The Wii U: A Year in Review

The Wii U: A Year in Review

The Wii U had an advantage on the other next-generation systems when they release; the Wii U had already been out for a year. However, early adopters of the Wii U found themselves disappointed, with few titles to choose from, and especially few titles that took advantage of the Wii U’s new tablet style GamePad. Now, two years later, the Wii U is still the worst selling console on the market with the smallest install base, but the release of several big name titles have started to boost Wii U sales in a significant way. Has Nintendo’s actions this year put them in position for a comeback? Let’s take a look and find out.

Most notably, the best thing that Nintendo has going for them is Nintendo games. This year we saw the release of Mario Kart 8, which for many was a console seller, and if that wasn’t enough to get you to take a chance on Nintendo, Super Smash Bros. certainly was. This much awaited Nintendo fighting game, combined with Mario Kart, nearly quadrupled the console’s sales. It wasn’t enough to catch up to the PS4 and Xbox One, but impressive, nonetheless.

However, the best thing that Nintendo has is also the thing that is starting to hold them back.Their best selling games are just the same games over and over again. We have seen Smash before. We have seen Mario Kart before. Last year we saw Pikmin. None of these are truly new or interesting, just the same franchise with a number slapped on it, forcing us to come back like drug addicts.

The only new IPs that came out of Nintendo last year were: Hyrule Warriors, which was admittedly, stupidly fun. The Dynasty Warriors formula works amazingly well in the Zelda universe. And Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker, a budget puzzle game which was okay but certainly didn’t have the same feeling of Nintendo’s other great AAA releases.

In the third party area, Nintendo is doing horribly. The only truly good third party exclusive they got was Bayonetta 2, but everything else it got was a stripped down no DLC version of its PS4 or Xbox One counterpart. There is no reason to purchase Watch Dogs or Injustice: Gods Among Us or even Skylanders or Disney Infinity on the Wii U. They just play better on other consoles. Heck, the only other prominent third party exclusive the console even got was the incredibly bad, seriously why would you ever make that, oh my god I think my eyes are bleeding make it, make it stop, for the love of God make it stop – Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric.

The Wii U: A Year in Review

Nintendo is lagging behind in the indie universe, but not too much. Shovel Knight came out for Nintendo platforms which was probably one of their biggest booms. You can also find titles like Guacamelee, Trine 2, and Bit Trip Runners on the console as well. However, the Nintendo e-Shop is still kind of crappy to deal with, and their attitude toward digital content is still somewhat behind the times. You have to do a whole song and dance to get your digital content transferred to another Wii U, instead of simply having user accounts like every other console. This, of course, causes many used Wii U’s to come with content already on them, so that’s kind of cool, but becomes a real hassle if your Wii U ever breaks.

Perhaps the coolest thing about the Wii U is its remote play capabilities. It does this far better than the PS4 does, with next to zero lag and support for practically every game on the system. Unfortunately, since the Wii U accomplishes this through direct communication and not through a network, the range of the Wii U’s remote play is limited, usually to one or two rooms away. Too many walls will cause the GamePad to lose connection with the console.

The Wii U is also lagging behind in the media department. Though it comes with a built in blu-ray drive, it can’t read blu-ray disks, DVDs, or CDs. Making anything readable by the Wii U involves converting them on a computer into a new file format so that the Wii U can read it as part of the Wii photo channel, and even then the playback is crappy. Not to mention Nintendo has the fewest streaming media services of any console on the market, with YouTube and Hulu there as the most basic of gestures toward a media suite.

In the end, Nintendo isn’t really trying to compete with the PS4 and Xbox One in any meaningful way. Heck, many gamers don’t even realize the Wii U is its own console. They think it’s just some sort of Wii peripheral. No, Nintendo is trying to become what they were in the GameCube era, that being the second console that anyone buys. They live and die on the games that they make, and so anyone who buys a Wii U at this point is buying it because there is some Nintendo game they cannot live without. Maybe that’s Smash Bros. Maybe that’s Mario Kart. Maybe that will be the next Zelda or Metroid game. But that’s all the Wii U does. It’s a Nintendo machine, pure and simple, and if that’s worth 200-300 dollars to you, go nuts.

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