Forgive me father, for I have sinned. My mind is plagued with thoughts of a false god that many believe to be malevolent. Why father?! My faith has not wavered as I know the path my future holds. So why do these visions of a Wii U in my household still dance in my dreams although a PlayStation 4 is on the horizon, pre-ordered and ready to go? Have the flames of disappointment not burned me enough after my lackluster interest in the Wii which I gave to my nieces after rarely playing it? Forgive me father, for I have sinned. And this is my confession.
I want a Wii U.
And truth be told, I don’t really know why.
Since the release of the Wii in 2006, Nintendo has succeeded and failed on unprecedented levels. Its brilliant marketing campaign brought in a whole new audience with the motion control gimmick and subsequently lost the audience that supported them for years. To Nintendo, it probably doesn’t matter. It has currently sold a little over 100 million Wii units placing it in third behind the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation as the best-selling game console of all time (not counting handheld devices). Achieving this accomplishment in seven years is remarkable, which is why the failure of the Wii U is even more astonishing.
I was a fool when I fell for the Wii. The only two games I wanted to play were Mario Kart Wii and Super Smash Bros. Wii. Both were fine, but highlighted problems with the system: such as the horrendous online architecture and the lousy controller for games that didn’t need waggle. Yet, it’s hard to deny how well that system worked when put in front of a family who didn’t play a whole lot of games. This was the case for my wife’s family. Outside of her brother, they didn’t play many (if any) games. And that was the magic of the system. Especially when adding Wii Sports into the mix. Whereas I found myself with a system I grew increasingly bored with, the family discovered a system that brought them together in a way no other system had before it. Nintendo wanted to capture that magic again with the Wii U, but forgot one important point. It didn’t support it enough to make the consumer base want another.
And I fell into the same trap. Outside a handful of games, the Wii didn’t do much for me. And currently, the Wii U doesn’t either. For all intents and purposes, the Wii U shouldn’t even be a blip on my radar. The lack of games Nintendo has released for the system is embarrassingly negligible and the system doesn’t have the same family draw that the Wii held. Nintendo touted third party support as a rejuvenation plan for the Wii brand, and instead found third parties abandoning ship after the first launch of games that featured ports and exclusive titles sold poorly. The biggest exclusive third party game, Bayonetta 2, was revealed last year during a Nintendo Direct and is scheduled to be released sometime next year. Another big exclusive game was Rayman Legends. But due to the low ZombieU sales, Ubisoft felt that making it a multiplatform game would be the best route. Lastly, Sonic Lost World recently came out to mixed reviews reminding everyone that a Sonic game is still a Sonic game. If Bayonetta 2 and Sonic Lost World were being published by someone other than Nintendo, it would not be out of the realm of possibility that it would be releasing on other consoles as well. And judging from developers and publishers reactions to the Wii U, the only way we will see more exclusives is for Nintendo to do the publishing.
Yes father, I know it makes no sense as to why I want a Wii U. They have done so little to make me want one.
But my answer is: It’s Nintendo.
As bad as things have been recently, Nintendo has a pretty good reputation over the years for releasing great games. It may not create new franchises the same way Sony and Microsoft do, but neither of them have ones as recognizable as Nintendo:
- Donkey Kong
- Smash Bros.
- Mario Kart
- Mario Party
- The Legend of Zelda
Those aren’t even taking into account games that hold nostalgic value to gamers, are less recognizable, and don’t get as much attention by Nintendo such as:
- Star Fox
- Animal Crossing
- Golden Sun
- Fire Emblem
Nintendo has a plethora of franchises that it can take advantage of on a console. As to the reason it doesn’t…couldn’t answer that. Some seem destined to remain as handheld games. But I have faith that one day, Nintendo won’t put all of its eggs in the Mario basket and realize that it has more in its arsenal than even it realizes. With the Wii U backed into the corner, now would be a perfect time for Nintendo to show the world that when it comes to first-party exclusives, nobody holds a torch to Nintendo.
The Wii U has a few games I’m already stoked to play if given the chance. Patrick Klepek from Giant Bomb had an enthusiasm for ZombieU that nobody else in the press seemed like they had. But listening to him describe the game and his excitement had me seriously contemplating purchasing a Wii U for that very game. Lego City Undercover flew under the radar, and while I haven’t played a ton of Lego games, a Grand Theft Auto inspired Lego interpretation sounds pretty stellar. Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure is right up my alley as a DC Comics fan, and what little I played of the original Scribblenauts, the improvements on the game make it sound much easier to get into. Plus: superheroes. The other Nintendo staples are there such as Mario, the upcoming Smash Bros., the inevitable Mario Kart, etc; and so there are games I know I would play on the Wii U. My concern is not only the longevity of those titles, but the longevity of the console itself if more games do not come out for it.
Aside from games, Nintendo takes chances in its product that sometimes hits and sometimes misses. We dislike the Wii motion controls immensely, but it worked in ways we didn’t think it could. It spawned the PlayStation Move which both fans and Sony don’t seem to care about. It led the way for Kinect which didn’t work as well but was more ambitious and is a large factor in Microsoft’s next gen console. Nintendo’s handheld systems have no competition even if they aren’t the most technically impressive. Nintendo find ways to make do with less, and right now, the Wii U is less. It may not be able to stand up to the power of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, but there are aspects of the Wii U which I find interesting.
The gamepad integration is one bullet point that Nintendo has above the PlayStation 4/Vita and Xbox One/Smartglass. I say this because, the latter two are promises that haven’t been proven. Yet. But the Wii U and the gamepad do work, and that’s one added feature that I would use. Another big prospect of the Wii U is the online community and the ways players can interact with one another through posts and pictures. The Wii U receives a lot of flack, but the Miiverse is praised. Nintendo may have been late to the online party, but it raised the bar according to some game industry folks, and those individuals hope that the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 have an online community on par with Nintendo. I also have yet to hear the Wii U making great use of the gamepad while the television is the method of gaming, but I have no doubt that there will be some developer out there to put it to good use even if Nintendo hasn’t figured it out yet. At the very least, using the gamepad as a strategy guide tablet for the Virtual Console version of Earthbound won me over. I love me some Earthbound.
Nintendo has taken strides with the Wii U to make improvements for its console. Some are more drastic than others, some feel like they barely made a dent in progressing towards the next generation. But the biggest reason I haven’t given up on Nintendo and the Wii U is because they no longer have the casual audience. Nintendo had one chance to convince those people that the Wii U was going to be as “great” as the Wii, and it failed. All Nintendo has left are the gamers it left in the cold when the Wii originally launched. Me. One of the few gamers who loved Mario Sunshine. One of the gamers who would wouldn’t hesitate to drop the funds to purchase a Wii U if it meant being able to play a full fledged Pokemon game on a home console. No, not the Stadiums or Colosseum games: A real Pokemon game like the handhelds have had for years, like the most recent releases of Pokemon X and Pokemon Y. And there are more out there like me. People who want a game system to play games on. We are still here, and the approach Sony has had with the PlayStation 4 backs that up even more. Hopefully Nintendo saw the love for that approach and are heading that way, and I have faith that it is. It has no where else to go with this system if it wants it to challenge the next iterations of consoles. Price drops can only go so far. Stretching out a couple games per year will make people pack up the console. Relying on third party games when gamers will buy the better versions on other systems is short sighted and begs for failure.
Nintendo doesn’t have many other options at this point. And that’s why father, I still believe in the Wii U.