Feature: Our Staff's Thoughts on Wii U - Part Two

Because U are worth it

Yesterday we brought you the first part of our staff thoughts on Wii U, so now we bring you the not-creatively-titled part two. More Nintendo Life staffers weigh in with their impressions, good and bad, of their new Nintendo home consoles.

We recommend you get a comfy seat and a snack, as this entry is a little longer than part one — blame features man Tom for misjudging the number of submissions. If you haven't already done so, we'd love to read your own thoughts on the early days of Wii U in the comments section.

Darren Calvert

I must admit that Wii U really didn’t “click” with me when I spent time with it at various press events earlier in the year. The GamePad felt unwieldy and I really wasn’t sold on the benefits of having a second screen so readily to hand.

Now that I’m playing the Wii U in my home environment I am pleased to say that those doubts have completely subsided. The GamePad that seemed so bulky now feels so comfortable and natural to hold. I’ve been won over by the asynchronous gaming demonstrated by various games in Nintendo Land, and been thankful for the times that I could continue my NSMBU game when other family members wanted to watch TV.

Playing a Mario game in HD for the first time is a dream come true, and eShop exclusive games such as Trine 2: Directors Cut and Nano Assault Neo also look absolutely amazing. If Nintendo could release an up-scaled edition of Mario Galaxy soon I would be eternally grateful.

It’s early days for the Wii U of course, but I still think there is room for improvement. The convenience of downloading retail games from the eShop is great, but the prices are way too high compared to the cost of buying the traditional boxed copy online or on the high street. Over time I would love to see the Virtual Console move to the eShop too, mostly so I can play Revenge of Shinobi on the GamePad screen. I’d also really like to see the user interface speed up; as much as I love Miiverse, it’s frustrating to wait so long between screen transitions.

The biggest surprise for me has been how absolutely brilliant the Miiverse experience is. Nintendo’s social network is such a positive and enjoyable place to visit. I often find myself posting a quick doodle after completing a castle on NSMBU or getting a high score on Nintendo Land. The community is super-helpful too, I got stumped on one of the combos on Little Inferno, posted a question with the spoiler option checked and got an almost instantaneous helpful reply from a complete stranger – genius!

The Wii U now feels like an indispensable member of the family. Nintendo has succeeded in creating a thoroughly charming console in so many different ways.

Tom Whitehead

One way I consider the early success of Wii U is whether I feel I've had value for money, as the change put down for the new system was fairly substantial. The answer, thankfully, is a comprehensive yes. In my view Wii U is still a typically Nintendo experience but with some modern essentials, particularly the social elements in Miiverse — I generally prefer friendly exchanges rather than the immature trash-talk often found on other systems. Early doors there are some good exclusives and decent ports, while eShop has a diverse and interesting group of download-only games. Considering the troubles many systems have at launch, Wii U's done quite well.

So far my multiplayer time has been limited, so I've only scratched the surface of the fun on offer in Nintendo Land. I've had a lot of solo time, and while New Super Mario Bros. U is possibly the best "new" 2D Mario game yet, the stand-out for me is ZombiU. Its critical reception has frustrated me, as anyone categorising this game as an FPS is mistaken; it's survival horror that happens to use a first-person perspective. If you criticise FPS elements of ZombiU, then I think you should also say that CoD is lousy survival horror — apples and oranges. It has some bugs and flaws, like launch exclusives often do, but it's compelling, engrossing gaming; it's also a game that's used the GamePad in creative ways while the resistive touch screen handles it surprisingly well. I love the nervous sneaking around and trying to pick off zombies one at a time with the cricket bat; if you charge around like a muscle-bound marine that's had too much Red Bull, you'll be lucky to last five minutes.

My quibbles with the system, thankfully, can all be resolved via system updates in time. Some loading times between menus are surprisingly lengthy, and l think it'd be neat if Miiverse is spruced up to allow the recording and posting of 30 second gameplay videos in future titles. I also had problems with Nintendo Land freezing constantly within 15 minutes on day one that had to be resolved by reinstalling the game's update, so hopefully not too many people will have that issue and struggle to fix it on Christmas morning. These are fairly irrelevant wishes and complaints though, and right now I'm rather chuffed with the system.

Jon Wahlgren

I love having a Wii U hooked up to my TV. Love it love it love it, except for one thing.

I love the convenience of being able to control my entire experience using just the GamePad. It's weirdly convenient to power on the TV, set the input and adjust the volume with such ease, and this functionality definitely Trojan Horse'd the console into becoming my go-to device for TV entertainment. Unless it's to play a Blu-Ray, I don't bother firing up the ol' stalwart PS3 for video entertainment — my fiancée still does, but I'm fairly confident it's not because she finds it a better experience but because I'm clinging to the GamePad.

I love off-screen play. I just so happen to live in a one-TV apartment and my want of playing Assassin's Creed 3 doesn't always mesh well with her want of Downton Abbey, so now we can both indulge our hobbies at the same time. And in these wintry nights, there's something cozy about playing Little Inferno in bed before tuckering in.

