Wii U Review

Santa was kind enough to bring our family a Wii U for Christmas, and now that we’ve had it set up and running for a week or so, I thought it might be helpful for some out there to hear what the family thought of it thus far. (In other news, we now have a vanilla Wii that’s available. Shoot a message to me if you’re interested.)

If you’re not up on the whole video game system scene, allow me to inform you. The big three makers have now all come out with new consoles. You’ve got Microsoft’s XBox One, Sony’s Playstation 4, and Nintendo’s Wii U. Microsoft and Sony cater much more to the bleeding edge, hardcore gamer crowd. Nintendo is more for the kiddies. (But since I have kiddies, that’s just fine by me.) The Wii U is totally new–it’s not an add-on for the Wii–something Nintendo has done a horrid job of communicating to consumers. (It doesn’t help that they branded all their Wii add-ons, as “Wii ______” Wii Balance Board. Wii Fit. Wii Sports. Wii Music. You name it. So why are they surprised when people don’t understand that Wii U is something new? Dingbats.)

The Wii U has beefed up graphics, still does all the motion control of the Wii, plays Wii games (in addition to the new Wii U games), and has this huge tablet-like controller.

Right off, there’s one thing I loved about the system: the fact that I didn’t have to buy a new slate of controllers so my whole family could play. It comes with that huge honkin’ tablet thing, and then it also connects to all Wii controllers, meaning that from day 1, my entire family could play. (Up to five people can play games on the console at the same time, which is pretty sweet.) I also loved that it could play those old Wii games. Yes, I lost the ability to play even older Gamecube games, but such is life. (I would be thinking about a new PS4–if they were backwards compatible with older games. They’re not, so I’m not.)

The big tablet controller thing was an unknown to me. Why in the world would it be a good thing? It’s huge. Would it be uncomfortable? I already have an iPad–do I need anther tablet thing? In my experience, it’s been a blast so far. It lets you play games that just wouldn’t be possible without it. For example, there’s a game in Nintendoland (a great Wii U game) where one player has the tablet and plays the part of a ghost in a haunted house, and the rest of the players play ghost hunters. The player with the tablet can see where he is and where everyone else is. The other players can’t see the ghost (on the big TV screen). It makes for some great experiences, all in the same room. There’s another game where one player is Mario and runs from everyone else. It’s a lot of fun–much more fun than I anticipated it being. I look forward to seeing how it’s implemented in other games. (That said, because it’s so very different from other consoles, I’d be surprised if ports of big name games really take advantage of it. I imagine this’ll be something only Nintendo puts to really good use . . .)

The graphics on the games are polished, but since all I’ve played is Mario-esque, the graphics really don’t make a huge difference.

There were some hiccups getting everything up and running. Nintendo’s network was down for the first few days after Christmas, and it needed to be up for the Wii U to download a big update. That was irritating, and I understand their e-shop was down, too–meaning people couldn’t buy games online for the system. But overall, I have no real complaints about the system.

In a nutshell, if your family is in the market for some fun family video gaming, consider this console a possibility. I certainly would recommend buying it over a Wii at this point. It plays all the Wii games, and as more Wii U games come out, it’ll be more and more the go-to choice for Nintendo gaming. That said, there aren’t a slew of games out for it just yet, so consider holding off on upgrading to the system if you already have a Wii. More games are on the horizon.

Anyone else out there get one and played around with it? What are your thoughts?

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