Home > Gaming, Industry > Wii U thoughts, facing off against Xbox One and Playstation 4!

Wii U thoughts, facing off against Xbox One and Playstation 4!

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Hi readers! It’s been great getting the feedback from the last few posts, and now it’s time to dive into the WiiU.

As someone most known for being a Nintendo champion, one might expect me to have a pretty positive opinion on the newest flagship Nintendo console. Overall the answer is yes, though I really have to explain the reasons why, as well as some issues I have with it. Let’s boil it down into separate sections!

Hardware and History

The Wii U is an oddball in every sense of the word. Compared to the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, it’s fairly competitive, and even leads them in many crucial ways. If the Wii U had launched instead of the original Wii, it would have made for a very interesting race back in those days. It’s important to realize that Nintendo nearly universally designs consoles to be profitable from the start on a unit-by-unit basis, and has never pushed hardware specs to the limit. This has worked fairly well for them, and the proof is in the profits and respect from longtime gamers. They have some problems though, and that is perception amongst the newer generation of gamers that look at them as childish compared to Xbox and Playstation. There is a serious number of people who dismiss Nintendo as a children’s-only company.

While I agree that Nintendo has a very family-oriented focus, I don’t really see this as a really true criticism. While there may always be something ‘cooler’ than playing Nintendo titles, things like Halo, Call of Duty, etc, tend to come and go over the years, with older titles becoming very stale and not much worth replaying, even ancient Nintendo first-party titles are ludicrously fun with tons of depth. Fire up Super Mario Bros. 3 for a great example. The NES was about as powerful as a pocket calculator, and the CPU wasn’t even 5(!!) MHz, but that game has insane amounts of depth, deft playcontrol, and sublime level and character design. By and large, this has remained true through the years, with some lesser outings along the way, but the overall quality of 1st-party Nintendo titles is VERY high.
Getting back to the hardware for a moment, there is plenty of power on tap to make for some great games. Theoretically cross-platform titles from 360/PS3 should look and play great, but there are some problems with expecting those. For one, the kind of gamers looking for those titles aren’t usually looking for those titles ON a Nintendo console these days. Secondly, it’s a bit late in the current-gen battle to expect many great releases with the devs shifting almost exclusively towards new releases on PS4/Xbox One. Thirdly, with the new PS4/XB1 using X86 and AMD GCN technology along with 8GB of memory, cross-platforming against those guys will mean HUGE amounts of developer work and expense, and it’s just unlikely to expect that moving forward.

In retrospect, I would have preferred somewhat if Nintendo made the ‘tablet’ an option (or simply used 3DS instead), and put those resources into making the CPU/GPU/Memory a little more stout. I guess it’s not a huge deal in the end considering that the existing power will be more than enough to have some great Mario/Zelda/Smash/etc on there, but it’s a thought, and a crucial key in what to NOT expect. Don’t expect many big next-gen titles to show up from PS4/XBox One. That’s okay, they won’t have Mario/Zelda and company 😉

Price

With prices varying from $299 to $349 commonly for the current sets, I have a hard time recommending them as an investment right this minute when the current small library is concerned. I expect a price drop, and perhaps some great new bundles this fall however. Perhaps something like a $229 16GB SKU, along with a drop to $269 or so for the 32GB. This is purely a guess, but prices around there along with a bundled game or two, and of course, more GAMES in the library, will make this pretty attractive to us long-time fans of the Nintendo franchise titles.

The Games

Currently we have a side scrolling Mario which is pretty fun, Zombie U, Monster Hunter 3, and a handful of others, but things are about to get a lot better :

Super Mario 3d World

Super Luigi U

Zelda Windwalker HD Remake

Mario Kart 8

Super Smash Bros

Brand new Zelda

Pikmin 3

Donkey Kong Country

Rayman Legends

Earthbound

Scribblenauts DC Comics

So, a pretty cool lineup of stuff. If they can keep their price point competitive, and keep their legacy as always having fun titles for all ages, it can be a vibrant and fun platform for years to come. The Wii sold a ton of consoles due to the initial hype, but I think a lot of the buyers simply used the Wii Fit or a handful of games and never went further. WiiU doesn’t have to set sales records to be a profitable platform and a fun place to go for titles that you can’t find anywhere else. If you already have a 360 or PS3, and don’t yet have a Wii or WiiU, it might be worth picking one of these up instead for a lot less than a PS4/XB1, and you can enjoy a great number of fantastic Wii and WiiU titles while waiting for some of the dust to settle on those new consoles. If there’s anything I’ve learned over the years on consoles, it’s that waiting for the platforms to mature and for more games to show up along with revisions and price drops, it’s always rewarding. Comments and feedback always appreciated!

