Nintendo held press conferences around the globe to finalize details of Wii U’s launch, and you can catch our detailed summaries here for North America and here for Europe. But what’s our reaction across the Nintendojo staff? Do we feel the pricing and launch dates make sense? Are we ready for $60 Nintendo games? How strong do we feel the launch window is? How about the two bundles: is what’s included just right, too little or not enough? And, most importantly, which of us are preordering and which are choosing to wait?
Find out below…
I have to admit that I harbor some serious concerns about Wii U. The tablet interface is certainly interesting and some of the forthcoming titles have promise, but I am very worried about the system’s technical limitations. As best as I can tell, the Wii U looks to operate somewhere in the general vicinity (or perhaps slightly higher) of Xbox 360 and PS3 in terms of graphical power, and with two bundles that offer either 8 GB or 32 GB in storage space. Neither of these specs seems very forward-thinking to me; in fact, one could make the case that, in some respects, Wii U might be outdated the day it launches.
The memory issue is particularly onerous; even if the system supports USB hard drives, there is no developer incentive to create demos, something even DS owners have been able to enjoy. The price — $300 or $350 — is certainly not obnoxious by any stretch, but it is also significantly more than two competing consoles that offer comparable levels of horsepower and a lot more storage space.
Some will counter that Wii U’s unique interface compensates for these potential shortcomings. That argument sounds eerily reminiscent of Wii, which launched with Xbox-level specs and was considered technically outdated a few years later. Count me among those who were wrong — when Wii launched in 2006, I did not think the system’s technical limits would hurt the system’s library. In fact, I believed that the lower development costs of Wii would make it more worthwhile than HD systems. As it turns out, developers gradually turned from Wii, and when they did make multiplatform games, Nintendo’s console invariably got some poor shadow of what PS3 and Xbox 360 got. (I know; I’ve reviewed several of them for the Dojo.)
I will grant that the last system Nintendo made that was graphically equal to the competition, the GameCube, was a commercial failure, and I’ll also grant that Wii was very successful for Nintendo. I’m not sure, though, that the system is ideally positioned to deliver the best games on the market. I hope I’m wrong, but for now I will be sitting on the sidelines when the system hits retail.
I’m kind of the opposite of Josh; before Thursday’s event, I was super-pessimistic about Wii U, however, after having watched and read the announcements, Nintendo has managed to quell my fears almost entirely. For starters, I think the launch window line-up is one of the best to ever grace video games. While there isn’t one true heavy-hitter, there are enough really solid titles that, when combined, create one undeniably impressive list. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, Bayonetta 2, The Wonderful 101, plus all the fantastic Nintendo titles leave my head whirling from just how much time and money I’m going to spend over the next few months on games.
I was also very happy with the price points that were thrown out. I never expected Wii U to be any less than $300, so to see them sticking right around that dollar value was nice. I also think the premium edition makes the most financial sense, and it is truly a steal in terms of what it offers. Also, since this is Nintendo’s first forray into the HD realm, it seems logical and understandable that the games will retail for the, now standard, price of $60. There’s no reason for them not to be that amount, and any less than that would be silly. After all, we have no issues with dishing out 60 bones for a 360 game, why should Wii U, which is totally comparable, be any different? Putting the Pro Controller at $50 seems fair as well, especially in light of what Nintendo’s rivals are selling their peripherals for.
Where I do start to have some issues is with the decision to release the systems with only 8GB and 32GB of memory. When I bought my first 20GB Xbox 360, I filled that thing up pretty darn quickly, what with all the demos and games I was downloading. If the Big N is pushing its eShop, and the digital front in general, how many games will I really be able to fit on the machine’s harddrive before I have to start investing in flashdrives? It seems unreasonable to think that, at some inevitable point, if I’m buying games digitally, I’ll basically need a memory card to play them. C’mon, the reliance on a USB device to play my console games is a little ludicrous; after all, memory cards haven’t been relevant in, what, a decade?
Aside from that, however, I think everything else announced was quite pleasing. The TVii component is, like, the coolest feature I never knew I wanted. On top of that, I think other aspects such as playing Black Ops 2 splitscreen, with one person playing via the television and the other playing via the GamePad, shows the innovation that Nintendo’s “tablet” can bring to the industry. I’m just praying that developers take advantage of it, and better yet, see it as a valid way to enhance the overall gaming experience.
It’ll be interesting to see how Wii U stacks up to the competition graphically. While the system is on par with current HD systems, I can’t help but wonder how the system’s capabilities will be utilized and viewed by gamers and developers alike in just a few years time, when the next iterations of the PlayStation and Xbox are released. Only time will tell that story, though if there’s one thing Nintendo has proven time and time again, it’s that games don’t need photo-realism to captivate audiences. At the end of the day, most gamers appreciate games for their gameplay and how much fun they can have with them. Sure, excellent graphics mean something, but only for so long. After all, 40 hours into Skyrim, and I stopped noticing the graphics– I simply took them for granted at that point. My mind had adjusted and accepted them for what they were. However, if 40 hours into Skyrim, the gameplay was trash, well, I would’ve stopped playing. Actually, if the gameplay was garbage, I would’ve stopped playing long before that 40 hour mark.
In the end, I was hesitant about the Wii U, until Thursday came along. Somehow, Nintendo managed to make one of its hardcore fans, who was on the fence, sleep a little more soundly, knowing that its upcoming console was something to be confident in and excited about. To be completely honest, I’m not sure I have ever felt this pumped for a console’s release – and that’s saying a lot considering I was nearly jumping for joy upon the Dreamcast’s launch. So, here’s hoping Nintendo can wow us once the machine hits store shelves, just as they did on Thursday. To say that I can’t wait for the Wii U right now, would be a ridiculous understatement.
