Hands up who thinks the Wii U's ever growing and promising list of games is looking very nice indeed! I think I would be able to count a fair few hands sticking in the air, which Nintendo would be grateful for. However a promising launch line up is only part of what makes a consoles first few weeks on shelves a success or not.
Some new release consoles suffer from a lack of good games at launch but good hype and presentation leading up to it while others suffer from the opposite. Why can no great balance be struck? Needless to say my opinion of the Wii U is much the latter of the two above problems.
We're promised Assassins Creed 3, Black Ops 2 and a bunch of unique Nintendo exclusive titles. Fantastic. Awesome. But why are those two words written but not felt? Why, if I were to smile and say "The Wii U is looking amazing!" with a giant grin on my face, would that be superficial and fake? I'm not feeling the Wii U and I'm not the only one.
Aside from the fact we were (and probably still are, a little) unsure about the specs and ability of the Wii U, there a lots of problems with the way Nintendo have handled the console and fans. If I wanted to start with a big problem that Nintendo have caused then I think I'd start with pricing. No, it's not the price that is a concern; how can it be as, after all, the price is unknown! Yes, yes, I know we've had "leaks" about the price and specialists giving their input into how much lighter it may leave your wallet, but a 100% certain price from the developers themselves still alludes us.
This lack of pricing information isn't alone in causing the Wii U's problems however. It has caused a lot of issues, but is far from the one thing to blame. Yes, I’m looking at you controller and console. What are they? What do they do? What is going on? Last year when it was announced, the Wii U excited but mostly confused, which isn't exactly the emotion you want to dominate out of the two is it?
It took me ages to finally understand the Wii U. I sifted through dozens of gaming web pages, all of which recited exactly what they had seen from the trailer instead of giving proper information on it. I realised that this was because no one really had any proper information to give. Heck, everyone was pretty much as confused as I was. When majorities of people think the console is the tablet controller and didn't even realise there was more too it, then you have serious presentation problems.
What I just wrote is my point. To spend a majority of the build up to release not even knowing what you are excited about seems ridiculous and utterly stupid. Nintendo are better than that, miles better, but they didn't show it, and it hurt(s) them and the Wii U – badly.
This problem is one the Wii U has far from escaped. People still don't fully understand it, that much I am sure of. Exactly what it can do we're not entirely convinced about either.. How can I continue playing my Mario game on my tablet controller when the TV is turned off? This was sketchily explained but far from convincingly.
Ideally I would like to know exactly what the controller does. I know it has all of these in game functions, but what about this expected App Store of some sort, dedicated to the Wii U exclusively? What about this, what about that? No one is really sure. I feel I should understand everything about this device, when really, I feel like the E3 just gone was the first time I'd seen it; in other words, what did the Wii U really achieve at E3 2012?
I suppose everything wrong with the Wii U at the moment is, simply, a lack of information. Not knowing the price is a lack of info as much as not knowing exactly what the tablet does is. There are lots of cool features bundled with the tablet controller, but the bottom line is: if I can use a normal controller with the Wii U, then why should I use, while probably spending extra money on, this tablet? I already own a tablet and I'm betting it does more than the one pictured above.
Having a good game line up is fine, but who is going to spend the money on a new console they don't feel they understand to play games that can be played on an Xbox or Playstation? Of course that excludes Nintendo's exclusive games, but you can enjoy most of them on the 3DS. The ones released on the Wii U will be different from the handheld ones, but just because they are on a smaller screen doesn't mean anything. If you can play all the games the Wii U has to offer on an Xbox and enjoy and get the flavour of Nintendo's classics on the 3DS, what point, exactly, is there to owning a Wii U?
The reliance on proper third party game support for the Wii U on release is one Nintendo are relying too heavily on. Gamers expect a so-called "Next-Gen" console to support "Current-Gen" games, like Black Ops 2 and Assassins Creed 3, but Nintendo seem to be making a big deal about it.
I expect the Wii U to be able to play these games. I expect to have great Mario and Zelda games released. These are things we should and do expect. So stop focusing on that Nintendo and focus instead on really demoing and explaining the Wii U, because after a year I'm still not completely clear on it.
Nintendo's lack of "being with the times" also hurts them and the Wii U. The 3DS's lack of Youtube was unbelievable. I still can't believe they didn't even have a dedicated app. Nintendo seem to be stuck in this mindset of "Gaming is Gaming". Not any more, I'm afraid. If you want a gaming device – especially a handheld – to be good, you need to support social apps and integrate various social outlets people love.
What people can do on their phones should be, for the most part, mirrored on portable consoles. If not you are left with a device that feels cumbersome. Having to switch to this and that in order to do that and this is irritating and the 3DS tried little to help this problem.
If the Wii U (or rather, it's tablet controller) is the same I can safely say Nintendo have lost their business head. Quite like how the 3DS remained with an infuriating resistive touch screen. God how pretty much everyone loathes those screens. Yet Nintendo said it was for the sake of backwards compatibility. Really? Really? Hmph.
Whether the tablet companion to the Wii U console (or, indeed, the console itself) will be as limiting as the 3DS is unlikely. The fact you can probably watch Youtube on it is great, but we expect that from this sort of device. Whether Nintendo will gear it towards social orientated people is yet to be seen of heard. For their sake, though, they better.
Nintendo can't really afford to not have a convincing third party line up, but given the premise of the tablet and the console itself, they can't afford to have a lack of information on it either. Either way Nintendo needs to start really convincing people – and fast.