Right off the bat this is what I want to say about the Wii U. Finally I have a handheld, and somewhat portable, gaming system that has console quality graphics. I have had a few handheld gaming systems over the years, most of Nintendo’s handhelds, a Sony PSP and a Sony PS Vita. I know the Wii U is a console system but I found myself playing games on the gamepad more than on my TV.
I bought the deluxe version of the console the day it came out. I paid $5 to reserve it at Target and walked in at 3pm the day it came out and walked out with it in less than 10 minutes. Whenever they release a new Xbox this is the way I will buy it too. Yeah I love the thrill of the chase for something that is extremely limited but I have 2 kids now both under 6 years old and my time is better spent with them instead of driving all over town trying to find one.
Playing games on the gamepad is not as bad or difficult as everyone may think it is. Call of Duty Black Ops 2 is a fast paced and frenzied game when you play online multiplayer and I had no problems playing to my regular abilities on the gamepad’s 6.2-inch display. What I did have a hard time adjusting to was the button configuration and placement on the gamepad. I eventually got use to it but I do have to think about what I am going to press before I do instead of it being instinctively. I did buy a Pro Controller for the times when I want to play on my TV but right now it’s all gamepad especially if my kids are in the same room because let’s face it, Call of Duty is not a kid friendly game.
Speaking of kid friendly games I purchased the Skylanders Giants starter pack, which includes the game, 3 figures and the portal, from Toys R Us. They had a great deal for it on Black Friday so I bought it online. If you have never heard of Skylanders yet it’s basically the new Pokeman. Pokeman was long after my time and it died down when I finally had kids but from what I hear and see that’s what I can compare Skylanders to. Walk into any Target or Toys R Us and you’ll see big displays of these little 2 – 3 inch figures that can be used with the game. What I wasn’t prepared for was that to play the game in battle mode with two players I needed to have an additional controller besides using the gamepad. I have a Wiimote but you need to connect the Nunchuck to it, which I don’t have. Needless to say my son was a little disappointed that I couldn’t play with him so I did what probably any father would have done and I ran out to buy a new controller. I ended letting my son play the game in single player mode while I was gone but he had to use the gamepad because of the whole Wiimote/Nunchuck issue. I was a little nervous having him play with the gamepad without my supervision because he is 5 and his brother is 3 and what one has the other wants. I just envisioned a tug of war for the gamepad and it flying in the air and crashing down onto the floor. If that were to happen to anyone it would be a problem because Nintendo is not selling just the gamepad right now so if it breaks I guess in the meantime you’re out of luck. The gamepad was a little big for my 5-year-old son to use to play the game because it is wide and seemed awkward for him to hold in his hands. He did manage to play the game very well with it after a bit despite the size. I bought the Pro Controller instead of a Nunchuck, which will be easier for him to use. The Pro Controller closely resembles an Xbox 360 controller and was released to make the Wii U more attractive to the more hardcore gaming crowd, which Nintendo always has a hard time appealing to.
As everyone knows the Wii U had a day one system update, which didn’t bother me too much. Before I picked mine up I read about a few cases where some Wii U’s became bricked because people interrupted the update process by either unplugging it or turning it off. My Wii U actually lost internet connection during the update but thankfully it reconnected and the update started downloading where it left off. The deluxe version of the console included Nintendoland, which I played for maybe a total of 10 minutes. It’s not really a game that interests me a whole lot but maybe at some point I will play it with my kids. I didn’t even purchase a game until 3 days after I bought the console. I bought Call of Duty Black Ops 2 and the day after I bought New Super Mario Brothers 2 U from the Nintendo eShop.
Buying a full retail game from the eShop was extremely quick and painless. I’ve been resisting buying digital versions of media like movies and games. I still like seeing all of my Blu-rays and DVD’s neatly stacked on my shelf but the Wii U is beginning to change my stance on digital versions because of the convenience of being able to immediately watch something or play something instead of grabbing the case, taking the disc out and inserting it into whatever you’re using. Nintendo is releasing digital versions of many of their games day and date of the retail discs, something the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3 aren’t doing yet.
I am very happy with the Nintendo Wii U and I plan to give you my thoughts again after my first 2 weeks with it because there are some things I want to try as far as making it more of a “portable handheld console” and how Neflix, Hulu Plus and YouTube integrate on it.