Soon enough we will finally have a new console entering the marketplace, as this new Nintendo console is launched across the globe. The last generation of consoles has enjoyed an unusually long and unchallenged period in the sun and It is amazing to think that the 360 is now almost seven years old. As a new, fresh-faced challenger approaches, does Wii U represent a true transition to the next generation?
In simple terms, the Wii U will have an advantage over any future competitors because it’s being released first and will have a period in which it can be the sole focus for anyone considering a new console. Whilst questions remain over the long term success of Wii U, there can be no doubt that it will be a success in the short-term. Pre-orders of the system seem to have sold out across the board, so units will definitely be shifted. Gamers who have long been starved of a new console to get excited about will no doubt rush out to buy it, but Nintendo needs to prepare for the imminent onslaught from Sony and Microsoft. They need to give gamers a reason to stick with Nintendo, and ensure the public will not see Wii U as a short-term fix, to be discarded as soon as the next wave of consoles launch.
I also think that Nintendo have got the pricing for Wii U spot on. At just over $349/£300 for a Premium Pack, it’s certainly not cheap, particularly as it arrives following a long period of economic hardship for many people. However, it’s not outrageously overpriced either, and I’m sure many units will be snapped up and placed under the tree on Christmas morning.
We Europeans have to wait until the end of the month until we can get our grubby mitts on our Wii Us!
But while the system has yet to launch, it already seems to have its fair share of detractors. As we’ve previously reported, Peter Molyneux was quoted as saying:
“[Nintendo] were one of the first companies to introduce motion control and they had a fantastic Wii Sports game. As soon as I picked up the controller and started waving it around, I got it. I already understood it. But I’m not sure there’s a same sort of application for Wii U. I think to myself, ‘Well, what’s the reason to get it? Do you see what I mean?'”
Now, I’m not a massive fan of Mr Molyneux, but I do feel that he has a valid point. Wii was such a massive success because of its accessibility. The motion controls meant that literally anyone could pick up and play certain titles without having to overcome complex controls or decipher a myriad of button combinations. I can clearly remember the first time I saw a Wii in action at my local shopping centre. It was truly one of those moments when you felt you were Marty McFly, looking at the future of gaming and whilst the motion controls were perhaps never realised to their full potential, they were enough to ensure the system made an immediate impact– first impressions really do count for quite a lot.
Whilst Wii U has the GamePad, this will not be quite so accessible or appealing to the casual gamer. I know that Nintendo are looking to reclaim a section of the ‘hardcore market’, but the system will live and die on its ability to appeal to the masses. It’s undeniably an impressive piece of kit but I don’t feel that the GamePad will necessarily have the desired effect– and I struggle to envisage armies of grandparents or valium housewives rushing out to get their hands on a Wii U.
The GamePad promises a whole new perspective on both single and multiplayer gaming.
The gaming snob in me actually thinks this may not be a bad thing, but I also want Wii U to be a massive success. If this is to happen, Nintendo must make sure that this innovation (the GamePad) is used to its full potential to ensure it will not be quickly forgotten or discarded as a gimmick. The ability to be playing a game on your television and then continue on the GamePad as soon as your girlfriend demands to watch American Idol is a nice touch, but I hope many more innovative ways to play and interact with games are introduced quickly. A number of launch games already appear to lack significant GamePad gameplay features– a worrying sign which I hope will not continue. Too many Wiis ended up neglected and gathering dust because AAA motion-controlled games were few and far between, and it would be sad for Wii U to suffer the same fate.
Another accusation which I have heard levied at the latest addition to the Nintendo brood is that it’s seemingly nothing more than an HD Wii. I do feel that this is somewhat harsh given that it has yet to even be released, but I’ll admit that I do find most of the launch titles a little underwhelming. There’s nothing that makes me determined to sell my children on eBay so that I can get one on launch day. For me, the launches that I will always remember are the N64 solely because of Super Mario 64, and Xbox because of Halo. These were launch titles that made everyone sit up and take notice; they made you feel that you were experiencing a true next generation title. Nothing that I have seen from the Wii U launch titles has filled me with the same anticipation. Sure, New Super Mario Bros. U looks great and no doubt it will be a blast to play through, but apart from some new gameplay mechanics, I’m not sure it brings anything new to the table. ZombiU looks interesting, but to be honest, Walking Dead aside, I’m sick to the back teeth of Zombies.
There are also a worrying number of ports such as Mass Effect 3 and Batman Arkham City— I fail to see that these versions have enough new and exclusive content to tempt gamers to play through them again. For me, the saving grace could well come in the form of Nintendo Land.
Something this pretty can’t possibly fail, right?
Miiverse also has the potential to be incredible, as long as its potential is maximized. A strong online system with ease of communication will be vital, but this is not an area in which Nintendo have had a great deal of success in the past. Certainly, they have not yet provided us with anything even approaching the quality of Xbox Live. Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has labeled Miiverse as “an empathy network” which will enable players to leave notes for one another within individual game worlds (a la Dark Souls), but while this sounds great in principle, it remains to be seen if Nintendo can create something which can truly compete with the online capabilities of the new Xbox or PlayStation. I applaud Nintendo’s sensibilities with regards to bringing us the type of multiplayer experiences that you can enjoy with family and friends in the same room, but online gaming is undoubtedly the future and Nintendo need to deliver in this area.
Nintendo have a precious head-start which they must take full advantage of. For me, it’s absolutely vital that the exclusive game announcements come as thick and fast as possible–a true successor to Super Mario Galaxy, a new Mario Kart, Zelda, Metroid, StarFox, Donkey Kong, Kirby… Is a sequel to Earthbound to much to ask?! (Go on Nintendo, I dare ya). Announcements like this will at least give Nintendo and Wii U a fighting chance of having a long and successful lifespan, but if they’re over-reliant on shovelware and lazy ports, then Nintendo may find themselves bloodied and battered when the next gen battle truly begins. In my heart of hearts, I believe that Nintendo will prevail. They’ve been doing this for a long time, long before Microsoft and Sony even entered the video game arena, and more importantly, they have a loyal fanbase, which should ensure continued success. Whatever happens, it is bound to be an interesting ride!
So constant readers, will Wii U last the pace? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.