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The Wii U: An Unliked Hero
As we are well aware, the NX is supposed to launch in March of 2017. This console was hurried to the production lines following the rather lackluster performance of the Wii U, but was the Wii U really that bad? Read after the break to find out what I think of the Wii U...
One the ‘next gen’ consoles had all hit the market, I remember telling my friends that I thought the Wii U was the absolute best console of its generation. It wasn’t the most powerful, and it certainly wasn’t the best at being a media-hub, or delivering online play, but it was different, it was unique.
To understand the point I’m trying to make here, let’s take a relatively shallow look at what changed from the PS3 to the PS4. They improved the hardware, and made a few minor tweaks to a controller. Going from the Xbox 360 to the Xbox One, again it’s the same story, except this time the controller stayed as-is. (If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!) Of course the Xbox One had a lot more media capabilities, and the PS4 had a lot of other cool features too, but personally, I buy my game consoles for one main reason: to play games, and in this sense, the Wii U excelled.
The reason being, while the Wii U system itself was a hardware increase, we moved from SD to HD, something the other two had already done last generation. When comparing visuals from the Wii to the Wii U, there’s no contest, but the visuals from late PS3 games and early PS4 games…well there’s not as big of a difference. (Of course the visuals will improve the longer the console is out, but even early Wii U games far outpaced the Wii.) The PS4 didn’t really try to push anything new.
Of course 4 years later, Sony is working on their PSVR, which is really cool, but not relevant to the topic at hand at the moment. The Wii U was a literal game changer for Nintendo games. It introduced the second screen, and this created different experiences depending on which player you were, which was really showcased in Nintendo Land, but we haven’t seen it used too much anywhere else.
This second screen also created a new way to interact with the games itself via the touch-screen. I like to think that the Wii U is a more powerful Nintendo DS. The DS sold really well, so why didn’t the Wii U? Many will point their fingers to marketing. Keeping the Wii name for example was a very poor choice, and early on with the strong focus in showing off the controller, many people thought this was just a peripheral for the Wii itself.
Some people might argue the fact that there were not many games on release, but it had more higher-rated exclusive launch titles than the PS4 did, and look how that worked out. The PS4 is the current-gen sales winner by far. Even looking at the launch window, which is pretty well a 5-month span, the PS4 only saw about 4 new retail titles, whereas the Wii U saw about a dozen including Pikmin 3 and Wii Fit U, two games that on their older systems had been dynamite sellers. Neither title was able to surpass their predecessors.
So why did the Wii U fail then? Everything points to the fact that it really should have been a success. Nintendo is now beginning to pull support from the Wii U and bring it to the NX. Just look at the dual-console release of Zelda 2017. The Wii U, in my opinion, did everything right. It was different that the predecessor, it had some really great games early on, and was backwards compatible from day 1. If you ask me, the biggest failing here was trying to make another big family gaming system. The Wii had already filled that niche.
The Wii was, and still is, a party system. It’s hard to justify replacing a party system when the Wii works just fine. The PS4 and Xbox One were never built to be party systems, they were built primarily for one user to play online with friends. That’s the direction the current gaming market is going. No longer do you go over to a friend’s house to play a game, now you play online. In my opinion, this is the main reason the Wii U failed. It was targeted for the wrong audience. This seems to be something Nintendo aims to fix with the NX.
To sum everything up, it’s hard to create success after success, and sometimes you drop the ball here and there. This was one of those time where Nintendo tried to fill a non-existent gap in a household due to them filling it 6 years earlier. With the rumored power of the NX, it seems like they’re finally trying to take on the audience usually attracted to Microsoft or Sony. For this, it will take a strong software lineup, as well as third party support. It’s hard for to end loyalty, but it was very easy for people to be disloyal to the Wii U.