I went into Gamestop about a month ago, looking to preorder the Wii U. I was turned down. They said they couldn’t handle anymore Wii U preorders. I wanted to shell out my hard earned cash and they wouldn’t take it. Wow. I didn’t have a whole lot of money to blow anyway, so I pretty much at that point had given up on going for the Wii U (atleast for 2012).
Lately I had been reading about Wii U alot online, watching online video reviews, and just started getting really hyped for the machine. First off, that Wii U Game Pad is beautiful, sleek, and black. The screen is beautiful. Way back when I had no reason to believe that the GBA third pillar would fall, I had envisioned then what the next gen Game Boy would be, and that image in my head looks very similar to the Game Pad we see before us today. My guess at the time was that it would play Game Cube discs; not stream video from a console. In any case, I had gotten myself so hyped, that I figured I owed it to myself to go to Gamestop and play the demo unit there. I figured they must have a demo unit set up by now. I had some errands to run, so I decided I would do those after I checked out the Wii U. So I arrived there, messed with the demo unit, and figured what have I got to lose by asking if they had any. I went over, and my question went something like “you guys don’t have the Wii U, don’t you?” The response was “We do today, but not yesterday. You are lucky.” My heart went beating fast. Hold on boy. Remember you don’t have a whole lot of money here. You are gonna regret it later. I pulled the trigger, and my heart beated fast. I put all my errands on hold and went home quickly. That is my story for the day. Seeing that it is Christmas season, I figured it wouldn’t be easy to get one, but I did today. Lucky me.
So here’s a quick run down of some of my first impressions.
The Wii U Pad is extremely light. I think I was extremely surprised just how light it is, especially when compared with an iPad. The screen is absolutely gorgeous. As ergonomically brilliant as the Wii was, the Wii U is similar but has more curves, and is even more pleasing to the eye. Words can’t explain how pleased I am of the Wii U aesthetics. Excellent designs.
The HDMI port and cable is brilliant. One to one cable, and no more colored connectors makes it so simple a monkey could do it. Hassle-free.
It will take you about an hour to download all the updates. The main system update itself took almost that. On top of that, almost every channel has its own individual update, so expect a lot of updating and not a whole lot of playing. For goodness sakes, Nintendo should have sold these machines preloaded. Absolutely no excuse, and it shows a bit of laziness on Nintendo’s side. What you will notice also is that navigating the OS of the Wii U is very very slow. The transitions going to different parts of the menu require a lot of patience. I sincerely hope that will be fixed in a future update. I hate to compare to iPad yet again, but it really should be faster than this, no excuses!
Youtube was kind of a miss for me. First off, I signed in and could not for the life of me view ‘My Favorites.’ It’s possible it is there and I just couldn’t find it. Second thing is the HD videos look brilliant. I just wish that it didn’t constantly hiccup from the streaming issues. Netflix runs fine on even the Wii, and I find it hard to believe an app that was designed specifically for the Wii U would have any streaming issues at all. In comparison to the iPad, I’ve never had any streaming issues for YouTube on that device. I sure hope this gets fixed. I couldn’t find the option to view videos on the Game Pad. That option needs to be added as soon as possible.
Miiverse is basically a well-connected advanced version of Swap Note, with forums. It is definitely the next step of evolution from Pictochat to Swap Note, and now to Miiverse forums.
Nintendo TVii won’t be available until later in the month, unfortunately.
Netflix in general worked brilliantly as it always has been just like on the Wii. What’s most notable is the option to play the video on your television or the Game Pad. My wife and I share the TV, so this is going to be a God send one day. In this case its the movies, but I am talking about in general, its nice to be able to shift everything to the Game Pad and keep the peace.
I was really impressed with the internet browser. It ran extremely fast and really works. I didn’t find the option to run it on the TV. However, it could be I just didn’t know how to set it up.
