Now that the Wii U and its launch library of games has been in the wild for almost a month, in North America at least, a general impression of the critical reaction to these titles and the console is starting to emerge. It's not a complete picture, of course, but gaming enthusiasts can start to see the trends take shape, and the sense may be that the assessment of Nintendo's latest hasn't necessarily been a bed of rose petals.
We've seen a number of comments from the community throughout Nintendo Life, for example, sharing an instinct that review scores of launch games have generally been on the low side. It's a winding path with no end to analyse the reasons for this in any detail, beyond a simple acknowledgement that every games writer and their site is giving an opinion, so if that opinion is negative then that's just the reality. What can be done is an assessment of whether the statistics reinforce the idea that Wii U's early games aren't attracting particularly high review scores; some stat-busting by Gamasutra does show Wii U's performance as below par.
Naturally any assessment of review scores is reliant on aggregators such as Metacritic and GameRankings, and neither provides a flawless solution, nor is the Wii U launch review list finalised. Some caveats are included, such as assessment of the Nintendo 64 covering the whole of 1996 — only two titles were actually available on U.S. launch day — different consoles having wildly different numbers of games available on day one, and only retail releases being included. Analysis of this kind of thing is, as the author of the original article admits, filled with compromise and inconsistency that can influence the overall results.
Still, as the graphs in the gallery below show (click to enlarge), Wii U's launch library has had a relatively poor reception from critics, currently only sitting above Wii and the original Sony PlayStation; the GameCube proudly occupies top spot. Of course, the fact that the list of launch titles is so long, exceeded only by the day one offerings on PlayStation 2, arguably make it tougher for the overall collection to hit a high score. While there are some titles that have been broadly praised, there'll be others that are a mixed bag, as well as some lesser-known releases that have possibly been panned across the board; the length of Wii U's review score bar also shows the wide-range of scores that have been awarded.
Although not a conclusive definition of games writer's assessments of the Wii U launch library, this research gives us some indication of the critical reaction so far. The results for the new system's games aren't necessarily terrible, but they're not anything to write home about, either.