The Wii U just can’t lose. Nintendo will assuredly continue their winning streak with this system, which combines the high-def graphics the other consoles offer with a unique new approach to home gaming. How can it fail when it’s got so much going for it?
1. The Touch Screen is Cool, and Nintendo is There First
The touch screen is just a really fascinating idea. It is so easy to think of nifty uses for it, from making it the scope on a rifle to a motion tracker to just using it to keep the main screen free of extraneous information. Sure, there’s buzz that Sony might be able to cobble together something similar – and twice as expensive – some time soon, but Nintendo has been working on this for a while now, and is going to have games that really show how to make use of the touch screen way before anyone else.
2. Core Gamers Are Going to Love it
Core Gamers, those folks that like big epic games with complex gameplay, hate the Wii, because it offers almost nothing like that (and what is offered is often not brought to the U.S.). The Wii is ideal for family friendly mini-game collections, but alas, these crowded out the core games.
The Wii U, though, offers everything core gamers want. It has all the buttons and knobs needed to make the conventional games that were difficult to develop on the Wii, while the touchscreen controller offers a way to open up that gameplay. The Wii demanded a trade off – you gained intuitive controls but lost high-end graphics and power – but the Wii U offers everything you’ve seen in other home consoles, plus.
Nintendo also seems intent on wooing core gamers; for example, they scooped up Bayonetta 2 after SEGA cancelled it and are publishing it as a Wii U exclusive.
3. 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 some directional device. 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 is adding a touch screen, opening up a whole new approach to controlling games. This means that games can be controlled via touchscreen, via buttons and knobs, via the motion control Wii remote, or any combination. This gives developers all the options they could want, 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.
4. The Appeal Is Proven by The Success of The DS
When it first game out, the Nintendo DS struck many, including me, as a gimmicky handheld whose touch screen and secondary screen weren’t worth the bother. How wrong we were. The success of the DS proves that touch controls and extra screens are something gamers really enjoy. Even if the Wii U were nothing more than an oversized DS with better graphics, that alone sounds like a lot of fun.
5. It's Just Not About Graphics Anymore
Some analysts are predicting that in a year or two, Sony and Microsoft will come out with new systems that once again make Nintendo a graphics also-ran. But the law of diminishing returns means it is just not that easy to create the sort of significant graphics improvements that move consoles; rumors suggest the next Xbox won’t offer as big a graphical jump as the last one did. Sure, they can be improved, but they look so good now that the ability to have 200 hundred soldiers on screen instead of 100 or the ability to show individual drops of sweat on an athlete instead of a general sheen are not necessarily going to make the huge costs of a new console worthwhile.
If it’s not about graphics, then it’s about offering a new experience, and that is what Nintendo is doing. Which means their competition will have to either copy the Wii U controls or – dare I say it – create something new for a change. Until they do that, the Wii U is going to be the most interesting console on the market.
6. The Lack of Unnecessary Extras Will Keep the Price Down
Some people have suggested that the PS3 combined with the upcoming PS Vita handheld console could potentially do everything the Wii U could. Perhaps so, but it would cost at least $500; more if you also want Playstation Move. Sure, the Wii U touchscreen doesn’t have multi-touch, or a second camera, but that’s why people are going to be able to afford it.
7. No More Crap Alternate Versions of Games
The Wii was innovative and original, but it was also severely underpowered. This put developers in a bind; if they wanted to release a game on all three home consoles, they had to completely redesign the game to run on the Wii. This meant that if you wanted the best version of a multi-console game, you usually wanted something other than the Wii version.
Not any more. Now that Nintendo is going for graphical parity, Developers can make one game for all three platforms. This means that one of the Wii’s biggest flaws, and the thing that kept a lot of good games off the platform, is gone from the Wii U.
8. Offers Something Unique in Home Consoles
New toys are great. Sure, a shiny new firetruck is a little better than an old banged up firetruck you’ve had a year, but it’s not as cool as a alien spacecraft. The Wii U is a new toy in the way that the Wii was, offering an experience for jaded consumers who know that the same old games with better graphics are still the same old games, and an Xbox with better graphics is still going to give you a prettier version of what the old one gave you. The Wii U promises gamers a brand new experience.
9. It Will Still Support Casual Gaming and the Wii Remote
With its simple, intuitive controller, the Wii created a whole slew of new gamers, people who had been intimidated by the buttons and triggers and analog sticks that were the traditional way to interact with a game. While the Wii U controller is closer to a traditional one, the touch screen interface is just as intuitive as the Wii remote was. Furthermore, the Wii remote can still be used in Wii U games. So while Nintendo is making a play towards core gamers, they are also creating a console that will still appeal to the casual gamers whose first console was a Wii. And while some analysts argue that these casual gamers won’t upgrade, there’s no real reason to believe they don’t like HD graphics as much as the rest of us.
10. 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.
11. Developers Have Gained the Experience They Need with the DS
The Wii U, as I pointed out above, is sorta kinda a very big DS, allowing the same sort of interaction. The DS has been out quite a while, and developers have found many entertaining ways to use the touch screen, and to use the second screen, that will easily translate into the Wii U. There was a bit of a learning curve when developers first started working with the DS, but those with experience with the handheld will know just how to create cool stuff for the Wii U right away.
12. Nintendo is Finally Taking Online and Third Party Support Seriously
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. But this time around, Nintendo is taking care of those basics. After years of indifference to online gaming, they have created a full social environment called Miiverse, have greatly enhanced their online shopping experience to the point where they plan to offer all their games as downloads, and are offering an integrated entertainment experience called TVii that will simplify the use of online streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. They are also finally addressing the greatest frustration of third party developers, their inability to every sell as well on Nintendo consoles as Nintendo does. This time around Nintendo worked closely with third party developers, giving them the advance access to the Wii U they would have normally withheld for security reasons. The result: A tremendous number of third party titles announced for the Wii U launch window.