Out of the single player Nintendo Land games I tried, I enjoyed the Balloon Fight, Zelda, and Metroid mini-games most. Balloon Fight works really well with the stylus control. Instead of using the D-pad and A button in the original game, you slide the stylus on the Game Pad, and a corresponding gust of wind blows your character in the direction and speed of your stroke. In Zelda, you can play as a swordsman, or a bowman. The swordsman portion is almost identical to the Wii Sports Resort mode where you travel on rails and strike down opponents in certain directions. The bowman portion was very fun. You move the Game Pad to aim, and use the right analog stick to fire the bow. Pulling back the stick longer makes the shot more powerful. Then there is the Metroid mini-game where you control Samus’ space craft. This is probably the best and most challenging mini-game of the bunch. The left stick controls ship movement in the plane parallel to the ground, while the right stick controls the plane perpendicular to the ground. Again, you move the Game Pad to aim like it was a viewing window. One gripe I did have with Nintendo Land was I felt that this viewing feature (similar to the gameplay of 3DS Face Raiders) was used at every opportunity in the game and was quite a bit overdone. You even have to do this in the hub world, where you travel to each attraction. I think they should have left this feature only in the mini-games but that’s a personal preference.[youtube.com/watch?v=rAx9Q9z4Pdo]
Eshop ran a little slow. The interface was nice, but the first thing that hit me was I couldn’t find a way to filter what was being shown to me in the shop. For example, I wanted to filter it in a way that showed perhaps titles that were download only, retail only, or both, instead of everything. Again, it could have been that I missed it, but I don’t think it was there. A few improvements I saw is that almost everything was downloadable now in the Eshop, and all kinds of videos for the games which can help you tremendously in choosing which game to download. One thing not so good was after I bought Trine 2, which looks brilliant by the way (online multiplayer looks great!) and started downloading it, I had some trouble finding out where to see the progress of the download. I found it in the home button menu of all places. One interesting thing is the friend list is also hidden there, but not on the main menu. Not very intuitive if you ask me. One thing I also didn’t find when browsing through the store was how big the file sizes were. After I purchased Trine 2 was when it showed me how big the file size was.[youtube.com/watch?v=gcuQH3lmin8]
There’s a couple of points I wanted to make about the Wii U. I myself have been guilty of comparing the Wii U Game Pad to the iPad in this article. However, it is apparent to me now that the Wii U was most definitely not inspired by the iPad. Not even a bit. Nintendo has made games and its own hardware for a very long time now. This was a very natural evolution for them. The Wii U was inspired by precedents set by both the DS, and the Game Cube/GBA connectivity. The DS is really the pinnacle of user interface in the gaming world today. Many “hardcore” gamers may beg to differ, but I really do believe that the DS is the ultimate way to play video games. Motion controls are great, but not the pinnacle, in its current state, however its great to see that Wii U supports that option as well. It’s a machine that encompasses all the great things in video game user interface to date. The Wii U is the DS on steroids, with your HDTV as the top screen, and the Game Pad as your lower screen. Obviously this is just way more powerful. For fans of the DS, you can’t help but salivate at the thought of this combination of controls and processing power and what the future brings for this system.
As far as recreating the multiplayer experience of the Game Cube/GBA set up is concerned, that’s going to take some time to see it to fruition. Currently the Game Pad is not sold separately, and it will be awhile before we see games developed for the multiplayer. However the potential is there.
Some in the gaming world view the Game Pad as behind the times because it doesn’t use capacitative touch screen and does not have multi-touch capabilities. I actually have a very different take on this. I’m in the boat that feels that stylus controls are far superior to finger touch controls. Stylus input is much more accurate and has tighter controls than finger touch. When it comes to minute, pinpoint tapping, the stylus is king. Case and point. Have you ever seen a stylus for iDevices and capacitative screens? Those things are humongous. It is used to simulate the finger touch, hence the large radius of the tips. In any case, I do see the advantages of multi-touch, but I’d gladly take the accuracy of a proper stylus over multi-touch if I had to choose between capacitative and resistive touch screens.
What an awful stylus…..absolutely terrible. If the Game Pad had a capacitative screen and multi-touch abilities, would you really want to use a stylus like this?