The Wii U is officially out in the wild. You can go buy one right now – as long as you are able to find one, that is. Nintendo’s new console went on sale this past Sunday, meaning you can pretty much throw a rock in any direction on the vast Internet and hit extensive coverage of the system. Except here at CraveOnline.
Sure, our own Paul Tamburro published a buyer’s guide for the console – one that’s pretty thorough if I do say so myself – but other than that, we haven’t really reported on the system or its launch games. You might be wondering why that is?
Well, to be frank, we weren’t sent a Wii U by Nintendo for coverage purposes, leaving us to other means to pick one up. Therefore, some are waiting for dear ol’ Santa to come down the chimney and deliver the goods, while others (read: me) are waiting for things to get a bit more stable for Nintendo’s new system before slapping cash down on the counter and screaming, “Take my money!”
Now, I promised myself I would not be a Negative Nancy with this article and just bitch about everything that’s wrong with Nintendo’s next-gen effort – I kind of did that back at E3 and slightly regret it – but there are a few alarming things that raise some red flags and stop me from running out to get the console - although, to be honest, I almost did that very thing on launch day, but was able to resist the hysteria surrounding a new console’s release thanks to being burned in the past (Thanks, PS Vita!).
A lackluster software lineup.
First off, the system’s launch lineup, outside a few exclusive standouts like New Super Mario Bros. U and ZombiU, is kind of lackluster considering I’m already an owner of an Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. I keep thinking to myself, “If only Rayman Legends wasn’t postponed to 2013!” But as it stands, the Wii U’s launch lineup is great for the folks who don’t own a 360 or PS3 and want to jump into the HD era of gaming.
Titles like Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition, Darksiders II, Mass Effect 3 and Assassin’s Creed III are all great launch day options if you haven’t played them already on Microsoft or Sony’s platform. Wii owners transitioning to the Wii U – the people who have sworn allegiance to Nintendo – benefit the most from the system’s launch titles. Everyone else should be feeling a sense of “been there, done that” with the initial Wii U offerings.
Your ID is tied to your console.
Maybe the most troubling aspect of the Wii U, thus far, is something that website Kotaku first reported on shortly after the console launched; Your Nintendo Network ID is, as of right now, forever tethered to the console you created it on, meaning if you buy games or downloadable content digitally on the Wii U – something Nintendo is making a bigger push with thanks to the eShop – and your system dies, kiss that content goodbye. There is no way to get it back, and you can’t even save it to an external hard-drive for safekeeping.
Doesn’t that suck? Digital marketplaces like iTunes, Steam, Xbox Live, the PlayStation Network and even Amazon have been able to offer this feature for years; Giving peace of mind to customers whose consoles/computers/devices die over time – something that happens maybe a little too frequently with current gen technology. Personally, I’ve been through two Xbox 360s and two PlayStation 3s and I shudder to think about buying a Wii U and having it brick down the road, losing all my digital purchases in the process. Talk about kicking a man while they are down.
That's a huge update!
Furthermore, a day-one firmware update that adds online functionality to the Wii U is sending some people up the wall. The file weighs in at roughly 5gigs and can take up to an hour to download and install. It's also mandatory if you want to get the most out of your new console. The problem here is that should your system turn off during the download process – by power outrage or your pesky cat – it is forever dead and you need to send it to Nintendo to be fixed. Nintendo does not have a work-around for this issue at the moment, and that makes me terrified to get the system right now at risk of potentially killing it the moment I hook it up. It just doesn’t instill me with much confidence for Nintendo’s latest effort.
And you know what, that blows, because I really, really want to play around with the system. Like I said earlier, New Super Mario Bros. U looks like a blast and ZombiU is apparently Dark Souls meets zombies, which is something I can totally get behind. Additionally, I’m all of a sudden in love with the idea that should my roommate want to use the television, I can transition my gaming to the Wii U’s GamePad without skipping a beat. Titles also reportedly look fantastic on the system’s new tablet controller, meaning it’s basically next-gen gaming on a handheld. Technophiles should be rising six to midnight at the very thought of that.
It's a wall of question marks.
But there are just too many question marks still with the system. The Wii U marks not only Nintendo’s first foray into high definition gaming, but also the company’s first attempt at true social connectivity through the Internet. They really can’t screw up the HD gaming part - what with an HD Zelda, Metroid, Donkey Kong and every other franchise they own surely on the way – but, thus far, the age of Nintendo being constantly connected is stumbling. The issues with the Nintendo ID system and digital purchases, plus the lack of workaround patching - something Microsoft and Sony’s consoles have been doing with ease for many years - is hard to look past. And that’s why even though I’m this site's Gaming Editor, I still do not yet own a Nintendo Wii U.
Then again, after gorging myself on food over Thanksgiving, I’m going to be feeling pretty down. I’ll probably need a li’l pick-me-up, and the Wii U could be just the ticket. Nothing like spending large chucks of change on something you absolutely don’t need to make yourself feel better. Ammirite?
Erik Norris is the Gaming Editor for CraveOnline. You can follow him on Twitter @Regular_Erik.