Wii U Initial Impressions

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The Wii U is out and we have one at our GON headquarters.  Is it worth your time and hard earned money?  Is it too late to the HD market to make an impact?  Should you stay away until all the bugs are worked out?  Find out within!

Nintendo has finally joined the HD party with the Wii U.  Two different bundles are out there to choose from and, if you’ve decided that you want a Wii U, the next question should be which one is right for you.  The basic bundle includes the console, the Gamepad, and 8 gigs of memory in white.  The deluxe edition includes everything in black and ups the memory to 32 gigs.  The most significant difference is the Nintendo Land pack in game with the deluxe version.  Memory would seem to be a factor, but the Wii U will accept SD cards and external hard drives.  The deluxe edition also comes with a bunch of plastic, such as a system stand, Gamepad holder, and Gamepad charging cradle.  The system stand is useless, in my eyes, but the holder and cradle come in handy.  Lets face it, you’ve got to store this controller somewhere and the holder lets you sit the Pad next to the console when not in use.  I’ve got the cradle set up on the table beside my chair so I can charge while watching Netflix or while watching TV.  Netflix brings me to my first negative, which is that you can not turn off the Gamepad while watching movies or downloading updates.  This seems like such a simple thing to do in order to save battery life, but you can’t do it…at least, I haven’t found a way yet.

Once you make your console choice you’re bound to be excited about playing it, right?  Let me warn you now.  Those first couple hours are not the greatest.  Once you get everything set up, you must download the system update in order to unlock Miiverse, Face chat, and the eShop.  This takes forever.  Plan on at least an hour, during which time you better have that Gamepad charger handy.  News has hit the webs today about being able to download this update in the background while playing games.  Personally, I didn’t touch the Pad while the update was downloading or installing because I had read horror stories of folks bricking their systems while the update was in progress.  Turns out that if you unplug the system or lose power during the update, its bye bye new system.  Nintendo themselves have already issued warnings about not unplugging the U during the update.

[singlepic id=113 w=320 h=240 float=]Ok, you got the update done and now you are ready to check out a game.  Upon first loading it up, you’ll notice another update!  I played Nintendo Land and New Super Mario Bros that first day and both required updates before starting up for the first time.  Granted, there was a ‘Start Software’ button I could hit, but those horror stories were still in my thoughts, so I waited.  Thankfully, these were not as long, but they still took a few minutes (one took longer, but I can not remember which one).  Now then, everything is updated and ready to go.  If you haven’t noticed it yet, you will here, everything seems to take longer than it should to load up.  The main menu, going into any of the features like Netflix or Miiverse, and even loading up a game seems to take a good 30 seconds or so.  Quite annoying.  Nintendo is supposedly looking into fixing this, but are you telling me no one noticed this during testing?

I may seem to be coming off all negative towards the Wii U, but thats not the case.  The potential is there.  Playing console games on the GamePad is awesome.  I knew I would like this feature because I’m a handheld guy.  Certain launch titles are available on other consoles, but the added bonus of playing on the Pad is a big factor to me.  It amazes me that Sony has not tried to steal some of the Wii U’s spotlight with remote playing PS3 games on the Vita.  Regardless, I have purposely held off buying Batman: Arkham City, Darksiders 2, and Assassin’s Creed 3 in order to have that GamePad play option.  The only downside is that if you want to play on the TV, the ‘no off button’ on the Pad hurts.  Mario displays the same image either way.  Thankfully, you do have the option of playing it with a Wiimote instead of the GamePad.  Two games on the eShop interest me and its nice that it is available day one instead of like the 3ds.  Unfortunately, you can not carry over any balance from the 3ds to the Wii U.  Maybe that is coming in a future update.  Miiverse is a nice addition.  I especially like reading comments from other gamers on the Mario world map.  The friend codes are finally gone.  Now you only need a username to connect with other Wii U owners.[singlepic id=114 w=320 h=240 float=]

Like I said, the potential is there for something great from the Wii U.  Now, it is up to Nintendo to keep a steady flow of high quality games, both in the eShop and at retail stores.  They also need to iron out some kinks here and there.  The whole OS seems to need a bit of polish.  So far, I am happy with the console, but can not recommend it to others unless you are like me and tend to play handhelds more than home consoles.   If that describes you, then by all means, take the plunge!  If not, then it might be best to wait for more games and fewer hiccups.  Anyone else have the Wii U now?  Let us know your thoughts about it in the comments below!

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