It appears that mainstream media pretty much predicted the Wii U reveal almost to a tee. Unfortunately, as a result, things seemed a bit underwhelming in contrast. That notwithstanding, if you examine this launch based on its own merits and in comparison to other console launches, it has all the makings of a success. You have a solid console with decent capability and around 50 diverse games wrapped up in two reasonably priced packages.
The problem is, we’re missing something that can make or break a console launch… A killer app. While there are plenty of solid ‘A’ titles to choose from, there is not one mainstream, triple ‘A’ title that will drive console sales amongst the litter. Moreover, many of the quality titles that will be released during the launch of the Wii U contain experiences that can be had elsewhere.
Nintendo has a very small window of opportunity to build up a strong enough install base prior to Microsoft and Sony bringing their new consoles to market. If Nintendo aren’t able to drive sales at a reasonable pace, I can see third parties jumping ship in droves to ride the waves of excitement generated by the other big two console makers. Hanging their hats on the strength and unique qualities of their tablet controller will not garner the same response as the WiiMote, in my humble opinion.
This also marks the first time in history (that I can recall) that Nintendo isn’t focusing solely on games with the launch of a new console. With the advent of Nintendo TVii and the Wii U’s nebulous online capabilities, it seems they are trying to position Wii U as an entertainment hub value proposition. Historically, this has not been such a good move in terms of mass market positioning. Nevertheless, I can see why they feel it necessary to compete with 2nd/3rd generation PS3 and Xbox 360 firmware updates and games– not to mention Google/Apple/Smart TV devices.
In summary, I will purchase a Wii U for the same reason I’ve purchased every Nintendo console before it… Nintendo first-party software. The idea of a photo-realistic, HD version of The Legend of Zelda has me feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. I’m also intrigued by the tablet controller’s off screen-play capability (I can envision my legs falling asleep while sitting on the toilet much more now– my apologies for the visual). The Wii U has a whole heck of a lot of potential. I just hope it is realized in time. After all, we don’t want this to turn out to be Nintendo’s Dreamcast.
My reaction to yesterday’s Wii U press event was much more positive than Josh’s. I certainly understand his concerns, particularly about the console’s technical specs, but considering that we know nothing about either Sony or Microsoft’s next platforms, it’s too early to say just how much of an effect that will have on its success. It may very well be that Wii U will become another Wii in terms of third-party support, an underpowered console that gets routinely passed over for major releases, and while I have my own doubts about just how much support Nintendo will be able to muster for the system (I still find it a bit disturbing that many developers are unwilling to commit to it even though it is clearly superior to current hardware), it’s at least shaping up to have a solid first year.
I’m quite happy with the system’s price point, so much so that I went out and pre-ordered the Deluxe Set once I finished summarizing the event! $350 seems like quite a deal considering how expensive the GamePad likely is to manufacture (based on its standalone cost in Japan), and the fact that it will include a copy of Nintendo Land, a game that I was initially skeptical of but has since caught my interest. The announcement of Bayonetta 2 also came as a nice surprise, especially since its exclusivity, coupled with The Wonderful 101, signifies a budding bromance between Nintendo and Platinum Games. Maybe this will lead to them taking on Star Fox, after all…
I was a bit annoyed that Reggie couldn’t confirm which games will be launching alongside the system this November, but we already have a good idea of what will be there: Scribblenauts Unlimited and Darksiders II were both confirmed by their respective developers, and I’m fairly certain that ZombiU, Mass Effect 3, Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition, and Assassin’s Creed III will also make it in time for launch. Those games, coupled with Nintendo’s own offerings in Nintendo Land and New Super Mario Bros. U, make this the strongest console launch the company has had in years.
So yes, color me excited for Wii U!
Considering I just reserved a copy for the Wii U just about 20 minutes ago, I think it’s safe to say that I’m pretty excited about it.
The price is a little steep but surprisingly not as steep as I thought it would be. I thought it would be closer to $400 than the $300-350 range that it’s in right now (of course depending on taxes and such). What I’m most excited about is the variety of games. I know I’ll definitely be seeing a game or two underneath my stocking this Christmas. I’ll have to pick wisely on which ones. I also like the idea of the Nintendo Network and hope it works much better than Club Nintendo.
I can get the skepticism but right now I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how this will all turn out.
It’s certainly very interesting that the West is getting the console released before Japan, since this isn’t exactly a common occurrence. The console itself seems quite generously powered, though I worry about the cost of the controllers getting in the way of some potential uses of two GamePads.
Price-wise, I think from the US price it seems fairly decent. It’s not quite as cheap as the Wii, but it’s a much more powerful console with a very complicated controller included. I do wonder whether it would have been possible to release a stripped down version (maybe with a Pro controller instead of a GamePad) for the same price as the Wii, but it might have overshadowed Nintendo’s emphasis on the GamePad. Obviously, price is going to be impossible to predict here in Europe (Amazon are excellent at getting good last minute deals though) but I’m sure it’ll be reasonable.
I’m probably going to try out Rayman at launch, but nothing else really interests me much. There’s a lot for third party fans, but not really me personally. Still, it’s not their worst console launch – there are a fair few games to choose from and the bundled Nintendo Land should keep people busy.
Essentially, they’ve done a fairly solid job. It’s probably not going to set the world on fire like the Wii did, but I think we’ll see a lot more direct competition between the manufacturers than with the Wii, which will be interesting to watch.
Just as with any good group of people, the Nintendojo staff has a wide spectrum of reactions to the impending Wii U launch. What are your thoughts? Have you preordered already, or are you still on the fence? Let us know in the comments below.