Six years ago, I froze my ass off waiting in front of Future Shop all night for the Wii to come out. EB Games was about the only store in town that was doing preorders, and once those sold out, the rest of us peons had to brave the harsh Canadian November for a full night. But we watched Robot Chicken on a projector some kind soul had brought, some dudes played WoW, and we chased some hooligans with baseball bats when they decided to egg us. It was a pretty fun experience, and when I finally brought my console home, Twilight Princess was in every way the game I had been waiting for for years. Maybe I’m just too old and jaded for stuff like that now (I went to the Borderlands 2 midnight launch, then immediately turned the car around once I saw the long line outside EB Games), but I won’t be braving the wilds to get a Wii U on launch day this time, and here’s why.
Price – The $300 package, with no games and only 8 GB of memory, is a ripoff, and given that the deluxe package sold out far earlier than the basic version, it seems people understand that. But the original Wii SKU included a minigame collection and console stand for $250, whereas the Wii U version that includes both of those (and a bunch of other crap to drive up the price) is $350. I think it’s about $100 more than I’d pay for it, so I’ll definitely be waiting for a price cut. Nintendo had a humbling lesson about pricing with the $250 3DS, but given the influx of Wii U preorders right now, they’ll unfortunately probably get off easier this time.
Memory – 8 GB? 32 GB? Memory’s cheap these days, so why pack in some little of it? This limits their ability to allow game installs, the size of games on eShop/WiiWare (remember the Super Meat Boy debacle?), and the size of quality DLC. For $350, I would’ve expected a hell of a lot more than 32 GB, given that my 360 can currently handle 250 GB, while my computer can handle quadruple that (and it was a little more than double the price of the Wii U).
Launch library – The 3DS’ biggest problem rears its ugly head once more. In 2011, Nintendo learned that it’s difficult to sell a system without hardware, and as a result, the 3DS had to take a massive price cut. The launch library for the Wii U is very weak, with no hardcore killer apps in sight, just another 2D Mario game (which are apparently so easy to make that they developed two of them simultaneously this year). The only game I’m excited for is Pikmin 3, and it’s unclear when that’s even slated for release (“launch window” is pretty vague). I don’t buy Nintendo consoles for the hordes of shovelware clogging the Wii U’s launch window; I buy it for the amazing first-party games. The Wii U needs system sellers like a 3D Mario or Super Smash Bros. at launch, not a year or two down the road.
Console power – I’m actually pretty comfortable with the Wii U’s graphical power; just having it in HD alone is a huge plus. Excellent games like Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn and Xenoblade Chronicles were difficult to look at because of the piss-poor character models, or in Radiant Dawn‘s case, everything. In a year or two, the Durango and Orbis will blow the Wii U out of the water, but until then, Xbox 360-quality graphics on my Nintendo console is just fine by me.
Online – Why is online such a hassle for Nintendo? I just want a nice, clean interface like Xbox Live, devoid of cumbersome Friend Codes and rarely-used Mii hangout spots. This Miiverse thing looks like a social media playground more than a means by which you can play games with your friends, which isn’t surprising given Nintendo’s recent obsession with social media. I don’t want a video-calling service to ask for game help from octogenarians; I want to be able to easily join my friends’ games of Smash Bros.
Controller – I’ve endured Nintendo’s obsession with alternate control styles for eight years now, and I’ve come to the following conclusions: some games are indeed improved by touch interfaces, but no game is improved by motion control. It’s a harsh blanket statement, but I feel it’s true. Skyward Sword was utterly ruined by the MotionPlus controls, and as I look at my Wii library across the room, I see a ton of games – Excite Truck and Okami spring to mind – that I would’ve much rather played with a traditional controller. Nintendo’s finally giving us a sleek traditional option in the Wii U Pro controller, and I hope many games take advantage of that rather than continuing to shoehorn in unnecessary and flighty motion controls (seeing as the MotionPlus is still the Wii U’s default controller, and the GameCube controller option has been eliminated).