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  1. June 23, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    Great read on the Wii U. One thing Nintendo needs to do is a price cut of sorts, hopefully before the Holidays. I think one of the main things that hurt them selling wise were the delays, especially in games such as Rayman and Pikmin 3.

    I used to own a Wii U and did have fun with it. It’s a decent system, it just needs a more storage from the start, since AAA titles can be upto and over 20GB. Streaming through the Wii U was probably the best streaming experience I’ve had between that, ps3 and 360.

    They also have a good thing going with the off tv play on the Gamepad, though I do feel the Gamepad is one thing that is hampering the third-party developers from making games for the system. I think the internal storage is also putting the damper on DLC for games that are on the system.

    Ubisoft is calling the system now an abandoned system and I don’t think Nintendo is that far gone yet, though something needs to be done to sway the third-party devs. In the meantime, the Big N does have some nice first party titles coming out which when released should help drive new adopters to the system. I also think a lot are missing the point with Nintendo. Why did we play their systems anyways? One word….FUN.

  2. princemoonrise
    June 24, 2013 at 5:17 am

    More great food for thought, Thor! Of course I’d like to add some of my thoughts here. I agree with you that the Wii U isn’t quite worth the price investment just yet, and people who have had their eyes on it know that a price drop is practically inevitable – especially in light of sales data revealing that the Wii U has been seen being outsold by the *original Wii* in recent months.

    The Wii U’s technical capability and launch library weren’t exactly appealing, and this hasn’t changed much since its release. There was actually a game I was really excited for that I was fully prepared to buy the system for when it was announced: Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper, which was an “enhanced” version of a game that had already been out a year for Xbox 360 and PS3. I’m a big fan of the series and considering the Wii U’s supposedly slightly better specs and some new features via the gamepad screen, my body was ready. Unfortunately, the sad truth soon came to reveal, that due to system overhead and other technical factors, they game is actually FAR inferior to its last-gen counterparts and runs at an agonizingly embarrassing 20 frames per second and LESS enemies on screen. Unacceptable. When confronted by fans about this, the developer vocally condemned the abilities of the Wii U and that it was not capable of performing as well as the other platforms – and that they had no intention of having made a bad port. It seems that it takes much more effort than originally thought to make a Wii U game perform as well as even a LAST gen game. Fortunately, it seems that ground-up developments such as Bayonetta 2 are being praised for high frame rates, so hopefully we will see less bad ports, and more games that show what the Wii U can do in its best light moving forward.

    Lastly, something you mentioned about the NES lacking power but being superior in playability reminded me of something on my mind lately. What a lot of people forget is that these cartridge-based game systems of the 80’s and 90’s could do some things that today’s disc based systems cannot. Hardware based enhancements. First gen Famicom and NES games were pretty lackluster, but it is pretty obvious that something happened as the hardware aged. Graphics, sound and memory actually got better – and this is not just due to talent on the software end. Chips that enhanced graphics and sound such as the MMC3 and VRC series were implemented on the cartridge itself – unseen to the common consumer – but the results were more ROM memory and higher quality games. Other examples could be seen on other platforms such as the Super FX/DSP1/SA-1/etc and SVP chips on the Super NES and Genesis, and the Arcade Card Pro on the PC Engine/TurboGrafx. These chips provided everything from onboard CPU functions and enhanced sound, to graphics decompression and massive RAM buffers. The PC Engine/TG16 actually had the most insane hardware upgrade path ever seen on a console and through hardware upgrades – made sure everyone from the first iteration of the system could play everything up until the most advanced games released when the system ended its run 10 years later (one reason why its my favorite system of all time). There hasn’t been a hardware-upgradable system – either through external enhancement or through chips-on-game, in a very long time. This is an inherent side effect of console manufacturers struggling to cut costs, and a weakness that disc-based game platforms are forced to struggle with. So despite the lower specs of a stock NES than other hardware around it, its potential was augmented by the potential for expansion, and motivations of game makers to make the best stuff possible… by any means necessary! I miss those days, and wished console gaming would allow that kind of expansion and platform refreshment once again.

  3. princemoonrise
    June 24, 2013 at 7:16 am

    For further consumption, one of the articles mentioning the Wii U Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper producer complaining about the lack of CPU power to explain why its inferior to past gen platforms:
    http://www.tomshardware.com/news/Wii-U-CPU-Radeon-7-Akihiro-Suzuki-Dynasty-Warriors,17807.html

    And a video of interest, someone showing a video of dissected SNES cartridges containing the many wonderful special chips contained in many of the cartridges, with verbal explainations:

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