The Wii U has now passed its 4th Birthday, in North America at least, though its generation is already nearing its end. A bad run, imminent discontinuation and the March 2017 arrival of the Nintendo Switch all mean that the system is on its way out, a sad fate for a system that has had some terrific releases.
We've already asked for the community's views in a series of polls, and now four of our news and reviews writers have put together their own short-form thoughts on the system, reflecting on its ups, downs, games and concept.
Though I don't think the Wii U will likely be remembered as a high point in Nintendo's storied history, I personally was quite satisfied with it; even more so than its predecessor, the Wii. I didn't pick up my Wii U until about six months after launch, but I still remember the day quite clearly. After picking up the console, I invited over a whole gaggle of friends for a gaming session, and we all played Nintendo Land together. It makes me a bit sad in retrospect, because that game gave us a glimpse at the potential of asynchronous multiplayer through the GamePad, and that's something that I don't feel was ever expanded on in a notable way.
Of course, the other side to that coin is that the GamePad showed its usefulness in other ways later on down the line. Though I never played another multiplayer game that used the GamePad quite like Nintendo Land, it was the convenience of the second screen that really made me fall in love with the console's concept. Whether by way of allowing me to play games off-screen while family or friends were watched something on the TV, or by showing a map or inventory in something like The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD. These weren't game-changing features from a design perspective, but they certainly contributed greatly to streamlining certain aspects of games. Sometimes, I'll find myself missing that second screen when playing, say, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, so in that sense I think Nintendo had a great idea with the console's concept. Not necessarily revolution like the previous generation, but evolution.
This also makes me wonder what it would be like to live in a world where the public fully embraced the Wii U. I think that the GamePad had great potential to supplement – not transform – excellent game experiences, and the Wii U's early death means that will never go fulfilled. Disappointing to be sure, but I'll be enjoying my Wii U for some number of years after the Switch's launch; I've still got a fairly lengthy backlog of games to work through before I can retire it for good.
The Wii U. One of the (if not the) most poorly marketed Nintendo consoles of all time, yet it provided me with ample hours of joy. I call it the GameCube 2.0, another console that suffered a similar fate, but proved its worth with some incredible titles we can all fondly look back on.
For me, the Wii U has provided the best Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. experiences to date. These highly polished titles, along with others such as Super Mario 3D World, Super Mario Maker, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and Splatoon have been some of the greatest games Nintendo has ever made. Yet, the console's lacklustre shift from its Wii predecessor (both in name and aesthetic) cost it so dearly. If I had a pound for every time I've had a friend, family member, or colleague play and thoroughly enjoy the Wii U and wondered why they've "never heard it" or "thought it was an addition to the Wii", I'd be Wario rich.
Sure, it's had its fair share of disappointing titles like Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash, and despite a spin-off and two HD remakes, we never got a console-exclusive Zelda (Breath of the Wild doesn't count due to its dual release on the Switch). Furthermore, there were arguably many missed opportunities, such as multiple GamePad usage, the GamePad being utilised properly, for example with a remake of Pokémon Snap, and much more.
But regardless of all of that, the Wii U did bring something special to me, and that's the aforementioned Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. This game was, and still is, a massive part of my day-to-day gaming lifestyle, and it's because of it I decided to create an Instagram account dedicated to it– @SM4SHshorts - which has provided me with a plethora of new opportunities and experiences. Come follow me if you're a fan of the game and enjoy creative edits to replays (sorry for the cheap plug!).
With that said, I just wish the console had that much more exposure. Happy 4th birthday, Wii U. Let's hope a fate akin to the Nintendo GameCube lies for you in years to come, with more appreciating your charms in hindsight. Back to "For Glory" I go…
The Wii U was the first console that I bought with my own money in its launch week. I actually remember that I pre-ordered a copy of ZombiU separately from a different retailer which arrived a day early – meaning I had a brand new game for a brand new system which I still didn't own. The wait was agony – by which I mean "slightly irritating mixed with a sense of anticipation".
Most people will know about the general view of the Wii U and the common things that are said about it: "it has been a failure", "is it a new controller for the Wii?", "it has no games". Whilst it is fact that sales of the console have been poor - to say the least - and support from third party developers became extremely disappointing, that last comment really irritates me. In my opinion the Wii U has produced some of the finest games I have ever played – Mario Kart 8, Donkey Kong Country Returns: Tropical Freeze, Super Mario 3D World, Yoshi's Woolly World, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Rayman Legends (eventually) all spring to mind instantly as the best, or almost best instalments of their respective franchises.
Of course this only scratches the surface; I haven't talked about games such as Splatoon, Bayonetta 2, Super Mario Maker, The Wonderful 101 and the like which were seemingly absolutely adored by almost everyone. The Wii U gave us amiibo which I am not ashamed to say are littering my front room as we speak – approximately 60 or 70 in total, and the GamePad is up there as one of my favourite gaming controllers ever made.
Admittedly, my Wii U had started to gather a disturbing layer of dust recently with my gaming attention heading elsewhere, so I thought it was time to re-start its engines with a game I never got round to playing. An hour into Pikmin 3 and it feels like I never left. Nintendo's quirky charm is abundantly clear in this console's game library, shining brightly in an industry that sometimes needs something a little different. The system has its flaws, but what doesn't? Happy 4th birthday Wii U, you deserved better.
The Wii U came out during a time when I had strayed quite a bit from Nintendo. I didn't have a 3DS, and focused mainly on playing my PS3 and PS4 when it launched. I enjoyed nearly the entire life of the GameCube, Wii, and DS, but as a new college student when the Wii U launched I had to focus on studying, not games. As I watched games like DK Country: Tropical Freeze release to critical acclaim, I knew that I had to have a Wii U despite its media shortcomings.
In fall of 2015, I finally got a Wii U for myself, and was not disappointed. Though the game library isn't as vast as its competitors, I'll never forget the nights spent playing Smash with my college buddies. The system also introduced me to Bayonetta, and I was finally able to catch up on Virtual Console and Wii games I missed.
While the Wii U's life is coming to a close, I'm happy that it still has some life in it for me. I'm nearly done with Twilight Princess HD, and will move onto Pikmin 3 and Super Paper Mario (courtesy of the eShop) after that. Along with the 3DS, I'll always remember the Wii U as the system that brought me back to Nintendo.
By all means share some of your own thoughts below, and keep an eye out for our big list of 'essential' Wii U games soon.