I love how much more social the online functionality feels than the Wii's ever did. Miiverse is quirky and filled with talented artists who never cease to amaze me. I also have far more friends than on Wii where I'm not sure I ever bothered registering more than a half-dozen total.

All isn't great though. I do not love how obtuse the setup was. Intuition was not where it should have been and I can't believe that accounts are tied to hardware still, and I haven't even attempted migrating my Wii purchases because it seems like a massive headache.

Apart from that, I'm just flat-out impressed with how much I'm enjoying spending time with it. New hardware is always exciting but I didn't expect to be so impressed by its convenience.

Corbie Dillard

While I certainly enjoyed my time with the Wii U at the past two E3 events, I still found myself a little hesitant to get too excited about the system. Having Rayman Legends, the main game I was interested in, delayed also didn't help matters much. But having spent some time with the system over the past week, I'm finding myself getting more and more excited about the possibilities the system will bring to the upcoming Nintendo franchises, not to mention hoping that third party developers and publishers will keep pushing to find new and more innovative ways to use the system and its unique controller.

The constant updating early on was a bit of a pain, but nothing that brought the overall experience I've had with the system down too much. It's great to see Nintendo titles in HD finally and I love the ability to just use the touch screen controller to play games. The download titles, such as Mighty Switch Force HD and Nano Assault Neo have probably been the games I've spent the most time with, but even I can appreciate what Nintendo Land brings to the table in terms of showing off some of the innovative uses of the Wii U controller. Hopefully this is only scratching the surface.

As cautious and tempered as my excitement has been for Nintendo's new console, I can't help but come away with my early experiences with the system impressed. There are some great games coming for the console next year and even the mere thought of playing a brand new Zelda built around the system's many capabilities is a very exciting prospect. Until then I'll probably spend as much time as possible checking out many of the games I still don't have and looking forward to the upcoming download titles that are just around the corner.

Joe Walker

I am absolutely in love with Wii U. Is it too early to call it my favourite console? The system itself is just so much fun; the presentation is warm, friendly and inviting and I smile every single time I turn it on.

Playing Wii U with friends is the most fun I've had with video games in a long, long time. Nintendo Land is a hoot and the laughter it's evoked in the people I've played with is so genuine it's almost surprising to hear it coming from adults. Even playing games alone is more fun than on the other HD consoles due to the lack of achievements. I was an achievement junkie at first, and still no matter how much I tried to ignore them I simply couldn't and they more often than not changed how I played a game. Playing games like Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge and Darksiders II on Wii U just feels so... freeing.

My absolute favourite feature is probably the same as everyone else's - Miiverse. It's the first and last thing I do every time I sit down to enjoy some quality time with the system. The community is so fun and positive that it's just a joy to scroll through and see what everyone is posting - and boy, are there a lot of talented artists out there! It's even got me trying to hone my meagre skills by posting my doodles here and there. It's just so much fun, I'm completely enthralled.

Ken Barnes

I was initially confused by the Wii U. After tearing open the box, getting everything set up, and waiting an hour for the infamous system update to finish, I wanted to play co-op New Super Mario Bros U with a friend. With four controllers (one GamePad, two Pro Controllers, and one Wii Remote) in the room, I wasn’t able to, as Mario demands that co-op be played on Remotes only. A couple more friends came over, and I fired up Nintendo Land for some party action, only to find that I was limited to two-player gaming due to the Pro Controller not being usable with that game either. The fact that I can’t use the Pro Controller in first-party games that only require a D-pad and two buttons is diabolical, and I’ve no idea why Nintendo has taken this route. Surely it should be trying to show off its more-standard controller to those potential system owners who think that the GamePad may be too large and cumbersome for them to play the likes of Assassin’s Creed 3 or Call of Duty: Black Ops II?

At least Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing doesn’t have this problem, although the Wii Remote can’t be used for that one, and Pro Controllers can.

Wow, there are going to be a lot of confused parents and kids this Christmas, and no mistake.

I’ve been impressed by a lot of things that the Wii U does. Nintendo Land and NSMBU are top-drawer stuff in single-player mode, or if you have the right combination of controllers to hand. Using the GamePad to turn on my TV and browse through Netflix's offerings without needing to forage around for remotes is cool, and chatting away in Miiverse is pretty nice too. But, the absolute highlight for me so far, has to be ZombiU. Not since Resident Evil 2 has there been a game that ladles the tension on so thick. It isn’t perfect by a fair way but when you lose yourself in the game, you REALLY lose yourself in the game. Creeping around with your torch off so as not to attract attention, praying to whichever deity you believe in that the noise you just heard came from somewhere in your real-life house and not from the game, because you’ve only one bullet and your cricket bat left to defend yourself with – amazing stuff.

Shivers up the spine aside, it’s been an average start, for me. I love the style of the Wii U and want it to do well, but the massive day one system update to a still-slow operating system is doing Nintendo no favours, and the confusion around controllers is absolute insanity. In the face of what's to come in the next 18 months, this system needs to gain a lot of traction fast, and every error and every missed step makes that all the less likely.

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