All three of the major consoles have released a new generation of systems. As an owner of the three older systems I had already decided that I would eventually purchase a Microsoft Xbox One and a Nintendo Wii U. It’s unlikely I’ll purchase a Playstation 4.
It may not be fair to judge a new console based on my experience with an older one but I just never used the Playstation 3 very much. I’m not debating whether or not it’s a great system. It is. But it just didn’t have very many games that I wanted to play (it had a rare exception here and there but overall it wasn’t a major draw for me despite it actually being my only console for a period of time).
Since the previous generation of consoles were first released I’ve put in far more hours playing Xbox 360 games than those of any other console. Yet, that’s not the first console I’ve purchased from the new generation. Yes, I do want one and suspect I’ll have one before the end of 2014, but right now I think the cost is too high. I’m just not eager to shell out $500+ for a console. I wasn’t even very eager to shell out $300 for my latest console purchase.
Which brings me to the topic of this post. Last Friday (Black Friday) I finally decided to go ahead and purchase a Nintendo Wii U. It’s likely that I would have held off on purchasing it if Nintendo hadn’t released the Mario & Luigi Deluxe Set, which I bought at Toys “R” Us. The cost of $300 for the set was something I could accept though a drop down to $250 would have been preferred. The kit includes the Deluxe system (32 GB instead of 8 GB) as well as New Super Mario Bros. U and New Super Luigi U.
So, was it worth the cost?
I’ve continued to enjoy the Super Mario Bros series of games ever since I first picked up an NES controller and stomped on a Goomba. In fact, one of the other reasons I decided to purchase the system now was the release of Super Mario 3-D World, which I also purchased that day at the same store.
This post isn’t a full review. I’m only hitting some of the highlights and things that I found interesting.
The graphics are excellent. Sure, it’s not an Xbox One or a Playstation 4, but traditionally Nintendo consoles shine via the games themselves. In the case of Nintendo I think the company has always been strong in being able to use hardware to complement games instead of just trying to build the most powerful systems. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy playing shooters with highly detailed scenes. I do. But Nintendo games typically have a more casual approach and I often enjoy switching gears and just kicking back.
The Super Mario Bros. games are very detailed. In fact, because I’ve never seen a Super Mario Bros. game with this level of detail, it actually took me a little while to become accustomed to seeing the characters, levels, and enemies in high resolution.
The system is a bit wider than the Wii. It’s much longer and definitely heavier. It’s black and is practically invisible in my entertainment center. The Gamepad is the most noticeable part of the complete system.
The initial softwaresetup seemed to be somewhat locked into completing certain steps, which I found very frustrating due to problems with connecting to my wifi network. I was able to transfer a Mii directly from my 3DS during setup instead of having to start from scratch or go through some odd process to copy it from my original Wii.
Note that the Nintendo Network ID is an account that can only be created from a Wii U. This is not the same as a Club Nintendo account, though it is possible to link them later.
Before owning a Wii U I thought the Gamepad would be rather bulky and awkward but it actually isn’t. It’s a good weight to hold for a long time. The quality of the display is surprisingly sharp and crisp. During gameplay it’s very, very responsive to the point that I have yet to detect any sort of delay.
The ability to play games only from the Gamepad is very convenient. If my wife wants to use the TV to watch something I’m not interested in then I can play the Super Mario Bros. games entirely from the Gamepad (it has it’s own volume control as well as a headphone jack).
If you’re hoping to be able use it in another room that will depend entirely on how far you’ll be and the obstructions between yourself and the Wii U. Our living room is somewhat large. I couldn’t use it outside of that room though some users in forums have reported using it fine through walls.
Surprisingly, the Gamepad can be used to play games that require the standard remotes (infrared LEDs included). I haven’t played games this way but I was able to control the Wii Transfer program only by using the Gamepad and a Wii Remote.
I haven’t delved very far into testing games and hardware but this is one aspect I found somewhat disappointing. Wii software (specifically games) are enclosed within what is basically a Wii virtual environment. This means that if you bought Mario Kart 64, as I did, then you’ll have to first fire up the Wii environment to access the game. This isn’t really a problem but it adds one step instead of having those items directly available from the Wii U menu.
Virtual consoles games aren’t the only thing trapped in this environment. My remaining Wii Points were also stuck in there.
There are no Gamecube ports so connecting Gamecube controllers to the system isn’t an option (at least not with anything built-in as with the Wii). I can’t say that this is a major problem – at some point it makes sense to drop backwards compatibility for old hardware.
My experience with connectivity on the Wii U hasn’t been good though I have yet to determine with certainty whether or not I’ve got a problem with a wifi device or if the Wii U antenna is just very weak. Despite various attempts the Wii U was unable to connect to a wifi network that the Wii was able to connect to. I have an extended network as well. The system was able to connect to the extended network but it was unable to stay connected. I found this odd because every device in my home, including our iPhones and tablets, can stay connected to the extended network (which is broadcast from the center of our house).
This problem led to many frustrations. Downloading the first system update was practically impossible. I attempted to purchase a Wii/Wii U ethernet adapter but neither the local Wal-Mart nor Gamestop had one in stock (even though both used to sell them). Out of frustration I finally ordered a Nyko Net Connect for Wii from Amazon. The wired connection appears to be working perfectly since I set it up this evening.
I’m still toying with the various features but so far I’m very happy with this purchase. Overall it has exceeded my expectations and I’m looking forward to playing some multiplayer games in the Super Mario Bros. games that I already own. The ability to play many games without needing to use a television is big plus and very convenient.
If you’re considering purchasing one as a Christmas gift it would be a good idea to set it up in secret and complete the initial configuration and updates in advance.