Because its been a long time since I did anything for fun for myself I decided I'd pick up a WII-U and try to catch up on some games that I had never gotten around to playing. Honestly I grew up playing nothing more sophisticated than a Sega Genesis and found more recent game systems during attempts to play them at friends houses to be confusing- what buttons did I push and when and what did they all do? So I never really caught up with gaming. And honestly I probably never will from the perspective of serious players. I've got too much of my time taken up by school and work and family to really into things. So since a lot of what I wanted to do was to play the metroid and zelda games that I missed out on growing up a WII-U was a perfect match. It could backwards compatible play the older titles and I could catch the more recent ones as well. All with a new system that was significantly cheaper than the other systems out there unless you want to buy used or older models. So far I've got a couple impressions.
First is it seems like the WII-U was launched in beta and nobody has thought to make certain that newly manufacturer devices come with reasonably updated firmware. This is a problem because the firmware updates that have to be installed to begin with run into several gigabytes of data and I only have a 3 mbps internet speed on my home connection. Looking over the change log- it appears as if Nintendo has been releasing firmware updates every couple months since the system came out and are still promising that eventually they'll fix the lag time the system has navigating its menu or opening new apps. They also haven't even gotten around to programming in the ability to access multiple hard drives at once or to swap out the drives without rebooting the entire system- despite having come with 4 USB ports. So apparently the firmware and fine tuned decisions on how exactly the system should work is giving someone a massive headache.
Next comes NintendoLand- a bunch of mini games or demos inspired by prominent titles. So far I've only played the zelda mini game. And honestly its kind of embarressing. Its fun enough, but when the largest reason that I find the game difficult is that I'm given only partial control over where my player walks and when it feels like the demo was whipped together in somebody's spare time to show off the controller instead of the Zelda game series.
Next is the time line of title releases. Maybe I just have odd expectations of gaming systems or something. But the WII-U has been out for about a year and a half and they only have just gotten the first Zelda game designed for the system from the ground up on preorder and there are no new metroid games available unless the Nintendo Land demo counts somehow. If its similar in quality to the Zelda demo I'm not certain that would make me feel excited about the game system. That being said the system has managed to release games for other major franchises such as the WII sports, smashbrothers, mario kart, and Super mario's world. So maybe I'm just blinded by expecting that they'd have gone farther on Zelda. But they did manage to find the time to port Wind Waker from all the way back from Game Cube over. But that isn't a new game- its just a port from a system two game console versions ago.
Another impression is that they may have made a mistake by trying to split the remote control usage between their new game pad with its screen and the baton waving WII remotes. It means that in multiplayer games they have to find something to do with the on remote screen that is interesting but unimportant enough for the secondary players to not be able to do it on their own. Which basically ensures that the secondary screen is pretty much lame except in single player games.
In the end the system will do exactly what I wanted- play older and more recent games while allowing me a little flexibility to explore other more modern or recent games. But I think the Nintendo brand is struggling a bit to get their feet under them.
5 months ago