I finally got my hands on a Wii U the other night. It’s not my Wii U, it’s a friend’s. We were out having a few drinks and he was gushing about how much he loved his new Wii U. Being that I’m actually a bigger game nerd than he is, he couldn’t believe that I hadn’t bought one yet. I explained to him that while I know I’ll eventually get a Wii U, at launch, there weren’t any games that I just had to play.
Buttons and Sticks
When I first picked up the massive Wii U gamepad, I was surprised at how comfortable it felt in my hands. It reminded me of the first time I picked up a Gamecube controller, which I still believe is the most comfortable controller ever made. The grips feel great and the sticks feel tight, but I’m not a fan of having the right stick where most controllers put the buttons. It’s gonna be really weird having to reach down to hit buttons. Having the right stick down there works because you’re not required to be precise in hitting a specific target. You just drop your thumb down and then pull the whole thing in a certain direction. Button presses require a little bit more precision, and I have a feeling that I’m going to wind up hitting the wrong button far too often.
A Tale of Two Screens
The Wii U’s biggest selling point is its crazy controller, right? It’s got a massive screen that, while not Retina quality, looks really good. It’s not a mandatory feature amongst Wii U games, but a lot of them will let you play what had been playing on your TV on the controller. It’s really neat, but when I was trying to play Mario on it, I felt like Mario was too small. On the TV, Mario is perfectly big enough to see and control, but on the controller, he’s too small. The controller mirrors the TV’s proportions. A true portable game like the 3DS Marios don’t have such a large background with just a tiny little Mario. Mario on Wii U would be better on the controller if it could scale to how a 3DS Mario game would look, but that’s probably asking too much and it’s probably never going to happen.
There are other uses for the screen other than mirroring, thankfully. Nintendo Land has you using the screen to initiate throwing ninja stars and Arkham City lets you use your inventory (from what I hear). RPG and Metal Gear games where you have large inventories would benefit from the screen’s capabilities. Quick access to interactive maps could also prove rather useful.
The Flucking Menus
The interface for the Wii U is very DS-like. The screen on the gamepad has a bunch of icons similar to those on the DS and that’s fine. What’s not fine is the 20 seconds it takes to return to the main menu anytime you go anywhere else!
A Lack of Games
The Wii U isn’t exactly overflowing with games. The two games I was able to play were Wii U-only, but a lot of the games are Wii U-enhanced ports of 360 and PS3 games from earlier this year or in Batman’s case, last year. As much as I like and want the hardware, the software just doesn’t compel me to buy it.