The Rise of the Wii U?
Nintendo has been around for awhile. They’ve weathered many storms and come out, for the most part, better for it. Not everyone was on board with the Wii, thinking motion controls were going to flop big time, but here we are in 2014 with the Wii selling near 100 million units, which is more than both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. And let’s not forget the 3DS’ rocky launch. It was plagued by poor sales and lack of software, but fast forward three years after its release and its arguably the best system on the market. I won’t mention the Virtual Boy, but it was a think that Nintendo persevered through, too!
So where does the Wii U stand? The follow-up to the insanely popular Wii features HD graphics, a nifty game pad, motion controls, a better online community and support, as well as a much lower price point than its competitors. But much like the 3DS before it (even worse, in fact), the system has failed to be commercially successful, selling less than 10 million units in 1 1/2 years on the market.
There’s one rule I’ve heard floating around the gaming world that I have to agree with: never count Nintendo out. The Wii U looks dismal now, but maybe this is the year for the Wii U. As an owner of the console myself, I must say that I am indeed having fun with the system. Even better though, I’m looking forward to the future and am actually getting excited to own a Wii U. Nintendo needs to sell this console to gamers, and it’s looking like 2014 could be it.
Last year was definitely the Year of Luigi.
2014 is the Year of the Wii U.
One very big issue the Wii U had when it launched was a lack of quality software. After a depressing first year with only a handful of quality titles (Pikmin 3, New Super Mario Bros. U, Rayman Legends, Nintendo Land, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD), there was little reason to plop down the $350 for a Deluxe edition console. Those games are great and fun, but half a dozen titles hardly justifies owning a new console.
But after that first year Nintendo’s Wii U portfolio has been steadily improving. Super Mario 3D World catapulted the system in terms of must-have games, giving Wii U owners and potential Wii U owners a reason to show off the console to others. A steady stream of eShop content including some excellent indie games made Nintendo’s online presence better felt. Other fun games started to pop up as well, like Wii Fit U, NES Remix, and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. Not to mention the Wii U virtual console started including Game Boy Advance games. The initial releases were wonderful, including classics like Advance Wars and Golden Sun!
Perhaps the most exciting thing about the Wii U is the future. There are a ton of great games slated for release this year! Surprise releases like Bayonetta 2 and Sonic Boom are scheduled to drop this year. Exciting indie games are coming as well, including 1001 Spikes, Shovel Knight, and even the recently released NES Remix 2 and Child of Light. Even further down the road are brand new Legend of Zelda’s, Dragon Quest X, Mighty No. 9, and plenty of other new games from your favorite Nintendo franchises. Perhaps this years E3 conference will shed even more light on the upcoming games for the system.
Let’s not forget the powerhouse that will be Mario Kart 8. The Wii U exclusive is shaping up to be another must-have game for the system, and quite possibly the best in the series. It is getting rave reviews pre-release from many outlets, and comes out later this month. Online play, plenty of new courses and characters, as well as full 1080p HD racing action should be enough to tip some gamers over the edge to buy a console.
Nintendo mascot brawler Super Smash Bros. is scheduled to release its fourth installment on the Wii U this holiday season, with a special 3DS version enticing players earlier in Summer 2014. Newcomers Charizard, Wii Fit Trainer, Animal Crossing Villager, and even Capcom’s own Mega Man are lending their fighting expertise to make this a fan favorite in the series. Not only is the roster up to snuff, the series creator’s are spending countless hours ensuring the game is of the highest quality, both mechanically and visually. If Nintendo can’t sell Wii U’s with a new Smash Bros., then Nintendo likely won’t be selling any Wii U’s in the future.
Having owned and enjoyed the Wii U for over 6 months now I can say this: The Wii U is definitely a multiplayer system. Yes, there are plenty of games to play single player (The Wonderful 101, ZombiU, Wind Waker HD), but I have had the most fun playing games with friends. The aforementioned and truly excellent Super Mario 3D World supports four players simultaneously and is an absolute riot. New Super Mario Bros. U is great as well, and supports up to five players, but isn’t quite as good as 3D World. Showcasing the best the Wii U has to offer in terms of hardware is the pack-in game Nintendo Land. It’s minigames are some of the most fun I have had with any video game, let alone a Nintendo system. Wii Party U is a fun, fast paced minigame romp with some buddies. Rayman Legends is grueling two player challenge, while more lighthearted outings like Skylanders: SWAP Force showcase the system’s range of appeal to both kids and adults. At the moment there are plenty more reasons to play and enjoy the Wii U over the PS4 and Xbox One, multiplayer fun being just one of them.
Another huge factor in favor of the house that Mario built is price. It’s not something that affects all of our decisions but it is a significant factor to seem. The Wii U will currently set you back $300 for the console and Game Pad, and then of course extra cash for more controllers and games. That’s still $100 less than the PS4 and Xbox One. Making the deal even sweeter is Nintendo’s most recent promotion: Purchase a physical or digital copy of the upcoming Mario Kart 8 for Wii U and register it online before July 31st, 2014, and you get a FREE game.
And these aren’t some throw away games either: All four eligible games (New Super Mario Bros. U, Pikmin 3, Wind Waker HD, and Wii Party U) are totally worth your time! If you haven’t bought the system yet then the new Mario Kart 8 bundle is right up your alley. The $329.99 package includes the Wii U Deluxe console, Mario Kart 8, a bonus Mario-themed Wii Remote, and a red racing wheel. Oh, and yes, that copy of Mario Kart 8 qualifies you for one of the above listed free games as well. Taking advantage of this, you’re essentially spending around $330 to get over $450 worth of stuff. That’s a wonderful deal any way you slice it!
If for some reason all of that registering stuff doesn’t sound worth it yet (and I don’t know how a free game doesn’t sound worth it), perhaps the Digital Deluxe Program can entice you more. By linking your Wii U online account to the online eShop marketplace, you can earn free money. Every $5 in credit for every $50 you spend on content through Nintendo’s online Wii U eShop storefront. Thinking of downloading a copy of Mario Kart 8 or Super Smash Bros. later this year? That’s an extra 10% off right there. For me this has been great for downloading eShop exclusive content, like both NES Remix games and other indie titles like Child of Light, Mighty Switch Force, and even some Virtual Console games. This promo currently lasts through December 31st, 2014, so act fast if you want to get the most cash back!
Nintendo is pulling out a lot of stops to try and get you, yes YOU, to buy a Wii U. The software drought is over; there are plenty of great games to play and enjoy immensely on the still-young console. In my mind the potential for the Wii U is astounding. The eShop and Virtual Console services are always expanding and getting better with each passing week. The library of games both out now and coming soon for the console is becoming a Nintendo fanboys dream. If money’s an issue then rest assured that the Wii U will be cheaper than the PS4/Xbox One for (most likely) the entire lifespan of each console. The biggest factor that could (and likely should) limit you on whether or not to pick up a Wii U is your social life. If you have friends willing to play games with and who enjoy video games, then the Wii U is a no brainer. If you’re more of a solo gamer, then sit tight for a bit and wait until something greater catches your eye (although this year is shaping up to be a great one for the console regardless).
For everyone else, we can start counting the days until the new Smash.