless to say when I thought about what Wii U could become I hoped for greatness but waited for disappointment.  Especially now as  the very definition of hardcore gamer describes me, Wii has come with the disappointment of never quite meeting my 1980′s baby expectation of gaming greatness.  I could only dream of how Wii U could fix all the things missing in my gaming addictions.

The first worry I had, was the fact, there are at least five million accessories for the Wii U.  We already had so many with the Wii, the Nunchuck, the Wii motion control, the television remote, the classic control I never used, the Gamecube controller that I used for classic games and Gamecube games, the SD card, was there any end to the madness? Not to mention the accessories you need to work your accessories, such as batteries, and actually getting the wireless controller and Wii system to talk to each other. Even though the fun you could have with a Wii console was endless and innovative, so was the amount of extra junk you had to take care of. Nintendo made it sound really lovely when they talked about adding the  new and improved Pro-controller and whats this? A controller specific to Wii U with a screen on it? How could I look at all these screens? How long could the charge on a controller like that last? How many batteries is this going to take!

At ease my friends.  Let me bring you the truth, it’s good news.  Firstly everything is chargeable right out of the box.  The Wii U specific remote has your choice of a charging dock (deluxe set) or cord (both deluxe and basic sets).  I choose to put my Wii U on the stand provided and display my Wii U remote next to the console on the dock.  The charger for the Wii U remote is specific to the controller meaning that another plug on the wall is taken up, but at the same time the remote gets its own charge, making sure that it is always ready the next time you need it.  None of the consoles power is used by the control which makes sense, and in the long run once you find that extra plug among the thousands of other things you have to plug into the wall, you’ll never have to think about it again. Nintendo has provided two USB ports on the back of the console which I found just perfect to charge my Pro-controllers.  Yes, finally the Pro-controllers come with a charging cord right out of the box.  No more batteries, no more worries.  The fact that I can charge them from the back means that I don’t need a cord dangling in front of my system like my Playstation 3.  All of this observation occurred before I even powered on the system, and already I started to see all the small details that Nintendo had been paying attention to.

With that being said setup of the system did take a while, three hours for me in fact. Placement of everything becomes quite overwhelming when you have to figure out where to put all the cords to get this stuff charged in a convenient manner. Once you power on the system you also have to go through all kinds of settings for the internet setup, parental controls, Wii to Wii U data transmission, connection to your online Nintendo account, DS connection, and app connection.  I found the positive side to this is that everything worked really smoothly the first time I did it.  It wasn’t complex at all it just took a while to locate all the things you needed to make it work, and initial update takes a while.  Connecting your Wii motion controls, sensor bar, and Wii Pro-controllers is an absolute piece of cake! It doesn’t take near the amount of effort that Wii ever did.  The system is much better at collaborating everything.

Along with not needing batteries and losing the headache of collaborating everything, I also enjoyed getting rid of my television remote.  The new Wii U specific controller also acts as the television remote. It’s so simple to pick up the Wii remote, power on the console with the remote and then use the same remote to turn on your television.  At any time and during any menu the tv button can be used to switch input sources, change channels, turn the volume, or any number of things depending on your specific television model.

Nintendo has refined this console, and simplified not only its hardware interface but it’s operating system.  As you start to explore the world of the Wii U, you’ll run into a main menu that is easy to use.  Mii’s are displayed onscreen and this time they aren’t just space savers but real users from all over the world.  They give you advice on the games you’ve been playing, display wonderful works of art they’ve created using the Wii U touch screen, announce their opinions in Nintendo blogs. These Mii’s also show up in the game worlds giving you hidden hints about levels of Wii U Mario Bros. or maybe even asking questions about places they are stuck themselves.  Traditional applications like Netflix, Hulu, Nintendo Shopping Channel for downloadable titles, Nintendo’s new TVii application, as well as blogging walls where you can share all the joy or frustration you want for it to show up from your own Mii on someone elses TV.  Many of the things like Netflix are made incredibly more user-friendly by simply taking the menu options off of my television screen and putting them on the touch screen of the controller. If I want to rewind I simply pick up my controller and everything is displayed for me to do so, no more going through menus and stopping the program to make a simple adjustment.

Currently the Wii U is available for $349.99 in a deluxe set or $299.99 for the basic set.  As far as I’m concerned this is the biggest mistake Nintendo made this console launch.  We don’t need a basic set.  The basic set includes only 8 Gigs of memory as compared to the deluxe sets 32 Gigs. Along with that, plus the fact that you don’t get NintendoLand in the basic set, which is well worth the fifty extra bucks, the basic set makes no sense to me whatsoever.  Part of the reason Xbox 360 Basic sets at least made some sense is that they had a one year warranty and a red ring of death problem.  Most of us that ended up buying those basic consoles were just buying it to replace the broken one we already had.  Nintendo has a two-year warranty out of the box, and a replacement plan for broken consoles beyond the warranty period that makes a basic set about the most useless concept thus far.  Unless you adamantly want a white console, and you’re willing to give up a great game and 24 Gigs of space to have it, just buy the deluxe version.

What really makes a console great however, is that fact that in the end, no matter how many bells and whistles it has, can it do the sole thing that every gaming center needs to do.  Can it play games, and do they look good? Do they feel real, not just visually but do I feel like I’m immersed in gameplay?  Most of this is up to the individual game that’s in it, and the Nintendo of the past has never been about graphical power.  All that has changed.  Nintendo wasn’t just paying attention when they created the hardware and operating system but put in a copy of Call of Duty Black Ops 2, sit back with your Pro-controller and you can see how Wii U could not just be a direct contender with any console Sony or Microsoft might launch, but could possibly change the entire market of gamers period.  The online play is comparable with Xbox Live except for one exceptional difference, it’s free. No more paying yearly or monthly fees.  It runs incredibly smooth and the interactivity is just as involved as other online systems. The system itself put out 60 frames per second in 1080p through an IBM Power-based multi-core microprocessor. In other words it looks absolutely amazing! Much better than any other console on the market right now.

It’s hard to predict what could happen with Wii U in the future.  The audience for gaming is ever-changing.  Overall my opinion is that Wii U will stand with the best this generation of consoles.  If third-party support comes through and hardcore fans can be swayed, Wii U could even come out on top.  Nintendo has its chance to change what people got tired of in the age of the Wii.  If nothing else Wii U is well worth the money just for the simple design and of course all the amazing first party titles that haven’t even been announced yet. I had my doubts when the console was first announced.  My experiences so far, and my wisdom from the past lead me to think that Wii U is going to create a lot of enjoyment in the years to come.

The Wii U Console Gets

4-5mf

Out of Five

What’s Legit?

+Streamlined accessory use

+Grade A launch titles

+Excellent online service that’s free (MiiVerse is legit)

What’s Perpetrating?

-Basic console option

-Some loading times need to be worked out

-TVii not available right away

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