The Wii U is an enigma, certainly unlike any Nintendo console to come before it. Upon its initial announcement and indeed to this day, many are still confused as to what exactly this system aims to be. Here, two editors and long-time Nintendo fans give their opposing views on the console and its foreseeable future in a good ol’ fashion versus!
The “Post-Smash” Era Looks to More Than Make up for The Wii U’s Rocky Start.
Corey van den Hoogenband
I can’t deny that the Wii U stumbled down a bumpy road to get where it is today. I mean, the console literally sat around in store shelves days following its initial North American release. Juxtapose that with how it was near impossible to track down the original Wii unit for months after the thing’s release, and Nintendo fans and tech followers everywhere were left with one hyphenated expression: “uh-oh.”
But let’s not dwell on the past when the future is now. Smash Bros., Mario Kart 8, Super Mario 3D World, Bayonetta 2, and many more are all here and receiving outstanding reviews from industry experts and long time fans. Sure, Nintendo’s latest may not boast the same processing power as its direct competitors Playstation 4 and Xbox One do, but it more than makes up for it by providing vibrant, riveting visuals in games like Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker and Mario 3D World that create the illusion of interacting with a beautifully crafted cartoon. If I’ve learned anything from my nostalgia-driven need to replay childhood favourites is that these stylized, cell-shaded sorts of games hold up in the long run far better than those that strive for life-like quality; just compare the Wind Waker with something like Grand Theft Auto 3 and see which one looks as nice as you remember.
Many are quick to make the argument that the fine folks at Nintendo only ever seem to pump out the same games over and over, and there’s certainly some merit to that. The simplest response to this is that the reason these sequels and successors continue to be made is because their respective series’ are simply good. Sure, another Zelda is on its way – the first to be in glorious HD, might I add – but does anybody have a problem with that? No console based Zelda title has ever received a Metacritic score below 90 per cent, and chances are with that track record, Zelda for Wii U won’t fall too far off base. All of this is not to say that the claim that Nintendo only remakes old games is entirely true – the company found success and critical acclaim with Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker earlier this year and is set to debut the colourful first-person-shooter, Splatoon, in the coming months.
Yes, the Wii U Gamepad is a bit…undesirable, but when in the last 20 years has Nintendo really put out a conventional controller? At the end of the day, it’s not the controller or graphics that make the game, it’s the gameplay experience. The downpour of broken, glitchy, or otherwise unfinished games that plagued the Xbox One and PS4 during the fall of 2014 only made it clearer to me that Nintendo’s first party titles are some of the most reliable in the industry. With exceptionally promising titles like Zelda Wii U, Mario Maker, and a new Starfox in the foreseeable future, the “Post-Smash” era of the Wii U looks to more than make up for the console’s rocky start.
The name of the game is the game, and Nintendo understands that better than any other developer can claim to at the moment.
The WIi-U is Quickly Becoming Obsolete With Little Excitement for its Future.
I’ve always loved Nintendo, since my earliest gaming moments of playing Pokemon Red on a GameBoy Color before I could even read the text. Nintendo just has this magical charm that flows from all of their products that’s so easy to love. So I say this with complete adoration and respect for Nintendo as a life-long fan – I’ve given up on the Wii-U. Nintendo’s ability to keep me hyped and excited for their system has plummeted and I’m not hopeful for the Wii-U’s future.
I’ve heard many claiming that Wii-U had a stellar year and is back on top, a notion that I’m baffled at. 2014 saw the return of Mario Kart and Smash Bros., some saying they’re the best each series have had to offer. However the fact still remains, this is the eighth in a series of kart racing games. Super Smash Bros. for Wii-U lacks more content than the previous installment after having to share development with a 3DS title with a year less than the development time for Brawl. Though, I’ll definitely give it to Nintendo for reviving Bayonetta in what was easily regarded as a worthwhile sequel to the first.
Besides those big releases, there were a few spin-offs such as Hyrule Warriors and Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, both decently fun games. I’ll admit that’s by no means a bad year but… To say Wii-U is saved after this? I feel that’s jumping the gun a bit. Besides Bayonetta, nothing really stands out as very fresh and exciting, or something that screams “you need to own this!” Without the third party or indie support to pad along the wait times between Nintendo’s first party releases, I just don’t believe this is enough to keep the Wii-U afloat for much longer.
And that’s ultimately where the crux of my argument lies. I can admit that the last year was the Wii-U’s best, there’s no doubt about that, but I have no confidence in its future. Nintendo’s hype for the big games next year, The Legend of Zelda and Star Fox has been handled so… poorly. The Legend of Zelda is without a doubt my favourite series so I should be brimming with excitement for a new one. What ever happened to the days of a Zelda trailer rocking the gaming world with excitement? What did we get this year? A glorified off-screen tech-demo… What? That’s not how you build excitement for a Zelda game! The game looked so early, I’m not sure what direction they’re even going with it. The most they could tell us is that Epona won’t walk into trees. And this game is supposed to launch this year? It doesn’t even have a name yet! So help me if they name it “The Legend of Zelda for Wii-U”, titles like that just feel so… clinical.
And in regards to Star Fox, this is going to be harsh but at this point I feel people are just excited for a new big release for Nintendo than an actual Star Fox game. The Star Fox games are short length rail-shooters, most of which can be beaten in a single sitting. That’s going to save the Wii-U? And again, no name, and even worse, the only information we have about this game is an uneventful off-screen image. And this is supposed to come out before Zelda? How anyone can be waiting in anticipation for this, I’m not sure, Nintendo has just completely dropped the ball for marketing their games in stimulating, thrilling ways. Xenoblade Chronicles X will hopefully turn out well, but can anyone see this game making a big splash in the West?
Aside from the big releases are the few smaller titles like Splatoon, Mario Maker, Yoshi’s Woolly World, and Kirby and the Rainbow Curse. Splatoon looks interesting and fun, but I can’t see a third-person shooter dominating in any way on a Nintendo platform, no matter how charming and colourful. Mario Maker looks like it has a lot of potential, but can also be handled poorly through not enough options, or bad online functionality. I’m also worried the Yoshi and Kirby games will be plagued by Nintendo’s trend for simplifying and lowering difficulty for their games to the point of mind numbness.
My final thought on my dismissal of the Wii-U at this point in its cycle however, and most optimistic I feel, is the thought of a new system on the horizon. Nintendo’s been great with their enthusiasm for backwards compatibility on both the Wii and Wii-U and I have no doubt in my mind that the next system is already coming fast. With the way they’ve handled their previous systems, I can definitely see them releasing new hardware, even more powerful than the PS4 and Xbox One by 2017 with the capability of playing Wii-U games as well. With Zelda looking so early from what they’ve shown us, I wouldn’t even be surprised to see them pull a Twilight Princess and launch with a version of the new installment. The Wii-U has been regarded as a huge cash hole for Nintendo and there have been rumours of a new system, one that would feature sharing of its software with a similar handheld. That idea is enough for me to completely see passed the Wii-U with anticipation for what Nintendo’s planning next. I hope my expectations for Nintendo’s future make up a little for my tough criticisms of the Wii-U, which features lots of gems I’ll readily admit that I’m happy to revisit in the future with some more stable and powerful hardware.
The Wii-U’s lineup is quickly dwindling, with the promise of a future console fast approaching.
So who do you side with? Is Corey right about the Wii-U making a triumphant comeback, or do you agree with Nic’s lack of excitement for its future? Maybe we’re both wrong, but let us know in the comments your thoughts on what Nintendo’s future with the Wii-U will look like!