Wii U post-purchase first impressions thread

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Wii U post-purchase first impressions thread - Saturday, December 29, 2012 1:56 AM ( #1 )
Most of you who know me know that I usually play PC and PS3 games as those are the platforms I own and purchase games for. But I now also have a Wii U, and I decided to make this thread to give my impressions of this new Nintendo console and also for any other new owners to give their first impressions of the console after purchase.

So as it goes, for Christmas I decided to get myself a Wii U, for a few reasons really. Firstly, I hate the Wii because I hate motion control-based gameplay - the same can be said for my sentiment on Kinect and Move. That's really why I never got one of those. But the Wii U was basically the idea the DS popularized in console form, and I really did appreciate that. As I've not owned a Nintendo console since the N64 and Gameboy Color, I also thought it'd be a nice break to be able to play some first party Nintendo titles that I haven't played for 12 years. So anyway, for just around $400 I picked up the Deluxe Set and a copy of NSMBU

The console itself - small, sleek black. Probably similarly sized to the Wii, but it has a rounded and better looking form factor. Comes with a stand and an HDMI cable.

The controller is comfortable and not too heavy. Feels nice in the hands for the most part, though the R and L bumpers are a little bit too far spaced from the ZL and ZR triggers and switching between them quickly is certainly not optimal. Other than that, the thing feels great. The touch screen is resistive touch and that can take a bit of getting used to if you have a smartphone and have never really used a DS, but at the end of the day, it's pretty responsive for its purposes.

Loading times are exactly as you've seen and heard about online. Running the latest firmware, they still seem about as slow. Takes maybe 5-15 seconds to open an app, which is not optimal, but it's not 20+ seconds in my personal experience - whoever was reporting that is either exaggerating or extremely unlucky.

Miiverse is actually great. It's a ton of fun. The home screen shows you all the highest "Yeah"'d content around Miiverse, and all the games you play have separate channels where people share content and drawings. In the case of NSMBU and Nintendoland, all of this functionality is neatly integrated into the overworlds for those titles and it's really cool. It's nice to see Miis from various countries around your Nintendoland park with various comments and drawings about various things, and it's a cool way to meet other Wii U gamers whom you may then befriend.

The eShop is good but obviously lacking content. The most annoying thing that isn't there yet is a Wii U Virtual Console. I don't want to have to boot up into the "Wii Menu" just to purchase and play VC titles, which currently don't support gamepad-only play either. This is a missing thing that needs to come sooner than later.

The most annoying loading screen is the friends list loading screen. I don't really understand why that even requires a loading screen.

Alright well let's get into the titles I've played, which so far are as follows: NSMBU, NintendoLand, Rayman Legends (demo), Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed (demo) and Mighty Switch Force Hyper Drive Edition.

Let's talk about NSMBU first. Excellent game - it reminds me of Super Mario World in every way. I know that the major complaint for the NSMB series is that it is too easy, and as far as I can see this has been addressed with this iteration. NSMBU gets hard, even in the main story levels and without collecting all star coins. Bosses can be tough, and level design can be punishing. It's a fantastic game, and it's filled with extra content to master. I love being able to play fully on the gamepad with it too, but it also looks great in HD on your monitor or TV. My only real complaint with the game is that it has average music at best. Nothing memorable. Nothing as legendary as let's say, SM64's Bowser theme. 

NintendoLand - well, it is what it is. It's better than I thought it would be, and MUCH better than something like Wii Sports. You have some legitimately fun, fully fleshed out mini games here. The Zelda, Pikmin, Metroid and Ninja ones stand out a lot I'd say, and you get some great uses of the gamepad. For multiplayer, the Luigi's Mansion minigame is the one that really shows you what asymmetric gameplay can do, but I didn't actually play it since I don't own Wiimotes to use for multiplayer. One thing I must say is that Metroid Blast - while good fun - makes you aim using the gamepad. This works pretty well and is fun for this mini game, but I seriously hope this doesn't become the norm for Metroid on Wii U. It's good as a minigame, but if I have to actually play a full shooter like that, I think it'd kill my hands eventually. That's the sort of thing that should either be toggle-able or used in key parts of a game only. I should mention that this sort of gameplay feels better in the Zelda minigame, because unlike Metroid where both analog sticks are used for movement (left stick for direction, right stick for elevation and moving the field of view left and right) and the gamepad is used for aiming, in Zelda you use the left stick to move the field of view left and right and that's it: all character movement is automatic (like a rail shooter) and the right stick is simply used to "pull back" arrows before shooting them, which actually feels quite good.

