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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Wii U Review

It's been 2 years since the Wii U release and Nintendo's console is already falling behind. Here my review and personal thoughts on the console.

I was standing in line in 2006 at 7am outside of one of my friends’ gamestop because I had preordered the Wii. I was excited and couldn’t wait to get home to set up my new consoles. When I got the Wii I played it for about several months before completely forgetting about it. Every now and again I would get a game for it and play it again but that didn’t last very long and no more than a few days. It was a fun consoles but it just wasn’t for me. What with all the family friendly games and low quality ports and last gen graphics that disappointed me once I got myself an HDTV in 2007. This was pretty much the story of a lot of people who quickly forgot about the Wii as soon as they purchased a PS3 or an Xbox 360. In 2012 Nintendo released their successor, the Wii U. It was pretty much a Wii with HD capabilities. However people who bought the Wii didn’t transition into the Wii U right away if at all. But that’s not to say that the Wii U isn’t a great console because it is and this is my review of it.

Before I get started let me tell you that I got the Wii U for $180 with a Wii + remote and everything else pre-owned. Nintendo first release the Wii U in 2 models which are the Basic ($299.99) with 8GB of Flash Memory and no pad stand. And the Premium ($349.99) with 32GB of Flash Memory and Wii U Sports Resort bundled in. Even after discontinuing the 8GB model and a price drop of the 32GB model, I still think the Wii U is overpriced, especially when you can get yourself a PS3 for $200 brand new or a bundle with a 320GB Hard Drive and a game for $250 to $300. For $300 you get the 32GB Wii U and 2 games which are practically the same game. Nintendo of America President even came out with an advertisement of the Wii U being a better value at $300 and let me say that he is an idiot who has his head so far up his rectum that he cannot see daylight and the reality of how things are. The Wii U should be somewhere in between $200 or $250 and they should just get rid of the tablet control which is an option in most games but we’ll get to that.

The Wii U is a very small machine that doesn’t take up much space. It’s practically a round Wii only a bit bigger to accommodate everything inside and to have better airflow. It has a small exhaust fan on the side that is not loud at all which is very convenient compared to that consoles of 2006 and is pretty much a requirement for any console now a days. Specially with the technological advancements that we’ve had in a short 6 years when the Wii U came out and now 8 years as of today. 

Monster Hunter Game Not Included in newer Wii Packaging
The inside of the Wii U is powered by a 3 core Power PC processor running at 1.24ghz. The power PC processor is the same or almost identical to the Power PC processor found on G4 Macs from Apple. Which to my calculation, the last time I saw a G4 was somewhere in 2003. It also has 2GB of GDDR3 Ram running at 1600mhz. The graphics driving the Wii U is based on the Radeon HD 5000/6000 series codenamed Latte which was developed specifically for the Wii U clocked at 550mhz.

One of the Wii U’s biggest changes though is the fusion of a tablet and game controller. The Wii U gamepad is used as a second screen to games that holds information or to view inventory. Depending on the game it could also be used to play mini games while your character on the main screen gets his ass kicked. Yes I am not a huge fan of the game pad. In fact I think it takes away from the fun of games by trying to make games more realistic than they need to be. The only useful feature of the gamepad is the ability to use it as its own screen and play games while someone else watches TV. Heck you don’t even need a TV if you want to use the gamepad as a portable device around your house and by around your house I mean in the same room. But despite its short range it’s still a very useful feature.

Japanese Man not included in any of the Wii U Packages
The Wii U OS is similar to the Wii which uses channels or squares to display a game or an app. You get the basic apps as every other device out there which is a browser, an app store, messages, calendar, friends, and messages. You also get some Wii U apps such as vWii which is a Virtual Wii where you can play all your old Wii games which is a plus and the TVii app which is just a guide for your TV and nothing else. Some of the apps require the use of the Gamepad which is annoying as hell and one of these being the Wii U App store which will render your TV useless until you are finished browsing the Wii U store. 

This is a department where the Wii U is suffering in since launch day. The Wii U came out sometime in November 2012 and it’s already been 1 year a 4 months and there aren’t that many games available as there should be. And the situation has gotten worse with Developers and Publishers leaving the console. On the plus side there are some good games on the system at very reasonable prices if you would get one today, especially in the Pre-Owned market. For new games you can pick up AC III and Black Flag for under $50. Both are great games on their own. You also have Black Ops II with all the DLC and Ghosts as well. Both are great multiplayer online games and have a decent story line to it. You also have some great Exclusive titles such as Sonic, Lego City Undercover, Zombi U, Legend of Zelda, Monster Hunter 3 and a few others and reasonable prices.

Not to mention the Wii U is backwards compatible and while the Wii may have sucked, it did have some pretty kick ass games in its library. The Resident Evil Archive games, Metroid Prime Triology, Super Smash Bros Brawl, Mario Kart, Super Mario Galaxy, Legend of Zelda and the list goes on, were all great games for the Wii.
And if you like old school games the Wii U has a lot of great titles available for download on the Virtual Library, although a quick google search should bring you a list of emulators and roms that you can download if you already own the physical copy of the game.

Nintendo must have not thought things through when they decided to give the Wii U only 32GB of Flash Memory. In a world where people download apps, indie games and full games not to mention Nintendo has an extensive library of Virtual Console games, 32GB is just not enough. You can purchase and use a USB Hard Drive or a flash Drive to extend the memory. The Wii U will automatically use up the external memory first before filling in the internal memory. The problem though is that not a lot of parents who buy the console for their kids will know that. Once the limit is reached you will have to start deleting saved data and games. At the time the Xbox 360 released it only had a 20Gb hard drive but there also wasn’t as many DLC games or content and apps readily available. 

