A Wii U-logy

The Switch is upon us, so it’s time to say farewell to the Wii U. It had plenty of flaws, but it also hosted some of the best games Nintendo has made in years, and I love that console.

Script:

C1: Hey everyone, welcome to P Myth Gaming, we’re now three weeks deep into the Switch, but it would be remiss of us if we didn’t take the time to say farewell to it’s predecessor, the humble Wii U. It’s definitely fair to call it a commercial failure, as it only managed to shift around 13 million consoles worldwide.

C2: That’s only about a tenth of the money printing machine that was the Wii.

C1: And yet the Wii U has actually been one of my favourite consoles in a couple of generations. There’s no denying that when Nintendo birthed the system it promptly dropped the newborn on its head.

C2: And then accidentally booted it across the room as it bent to pick it up.

C1: The messaging was all wrong, even from the initial E3 reveal where they constantly referred to ‘the new controller’. Combined with the, somewhat understandable continuation of the successful Wii branding, many were left scratching their heads as to whether or not this was indeed a new console, or merely an extra peripheral for the Wii

C2: And Christ knows there were enough of them. Between all the wii wheels, nunchucks, classic controllers, zappers and motion plus accessories, I’ve got an entire drawer full of white plastic.

C1: So Nintendo’s failure to articulate precisely what this device was, took a cricket bat to it’s knees before they’d even fired the starter’s pistol. And whilst having a tablet controller was a great idea in theory, between concept and release tablet technology had developed exponentially, and the Wii U’s pad looked clunky and low tech, even compared to a Kindle.

C2: It may as well have been slate and a piece of chalk compared to some iPads.

C1: There was also a lack of killer software out of the gate. The ‘flagship’ launch title from Nintendo was another iteration in the ‘new’ super mario bros. Series, and whilst those games are great, they lack the system selling gravitas that say, a proper Mario or Zelda title possess.

That was accompanied by a slew of ports of older titles from other systems that few people were particularly interested in replaying, and then a pretty large first party drought, with Pikmin 3 not dropping until August the following year.

C2: 9 months between Nintendo games. No wonder it didn’t shift any units.

C1: But where they totally ballsed up on the marketing and hardware front, there is one area where Nintendo consistently knocked it out of the park where the Wii U was concerned, and that was games.

Starting with Pikmin 3 Nintendo really hit their stride in making some absolutely superlative software, that in many cases were the pinnacle of their respective franchises.

I’m a big fan of Pikmin and Pikmin 3 took everything that made the first two games great and added a level of polish and refinement, especially with the utilisation of the touch screen, which perfected the gameplay, and in many ways the genre.

This trend continued with Mario Kart 8, which many describe as the best Mario Kart ever.

C2: Though personally I still don’t think Double Dash has been topped

C1: The tracks were great, and once you factored in brilliant DLC

C2: Sixteen tracks, half the game again essentially, as well as characters and karts, all for less than 12 quid.

C1: There was absolutely tonnes of content, and I still play it regularly now. The fact that game is so goddam good is why Nintendo have got me by the love spuds, and I’ll be buying it again for Switch.

C1: And it’s a similar story with Smash Bros. Nintendo’s flagship fighting game hit crazy new peaks on Wii U, with a huge roster and mechanics tighter than a duck’s backside. It’s no wonder Nintendo are porting both these games to Switch

C2: Allegedly in the case of Smash Bros.

To give those games wider exposure, that they undoubtedly deserve.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, whilst a second party title developed by Retro, was also arguably the best DK game since the SNES and one of my favourite games on Wii U period. It was a no-holds-barred platformer that struck that perfect balance between difficulty and playability. Everytime you died

C2: And you’d die a lot

C1: There was never any doubt that it was your fault, there was never a sense of unfairness about your failures. It instilled that ‘I can do this, one more go’ feeling that only the very best platformers properly nail.

And of course, finally, for it’s swansong, the Wii U also hosts The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, a game that now holds the record for the most amount of perfect scores ever awarded, to any game, ever.

Not that it was just established franchises that got all the love. Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker, whilst admittedly a concept nabbed from a few bonus stages in the also excellent Super Mario 3D World, was a superb little puzzler, and I really hope Nintendo give us another one on Switch.

Perhaps the crown jewel in Wii U’s, err, crown, though, was Splatoon. People had been dying for Nintendo to introduce a new IP for years, and when they finally did, they knocked it clean out of the park.

Their take on the online multiplayer shooter was classic, completely off-the-wall Nintendo. I was sceptical myself going into it and almost didn’t buy the game at all, but the timed demos they ran, as well as the way they rolled out constant updates with new maps, game modes, weapons, and other gear

C2: All for free mind you

C1: Hooked me in, and then kept me playing. Outside of Mario Odyssey, Splatoon Two is the game I’m most hyped for for Switch this year.

C1: Perhaps the signature title for the Wii U though, and arguably the one game that truly justified the gamepad, was Super Mario Maker. It’s kind of difficult to really articulate just what kind of an impact that game has had, but playing some of the amazingly crafted levels the community has come up with has been awesome

C2: Even if some of them are hard to find amongst all the autoplay bollocks that’s on there.

C1: And I’ve whiled away many an evening working on my own concoctions. The game really let you run wild with your imagination, with a myriad of tools to do so, and using the touch screen to craft your levels was effortlessly intuitive.

There’s not a great deal to note on the third party front, admittedly, that was another of the Wii U’s failures, but props do need to be given to Platinum who, in Wonderful 101 and in Bayonetta 2 even more so, released some fantastic platform exclusives. The relationship Nintendo have developed with them excites me, and I hope they get free reign to develop a more traditional Starfox for Switch, unhindered by awkward control scheme that hampered many people’s enjoyment of Starfox Zero, myself included.

So the Wii U is not without it’s flaws, but like the Gamecube before it, plays host to some absolutely superlative games. It’s the most fun I’ve had with a Nintendo console in years and the form Nintendo have been in in terms of software development makes me incredibly excited for Switch going forward.

Thanks very much for watching, don’t forget to show those like and subscribe buttons some love, and let me know what your favourite Wii U games are down in the comments. See you all next time.

 

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