The Wii U turned two years old yesterday, also sharing a release day with the GameCube. With a year head start over the PS4 and Xbox One, Nintendo was hoping to have an edge on the next gen market. Instead, sales have been shaky at best, selling roughly 7 million units. That’s way behind the 13 million PS4s, which have been sold in barely a year. Of course, this is attributed, in part, to how the Wii U was first marketed. The name alone caused some serious confusion; it still does. People not of the gaming realm thought it was an accessory for the Wii, which added some unnecessary gaming tablet to the mix for $350. It was even advertised that way by a few stores! I’ve had to explain to several people that the Wii U is a completely separate system, and not an add on accessory for the Wii. Those that did know what it was weren’t impressed by the launch titles… or anything that followed even a year after.
I bought mine almost a year after launch, so I have a first gen 32 gig model, which I bought refurbished before the price drop to $299. (If I had waited literally 3 weeks, I could have gotten the Zelda Wind Waker bundle that dropped the price and came with the game.) My selection of titles were… fairly “meh.” Nothing out at the time really wowed me or screamed, “You need to buy this right now.” So, why did I even buy the thing? To further beg the question, why did I sell my Xbox 360 and use the money to buy this thing? It’s simple: I saw the potential of what was to come. As soon as I laid eyes on Xenoblade Chronicles X, I knew that this system was going to mean business. There were going to be some serious titles for this system and I wanted in.
Where are we at two years after launch? We’re getting there. With Nintendo, you always have to play the waiting game; and that’s okay. I know that when I get a game, it’s going to be a finished quality product that was worth the wait; which is more than I can say for a lot of other games lately. A year ago, I would have definitely said to wait. While the selection of titles might not be the most expansive, there are still plenty of quality gems to play.
- Bayonetta 2, which scored consistent 9s and 10s, and was deemed an essential play.
- The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD. Yeah, it’s a remake… and one that you should play. It improves a lot of little things from the Game Cube version that make for a more streamlined play. Plus, HD! It looks fabulous.
- Wonderful 101: This quirky title from the makers of Bayonetta and Viewtiful Joe is a hit or miss with most people. The control scheme is absolutely the most confusing thing ever… until you catch on. And then it makes so much sense you wonder why it didn’t.
- Mario Kart 8: This is probably the title I play the most. With the DLC that just got added, I can’t seem to put it down. I love everything about this game… except for battle mode.
- Hyrule Warriors: That mash-up of Dynasty Warriors and Zelda, it’s definitely fan service… but one done well. It might not play like a traditional Zelda game, but it’ll hold you over until Zelda U comes out next year.
- Donkey Kong Country Returns: Tropical Freeze: The sequel to the Wii’s DKCR, this extreme platformer is not for the faint of heart. If you’re up for a difficult challenge, this is your game. Gorgeous graphics, excellent music, and fluid controls.
- New Super Mario Bros. Wii U/Super Luigi U: Great if you liked the other NSMB titles. SLU adds a different twist to the game, giving you a full game based around Mario levels and a time limit of 100 seconds. As if things weren’t challenging enough.
- Super Mario 3D World: A cross between a 3D platformer and a side scrolling Mario game. It’s not exactly what I want, but it’s close enough. (Give me Mario 64, seriously) It’s still an excellent game, even if you feel the market is too flooded with Mario games.
- Pikmin 3: It doesn’t add much in terms of innovation to the series, buy why fix something that isn’t broke? I know that graphics don’t make a game, but geeze, the level of detail in the game is breathtaking.
- Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate: The best JRPG experience you’re going to get… until next year when 4 releases. But seriously, this is great.
There’s also a neat selection of Virtual Console games, which now includes Game Boy Advance titles. Earthbound is there. Metroid Fusion. The Minish Cap.
Indie titles are making a breakthrough. Child of Light was excellent. Paper Monsters Recut. Scram Kitty. SHOVEL KNIGHT. Duck Tales.
And there’s definitely a lot more on the way. Super Smash Bros. releases on Friday. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker on the 5th of December. Next year we’ll see Splatoon, Mario Maker, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, Star Fox, Yoshi’s Woolly World, Zelda U, Xenoblade Chronicles X, and I’m sure a few others that haven’t been announced yet. So, for anyone that claims there aren’t any games to play… you clearly haven’t done your homework. There is a lot to occupy your time with.
What I really like about the Wii U is that it’s constantly updating and adding improved functionality. I don’t typically notice things either until after they’re fixed, but others do. Nintendo seems to listen to people when they complain about issues. “Oh, you think we should add a quick start menu? That’s a good idea. Done.” “The load times between start up and the menu screen is too slow you say? Here, let’s fix that.”
You see, the thing about the Wii U is that while it might not be perfect, it’s always improving. With its poor marketing, terrible name, and rocky start, the Wii U suffered some serious hits and losses. But, Nintendo is kind of in it’s own little niche and always seems to find its way. Third party support is seriously lacking… and I don’t really care. I didn’t buy this so I could play AAA titles; I bought it for Nintendo games. And now is the time to buy one. With the selection of excellent games already available, with more on the way, it’s hard to go wrong. However, if you’re someone that’s really into 3rd party AAA titles, this obviously shouldn’t be your main system. But I would say that the Wii U is an excellent compliment to your other system, whether that be the PS4, Xbox One, or PC.