The WiiU GamePad, now with 100% more fingerprints!
Call it caving in, or just being tempted. A WiiU with two games for £50 less than when it came out a year and a half ago! I call that a deal in my opinion!
Regrettably the WiiU didn’t have a good start. It was priced a little too high, it didn’t have a killer app, and it was ultimately shadowed by the upcoming PS4 and XBoxOne consoled. In a grand attempt to get people to notice the system, Nintendo released Mario Kart 8 with a promotion, where when you register the game to your Club Nintendo account, you can pick a another game from a selection to download for free. So not only is there a WiiU console pack that comes with Mario Kart 8, but you can download another free game too! So as I mentioned above; a Nintendo WiiU, with Mario Kart 8, and a free game for £250. Now Nintendo got some heads turning including mine.
In my “last minute” attitude I have, I got myself a WiiU just before the Mario Kart 8 promotion ends so I can get myself a copy of Pikmin 3. I got myself a £20 Nintendo point card too to get a few downloadable games such as EarthBound, I finally own a legit version of this game now, and NES Remix. However there were a few hurdles that I had to get around before I could start anything.
Hmm… New toy. And I haven’t been able to use it for an hour! :/ pic.twitter.com/h5jU6mxSzz
— Great Bit Blog (@GreatBitBlog) July 28, 2014
One thing I’ve heard a million times, but never really cared until it happens was the monumental update I had to download and install before I could claim my free copy of Pikmin 3! Either my WiiU had the first piece of firmware and Nintendo has released a lot since, or the most recent update was massive. I remembered when my cousin got his WiiU back in Christmas of 2012 that the first update needed about 30 minutes or so. For me I was staring at this screen for a while before getting bored and watching some random French film on Film4. It’s stuff like this that makes me realise that consoles before this generation can be played straight out of the box. But with consoles that use an internet connection that can resolve errors with updates and fixes, plenty of people who get consoles in this generation will see a download screen waiting for an update before they can even start playing. I don’t want to sound like an old fogey, but we had it good as kids, I’d hate to be the kid who receives a PS4 or WiiU at Christmas and to have to wait an hour or so before being able to start his first games console. What a turn off!
Time to play!
With some patience, I finally got to play with the damn thing, and well, it plays games all right! Mario Kart 8 is a Mario Kart, and Pikmin 3 is certainly a Pikmin game. But I wanted to try out some other things that this system can do. The one thing I was curious about was the virtual console for WiiU, seeing as now you can play NES, SNES, and GBA games on the WiiU GamePad. Nintendo released an update that allows you to link an account between a WiiU and 3DS consoles that carries your money over to both systems. Seeing as I had about £5 left in on my 3DS, I had £5 that I could use on the WiiU too. So I downloaded an NES game that’s the definition of retro, Spelunker!
Real men play Spelunker!
My first opinion with the WiiU’s virtual console, as much as it was cool to play the game away from the TV screen, it looked fairly blurry on my big TV screen. I was a little annoyed before discovering something weird with the WiiU’s video output, it uses overscan by default. “What is overscan” I hear you say, well overscan is where the actual viewable screen is enlarged a little and overlaps the edges of the screen. Fortunately the WiiU does have an option in it’s video settings to change the size of the screen so that it doesn’t overscan. After fixing that can going back to the Spelunker game, it looked a better, though it suffers from the typical “Playing a game that uses a CRT display on a TFT screen” issues such as interpolation and random pixel artifacts around edges. Another feature I was interested in was trying out original Wii games on the WiiU. As much as it’s possible to play Wii games on the WiiU, there’s some issues. Firstly you can’t just boot up a Wii game on the WiiU, you have to load a program that emulates the Wii’s channel menu, but the biggest downer is the quality of the video up-scaling! I’m pretty sure that playing a Wii with a component cable looks better than playing a Wii game on the WiiU. It just looks bad and really grainy, after seeing this I knew that I wasn’t going to use this system for backward compatibility. It might have it, but it’s really unsatisfactory in my opinion. After all I still own my UK and US Wii consoles, if I want to play a Wii game, I can just use those. It’s just a shame that the one machine in this console generation that has backward compatibility does it so poorly!
