The Short but Important History of the Wii U
By Cameron Van der Does
With news of the impending NX the Nintendo Wii U seems all but done for. Released at the end of 2012, the console hasn’t even been out for 3 complete years and already Nintendo have announced their working on its successor, the secretly codenamed, NX. Now it is true we have no dates set yet, but even if it takes them 2 years to complete and release the NX that still means the Wii U existed as a relevant format for only 5 years.
The Wii U had very disappointing sales figures, likely due to the fact they didn’t advertise well and didn’t make it clear enough that this was a new gen game console and not a peripheral for the very popular (yet at the end of its life) Wii. Nevertheless, true fans of Nintendo flocked and bought the new and unique console, despite its very average release titles.
Included in the premium bundle was Nintendoland. A collection of mini games for party play and single player. This game was sadly over looked as it’s actually really fun. 3 party games, essentially 3 versions of chasey as Mario, a ghost from Luigi’s Mansion and collecting candy as the Animal Crossing crew. We got some single player puzzle games with Yoshi, Donkey Kong and Mr. Game and Watch. The main draw here though was the Metroid game, which could have easily been its own game.
The new Super Mario Bros. game stayed true the series, familiar game play but with new controls and a beautiful redesign. It was a decent game and everyone pretty much assumed we would get this title for release, but it wasn’t a strong enough title to buy a console just for it. ZombiU, a brand new title from Ubisoft, seemed to be the only real draw for the console and after playing for a couple days, the novelty wore off. Lacking a good multiplayer and with not very much replayability, ZombiU very quickly started to collect dust on shelves.
Nintendo started really reaching out for 3rd party titles and the Wii U seemed attractive enough for a fair few developers to answer the call. We got a Call of Duty game and a good version at that, with the only downside being there was only 11 people playing. It wasn’t uncommon to have to wait 10 minutes for a deathmatch and forget playing any other mode. We also got a taste of Assassin’s Creed 3, Arkham City, Darksiders 2 (surprisingly the best version available is Wii U), FIFA 13 and Mass Effect 3. They also unleashed a torrent of horrendous D grade titles. Funky Barn, an expensive version of Farmville, Rabbids Land, a Mario Party clone and the wannabe Wii Sports games of Sports Connection and Game Party Champions. A fairly wide range of games to choose from, but nothing really worth paying the $400+ for a new console.
The Wii U’s saving grace came in May 2014, 2 years after the consoles release. Mario Kart 8, an almost perfect game (minus its interesting choice in Battle Mode design) came out and started selling consoles. A fairly stable infrastructure allowed the best online experience of a Nintendo title in a long time. An absolutely stunning and extremely fun game and despite a bug going around clearing peoples save files, the game was a huge success and continues to be with multiple hit DLC packages being released.
Four months later the next big thing hit, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. Another huge success, amazing design meets fantastic controls and everyone was sucked right back into the world of Smash Bros. A new adaptor allowed us to use Game Cube controllers for a true Smash experience. We were treated to some DLC with some classic maps and character packs, as well as an onslaught of Mii costumes and hats.
These two games alone justify the Wii U’s existence and if nothing else were to come from it we could look back fondly at perfect versions of some of our favourite series. But that wasn’t all Nintendo had up their sleeves. Almost a year after Mario Kart 8 came out, a brand new IP appeared. The first in 13 years. Splatoon splatted onto our screens as Nintendo’s new 3rd person shooter. Bright, beautiful and brilliant, Splatoon hit the ball out the park. A little low of content in its first weeks but we were given frequent FREE DLC with new maps, game modes, weapons and gear. This unique game saw huge sales worldwide and a truly original online experience.
Nintendo now has its Triforce of Fun, but is that where it ends? We have had a few more great games released, Yoshi’s Yarn and the new Super Mario Maker are certainly amazing, but with not a lot announced for the future, it appears the Wii U is starting its swan song. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Nintendo have taken a big step towards being a super power like the old days. Pokémon GO was announced as its first big mobile game and the rumour mill is spitting out story after story. Who will make the chip set for the NX? Digital only? Back to carts in the form of SD cards?
Nintendo need this next console to be something truly brilliant. Something that can not only contend with The Xbox One and the PS4, but blow them out the water. Something powerful with high end graphics and a HDD with more than 32GB. Something 3rd party developers want to work for, something truly deserving of the Nintendo name.