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November 27th 2012 4:43 pm

Wait until next year for Wii U

After spending most of the Thanksgiving holiday/weekend with the Wii U Black Edition, I can honestly say I was impressed and disappointed at the same time.

I was impressed with the capability of the console and especially with the controller. With a great "handheld" experience out of the box, the Wii U offers a stylus, touch capable screen, and button/directional controls which pretty much covers today's interactive technology all in one handheld device. The ability to play games on the TV, the handheld and both offer that great moment when someone wants to watch a movie on the big screen and you can seamlessly play on your handheld with no interruption (ala PS Vita).

The wide variety of games all seemed to show off ideas for programmers to use in implementing or porting games to the Wii U to maximize the Wii U's potential. From a chinese star throwing game where you stroke the surface of the handheld touch screen to "throw" chinese stars at the big screen, to a ghost hide and seek game where multiplayers must find a ghost who is controlled by the Wii U controller and only that player can see (and avoid) the other players and obstacles.

This is sadly where the system begins to fall short. Most of the games seem undeveloped with unimpressive graphics with very little replay value in most cases (unless you want high score!). The game feels very much like proof of concept games aimed at game developers to show off the different capabilities of the Wii U. Even the Mario game was simply a tribute to Super Mario Bros. 3 as a 2D, side scrolling sequel; no 3D awesomeness of the previous Mario releases for the Wii in this version.

Additionally, the battery for the Wii U controller seemed to need charging a lot -- more than I felt it should. Granted with very heavy use and little breaks might not be typical usage once the new and shiny wears off. I'm hoping someone will be able to create an aftermarket battery which will last longer and hopefully doesn't add too much weight to the over one pound device.

I can only hope that within the next year, major gaming developers will be able to take full advantage of what the system is capable of. It's just that right now, we don't see that with what we were given at launch. Additionally the Nintendo TVii (tv service) hasn't launched as well as other services like Hulu Plus, etc. The system feels rushed to stores and understandably when they will have to compete with Microsoft and Sony's offerings next year.

My conclusion is wait. Go to a friend's house to play it or to a retail store with one on display to mess around with and experience the new features. Otherwise, save your money until there are games worthy of the great potential the Wii U has to offer.

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I can't help but feel like this console will have a very short shelf life, as it seems Sony and Microsoft are gearing up their next-gen console at E3 and GDC respectively. Nintendo needed to grab a big chunk of the market with this head start and it seems (judging from the amount I saw sitting at retail stores) that they aren't flying off the shelves. It will be very interesting to see if they can hash out a long term strategy for it.
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I agree that Nintendo has been able to succeed in fantastic ways where others have not. Introducing casual gaming, motion controls and really expanding the gaming market are all huge accomplishments for the industry that came from the Nintendo Wii.

Nintendo is cash rich for now, coming out first with this console shows that. Problem is, they don't fit in with the rest of the gaming community. So getting others to make great games is going to be tough. Nintendo seems to have more in common with the iOS games like Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja than Xbox and Playstation.

I love that you can take your game from the console to the gamepad, I WISH MY VITA COULD DO THAT ON GAMES I ACTUALLY WANT TO PLAY, but I digress. No company wants to make games for the Wii U. Nintendo makes the best first party games and that's what sold the Wii so well, so it's 100% their fault for the dismal launch lineup. I do really like how you can control your TV with the gamepad as well.

Gimmicks are Nintendo's thing. Making new versions of the same franchises is their strenght. Playing Super Mario Party 8, as indistinguishable as it is from SMP 7, is what Nintendo makes money on. Games like Gears of War, Uncharted, Call of Duty, Madden, Assassin's Creed, etc is not what Nintendo fans buy traditionally.

That being said, the hardware for this console seems pretty bad since its 2012. No blu ray, no ethernet port, and 32 gb flash memory, (I have a self upgraded 500GB hard drive on my PS3). The gamepad is single touch and seems like you have to use a stylus for some games? Very lame for $300.

Also, I don't think the time will ever be right for Wii U for "hardcore gamers," but it will sell well to the casual market until those people get bored of Mario and Zelda.
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