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Five reasons a Wii U is worth owning and five things holding it back

by on January 15, 2015
 

I’m going to start out by stating that I’ve owned my Nintendo Wii U Deluxe console since day one, and I have continued to build a very respectable library on it.  This is not a negative article, but in fact one that I hope would be more informative as to what the Wii U is and what it has to offer for people that have yet to pick one up.

With that out of the way, here are five reasons why a gamer should own a Nintendo Wii U console.

1. Strong first party support.

It’s no secret that people flock to the Nintendo consoles mainly for their first party titles.  Franchises like Super Mario and The Legend of Zelda hold a place in many hearts, and it shows a certain quality that Nintendo consistently delivers.  The Nintendo Wii U is no different, with strong titles available now like Super Smash Bros for Wii U, Mario Kart 8, Super Mario 3D World, Hyrule Warriors, and more.  It’s only going to keep coming, and with Nintendo publishing other titles like Bayonetta 2, or even the upcoming The Devil’s Third, it looks like they will continue trying to build a strong library of games.  Even the untitled Legend of Zelda game coming out this year has people on the edge of their seats, just waiting to explore the vast reaches of the new title.

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2. Embraces local play.

In a time where games are getting to be more realistic looking, what is often sacrificed is a good local play option for multiplayer.  Many games on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 have online-only multiplayer, and if they have splitscreen, many games are limited to two players.  The Wii U has a large library of games that can be enjoyed in a group setting, from party games like Game & Wario to full on co-op experiences like Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze.  Mario Kart 8 has four player split screen, and even though it takes a hit in the frame rate and resolution, it doesn’t fear letting players have fun with their friends in the same room.  Even Super Smash Bros. offers options like eight player battles, making it difficult for someone to be left out for group sessions.  PlayStation 4 and Xbox One may have some titles like Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition, or any of the annually released sports game, but a majority of their titles will only allow you to play with your friends online.

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3. Backwards Compatibility.

This is another feature the Wii U embraced that the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 missed the mark on.  Not only can every single Wii game be played on the Wii U, but every single controller from the original Wii can be used in a large selection of games, giving the Wii U easily the most ways to enjoy controlling games.  This goes from not just the Wii library, but the virtual console as well, as fans of older titles can have easy access to download several titles from the original Nintendo, all the way up to the GameBoy Advance portable system.  Even now, original Wii titles will start to be available to download to the Wii U and even some will be playable with the Gamepad.  When PlayStation 4 is struggling to get people fully on board with PlayStation Now, a console that truly gives you these options is great for when you want to play gems that might have been missed.  It also saves on controllers, as having a full set of controllers for the previous system make the new system ready for multiple players right away, saving quite a bit of money.

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4. Great indie game console.

Nintendo made it a priority to reach out to independent developers this time around, and it definitely shows.  Getting games like Shovel Knight, The Swapper, 1001 Spikes, and many more, the Wii U always has something new and exciting to play thanks to reaching out to these developers that just want to get their games in the hands of gamers everywhere.  Even when a game lacking in development like The Letter can get exposure on the Wii U home page, it just shows that Nintendo puts in an effort to make their fans aware of these titles.

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5. Convenience.

Lets face it, many of use don’t live alone and often share the TV we keep our game consoles on.  This can lead to having to quit game sessions repeatedly just so someone else could use the TV to watch something, or even play a different console.  With the Wii U, many games for the system can be played off the TV and on the Gamepad, and the beauty of it is it comes in the box.  Unlike the PS4 with the PlayStation Vita or the Xbox One with SmartGlass, this is a feature that comes with the system, and allows you to actually be able to keep gaming on a nice sized screen.  Not only this, but it also means the Wii U is the only game console that really doesn’t require a TV for a good amount of the games on the console.  If I want to play Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, all I have to do is plug in the system, pick up the Gamepad, and I’m set.

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Now, even though there are plenty of positives for owning a Wii U, there are still several problems that are stacked against it.

