I know I’ve already spoken at length about my disinterest in Nintendo’s new console, but with tonight being the eve of the Wii U’s release, I figured it was a topic worth revisiting. Almost six years ago to the day, I froze my ass off in a line in front of Future Shop, all for the Wii. The store wasn’t accepting preorders, so desperate gamers had to begin lining up in front of the store at 8 PM the day prior, and were required to stay in line until 12 PM the next day (it being a Sunday, the store opened late). I was only sixteen at the time, and needless to say, I felt like shit the next day after getting no sleep and braving the frigid November temperatures (it’s currently 0 degrees where I live), but I was truly caught in the grip of the hype and goddammit, I would get that console on launch day. Of course, there were specific reasons why I wanted the console so badly: Twilight Princess, possibly the best launch day killer app since Super Mario 64, and there was also Super Smash Bros. Brawl on the horizon, which at the time was less than a year away from release (several delays eventually crushed this notion). I was a fairly optimistic sixteen-year-old, but even back then I was skeptical of the motion controls; for me, getting the Wii early was important because it would allow to play killer apps immediately (Zelda) and within the near future (Smash Bros.)
The problem with the Wii U is that it has no such killer apps, either within the launch window or beyond. New Super Mario Bros. Wii U has been rightly criticized by nearly all reviewers as a predictable, typical, all-too-familiar 2D Mario experience that feels like it was only created to satisfy the inevitable demand for a Mario game at launch (though it’s still getting decent reviews, which, again, is typical of a Mario game). Nintendoland is a glorified minigame collection that deserves to be a pack-in with both versions of the system, rather than Nintendo attempting to market it as a $50 standalone game. ZombiU could be interesting, but it’s as generic as a shooter as NSMB Wii U is for a Mario game. Rayman Legends honestly looks charming as all hell, but it’s not a system-seller. Not for me, and probably not for Joe Consumer either. And the less said about the cash-in ports of Mass Effect 3, Batman: Arkham City, Ninja Gaiden III et al., the better.
If there’s little enticing me to buy the system at launch, there’s even less to look forward to in the new year. Pikmin 3 looks great, and I enjoyed the second one to a reasonable degree, so if there’s one game that could make me cave early, it’d be that one. But other than that? Nothing. No 3D Mario, no proper Zelda game. No oddball, unlikely appearances like a console version of Golden Sun, a flight-only Star Fox, or that Pokemon MMORPG everybody seems to crave. Certainly no F-Zero (where the hell has that series been?). They mentioned a Wii U version of Smash Bros. two E3s ago and haven’t mentioned it since, save for the fact that Namco’s developing it and Masahiro Sakurai didn’t work on it at all prior to this year due to his commitments to Kid Icarus: Uprising. That game is undoubtedly a system seller, but it’s likely at least two years away. That’s too far away to warrant buying a Wii U now. Some people seem to get pissed off when developers announce games far in advance of their release dates and slowly generate hype over several years (Bioshock Infinite comes to mind), but I actually like it. Letting me know what’s in the pipeline gives me something to look forward to, and based on how it looks to be shaping up, it could influence my decision to purchase a console early.
I could look past by doubts about the hardware and stand in a launch line for another Nintendo console tonight, once again allowing myself to be swept up by the hype. But I can’t overlook the fact that even if I do get the console, there is absolutely nothing out right now or in the near future that I’m dying to play. I will undoubtedly pick up a Wii U once the RPGs start coming out or Nintendo looses its heavy hitters, but currently, it’s not worth freezing my ass off in front of Future Shop.