Wii U: The Future of Gaming! Yesterday!

Do I have your attention now? Of course I do. And that is exactly what Nintendo is hoping for with the upcoming launch of their new system, the Wii U.

I’ve been playing video games since I was 6 years old. I am currently 32. That’s 26 years of gaming. I’ve played and personally owned an Intellivision, Nintendo, Sega Master System, Gameboy, TurboGrafx-16, Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Sega CD, Gameboy Color, Playstation, Sega Saturn, Nintendo 64, Sega Dreamcast, Nintendo Gamecube, Gameboy Advance, Playstation 2, XBOX, Nintendo DS, PSP, Xbox 360, Wii and Playstation 3…not to mention the hundreds, if not thousands of games that have accompanied said systems. Now, that’s a lot of fucking gaming, so, I’d like to think I’m well versed in the medium.

Buzzwords. From “Extreme” to “HD” they’ve been a staple in advertising culture since it’s very inception. It’s a way of selling a product or service without really doing anything other than utilizing language that might be resonating in pop culture at the time. Now, living in the digital age as we currently do, buzzwords are absolutely everywhere in marketing these days, and Nintendo knows this. They are clever and they want your money. As someone who makes his living in advertising, I am also familiar with marketing strategies and am hip to these shenanigans.

If you talk to most hardcore gamers, Nintendo has been in a downward spiral ever since the Nintendo 64 failed to be the powerhouse it promised to be. Sure, there were some absolutely fantastic titles that were released for it, but they were few and far between. For every Mario 64, there were at least three Superman 64’s right around the corner waiting to soil your gaming library.


*shudder

The downward spiral continued with the Nintendo Gamecube, a system that for all it’s strengths, (including the little known fact Gamecube was an HD graphics system more powerful than XBOX or Playstation 2) failed to capture the necessary 3rd party support needed to maintain a noteworthy library of games. In addition, Nintendo’s lack of support for online integration as XBOX Live was on the rise, also helped seal the Gamecube’s fate. Regardless of it’s commercial failure, the Gamecube has some of my absolute favorite titles of all time on it and I am pleased to still own one.

Before moving onto the disaster that is the Wii, I would like to point out that Nintendo has always maintained an extremely high level of quality in the handheld department, from the Gameboy to the DS, there are enough good titles for any gamer to find something they like. Sure, the Virtual Boy was a giant red monstrosity of a disaster, but it was swept under the rug as quickly as it came out and was ultimately forgotten.  The current 3DS handheld is also still suspect; it’s currently on its second redesign, and while most dislike the 3D effect it produces, it can be turned off. It’s had a shaky start, but is still a relatively young system and could very well succeed in the long run. I personally don’t own one myself, but once the equal parts cartography/dungeons and dragons game Etrian Odyssey IV comes out, that will likely change.

Now…after a steady decline in quality games, lack of online connectivity and the rise of Sony and Microsoft’s consoles, here’s where things start getting gimmicky with Nintendo…and along comes the Wii.

The fucking Wii…I hate this thing.

The Wii is Nintendo’s current gen gaming console (until the Wii U launches on November 18th) and not only does it have one of the absolute worst libraries of games I have ever seen in a console, it also took a step backwards as far as graphical capabilities went. Stepping down from the HD capabilities of it’s powerful predecessor the Gamecube, the Wii’s lo-res visuals are inexcusable. Nintendo boasted instead that the potential of the Wii lay with the systems innovative, new wireless nunchuk style control scheme and it’s ability to transport you into the game with a level of interactivity never before seen in gaming. Did it? Kinda…some games it works well, others…not so much. Nintendo also attempted to bring online connectivity to the Wii by adding an online store of classic Nintendo, Sega and Super Nintendo games that you could purchase through the console and download directly to the storage device. A really great idea actually. But, one that they failed to maintain and soon the list of new games being added to the Wii store slowed and eventually stopped.  A missed opportunity given the scope of Nintendo’s library of great games throughout the years. My time spent with the Wii was brief, (about 6 months before trading it in) as I figured that if waiting 3 years after a systems launch to purchase it didn’t yield many noteworthy games, hanging onto it wouldn’t change things.

Insert gimmicks 2.0

The Wii U launches on November 18th for the retail price of $299 for the 8gb model and $349 for the 32gb version. It features full 1080p HD visuals and graphics on par with the current generation Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 systems. But…it’s a NEXT gen console right? Why does it have the same visuals as the current gen when they are getting ready to launch new systems within the next year? Don’t worry about that, this has a touch screen controller! Not only that, it also has a library of 23 games at launch, around a quarter of which you can, and probably already have played on your Playstation 3 or Xbox 360…but…it has a touch screen controller!!! Come on! You know you want to buy Batman: Arkham City again to play it with this innovative new controller! Not only do you want to, you will. What about original titles? Does a new Mario game work for you? How about a new New Super Marios Bros? But in HD!!! It’s not all that different than the ones for DS and Wii, but hey, HD!!!

It would probably seem after all of this, that I hate Nintendo, or gaming in general for that matter; but it’s quite the opposite really…the Super Nintendo is by far still my favorite gaming console. Ever. And it’s not gaming I hate, it’s the lack of creative IP’s and the fact that one of my favorite entertainment companies is resorting to gimmicks rather than what they should (and used to) be doing, making quality games. Even as mediocre a system the Nintendo 64 was, it launched with Super Mario 64 which completely revolutionized and reinvented 3D platform gaming. The Gamecube saw Samus Aran return to take on Metroid’s in first person perspective, but remained faithful to Super Metroid’s formula as an adventure game where exploration and atmosphere took the spotlight. The Wii…well, it had a nunchuk for a controller; and now the Wii U, well it has a touch screen controller…and games you can already play on a system you probably already own.

