Wii U ! Smash or Crash
On the 18th of November Nintendo released their next generation console in North America ,less then two weeks later on the 30th it released the system in Europe leaving their home market till last on the 8th of December.
Now I am not one to buy every new games console on day of release,often waiting for price drops ,deals and to see how the system fairs. I think I have only been a release day buyer for 3 or 4 other consoles and of note none of them where made by Sony.
Now Nintendo's Wii is a mighty successful machine ,in fact it has the highest sales to date above all but two consoles , and it's probably going to be only beaten by one console as Wii sales increase.
The Wii U 's successful predecessor ,with more then 98'000'000 sales worldwide
Now we all know that the Wii sold due to it's motion control system ,something which many gamers now see as a negative ( not everybody wants to jump around waving their arms to shoot or fire a gun) but regardless the Wii as I write this has sold a massive 98million consoles worldwide,beating the PS3 and 360 by more then 25 million consoles.
So when I saw the presentation for the new Wii U I got quite into it ,the games looked interesting and the gamepad brought back classic game control back with a interesting innovation (the gamepad) ,so what did I do I pre-ordered one.
Satoru Iwata of Nintendo is now a familiar face to Nintendo Aficionados with his Nintendo Direct appearances.
Now since then I have managed to get a few hands on experiences on the console at various shows and expo's held in the UK. Some games impressed while others seemed OK.
So then I waited and the time came for the North American launch on the 18th of November . What I did not expect was the kind of bad press which hindered the 360 with their Red ring of Death or the similar Yellow ring of death on PS3. Though not as severe as Microsoft's and Sony's episodes in console deaths. I though hell I have just spent the best part of three hundred quid on something which may not work.
Hands on at Eurogamer Expo in September 2012
So reports where of the console not putting out a HDMI signal via it's HDMI cable on certain TV's , system crashes and game pad bugs. The other big problem was the console needed a update which many put at 3gb ,though some reports said it was 5gb.
Many could not get their systems to connect to the internet
Also a notice from Nintendo went out saying you must not turn of your console or disconnect from the internet during the update or your console may crash and become a brick.
One thing you don't want is this to happen
This was in just a few hours of release. There where other issues but these are more about how the Wii U does certain things as oppose to other platforms. These will be looked at later on in this article.
But saying that all stocks in North American stores sold out in most cases.
So now I was worried thinking I wished I had waited and purchased the new SNK retro console instead ,ahhhhhhh!
So now Nintendo had less then two weeks till the European and UK launch . If these issues arise then they may find themselves with even more bad press and find their fan base disappear.
As the 30th November got closer it also became apparent that only a fraction of the number of consoles needed would be available on launch day ,it was estimated that only 25'000 would be available with only a further 75'000 available before Christmas.
Now HMV Oxford street was opening for the night before at 11pm for the first consoles to be sold at 12am of the 30th. One man had queued for six days to be the first in the UK to own a Wii U . In fact Nintendo where giving away two free games to the first 100 buyers at the event.
The event went well and many happy Wii U customers left the store with their new purchase and no stories of anyone being robbed of their console either. WOW!
Anyway I was not waiting with baited breath if my unit would turn up on the 30th ,not until I checked my email to find it was with the courier and was due to be delivered in the next few hours ,now I was mildly surprised.
And like clockwork my Premium unit arrived on time and I was looking forward to getting it up and running. Now my problem was I would not be able to till the next day ,so I had the console and had to wait.
Did i wear gloves to unbox ? No ,but maybe a should have ,just touch it and your fingerprints are on there for life, the case marks easily for sure.
Meanwhile I though I would see if any news stories where around for units sold in the UK . It did not take long for reports of people having internet problems and overly long download times for the update ,some reports of it taking five hours or more.
Now I later found out the internet connection problems lay with those with Virgin broadband ( I was so happy I was not with them) but there was a fix for them they just had to enter all the internet DNS details in manually and it would work.
So the time came for me to get the system up and running . Unpacking the console I was impressed by it's weight and build quality ,though some say the game pad seemed to rattle ,hey shake any controller and your hear something and don't forget people these controllers have a gyro sensor in ,hey it's going to move when you move it.
Right after setting it up I powered it up (after I remembered to charge the game pad) ,i set up my internet which it found without hindrance . Now for the update ,it connected and it started to update ,now it was a waiting game.
Anyway time for food while I waited and I did not have to wait as long as I thought ,well not in the first instance ,about a hour and the update had finalised ,i just had to set up my ID and create my Mii.
Purchased one of these and works fine with my Wii U
So I thought right lets get down to some Nintendo land, no wait the game needs a update from the internet before I can play. Forty minutes later the update for Nintendo land had finished ,oh hell the gamepad needs recharging . It's late now I set up a Wii Nunchuck pro mini I had purchased to use on the system with no problems which pleased me as it was third party item for half the price of the Nintendo products.
