By now most gamers have seen dozens of articles about Nintendo dropping the ball on it’s latest console. This in turn has those on the business end of things calling for everything from shelving the system, and porting projects to competitors, to leaving the arena, and doing micro-transaction heavy minigames for smartphones. There is no doubt the company needs to do something. But a lot of times the media will go all out to get sensationalist headlines, interviewing anyone with a “Sky is falling” narrative.
Of course I’m not a corporate level business owner either. I just buy the systems, games, and accessories that I hope I will like, and then talk about my experiences here. While I think the Wii U is definitely in dire need of a flux of quality games, and that Nintendo certainly needs to quickly repair relationships with the major western publishers. One thing Microsoft, and Sony did (other than going with mildly altered PC components that dwarf the visual effects Wii U can put out) is involve the majors with the designs. I’m sure that someone more knowledgeable about the company will tell us how possible that would be if, and when another system comes out. But we’ll have to see.
Despite all of this gloom in the news over the past couple of days though, I’ve been enjoying my Wii U, and there are a number of things I think it does right, that I hope will carry over to whatever they decide to do next. In my particular case, I had a sizable number of good Wii games. Many of which, oddly enough were third party games. The Wii U transfer utility, and Wii backward compatibility are indeed great options. There are plenty of Wii’s in the wild, and should you eventually nab a Wii U at some point be it new, used, or (if things get insanely dire) on closeout, you can run that old backlog you might not have completed. The Wii 1 Virtual Console games also no longer run in “Stretch-o-vision” so they’ll display properly in 4:3 ratio on an HDTV.
The most surprising thing to me with this system is how much I like the social features. Nintendo may be behind when it comes to hosting multiplayer servers that have lower latency, and they probably should have implemented some sort of achievement system as a lot of folks have fallen in love with them on Live, PSN, and Steam. But MiiVerse truly is a really cool feature. At face value one might say, “Eh. You can post on a message board.” But it really does go beyond that. Every game pretty much has a community. Each of these is a little less message board, and a little more like Twitter. Players can not only talk about games, movies, TV shows (It also ties into the Nintendo TVii services, and other services on the platform as well as games) but can post screenshots, share drawings, and more. Much like Facebook has a “Like” button on each post, Miiverse has a “Yeah” button. So you could hop on one day, and find you’ve gotten dozens of “Yeah” clicks, and comments leading into possible discussions. You can also FINALLY friend people, or follow people you become friends with. And they had the foresight to put a parental lock option if you have kids using it, and don’t want them friending strangers for obvious reasons.
The Miiverse feature also ties into many games. So not only can you pause the game with the home button, and post a screenshot, and a message, you can also find them from other people while you’re gaming. Case in point, playing the second level of New Super Mario Bros. U I was already seeing balloon icons with players crying about how hard it was. To which I had to wonder what they would do if they ever made it to Bowser.
The system does have a number of games worth playing now too. That is why most of us want a console after all. While it’s true the third party situation could, and should have been much better, there are a number of releases worth getting. I’m currently playing through Wonderful 101, The Armored Edition of Arkham City, and I found a great deal on Tekken Tag Tournament 2. I have a few friends with Wii U’s who have loved the ports of Deus Ex Human Revolution, Need For Speed Most Wanted, and Arkham Origins. Obviously if you are enamored with Nintendo’s franchises you’ll eventually want one, but there are a few games at least for the time being worth picking up while you can.
There are some that are absolutely not worth it either. For example Mass Effect 3 while a good game was one of the most boneheaded things I’ve seen Electronic Arts do. It should have been obvious to anyone that owners weren’t going to buy part three of a trilogy at full price, when they were releasing the entire trilogy for the old systems, and computers for less. One segment the system seems to be doing ok in is getting independent games on it’s e-shop Giana Sisters, Trine 2, Bit Trip 2, Toki Tori 2, are all there with more coming. There are also some noteworthy original games like NES Remix which has a pretty good reception.
Obviously no one knows what the company is going to do next, and the botches in design, marketing, and failed relationships with other potential partners have destined them to a distant third place after losing a lot of money. It’s a shame, because underneath all of the drama is a surprisingly enjoyable system. If you don’t have one it’s completely understandable why, and if you do it’s hard to not feel a little disappointed with the bad news, and message board fanboyism. But there are still a few big things coming for it this year. I’m excited for Smash Brothers, Mario Kart, X, Bayonetta 2, and to see how different Project CARS, and Watch Dogs end up being compared to the other versions.
Whatever happens though I hope folks won’t take it so personally. At the end of the day there will always be video games. No one stays on top forever. Moreover, if things do get dramatically bad for Nintendo or Sony or Microsoft I desperately hope that people will think twice before posting a lot of ill will. It’s one thing to personally disagree with a businesses’ practices, and respond by making a personal decision to not support them with your wallet until they change. It’s quite another to take pleasure in seeing thousands of people become unemployed, and unable to provide for themselves or their families. Some of those people may even agree with one of your points, but due to other circumstances continue to work there.
The company is supposed to talk about their next move in ten days which will no doubt bring about even more speculation, and internet discussion. Sometimes, as fans we get drawn more into that sort of thing than we do in the actual reason we’re here. To play games. So yes keep a pulse as to what is happening. But also in spite of whatever happens play your games, and enjoy them.