It just feels like after all these years, Nintendo has finally used up all their extra lives.

Article by: Jon Caron
Sock Talk Co-Host/Jerk

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8 thoughts on “Wii U: The Future of Gaming! Yesterday!

  1. You are aware that they are launching with those 3rd party titles because 3rd party developers aren’t going to design completely new games for a new system not knowing what success it will have. Also you are wrong on the tech. It is absolute fact that the Wii U surpasses the PS3 and Xbox360. So the new games for the Wii U are the first new generation games by relation. The Wii U is capable of running CryEngine 3 which next to Unreal Engine 4 are the most powerful in the industry at this current time.

    1. From what I understand, the difference in power is marginal at best, I recall reading that the added system ram will be of great significance when it comes to handling how many elements are onscreen at once though. As for the Cryengine/Unreal 4 issue, I’m looking forward to seeing how that plays out. Both look to be great engines and I loved the tech demo that showed Unreal 4’s power in action. One of the things I find most interesting/shitty on Nintendo’s part is that (according to an article I read in GI) is that the Wii U won’t even be utilizing the touchscreen capabilities of its controller in any of the launc games…which makes the gimmicky aspect of it seem all the more relevant.

      1. Well I don’t see how that could be remotely accurate with ZombiU and New Super Mario U. and Assassin’s 3 have clearly shown gameplay that utilizes the gamepad as both primary and secondary screens. As far as tech of course it’s a bit dated considering the amount of time it even takes to develop prototypes then test then consumer test etc. so of course it won’t be the latest cutting edge tech and neither will Sony’s Microsoft’s by the time they finish their next gen consoles. From what I know that has been confirmed is that every game can run at full 1080p at 60fps which at this point in tech is the limit for what consoles are capable of.

  2. Weird…maybe they went to print before all the facts were in, either way, it reminds me of having a DS in your hands while playing a game on your tv, I don’t see that as innovative, more distracting than anything else…instead of pushing a button on your gamepad through the game, you’re pushing a button on the screen of the gamepad…to make something happen on the tv…screen…wait…what? Ugh. GIMMICK. Hell, the DS and 3DS hardly make use of the touch screen in a way that could be considered innovative and that’s all self contained and makes more sense as a piece of tech. Time will ultimately tell, but as a friend of mine just suggested, “Perhaps Nintendo is better off going the way of Sega, concentrating on software and abandoning the hardware altogether.” I couldn’t agree more.

    1. I could never agree with that last statement because I find it blasphemous to even consider a Nintendo title going on a Sony or MS console. The gamepad plays just like a controller it just has an extra screen. I still believe it opens up possibilities to streamline gameplay. Again it is nifty to be able switch from your tv to the gamepad to continue your session in a handheld manner and since the screen is larger there is more detail to say. Like you said though it’s a wait and see type deal but it’s unfair to not be open minded to the possibilities of what the gamepad offers. Besides why continue gaming with you typical run of the mill controller generation after generation? I say let Nintendo continue to take the risks Sony and Microsoft won’t.

  3. you make an interesting point, on the other hand though, aside from opening a door or sniping with the screen on your controller, what makes ZombiU so different a shooter than say Left 4 Dead, or Dead Rising, or Dead Island…I just feel like its a gimmick trying to lure you into buying what is essentially the same exact experience and game youve played before, but with a touch screen controller instead of a regular one…to me thats just not enough to warrant a new system, especially when i can play some of those games on a system i already own. i dont feel like my argument is strictly biased towards nintendo alone either…the next gen has an interesting battle ahead of it, although i feel like sony and microsoft might be able to float by based on hardware alone…like we were talking about before, that Unreal 4 engine…man…thats impressive stuff.

    1. I don’t think you are being biased you have your own justified concerns and that is fine. I just can’t see how you could chalk it up, as a whole, to being a gimmick. Like I said gaming needs to evolve and not just what’s on the screen. Also a good point you mentioned is the ports for it’s release. I think I already mentioned this, but just think from a developers stand point. Are you going to invest time and time into creating a totally new IP for a debuting system with no guarantee of it’s success or not? The smart thing for both Nintendo and the 3rd party developers was to port over just to get an initial feel for how the consumers will embrace the new hardware and how supportive they will be to the 3rd party titles. Not too mention there are die-hard Nintendo fans that still have wanted the chance to play games like Assassin’s Creed or Darksiders etc. but never got it simply because those type of games just never made it to Nintendo consoles.

      1. I hear what you’re saying, and who knows? This might just be the balance Nintendo needs. Solid 3rd party support has been sorely missed for almost 20 years now. I still think that the touch screen controller is extremely gimmicky and lacks any sort of real innovation…hell the DS has been doing it for almost a decade now and I haven’t seen much stem from that in any way noteworthy. But, ultimately it’s the GAMES that will prove what this system is capable of. I for one would LOVE nothing more than to want to own a Nintendo system again, I just won’t be making the mistake of getting this one on the first day. It’s going to take some solid games and not just empty promises.

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