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The Wii U experience thus far

By / 11.19.12

Nintendo’s latest home console, the Wii U, came out yesterday. Did you nab one? I didn’t. But a friend of mine did, and I was able to spend some time with his new toy yesterday. So here are my first impressions, and stuff in general you should maybe know about:

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- So said pal got his Wii U at the Nintendo World Store’s midnight launch this past late Saturday/early Sunday. By the time I had gotten my grubby mitts on the system, it had been in his possession for about 15 hours. Yet it had only been in use for a little over four hours. Why?

Nintendo promised a robust online experience, comparable to everyone else’s infrastructure. But because they had zero experience in this area, they were worked on it till the absolute last minute. Meaning, all that internet stuff is not in the box when you pick it up.

Instead, the first thing you have to do, before doing anything, is download a gigantic firmware update. We’re talking five gigs, which especially sucked for my pal since he could only get the 8GB model. So with so many people all trying to download a gigantic file, from someone that’s never served up such a thing before, it took about 4 hours.

Also, Time Warner, who provides internet in NYC, totally sucks and didn’t help matters either. Just whatever you do, do not turn off your Wii U while the update is being downloaded or installing. It will brick your system, according to many reports across the web.

– Didn’t spend much time with the Miiverse, which is Nintendo’s built in social network. Seems neat though. Hardly a replacement for Twitter or Facebook, but it’s not intended to be. Thank God.

– I wasn’t there to witness it, but my friend said that the process of transferring all content from the Wii to the Wii U was completely painless. Again, thank God.

– The console itself looks neat. Though I personally much prefer the cleaner, more simplified look of the original Wii. I also dislike how it doesn’t rest on its side, again like the first Wii. You can do that with the Deluxe model, which comes with a stand, which the standard one lacks. The original had a stand included, but you didn’t have to use it.

– The GamePad is sadly a real downer. On one hand, there was zero lag between inputs on the controller and stuff happening on screen. We’re talking button presses. But when it came to using the touchscreen to do stuff, it’s an entirely different story. Anyone expecting an iPad-class level of responsiveness is going to be extremely disappointed.

Also, the battery life totally sucks. It didn’t die on me while playing a game, but said pal said that it lasted only about two hours for him, and there are various reports online from others who get around that much playtime, three at most. That’s pretty damn ridiculous.

– My friend got three titles: NintendoLand, New Super Mario Bros U, and ZombiU. The first two are, not surprisingly, solid experiences, the kind that only Nintendo can offer. But I didn’t get that tingling sensation I got when I first gave Wii Sports a go. As for ZombiU, I was actually legitimately blown away;I honestly didn’t give it much attention beforehand since, among other things, I’m sick to death of zombies.

If there’s one launch title to get, it’s this one. Especially for those of you who are annoyed with what has become of survival horror (thanks Resident Evil 6). ZombiU is a return to form for the genre that’s also the best advocate of Nintendo’s unique hardware. I’m just afraid that it’ll be a lot like No More Heroes for the Wii; a brilliant example of what the system is capable that one else follows. All the other 3rd party games, at the moment, are not nearly as interesting.

– It’s nice to finally have Nintendo games in HD and with graphics that are comparable to the PS3 and Xbox 360. But then again, those consoles are 6-7 years old, so that’s not exactly high praise.

Once the PS4 and Xbox 720 come out next year, it’s going to be the same old song for Nintendo all over again. Oh, and it’s also pretty annoying that Wii games are not upscaled to HD, even though people have been doing it on their PCs unofficially for years. It’s a little inexcusable if you ask me.

… I’ve been on the fence about the Wii U since day one, but a part of me was afraid that, the moment I finally sat down with the thing, I’d immediately have to rush out to the store get me one for myself. Didn’t happen.

The Wii U is certainly neat, but it’s definitely going to need more time to find its groove. Problem is, one has to wonder if that might happen given it’s shaky start, some questionable hardware, and overall lack of compelling third party support at the moment (plus maybe forever).

But if you do get one, for God’s sake, get the Deluxe set with the larger hard drive.


TAGSGamingNintendoVideo gamesWiiwii uWii U review
About Matt Hawkins... Matt Hawkins is an NYC based video game journalist, designer, consultant, and cultralist. He's been published in EGM, Kotaku, and MSNBC amongst others. Matt also makes comics and zines, is obsessed with cable access, gets into arguments with homeless people all the time, and once had his nipple bitten off during a one night stand. But that's neither here nor there.

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