On 18th November 2012, the Wii U was launched in North America. There was a high profile midnight launch attended by Reggie Fils-Aime to give it positive press, and it was Nintendo's jump into HD gaming, with a GamePad-led concept at the core of the messaging. The system had a relatively positive first month of sales before momentum fell off a cliff - somewhat mirroring the 3DS launch of March 2011. Sadly the system never truly arrested the slump, and as we write this it's effectively (or very soon to be) discontinued, and seems certain to be Nintendo's worst selling mainstream home console.
After the highs of the Wii (which passed 100 million in hardware sales), the current total for Wii U - as of 30th September - is 13.36 million units. There's no positive spin for that number. What can be argued in the system's favour is its broader achievements - some top-notch games, the most feature-rich eShop to date, steady moves towards supporting engines such as Unity and fostering more positive Indie relationships, and its role in helping Nintendo improve the skills of its internal teams, mastering HD development techniques that had not been required in the last generation.
Of course, the negatives pile up too. Early pricing and marketing strategy was questionable, third-party support dried up with declining sales, there was arguably no cohesive 'rescue' plan, and the broader concept failed to capture the public's imagination. For those on board there were also frequent dry spells between major releases, and despite some excellent eShop releases from 'Nindies' the retail scene often felt barebones.
At this point, the Wii U is undeniably on its last legs. Following the release of Paper Mario: Color Splash, the only truly notable upcoming release is The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which will also be on the Nintendo Switch. Retailers, understandably, have given it little shelf space in the past year or two, and the static pricing makes the system look rather poor alongside aggressively priced PS4 and Xbox One options.
So, after just four years, we've reached a point where we may have to assess the Wii U with a degree of finality. It's a cruelly quick demise, but that's how it is.
We have a range of features on the way in the next few days, including staff perspectives, essential game lists and some editorials on the Wii U's short history. First of all we want your thoughts on the system, its positives and its flaws. Hit up the polls and comments below to share your views on the Wii U.