We're approaching a time of year defined by many things. Great times with friends and family, lots of food and plenty of fun. Of course, before the big Holiday itself we have lots of shopping and — with that — plenty of choices to make. For gamers there are a number of treats on offer, with Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony competing for our attention and money.
Our colleagues over at Push Square have outlined five reasons why you should buy a PS4 this Holiday, which makes a strong case. We're in an era where many seem to own multiple systems, for example, and rather like the last generation there's an argument to be made that a one-two of Nintendo and Sony / Microsoft isn't a terrible idea. To enjoy the best of multi-platform titles, in particular, owning non-Nintendo hardware — even with a PC — is pretty much mandatory.
Yet the Wii U has a lot going for it, one of which could certainly be that it's the most affordable of the current-gen systems. Pure economics aside, however, below are five reasons — with uniqueness as a theme — that we feel make the Wii U an indispensable part of a gaming collection this Holiday, whether you're looking for new hardware or considering what to buy for the systems you own.
Exclusive Retail Games
Games sell systems, that's the old motto. It still rings true, even if the numbers aren't quite what Nintendo would like at this stage — Mario Kart 8 has pushed momentum in the right direction, at least. It seems a shame that it took the racer to truly help the Wii U get some better press and positive attention, though, as its library is packed with excellent retail exclusives. Those that argue the Wii U has no games, look away now — Super Mario 3D World is platforming bliss, Pikmin 3 is a charming adventure strategy game, The Wonderful 101 is delightfully mad, just like Bayonetta 2, Hyrule Warriors is one for button mashers, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is glorious 2D platorming and... you get the point.
That's only covering choice retail options, of course, but the main point is that — two years in — the system has an attractive range of diverse titles. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is a hugely important addition to that, while Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker isn't far away — in terms of exclusives, the Wii U has some terrific games on offer. It doesn't have Call of Advanced Battlefield: Kevin Spacey Edition, however, so as highlighted above the key selling point for Wii U at this stage is what makes it different from other systems. Exclusive retail games are a vital part of that.
The Wii U eShop
Without the Wii U eShop the system would, without a doubt, be a little light on content. Yes, there's an attractive range of retail games, but for keen gamers they only stretch so far; the download-only 'indie' scene is, therefore, vital. 2014 has been an excellent year for the eShop, with a handful of exclusives and a nice range of multi-platform download games. There are titles to support a range of budgets and play choices, which should suit almost any gaming desire.
In terms of exclusives, we have diverse choices such as Stealth Inc 2: A Game of Clones, the relentlessly tough but colourful Scram Kitty and his Buddy on Rails, while there's peculiar party fun in Spin the Bottle: Bumpie's Party or Sportsball (the latter is NA-only so far). Within selections like those there's clever use of the GamePad, too, while options such as the Wii Sports Club games add extra flavour, along with snippets of lovely retail DLC to finish things off. Oh, and there's Shovel Knight, a glorious game for which Wii U is currently the only home console option.
The library on the eShop is very large, basically, and we recommend a whole load of these games. There's an enticing line-up on the way, too, ensuring that in any given week there should be something worth playing on the Wii U. In terms of games, there's also more...
We've complained about the Wii U Virtual Console in the past, with valid cause, but let's focus on the positives and what it is bringing us right now. Though the rate of new experiences has been far slower than on the Wii, let's not forget that there are gems such as EarthBound available right now, along with a batch of excellent Game Boy Advance games. While the natural preference is for GBA games to be on the 3DS, they do suit the GamePad screen relatively well, while an under-appreciated feature are the lovely scanned colour manuals that Nintendo includes with these releases. Many classics have indeed arrived for the second time, too, while in some cases PAL gamers have enjoyed the stronger US 60hz versions, an area that was sadly lacking in the Wii Virtual Console.
It should also be added that the backward compatibility on Wii U does mean that the Wii's full range is still available, while last-gen system data can be transferred to the current machine. The process is far from perfect, but ultimately the outstanding Wii Virtual Console is all right there — with a few exceptions — to enjoy again.
Yes, really, bear with us on this one. The GamePad has had a rough time, which is Nintendo's own fault, as it's often gone underutilised or been mis-understood; yet, when it's used well it can change the way we play games. ZombiU utilises it brilliantly, while Nintendo Land is still a good showcase, with indie efforts like Stealth Inc 2 and Spin the Bottle also showing how the controller can contribute a great deal to local multiplayer, in particular.
A key new selling point, however, is support for amiibo, providing NFC figurine gaming without the need for an external portal. The figures are collectibles, yes, but are a potentially fun part of Smash Bros., in particular, with some features in Mario Kart 8, Hyrule Warriors and more available now or on the horizon. Having the GamePad handy, even if you're playing with a Pro Controller, Wii Remote, GameCube controller and so on, actually has some purpose.
In the Holiday season it's also worth highlighting that the instinctive, easy-to-use off-TV play could be used a great deal. With family and friends fighting over the TV this rather under-rated feature may have some particular value. Retro treats from the Virtual Console — especially GBA games — can look best on the smaller screen, meanwhile, in addition to the touch screen having potential for excellent use in games like 2015's Mario Maker, which leads us into our final category...
2015 Looks Exciting
Nintendo is currently promising a range of truly exciting projects for 2015. The first half of next year should bring us Mario Maker, Splatoon and Yoshi's Woolly World, while later in the year '2015' titles include Star Fox, Xenoblade Chronicles X, Devil's Third and The Legend of Zelda, among others. There are more confirmed projects, and these are just Nintendo's main games in development or those it's publishing. We can also expect to see amiibo grow with this range, especially in titles such as Mario Party 10.
We don't expect the tempo of releases on the eShop to slow down significantly, either; Nintendo's ongoing support of small studios and the Unity engine, particularly, is hugely useful in ensuring that download projects continue to arrive on the platform. A number of promising downloads are due (at this point) for the first half of next year — including those such as Affordable Space Adventures and SteamWorld Heist — and more will surely follow. The DLC gravy train will follow with the Animal Crossing X Mario Kart 8 pack in May, too.
There's certainly a sense that Nintendo's getting its ducks in a row for 2015, a definitive year for the console in general. The company's no doubt hoping that a decent Holiday season will give the system greater presence and momentum into next year, and seems keen to ensure that there's a consistent run of fun games to keep consumers happy. No doubt there are surprises still on the way next year that haven't even been revealed, too.
So there you have it, our brief rundown of key reasons to choose Wii U this Holiday season, whether looking to buy a new console or simply pondering which of your systems to throw money at. The Wii U, much like the Wii, has gone its own way from its competition, making it a unique platform with experiences that can't be found elsewhere.
Let us know if you agree or disagree with this list, and vote for your favourite of our 'reasons' in the poll below.
Which of these 'reasons' is best for choosing the Wii U? (449 votes)
Exclusive Retail Games
The Wii U eShop
2015 Looks Exciting
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