With the end of the Nintendo Wii U fast approaching thanks to the Switch I felt it deserved a look back. Back in 2012 Nintendo released the Wii U to much anticipation among those gamers who knew what exactly they were getting. Now to be fair one can’t talk about the Wii U and not mentioned how much Nintendo messed up the reveal, marketing, name and in some circles hardware. Price too was high at launch but quickly saw cuts as they realized there was an up hill battle against MS and Sony ( and the pending announcements of the PS4 and Xbone).
Now I was one of those brave souls who reserved the Deluxe edition up front and waited patiently for its release and picked up Mario and Zombi U day one, plus the included NintendoLand. After picking up the system my friends and I hunkered down and played some party games like NintendoLand and Mario and enjoyed what was there. And of course I played some stuff myself like Zombi U which I did not enjoy at all. I think the forced use of the gamepad for what was a zombie/survival game was poorly executed.
Problems for me began to crop up quickly there after as the releases of new games were slow and far between which resulted in the system sitting idle most of the time. And when I say idle I mean months of no use… A new game like Lego City Undercover may come out and I would be excited play it for a few days and then the system would revert to no use.
It would take games like Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros to get me to bring out the system to play at gatherings with friends as there are fewer couch coop/competitive games on the PS4 and Xbone then there used to be. We would play these new Nintendo games to death and love every second of it them since it was the Nintendo we knew and loved as we grew up but something was missing.
That something was the steady stream of new releases from 1st and 3rd party companies as the hardware was said to be very difficult to program for. I am sure some of that had to do with the Gamepad and the almost necessary second screen interactions that were needed. The other part was most likely to do with the lack of sufficient internal performance from the hardware as it seems it was based on the Wii CPU/GPU just with increased performance. Which is most likely the reason we are able to have backwards compatibility with Wii games.
Now over the life of the system I have bought basically only Nintendo published games with the exception of 2 titles. And that grand total amounts to 20 games…. Some of those games were purchased just to add to the collection as Nintendo likes to take things out of production, like Xenoblade Chronicles X….. Or maybe Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE.
Now of the games that I picked up and played during the life of the Wii U I found them to great fun. These games are the aforementioned NintendoLand, Smash and Mario Kart 8. On top of those games I did get the numerous Mario games and enjoyed them all to some degree. I know Mario Maker was a new experience, but I would have liked to see a new take on Mario and not new entries in existing games. I also enjoyed Captain Toad and Hyrule Warriors.
The one thing to be said of the 1st party games is that Nintendo knows how to utilize the hardware to the make and produce unique experiences and rival the other systems.
I wanted to like the Wii U, I really did. As Nintendo moved on from the motion control craze that was the Wii there was hope, but the lack of regular must have games and publisher support doomed it. I still pick up the Gamepad every now and then to play something like the latest Paper Mario game but then the Gamepad goes back in the cradle and the battery dies after a few days of no use. Will I look back on the system fondly? Yes. I think that I will look back on it more favorably then the Wii as there are a number of RPG’s that I can play on it, plus the whole backward compatibility helps. I still have a few games that I will pick up before the release of the Switch just to pick up some games that will disappear soon, like Pokken Tournament, Star Fox Zero and The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild (yes I will get the Switch version).
Also I can’t mention the Wii U without talking about the Amiibo. Pricing and availability aside, I approve. Still get new ones as I see them with the collection slowly growing.
But in less then a month we will have the Nintendo Switch. I am hoping this is a return to form for Nintendo and we see some new franchises as well as a return of some old ones. Specifically I am hoping to see a new Metroid and F-Zero game. And a Switch version of Pokemon would be great. Here’s hoping.