By this time tomorrow the much anticipated Nintendo Switch will be in the hands of the public. (And two of those hands will be mine!) As a day one owner of a Wii U I must say I am a little nervous about this console for a few reasons. Right now you can find many “reviews” and first impressions of the new hybrid Nintendo console and If the reviewers are to be trusted, the Switch is very much a flawed console with a few of its own special quirks that only a piece of Nintendo hardware could possibly have. This week I decided to hang up my broadsword and leave it in Drangleic for a bit and dust off my Wii U in anticipation of Nintendo’s next venture into my living room and I am still baffled by just how good of a machine the Wii U is. Obviously the Wii U did a great many things wrong to contribute to its almost immediate failure, but it doesn’t feel right to badmouth something that is essentially on its deathbed so I would like to talk about what the Wii U did right.
Nintendo makes very good games, and said good games can only be played on Nintendo hardware. (save for a few mobile titles that only recently came out of course) Back when games were 8 bit and played in front of bulky standard definition televisions, Nintendo dominated the gaming industry and paved the way for a lot of excellent franchises with unique and creative games, many of which have since inspired a great deal of other games that we enjoy to this day. The Wii U’s library is no exception. While it may not have had an abundance of games, the ones it does have are certainly some of the most fun titles I have ever played. Smash Bros, New Super Mario U / Mario 3D World, Pikmin 3, Yoshi’s Wooly World, Super Mario Maker, Splatoon – just to name a few of the amazing first party exclusive games available on the Wii U. Unfortunately a lot of these games were over looked due to the lack of console sales, but a few of those ones were eventually ported to the much more accessible 3DS.
The Wii U doesn’t have achievements or trophies like the PC, Xbox and PlayStation, which kind of sucks…I’m not ashamed to admit that I get a kick out of achievements and trophies every now and then! What it does have is a quirky little community based bulletin board where players can post blurbs, brag about their in game accomplishments, screenshots, drawings and some neat stamps. Sometimes I will just stare at the screen for a few minutes to see the doodles and read posts – you can find some pretty cool stuff on there! I’m pretty sad that this won’t be featured on the Nintendo Switch, I really hope they provide some sort of alternative to make up for the lack of Miiverse. Achievements…maybe? If nothing else, there is always still time to bring it back, it took the 3DS quite a while to get its own version of the Miiverse and it is all the better for having it.
This one is obvious. Classic Nintendo franchise games are some of the most beloved titles of all time and I think a lot of us have a special place in our hearts for “retro” games like Earthbound, Ocarina of Time etc. The eShop is full of nostalgia and seeing younger gamers posting on the Miiverse about playing Mario 64 for the first time was an endearing thing. I only jumped on the Nintendo bandwagon during the N64 era, but a lot of the games for that console saw me through a major part of my childhood. When I think of the N64 I picture a goofy little chubby kid with a bowl cut (that’s me) and his younger cousin sitting in front of a TV staring at what was the beginning of a home console revolution. The Wii U’s virtual console library not only makes it possible for me to relive those moments in HD, but I’ve been able to rebuild my classic library that I somehow lost over the years. Awesome! I’m not gonna hold my breath, but I sure do hope those purchases carry over to the Switch at some point.
Good Old Fashioned couch Co-Op / Local multiplayer is becoming something we see less and less in modern gaming and that’s a crying shame. Maybe I’m just getting old, but it used to be so easy to get my gaming time in and still hang out with my friends. A lot of the games on Wii U include local multiplayer, and for me that was a huge selling point. My “non gamer” fiancée and I have spent many a fun filled evening playing Mario 3D World; but the same cannot be said about anything on PlayStation or Xbox simply because the games are just not as appealing to her and the feature is almost becoming extinct anyway. We’ve also hosted Mario Kart 8 races and Smash Bros n’ beers nights at our apartment and it has always been a great time!
Last but not least, the Wii U has a surprisingly comfortable controller that just so happens to double as a second screen. If you’re playing something on the TV, the second screen can be used as a map or add interactive features, but it can also be brought to bed with you and played like a portable device if that’s what your into. There are also a few other options available like the excellent Pro controller (which is basically an Xbox controller) or the Wiimote which we all know as the strange thing that came bundled with the original Wii.
I really wish the Wii U would have caught on. It was a pretty great machine and it did a lot of things, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to make the console a hit with hardcore gamers. At midnight tonight I will be turning on my Nintendo Switch for the first time, and I am curious to see if Nintendo can win back their audience with the next generation of in-home consoles. The launch is pretty weak, save for that amazing looking Zelda game (that I totally bought the Wii U for in the first place), friend codes are still a thing and despite the fact that there are tons of reviews in the wild right now, I still don’t really know much about the Switch. I can only hope that Nintendo doesn’t make the same mistakes that they made with the Wii U. In fact, Nintendo: If you’re listening, please don’t make the same mistakes that you made with the Wii U! If not, well I guess I’ll have something to play Zelda on the bus with in high definition and there’s always the next Mario game to look forward to. Here’s hoping!!!