I left the game pad charging and went to bed ,next morning it was charged and I set about some Wii U gaming . Nintendo land is a crazy game which is quite a compilation that makes Wii sports look lame. What's amazing is how the interaction between gampad and screen is so seamless. From chucking Shrunkens at Ninja's and racing hover cars at break neck speed as you guide it on the game pad.
With twelve games and nine of those playable as one player and nine as multiplayer it's a good selection . The Legend of Zelda game is great as you shoot arrows or defend your self with your sword. Though I found using the Wii remote easier for this one.
Wii U pro controller ,pricy at £40.00 ,but up to 60 hours on a single charge has been reported
The Donkey Kong cart rush is a brilliant piece of software to showcase the use of the game pad ,but is one frustrating game but in a good way.
Now I had not purchased any other games at launch deciding to wait to see what bargains and deals I could get ,also there where a couple of E-shop games I was interested in to . But more on those games later , what about the features of the Wii U and how do I think it will fair.
Well from the initial out set features of the Wii U are a bit sparse ,but that is due to change over the coming months.
So for starters is the simple but effective TV control the game-pad has. With support for hundreds of TV ,you should find your set covered providing your not using a ancient CRT and connecting your brand new console via composite.
Ease of use of the feature is as easy as 1,2,3,.
Now one thing the Original Wii had and did not excel at was web browsing . But not here ,in fact the Wii U web browser is quite excellent and is on par if not better then the recent 360 update for web browsing.
Now one strange thing is early adopters could visit youtube and view a video with so much ease choosing to view on TV or game-pad .Even though the Wii U has it's own youtube video APP but to be honest this is not very good ,the interface is to fussy and just not the same as viewing it on the web browser.
Thing is about a week ago Youtube updated the HTML on their site which now makes it impossible to view any video on their site via the Wii U browser unless you do a small hack to view each video .
Wii U users are a bit livid at this as from day one they had this great device to watch Youtube and now they have to mess around. It's not Nintendo's fault but Youtube ,of course they want everyone to use their useless App.
Also on Wii U is Love film instant for streaming movies from their site. How this works I have not tried yet ,i might try it out soon as I have a few movies to watch on instant with my subscription.
Another improved feature is the Mii maker ,as we all love Nintendo's Mii characters.
Create your Mii characters
Anyway know you can create your own Mii with the use of the Game-pads on board camera. Choose your Mii's Sex,Build,Hair and eye colour and take a picture and the Mii creator will make a Mii just like you. Man I never new my nose was so Big! LOL
There is also one App on the console which is only available in the USA and Canada as of 20th December and that is the Tvii app. It's implementation will mean the control of your set top boxes ,Sky and more . You can search for TV shows,films or sports events and the program will tell you if it's available to stream ,buy or if it's on or arriving soon Amazon VOD,Hulu Plus or on your cable or satellite . I'm sure other services will be supported as time goes on, as of yet the Europe and Japan launch of the App is still a secret.
Issues : Now there have been a few issues to ,one is the slow loading times of games and the time between switching between apps. It has been noted and there will be a update to speed things up ,but not until the new year. I myself found it slow at the beginning in places but things have sped up slightly in the more annoying areas. But again other consoles are not perfect either ,the PS3 suffers from slow menu switching delays ,it's the 360 that fairs better but I feel as more and more apps and features are added to these consoles that it's going to take a bit longer for us to switch between menus and features.
It's called evolution ! Haha
Now one thing I was concerned with was the size of the on-board memory ( And this is a premium system) , 32GB is of course going to get used up with all the new apps and features coming,not leaving much for Eshop game downloads.
Now I had already purchased one game called Nano Assault ,but at only 80mb it was OK and did not take long to download or take much space. But I was interested in Trine 2 ,a massive 2GB download. Right I thought you can use a USB hard drive on the system up to 2TB in size. Now it is suggested that it be one which has it's own power supply ,so out of the window was a small compact design which draws power from the system ( like I use for the Wii and the home-brew channel) , now Nintendo had a few suggested hard drives so I purchased a 1TB model ,but not wanting to have 1TB drive wasting space I transferred all my data from a old 320GB drive to the new one ,put the new one on my PC and connected my Iomega 320GB to the Wii U to format and it all works OK.
Nintendo's Eshop for Wii U is a lot better then the Wii Shop to navigate
Oh and it downloads games direct to the drive from the Eshop and games play from the drive ,a statement that popular Video game website CVG said that it does not on one of their Wii U features.
So that was great as I'm not going to fill up a 320GB drive with games any-time soon as I don't purchase full price games on digital download as there are bargains out there to be had on the internet.
