A Writer’s Review of Nintendo’s Wii U

This weekend in LA, Nintendo hosted an exclusive WiiU event.  I was fortunate to receive an invitation through Facebook.  Although my time with the console was brief, a new perspective on the console is never a bad thing.

Nintendo dished ninety minutes onto a crowded studio to cram as much pre-launch game time in as possible.  There were two games that I absolutely had to play so I could rub it in my friends’ faces following the event – ZombiU from Ubisoft, and the generation-skipping sequel, Pikmin 3.  So how did they hold up?

My +1 and I poked our heads into the ZombiU kiosk, and quickly stepped in line.  After stepping up to bat, we soon were at odds in an intense game of undead vs. survivor point capture.  Her task was using the WiiU Tablet to spawn various ranks of zombies to capture the points and prevent me from claiming them as my own with me on the Wii U Pro Controller.  Pros for the game go towards non-stop action. As a survivor, I was always moving from one point to another, and even with several decades of gaming under my belt, I was still on edge, always watching over my shoulder.  It was a fair fight the entire way through, and I ended up letting her win.  I never felt that the game was unbalanced, even with the hoardes of shuffling brain bandits within the map.

Conversely, I feel like the game could have moved faster.  I’m so used to the quick movement of Call of Duty and other fast-paced FPS games.  Even though there was something always happening, turning and running still felt sluggish.  The weapon variety was also lacking.  I was given a generic handgun, shotgun, and crossbow.  I’d love to see more variety in arms, and hopefully we will on the game’s debut. A sticker did warn us that it was still in development…

I’ve been a Pikmin fan since 2001.  In one sitting, I completed the first game to 100% on a lazy Saturday several years ago, so naturally, I couldn’t wait to jam with Olimar once again.

In the demo that I played, the Captain was teamed up with his trusty army of Red Pikmin, along with a squad of the brand new Rock Pikmin.  Together, we had to shatter the armor of a giant centipede creature and ruin his fleshy innards.  This was done with the aid of the Wii Remote pointing and commanding where to guide and throw my ranks to defeat our many-legged foe.

The game felt like Pikmin.  Traditional fans will feel right at home while enjoying enough changes for a fresh new feel.  I’m excited to see where the story is going, and what strategies will be employed in exploring the unnamed planet once again.

The Verdict

While the games I played were fun, I left feeling empty, and it was for one reason.  If you notice, I never got to play using the WiiU Tablet as my primary controller.  My friend did during ZombiU, but I was disappointed that Pikmin 3, one of Nintendo’s most anticipated games, never got to use it beyond a map display.  And Nintendo, one of your biggest franchises deserves to be more than a graphically enhanced Wii title, especially if it’s going to be one of the early titles for your console.

If Nintendo really wants to break away from the very beginning, they should have hammered away at the new game pad, and ensured that every game showed off what it was really capable of.  Instead, they’ve made it more of an option for their titles.  I didn’t want to use the Wii Remote for the game I was most excited for.  Guiding my masses of Pikmin would have been amazing using the touch screen. Instead, I was using a six-year-old device that, at home, I haven’t touched in quite some time.

From what I witnessed, most of the games that made better use of the Tablet’s functions were using tactics that I’ve already seen on mobile devices in the past.  I wasn’t ever really blown away by anything that was shown.

In short, I won’t be picking up the WiiU for at least quite some time, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth your two-cents.  Definitely give it a try before rushing out and picking one up this holiday.