1. Lack of EA titles.

As much as many hate to admit, EA holds a lot of real estate in the games market.  EA sports titles like Madden and FIFA are easily among the top sellers on whatever console they’re released on, just due to their general appeal to the average consumer.  Being the publisher for Bioware titles like Mass Effect and Dragon Age makes them even more influential to gamers everywhere.  Look at the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, and you’ll see a large selection of EA titles spread throughout.  Not to say the Wii U has no EA titles, but having a launch with lackluster ports of various games leaves a lot to be desired.  Mass Effect 3: Special Edition launched on the Wii U on day one, and though the game is great, it was not supported with future DLC like Leviathan or Citadel.  Bioware even expressed interest in developing more for the Wii U, saying they had several ideas on what to do with the system, but unfortunately EA kept them away from supporting the system.  In their defense, Need for Speed: Most Wanted was actually a very well done port on the Wii U, and it was fully supported with extra content specific to the console.  Sadly, the rest of the games did not get this, Madden 13 being a reskin of Madden 12 when the other consoles got a brand new physics engine, proof that EA didn’t put in their real effort.  From that, EA blamed Nintendo for poor sales of the console, but really, when they gave the system inferior ports of their popular titles, they only shot themselves in the foot.  They could have easily made the Wii U a much stronger system to the public, they simply chose not to.

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2. No Minecraft.

The console preferences of many younger generation gamers come down to one simple question…”Can I play Minecraft on it?”.  Minecraft is a very popular game, and it’s playable on a large variety of platforms…almost all of them actually, but one current-gen console that is missing it from it’s library…the Wii U. Markus “Notch” Persson, who was one of Mojang’s founders, has said that a Wii U version of Minecraft “makes sense”, but due to development on the Xbox One and PS4 versions, they were unable to allocate resources to a Wii U version at the time. Fast forward a few months later, and Microsoft purchases the franchise, making any possible hope of the Wii U getting the title diminish down to practically nothing.

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3. Lack of respect from retailers and publishers.

Unfortunately, a lot of employees at stores often show bias and bring their own console-war opinion to the field when giving consumers information on consoles.  Many of them will shun the Wii U due to simply not having certain games, and this attitude continues in the retailers in general.  The Wii U gets a lot of exposure in advertisements, but what often doesn’t happen is preorder bonuses or collector’s editions for Wii U titles.  Even if a game releases on multiple platforms, including the Wii U, the Wii U often is excluded from the treatment given to another console.  I loved the statue in the Injustice: Gods Among Us Collector’s Edition, but I had to get it on my PlayStation 3 because the Wii U version didn’t even get one for the release.  Downloadable content in general tends to get skipped on the system, as even the recently released Wii U version of Watch Dogs was confirmed not to get any extra downloadable content post-launch.  Batman: Arkham Origins actually had a season pass available for the Wii U, only for the content to be dropped and the money spent refunded to the consumers that bought it.  The Wii U should be treated with more equality if publishers expect their fans to actually buy the Wii U version of the games they release.

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4. Half-Assed App support.

The Wii U has the essential apps like Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Instant Video, but outside of those three, it’s extremely lacking.  The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 have dozens of apps now that make them a convenient option for people that don’t need to invest in a Smart TV.  Even then, the Netflix app on the Wii U has a few problems that make it a little outdated, like the lack of profile support, and even the inability to auto-start the next episode of a TV series, an issue I personally have contacted Netflix on over a year ago, being told that they were working on adding that support.  So far, the only update I’ve seen done was the logo changing on the Wii U home screen.  It’s unfortunate, but it’s likely something that won’t be changing anytime soon.  The good news here is that this might be seeing a change as Crunchyroll has released an app for the Wii U just a couple weeks ago, so maybe more companies will follow.

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5. Nintendo themselves.

Now before anyone claims I’m bashing Nintendo, this is not the case.  Nintendo is a great company and I highly respect them, but they don’t always make the best choices with their business in the US.  They currently hold the rights to the Fatal Frame franchise, and in the United States, the only thing we’ve seen from that is the 3DS spin-off Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir, meanwhile, Japan and Europe get Fatal Frame IVXenoblade Chronicles was only available from Nintendo’s online store and GameStop stores, and that was after fans petitioned to get it localized.  One could only hope that the sequel Xenoblade Chronicles X has a wider release.  Nintendo doesn’t have complete faith in their fans for these things, and though they have definitely improved on this aspect with the launch of the Wii U, they still have a tendency to find ways to make their consoles less appealing to certain consumers.

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After this recent 2014 holiday season, the Wii U has done incredibly well compared to previous years, and one could only hope that it continues to pick up steam.  I for one love my Wii U, it’s one of the consoles I use most frequently and it offers some of my favorite gaming experiences this generation so far.  It deserves more respect than it gets and hopefully others start to realize that.

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