Rayman Legends - Wow. Well, this is a 2D platforming game, just like Origins, but this is really something special. Firstly, it looks absolutely fantastic in 1080p. The environments are crisp, lively, and all that jazz. However what managed to catch my attention immediately as the demo began was the great musical score. The production on this thing is just great. Now, the gameplay is quite familiar at first, and it's great as is. But then things really get fresh when you bust out Murphy, the frog fairy thing you control on the gamepad. The transition is seamless and suddenly now you're using the gamepad to its fullest by distracting enemies, cutting ropes, moving platforms, tilting the gamepad, hitting buttons, etc. It works really well and the CPU player you assist performs competently as long as you yourself are playing competently. The third demo level rocks, pun absolutely intended. In this level, you are prompted to run constantly as a wall of flame follows you from the left, jumping and attacking--in tune with the stage's background music--past enemies and obstacles in your way. It's actually quite fun. The three demo levels each showcase a different facet of gameplay (first level is gamepad-oriented, second is more traditional gameplay, and the third one is the chase with music scene), and all are equally satisfying. This game is definitely looking to be the strongest of the Wii U's early lineup so far.

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed - I don't like this game. It doesn't use the gamepad very well but that's the least of its problems. The gameplay is average, crashing feels like nothing more than a minor speed setback, the music and stage in the demo is nothing to gawk at or laud. There was very little satisfaction in getting and using items, most of the time I didn't even know what they were doing. I'd much rather play a Mario Kart title than this. I feel like I should mention that I didn't know anything about this game until I played the demo, and that it's entirely possible that the demo is just far too limited to showcase how good the game really is - but still, compared to a demo like Rayman Legends which shows everything you need to know about the game, this thing is just completely average and limited, which doesn't leave a good impression for prospective buyers. Since the demo has a limited amount of uses anyway, there isn't really much of an excuse for such an extreme lack of content. I'm not even allowed to use characters that aren't Sonic, let alone switch cars, tracks or gameplay modes. The demo is also double the size of the Rayman Legends demo, but it is a 3D title so I wouldn't hold this against it

Mighty Switch Force: Hyper Drive Edition - Looks great in HD. Music is alright, nothing too great. The game itself is rather fun and definitely worth $10. Though it makes no special use of the gamepad, you can play entirely on it just like with NSMBU. The gameplay is great and just as it is on the 3DS version apparently, though the Wii U version has new "hyper" difficulty level versions of every stage which is actually great, since the biggest complaint with the 3DS title was its short completion length.

I haven't really used TVii because I don't have this thing hooked up to a TV, but just a monitor in my room, and the only service I use anyway is Netflix (which I usually watch via an Apple TV anyway). But I've unanimously heard only good things about TVii, so if that is something you're interested in, it's certainly worth checking out.

All in all, I'm satisfied with the purchase. The device has given me some technical problems: it's frozen twice, and annoyingly enough you have to unplug it when this happens as you cannot "hard" shutdown as with the PS3 or PC. The gamepad also disconnected once while playing the F-Zero minigame, which was rather annoying, even though I was only a few feet away. But those complaints aside, I find myself using the Wii U pretty often, if not at least once a day. Though really not an essential purchase at the moment (right now, it's just a nice device to have), I'm sure it will be once more titles start rolling out next year. Namely the first party Nintendo titles, but also other third party exclusives like Rayman Legends and Bayonetta 2.

If you're on the fence, I'd say get one. Unless you are only opting to own one console for the next generation, in which case I'd say don't get one, since third party support is something I can't see being great for multiplatform titles once the next wave of consoles rolls in. I'll get either a 720 or PS4 to complement the console titles I'll be playing on Wii U myself.
<message edited by Satanas on Wednesday, January 02, 2013 12:28 AM>

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