The Wii U is compatible with all sorts of controllers from past to present. The Wii U is compatible with the Wii Remote, Classic Controller, Pro Controller as well as the gamepad itself. This is where Nintendo fails to properly promote its product. If I would have not purchased a Pro Controller  and a Wii U, I wouldn’t have known that most games offer the option of just using the pro controller a la PS4 and Xbox One. You really don’t need the game pad. Games like Ninja Gaiden 3, CoD Ghosts and Black Ops II, AC III, Mass Effect 3 and a few others all allow you to play using the pro controller alone. The only problem though is that the official Pro Controller will set you back $45 - $50 for the Official Nintendo Version. I was lucky and purchased the Pro Commander for $13 on sale. It’s not as smooth as the official Nintendo Version (review coming soon) but it gets the job done. I am happy just playing games without the use of the gamepad which gives me a headache every time I have to use it.
Also another feature not really advertised and taken to its full potential is the use of online multiplayer for 2 players. I found this out when my brother handed me the gamepad and he used the classic controller to play Ghosts. He had the TV screen all to himself and I had the gamepad screen all to myself while playing. This is way better than playing split screen online. It functioned properly and there was hardly any lag. The screen could have been a bit brighter but overall it was a great feature. I was not distracted by his game and vice versa. Besides CoD, I don’t know what other games use this feature. I haven’t played them all but if you love online multiplayer and want to play with 2 players, this is an easy solution. 

I mentioned this before but this is one of the greatest features of the Wii U Gamepad; The use of it as a second screen. Yes the range is limited to something within 30 feet but the quality is just superb no matter how far away you are as long as you’re within range. You won’t get any lag at all during gameplay. Once you get disconnected though the game pauses and just asks to move in a bit closer. No gameplay is lost. But you may lose a life or get killed depending on the type of game you’re playing. I was able to take the Wii U gamepad to my room with the Wii U in the living room and was able to play comfortably while I lay in bed. Not all games support this feature though so make sure you check the back of the game package to make sure it does. The PS3/PS4 also has a similar feature (Remote Play) But the games are limited and the screen is a bit smaller than that of the Wii U’s.
Now let’s get to the negative about the gamepad. Zombi U, I think it’s a good game. You are a survivor in a post-apocalyptic world and you must survive. Die and you lose all your stuff until you are re-spawned as another character and find all your stuff that you lost as the previous character who is now a zombie. How I wish I could have played this game using the Pro Controller but sadly you can’t. Why does using the gamepad suck for these kinds of games? Because you constantly had to keep looking down into the gamepad screen when you are searching for inventory, or if you are using a machine gun or unlocking doors as well as solving puzzles. All while getting your ass handed to you by zombies. You are constantly switching views from TV to gamepad which has caused me to have headaches and hurt my neck while in the process. This game also requires the use of both gamepad and TV so you can’t play it on just one screen.

The other con about the gamepad is its crappy battery life. At most you can get 3.5 hours out of use out of the thing. Sure you can always charge once you are finished but chuck that into a list of ways to kill your battery faster.  The gamepad is also huge and the buttons I think are awkwardly placed. The R and L buttons are very hard to use as the ZL and ZR buttons curved in the back.

Closing Comments:
I have no idea what I'm doing
Reggie Fils Aime is full of shit when he says that the Wii U is a better value. What an A$$hole he is. Anyway, The Wii U is not a better value than say PS4 but it does get you started with 2 games included. It’s a great machine but just like the Wii before it, it’s only good as a Previous Generation Console. The Wii U can compete with the PS3 and Xbox 360 but at a certain point people will move on and the PS3/Xbox 360 will be retired and then it’s up to the developers to decide if they still want to keep supporting it.

The right direction for the Wii U would be for Nintendo to charge $49.99 for their games as well as Third Party games. Dropping full support for the gamepad and only using it as an add-on would also be great or at least bundle a pro controller with the Wii U. Don’t force me to use it to change my settings or use it in the store unless I command it to do that. Also when I use the Pro Controller don’t turn the gamepad on. It’s annoying enough that I have to take 1 minute to bring up the menu and turn it off manually.

Other than those shortcomings the Wii U is a great machine with lots of potential and Nintendo should support every developer and publisher so they can continue to keep bringing out games for their console. Games run smoother than their PS3/Xbox 360 counterparts and the GUI is very easy to use. The backwards compatibility is also a great feature that the PS4 and Xbox One got rid of so you can put away that Wii that is probably housing thousands of spiders from years of no use.

Keep this in mind though. Nintendo may have the cheapest console available but the PS4 and Xbox One have longevity on their side.

Design: Very Small and quiet but packs quite a punch 10/10
Controls: Compatible with Wii as well as Third Party controllers, you have lots to choose from but the gamepad is very uncomfortable to hold at times and some games require it. 8/10
Games: It's been 2 years and there hasn't been a must own game that you have to buy the system for. Support is dropping but hopefully Nintendo can turn things around. 3/10
OS: Very easy to navigate compared to other consoles, there's a bit of lag from time to time even though it has 1GB of Ram dedicated to the OS alone. 8/10
Hardware: Tripple Core processor with 2GB of Ram, Wifi and expansion ports for other media storage. Cannot keep up with PS4/Xbox One but can easily beat PS3/Xbox 360. 7/10

Total Score: 72/100

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