You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Surely there’s something you like about the WiiU?”
Yes I do in fact! Using the GamePad is like playing with a huge DS. The top screen is my TV, and the touch screen is the screen on the GamePad. I honestly have no idea why Nintendo didn’t call this system the “DS TV”, seeing as it mimics the DS fairly well. Not to mention that DS games will be coming out on the WiiU Virtual Console soon. I like the Miiverse, though I will admit that I wish people took it seriously and not post so many damn irrelevant pictures on it; I like the fact that Nintendo took cues from community driven hints in Dark Souls. A cool feature that one of the updates brought with it is a function called quick start. This is where the GamePad turns on before the console does; you’re given a list of games and apps you’ve been using recently including the WiiU menu and what disc you’ve put into the console so that rather than waiting to get into the WiiU menu before starting a game, you can boot the system and right into a game. Otherwise you can just select the WiiU menu if you want to use the WaraWara Plaza.
So is the WiiU worth getting now? After a year and a half since it’s release, the WiiU is slightly better than it started off with. There are better games such as Super Mario 3D World and Mario Kart, there are games coming out next year such as Smash Bros, Splatoon and Xenoblade Chronicles X, and the console itself has been optimised better than it did on it’s release. I noticed when I was playing on my cousin’s WiiU that it was very slow to boot up games; and I notice that now it doesn’t take as long to boot up, though I do wish it was a little faster. Considering that I have no interest in the XBoxOne, and there’s hardly anything on the PS4 at the moment, the WiiU is a safe bet, for me at least, to be entertained before I might get a PS4. Now it doesn’t mean my new WiiU will replace my PC. My PC is my “All-in-one, do everything” machine, whilst the WiiU is my Nintendo Console. After all, Zelda and Mario games are not going to be ported on the PC any day soon, and to be honest I want it to stay that way. Do I need to say anything about what happened to Sonic? That’s the scary thing I think of if Nintendo packs up and becomes a software house for Sony and Microsoft, will the Nintendo charm be the same, or will it lose its point and become shallow husk of its former self? Hopefully with this promotion, it’ll get people to notice the WiiU, although the scary thing is Nintendo has reported that they have been loosing money even though they have been selling consoles! A worrying thought. But one thing to bare in mind when it comes to the future of Nintendo is that they will not go the way that Sega went out. Nintendo has so much money in the bank from the Wii and the DS that it’s going to take Nintendo a long time before they’ll go bankrupt. Plus their enemy isn’t themselves either. Personally though, even with some features that I may, or may not like, the WiiU is there for Nintendo games, and I like Nintendo’s franchises. I can’t wait to play the new Zelda game that they announced at E3 and Splatoon looks like a blast too! Sure it might not suit everyone, and peoples tastes in games have changed since the nineties. But being a resident Nintendo fan, the WiiU does what a Nintendo console has to do, play Nintendo games. The reason why I didn’t get it at launch wasn’t because of the price tag, but because the games weren’t that interesting. I’ve played New Mario Bros before, and I didn’t need to play it again with some new power ups. But now with a new Mario Kart sequel, and some great games coming out in the horizon, for me, getting a WiiU now was a pretty good investment. I’m not too sure it’ll sell to everyone though. If you like Nintendo games, and you haven’t got a WiiU yet, not would be a good time! Though by the time you read this the free game promotion would have ended, but there’s bound to be more promotions in the future. It’s not perfect, but it’s a system with some great franchises coming onto it that’s slowly getting better. So go for it, enjoy some Nintendo games today!
So what are your impressions of the WiiU? Do you own one? Did the Mario Kart 8 promotion encourage you to buy one? Or are you not down with Nintendo? Write in the comments below and share your WiiU stories on GreatBitBlog!