Nintendo Wii U: 5 reasons I can’t recommend it for Xmas
I’m a massive Nintendo fan so it’s rather hard saying this—I can’t recommend Wii U to (most of) you. There is no doubt that Wii U’s GamePad controller has inspired some innovative gameplay—take Zombie U for example—it’s a launch title that shows the developer just ‘got it’. But Wii U has some shortcomings that are just typical of Nintendo.
So unless you’re a devoted Nintendo fan, you write about games or you’re loaded; here’s why you shouldn’t buy a Wii U this Xmas:
1. Launch Titles
I keep reading that Nintendo has a solid offering of launch titles, but perhaps this is just the PR dot points showing through. Anyway, it has a handful of A-list titles; Black Ops 2, Assassin’s Creed III, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Batman: Arkham City, Mass Effect 3 and FIFA 13. Obviously Nintendo worked to bring some credibility to Wii U by having these games ready for launch, but when you look at the Australian schedule for Christmas, it doesn’t look great. 2013 had better be a really good year; otherwise Wii U is going to struggle.
2. Web Browser
Browsing is actually a nice experience. You can use both screens, or if your significant other is watching a boring French film on TV, you can continue to surf solo on the GamePad. Use the joysticks to scroll and zoom smoothly. Use the triggers to effortlessly go back and forward in history and switch between up to 6 tabs. This past week I’ve been using Wii U to check my Gmail, do my banking and Google search. But there’s no Flash or HTML 5 video support. YouTube videos play okay, but none of the media will play on other sites that I use. PORN DOESN’T PLAY! Maybe Nintendo is doing a ‘Steve Jobs’ by protecting the eStore from Flash games. Maybe Nintendo just thinks Flash sucks (agreed), but the bottom line here is that a pleasant web browsing experience is rather hampered by the lack of video and audio support.
Making friends is (still) hard to do. Thankfully Nintendo dispensed with the 16-digit Friend Code for Wii U (though you can convert them), instead allowing users to create proper usernames. But hooking up with people you meet is still tiresome. Sure, pedophiles are always are problem, but active parenting will always protect kids. From the home screen where all the Miis congregate under games they’re playing, checking out other players and their posts requires Miiverse, a standalone application, to open. You should be able to access this info and add friends a whole lot more easily than this. Actually, if it wasn’t for the fact that it takes 17 seconds to load up a user’s profile, it wouldn’t matter… which leads on to;
4. Loading Times
Everything you do; Wii U is constantly loading shit. I made three attempts to get into the Nintendo eShop and they averaged out to 41 seconds.* Attention Nintendo: 41 seconds is a lifetime in Internet land… you’re lucky your customer base is somewhat locked in. The web browser loaded in 7 seconds—still a fair while (it should be instant), but it’s acceptable enough. It takes a little over 20 seconds to close a game and get back to the WiiMenu (significantly slower than PS3). Overall, the times aren’t that much better than the original Wii and that thing was gutless.
I’m sure it’s obvious to them, but Nintendo needs to smarten up the operating system in order for Wii U to compete with the next generations of Playstation and Xbox.
Again, this is a next-gen system and it’s supposed to be better. But from the look of Black Ops 2 and Assassin’s Creed III, I can’t see any notable improvement over the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions that I have of each. I’m not surprised, but it is a little disappointing. Hopefully developers can squeeze more out of Wii U later in its life.
From these five points, you’d think I hate Wii U. Not at all, I really like it and I know it’ll get better with some updates to the OS and once a bigger range of games are released here. I have to commend Nintendo for being brave with a new controller—they never take the easy route and their products always make for interesting gameplay. If you’re looking for that charming Nintendo experience, Wii U is as good as it has ever been. Sadly, I can’t recommend it to anyone looking for a good value Christmas present in 2012. Instead, buy a slimline Xbox 360 or PS3 and you’ll have similar graphics with massive games catalogues and myriad online multiplayer options. Or buy a 16GB iPad Mini and have change left over for an iTunes card.
Oh, if you haven't seen it, here's my favourite third party game and how it utilises the GamePad. Scares the hell outta mii:
*For what it’s worth: Internode ADSL2+ Speedtest: 12Mbit up/1.1Mbit down/24ms