With all the talk of next-generation consoles, those hunting a new game system may forget about the Wii U. Perhaps because it was released a full year before the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, or perhaps because Nintendo elected not to enter into the competition for best graphics with Sony and Microsoft, the Wii U has largely flown under the gamer radar. However, Nintendo’s latest offering may be the perfect fit for families looking for a game system that is easy to use, multiplayer-friendly, and inexpensive.
Here’s a brief primer to the Wii U, as well as a few of its pros and cons, and some of the essential games any Wii U owner should own.
Meet the Wii U
The Wii U was released by Nintendo in November of 2012 as their entry into the 8th generation of game systems and their first submission in the high definition gaming market. The device comes with 2GB of RAM, half of which is dedicated to the operating system of the device. An immediately evident feature of the Wii U is its two parts: a console with the accompanying Gamepad controller. The console itself closely resembles the Wii console, but with the Gamepad, Nintendo enters unchartered territory.
- The Gamepad: Maximum utility is the idea behind the Wii U Gamepad. Up to two Gamepad controllers can be connected to the Wii U simultaneously, but these differ from traditional controllers in that they each have 6.2 inch HD touch screens built in. This allows expanded control during console gaming but the user can also take unfinished games with them when they untether from the primary gaming unit.
- Backward Compatibility: Another great perk of the Wii U is that it supports standard 7th generation Wii Controllers. This is especially helpful, say, if you’re going to have some college buddies over to play Super Smash Brothers. They can bring their Wii Remotes and plug and play, with no hassle. Wii games are also compatible with Wii U, which saves you from selling or shelving all your kids’ Wii games – they still work.
Nintendo Wii U Pros:
- Finally HD: The Wii U offers gameplay for up to five people on select games.
- Two Screens: The HD touch screen on the Wii U Gamepad opens up many gaming possibilities that were unavailable before. For example: while two gamers see the same image on the TV screen, they could both see different images on their controller screens, like game maps, inventories, or status alerts best kept hidden from opponents.
- Backward Compatibility: Yes, this is repeated information but it’s very important. Many gamers remember the eye-popping price tag for PlayStation 3 systems when they debuted. The system cost nearly a thousand dollars as Sony attempted to accommodate gamers’ demands for backward compatibility – the ability to play PS2 games. As a result, the first wave of PlayStation 3s essentially had PlayStation 2s built in, and this made them very pricey. Ergo, it’s no small accomplishment that Nintendo has managed to keep the Wii U backward compatible and keep its price tag under $400.
Nintendo Wii U Cons:
- Gamepad Weaknesses: Many who see the Wii U Gamepad for the first time will think, “Oh, so it’s a controller and a handheld game system.” They’re totally right, here, but also misguided. You see, the Gamepad does have multiple uses, but several factors limit its ability to be extremely successful as a stand-alone device. The first of these is battery life – only three hours or so. This may be plenty of time if you’re finishing up a saved game while on the subway, but it’s not nearly enough to unplug the Gamepad for the weekend.
- Graphics: The Wii U’s graphics are a definite step-up from the Wii, but they’re only now on par with the outdated PS3 and Xbox 360.
- Two Screen Awkwardness: Game developers seem to struggle with how to take advantage of having two screens for one game.
- Load Times: Many gamers assume that things like graphics and in-game performance have been sacrificed in the Wii U in lieu of a faster, quicker-loading system, but this isn’t always the case.
Must Have Games
- Rayman Legends: This is 2D adventure gaming (think Mario on steroids) at its very best. It is addictive, challenging, rewarding, and beautiful. The Rayman developers take full advantage of the Gamepad.
- The Legend of Zelda – The Wind Waker: The latest incarnation of Zelda pays tribute to the storied series while breaking new ground, answering the question many have asked: “I wonder how awesome Zelda could be in HD.”
- Need for Speed – Most Wanted: An instant classic, like Zelda, NFS takes full advantage of the Gamepad, making for one of the most intuitive, seamless gaming experiences available.
Worth a Look
Just because many gamers overlook the Wii U doesn’t mean that you should. After all, there’s a reason Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo all put out vastly different products: different strokes for different folks. If your family is searching for a new game system, consider how the Wii U’s ease of use, family friendly game lineup, and backward compatibility set it apart.
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