The Wii U just can’t lose. After tough times, Nintendo will assuredly succeed with their unique vision and great games. How can it fail when it’s got so much going for it?
Complain about the deficiencies of the Wii U all you want; it's what you need to play Nintendo games. Mario Kart, Smash Bros., Legend of Zelda; that's what you get from the Wii U, and can't get elsewhere. With solid exclusive second party titles like Xenoblade Chronicles X and Bayonetta 2 added into the mix, there's just too much to miss when you don't own a Wii U.
2. The Touch Screen is Cool
The touch screen is just a really fascinating idea. It is a flexible controller that can be a rifle scope, a motion tracker, and the easiest way to root around your inventory. Sure, Sony might be able to cobble together something similar – and twice as expensive – by combining the Vita and PS4, but Nintendo has created a true tablet/console symbiosis.
True, we need more games that truly take advantage of this new approach, but after a delay, Nintendo is promising just that in upcoming games.
3. Nintendo is Changing the Way They Talk to Gamers
The press has long been the conduit between game makers and game players. Nintendo wants to cut out the middle man, presenting their games to gamers through Nintendo Directs and other video fare, letting us see the games and hear the developers. As they have continued making these videos, they have become increasingly stylish and entertaining. The press considers Nintendo's skipping E3 stage shows in favor of video presentations as a sign of weakness, but they're wrong. Nintendo is doing now what everyone will be doing in five years. Bad news for conduits like me, but good news for gamers.
4. Nintendo is Getting the Hang of Online
In some ways Nintendo is very smart, but at times the company seems like an idiot savante, innovating brilliantly while failing miserably in the basics. This time around, though, Nintendo is taking care of those basics. After years of indifference to online gaming, they have a full social environment called Miiverse, an eShop that sells virtually every game available for the Wii U, and support for online streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. Mario Kart 8 showed off quick match-ups and its MKTV was a wonderful way to share game highlights, even spawning an amusing internet meme. With Splatoon, they are creating a game built around online play. It's a whole new Nintendo.
While critics have complained that the Wii U's gamepad makes an underpowered console overpriced, the fact is, it's still a hundred bucks less than the competition. It also uses a lot less power, keeping your electric bill a little lower. In these bad economic times, that price tag can look mighty appealing.
6. Still the Console for Family Entertainment
Sure, if you're a college student who wants to wile away the hours blowing stuff up, the Wii U isn't going to be your first choice. But in the way people used to think of video games as just for kids, a lot of older gamers now almost seem to forget how many little kids actually play video games. And Nintendo makes great games for kids. They also make great games for parents to play with kids. And the Wii U has a greater concentration of those games than anyone else.
7. They've Got Their Head in the Game
Let's be honest; Nintendo did a horrible job of selling the Wii U. The advertising was terrible. The initial games were not true system sellers. They let their small pool of third party dribble away. They seemed to give up on designing for the gamepad. It was embarrassing to watch.
But panicked by their abysmal bottom line, Nintendo is finally paying attention. Game god Shigeru Miyamoto has been tasked with creating gamepad-specific games, one of which will be an oft-requested Star Fox title. They are offering up new IPs and getting games out a bit more quickly. Mario Kart 8 gave them some needed momentum and they seem determined to keep that momentum going through their next big game, Super Smash Bros., and beyond. Nintendo is even making an online shooter, Splatoon, although without the grit and blood one expects from such games.
The beast has - finally - awoken.
8. The Amiibo is Going to Take Off
Activision hit it big with their toy/game hybrid Skylanders series. It was simple - put an encoded toy on a platform and it will enter the game. Nintendo's answer is the amiibo, which offers similar toys, except they work with multiple games and will evolve according to the experiences of their owners. People who are dismissing this is a Skylanders knock off don't realize how much potential there is in what, unless Nintendo really drops the ball, will be a huge success.
9. Power-Shmower - It Looks Great
Yes, the PS4 and XB1 are more powerful than the Wii U. But so far, the gains from that power have been slight - you can have more people onscreen, you can see further into the distance, and things look a little shinier, but that's about it. People might complain about the relative graphical weakness of the Wii U, but look at Mario Kart 8, or the upcoming Zelda game; how much would the power of the PS4 improve them?
If it’s not about graphics, then it must be about offering a new experiences, and that is what Nintendo does. Power or no, until Microsoft and Sony innovate the way Nintendo does, the Wii U is going to be the most interesting console on the market.
10. Indies To Tide You Over
Try as it might, Nintendo can't supply as many games to its consoles as a slew of major publishers can supply to the others. This was painfully apparent in the last years of the Wii, when months would go by without a thing to play. But indie game developers like the Wii U; most of them are huge Nintendo fans, and without a constant stream of AAA titles to compete with, they get a lot more attention from Wii U gamers. These small games are often more daring and original than anything coming from the big publishers. The result is that Wii U owners always can find something great to play, and that something will often be a low-priced eShop title. That keeps gamers engaged while they wait for the next Nintendo smash.
11. Supports a Wide Variety of Game Play and Control Schemes
Video game controls used to be pretty simple; you had a couple of buttons and something to control direction. Then you got more buttons and knobs and triggers. Then with the Wii you had gesture control, which was promptly copied by Sony and Microsoft. And now Nintendo has added a touch screen. This means that games can be controlled via touchscreen, buttons and knobs, motion control, or any combination. This gives developers all the options they could possibly need, while also allowing them to use the same control schemes they’re used to. No system has ever offered so many ways to play games.
12. Nintendo is at Their Best When They Innovate
While Microsoft and Sony have focused on a “same but better” model, Nintendo has stressed innovation in their recent products with great success. The Wii opened up a whole new approach to gaming; Microsoft and Sony copied that approach. Arguably Nintendo is weakest when they play it safe, as they did with the GameCube; it’s when they take chances that the magic happens. If the Wii U had a slow start, it's not because of the chances Nintendo took, but because of a distressing conservatism. Their innovative nature is still the key to greatness.