The New Generation: How is the Wii U Coping?

It is often forgotten that there are three next-gen consoles now available and one of them has been out for over a year already. It’s safe to say that the Nintendo Wii U has had a difficult start to its life, and despite having a full year on its own before Microsoft and Sony released their new hardware it has already seen its sales numbers matched in only the opening weeks of the PS4 and Xbox One being on sale. This makes for uncomfortable reading for Nintendo as they expected to sell a hell of a lot more consoles then they have done in reality.

One of the main reasons for the disappointing numbers for Nintendo is the poor advertising that still sees some to this day thinking that it is just an add-on the original Wii console. Whilst hardcore Nintendo fans know this is something new casual gamers really do just seem unaware that this is a rather big and impressive upgrade.

On the specs alone this console can’t compete directly with the new consoles but then the Wii couldn’t with the 360 and PS3 either – it didn’t even have HD output. This has thankfully been rectified in the Wii U and may I say playing classic Nintendo first party games in HD looks amazing and is well overdue.

I own a Wii U as well as a PS4 and the difference between the two is massive in reality, the interface of the Wii U is a lot slower and the lack of third party support for many multi platform games is disappointing but it does have one ace up its sleeve in the form of the Gamepad. This seems to be something that you either love or you hate; personally I think it’s great and has a lot of potential to help make the Wii U stand out from its competition.

ZombiU – it lets you hit zombies over the head with a cricket bat.

The ability to play many games solely on the Gamepad means that if you live in a busy household where competition for the TV is always at a premium you can keep playing Mario while someone else watches their favourite TV program or film or (dare I say it) play on a “rival” console. But the most impressive aspect of the new controller comes from playing a rare third party title, ZombiU by Ubisoft. This seems to be the best example of how to make the pad work by making it an integral and engrossing part of the game, not just a tacked on gimmicky feature.

There are big drawbacks with the new controller though and the main one is battery life, it lasts just a few hours, about five on average for me, before it needs charging up again and it has to be plugged into a socket – it cannot charge off the console via USB like other consoles’ controllers. Whilst I haven’t had a huge problem with the life of the battery it could be disruptive if you have forgotten to charge it up in between gaming sessions.

The games from third party developers are becoming very thin on the ground but as usual the Nintendo first party titles are very impressive, Pikmin 3 for me is a particular highlight. I have to confess that I have yet to play Mario 3D but from what I have read and heard it is one of the best games of 2013. So there are genuinely good games available for the system and importantly a variety of genres.

Do I recommend buying a Wii U? Well that really does depend, if you are looking at buying one next gen console then I would probably say no. But if you, like me, are wanting a second console then this is possibly the one you should buy, and the first party games alone mean that you will have some great games to play. Also the game pad means you can do it whilst someone else is using the TV the console is plugged in to. The price of the console has dropped massively since its launch too, and you can pick up a premium pack for around £180 online at the moment,  down from around £300 on release.

This is a good console with a unique, yet under utilised, controller but it does feel like it is stuck in between generations. It is better than a 360 or a PS3 but it just can not compete with the power and third party support of the Xbox One and PS4. I personally enjoy having it but I do use it as a second console to my PS4, any multi-platform games won’t be bought on this console and that is a huge problem for Nintendo and something I am not sure they can overcome in the long run.

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