After a couple of years of speculation, rumours, teasers and elongated preview trailers the Nintendo Wii U is finally here. Looking like a shiny black box from the future (for everyone with the smarts to choose the premium version over the standard white) and accompanied by a touch screen tablet pad, it’s even better than expected.
That’s not to say there aren’t any negatives, so we’ll get them out of the way before getting back to why it’s so good. The main disappointment is that the Wii U only comes with the tablet pad controller, so multi-player fun can only get started once you’ve shelled out an extra £35-£40 for the Wii Motion Plus controller plus £15-£20 for the nun-chuck you’ll need for many of the games in the release title, Nintendoland.
The only other real negative to speak of is the lack of app releases for launch. Social media apps are conspicuous by their absence, but WiiTV is the most frustrating of all as it winks at you from the Wii U Menu, despite the fact that it isn’t actually available yet.
Luckily, the positives far outweigh the (slightly expensive) negatives as the console is a little piece of design perfection. It’s small, neat and powerful in a way that Nintendo has never really experienced before, but as ever with the Myamoto massive the real step forward is the Wii U controller.
Ergonomic beyond believe it fits your mitts like they’d been designed for it. The amazing comfort of the added device is just the start of the genius though as it also includes neat game controls, a fully interactive and incredibly immersive touch screen, a video chat function with built in camera and mic, direct access to the Internet and the ability to carry on gaming even after your old man has changed the input back to TV so that he can watch the football results. It’s got a jack for headphones, it’s own charger and cradle and a stylus for more detailed touch screen interaction, including drawing a message to send out into the Miiverse.
However, it’s when you play a game with the controller that it’s ingenuity comes into it’s own. Looking around by moving the controller in any angle when your in the Nintendoland plaza is beguiling all by itself and the move in Donkey Kong’s Crash Course where you blow on the mic to activate a propellor is pretty inspired. It also delivers brilliant results in Zombie U as you use it to quickly access inventory or go into sniper mode to take out the living dead by looking through the touch screen and shooting out their tiny little minds.
The controller also adds to the multi-player fun that made the Wii such a family favourite. Some early reports announced that the Wii U wouldn’t be as much of an instant hit with the whole family, but in fact it’s even more all encompassing as it gives different people different roles in games, depending on which controller they have.
Tapping into the latest tablet culture, it’s a development that delivers a lot more than just gaming fun. For a start, the Internet browser for the Wii U is very easy to use and has few limitations online. You can sign into your emails, social media accounts or visit us here at Tuppence Magazine. However, as well as having the World Wide Wed at your fingertips on the pad, you can also display it on the screen giving you a touch screen control that can be viewed by everyone else in the household.
It’s not only the controller that makes the Nintendo Wii U such a big revolution for the Japanese gaming gurus. Its launch has been accompanied with a whopping 28 game releases. Their not all cute family fun either. In addition to the likes of Nintendoland and New Super Mario Bros U, there’s also, high definition, ultra-realistic titles like Zombie U, Call of Duty Black Ops II, Mass Effect 3 and FIFA 13. This makes the console one the most significant moves from Nintendo into the world of serious gaming in a long time. There are also a fair few games waiting in the wings for release in early 2013, including Pikmin 3.
The graphics, game speed and gameplay are impressive, just edging out the capabilities of the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. While Microsoft is currently finalising the Xbox 720 and Sony are hot on their heels, both of the new consoles are a long way off, leaving the Nintendo Wii U as the only next generation games console on the block. However, Nintendo will need to move fast into the controllerless motion control territory pioneered by Microsoft in the shape of the Kinect if it is to stand a chance of keeping up with the Jones’ in a year or two.
With the addition of movies on demand from Netflix (Love Film will be coming soon), TV Internet connectivity, the future app potential and USB ports that can add terabyte hard drive storage to the console, it genuinely is a cross-media entertainment system. It’s got the capabilities to become a little bit limitless. We just hope that Nintendo live up to the potential of the device.
Nintendo Wii U review: 5/5 (even the negatives weren’t enough to shake the score)