In fact I won't pay more then £30.00 for any Wii U game or any other game on any other system for that matter.
So is the Wii U a worthwhile purchase in it's early days. Well I would have to say yes ,there are enough good games on the system ,so your bound to find something you like.
Now I know many say that why should you pay more for a game on Wii U compared to their PS3 and 360 counterparts. Well if the game uses the Game Pad in a worthwhile way then it may be worth it . But of course if the difference is minimal then paying ten pounds or more for the Wii U version is a bit silly.
Like I said there's lots of deals out there , games like Darksiders 2, Sonic Racing Transformed ,Tekken Tag 2 can be had for around £30.00 on ebay or internet and I have seen and am getting Batman Arkam Asylum for under £25.00 brand new sealed to .
Darksiders 2 on the Wii U game pad
So with some great games on the Eshop to like Trine 2 ,which is getting a new year update to add Pro controller compatibility and increase the colours apparently.
Another Eshop game Nano Assault is also a good little game which is a 3D take on the old retro game thruster ,you control a little spaceship and have to shoot alien craft and it's base stations that energise onto the small planets surface. Once cleared a portal opens up and you can go to the next stage, clear four stages and the next group opens up ,must say it's a tricky bugger but lovely to look at and play.
One game I have not played is Zombie U ( yes the one everyone’s buying the console for) I think because everyone purchased the original Wii to play Red Steal (another Ubisoft game) , I actually got frustrated with Red Steal and all it's sword fighting by waving my arms about that I got fed up with it. If it was playable with normal control I probably would have done it.
So Zombie U will have to wait when I can get a copy cheap enough. I guess I will probably be playing Ubisoft's other game Rayman Legends in full before that happens. Though I am enjoying the demo of the game available for download for free on Eshop now.
Demo's are a progress Nintendo was lacking on the Wii ,be able to play new games before release is important to gamers as it means they don't waste money on games they end up not liking.
PS3 and 360 have had them for a few years now.
But I do find the added limited plays assigned to the Wii U demo's is a bit of a bummer , Some demo's will only give you ten plays while others may be thirty or more.
Thing is if your unable to complete a demo then in my opinion it's not worth buying the game ,if a demo is only ten tries some may not complete it ,especially inexperienced players ,they may be able to with a lot more tries. I actually think this may stop some gamers buying certain titles or wait till their second hand.
I am a firm believer in games being on disc as once finished at least you can sell them or pass them on to a family member who maybe can not afford to buy new games every month.
If Nintendo ,Sony and Microsoft want to make their full game digital downloads work and be fair then they should make the prices in line with PC gaming at least . There's no disc production,cases or manuals to be made ,there saving a fortune. And don't forget no shops profits or carriage duties .
For me Ten pounds is about maximum for a digital download at the moment ,why would I spend fifty pounds on a download when I can go to Amazon or ebay and get it for 30% less at least.
Nintendo has some fine games coming to the Wii U ,some full price and some budget titles on the Eshop ,it is also a popular consoles for the indie developers who make a lot of Wii ware ,Xbox Live arcade and Playstation network titles, as Nintendo do not charge the developers for update patches or upgrades to be assigned to the titles at a later date ,some thing it's competitors do.
The first release of 2013 is the third in the Ninja Gaiden series
Time will tell how well Wii U will do. The new year brings us games like Rayman Legends, Pikmin 3 ,Lego City Undercover and Tecmo's Ninja Gaiden 3 ,which is out first in January.
Lego City Under cover - one of the much needed games for the Wii U to succeed
But also Nintendo has to get a good momentum going as it's possible that Microsoft will release their successor to the 360 next holiday season. Now that will be interesting as they have a lot to get right making sure their hardware is reliable on launch day after their troubles with the 360 over the early months or should I say years of it's launch .
Pikmin 3 is a wonderful game -but we still have to wait for it
Nintendo's console has got my approval and I am glad I am a early adopter and I can say one thing for sure after experiencing the Red light of death on 360 and being slightly cheated on the first XBOX (when they dropped the price by £100 in 6 weeks of launch ) I won't be pre ordering their next console and probably wait a year till I know everything’s OK.
So if you want next gen it's here and it's fun ,I'm sure we will see some blinding games over the coming months from Nintendo and it's third parties .
Their USA launch may have been set with a few problems ,but the European and Japanese launches seem to have got it a few more fans . OK yes you can buy a Wii U now unlike before Christmas when the original Wii was launched ,but I think Nintendo new they where not going to sell as many this time around .
But who's knows it's early days yet.!
Date :December 2012
Reviewer : Bruno B
* Of Note in the past couple of days the Youtube problem seems to have been solved as now you can view Youtube on the web browser without any problems.