Saturday, June 25, 2011

Nintendo Wii U: U for underwhelming

As long as I have been alive I have been a hardcore gamer, I was probably born with a game controller in hand. Nintendo has always been my favorite platform, until they put out the Wii.

Most of you probably have a Wii and likely a second platform too. Wii was a brilliant idea poorly executed but very well received in the Free Market. To date Wii has sold some 80 million units and so far as I know is the top selling console world wide. This is compared to some 60 million unites of the Xbox 360 sold, though I cannot find sales numbers for the PS3 it has been until recently cost prohibitive to most people so I imagine its sales are well below the Wii as well. Who has $600 to slap down on a game console? To be fair the PS3 now costs half that, but the initial high cost of entry was a deterrent to many.

I have all three systems, but my Wii software library is the weakest and smallest of this generation. Both my PS3 and my 360 have libraries that more than double the size of my Wii collection. Last Generation it was my PS2 lagging behind the GCN and Xbox. I am used to higher volumes of quality titles like Resident Evil 4, Zelda, Smash Bros, Tales of Symphonia from Nintendo and the Wii has delivered the requisite sequels but has failed do do anything beyond that, and in fact shot the poor Metroid franchise in the foot with the whiney leftist victimized Samus Aaron replacing the more Conservative badass we grew up with in the series. Other M proves that Change isn’t always something we can believe in and sometimes you shouldn’t brake what isn’t broken in order to fix it… It’s been a rough few years for Nintendo fans and it’s getting harder and harder to defend their crazy decisions.

Like their upcoming new console Wii U. Said to Rival the power of the PS3 and 360 Nintendo finally enters the world of HD. And? Well it has this bizarre new controller designed around the Ipad concept. It features a full array of classic buttons and a dual circular pads replacing the analogue controls. These circle pads are similar to the 3DS’s which works great so I am not worried about that, but there is a cumbersome 6.2” screen in the middle of this thing which makes it the largest controller in history. Worse, Nintendo has all but confirmed a price tag over $250. This thing looks expensive.

If we examine Nintendo’s latest blunder the incredibly awesome but overpriced 3DS we see that the market is in no mood for expensive new gadgets. The 3DS is moving units, but like everything else 3D the price point is slowing the rate of market penetration. Furthermore the gimmick of the Wii U is only an expansion of the DS concept, and from the looks of it glasses free 3D is not included this time, at least not on the controller, and no word if Stereo-3D, which I love, will be featured at all. The thing is, this isn’t a new idea and it looks awkward so the big question I have for Nintendo is… And?

Nintendo needs to take the good ideas of Wii and expand on them, maybe even merge them with the concepts behind, not just the DS, but 3DS and add haptic tactical technology so that you can feel weight and depth and then interact in a stereo 3D environment in a way that has never been possible before. How cool would that be? I think most gamers wouldn’t mind it if we had to wear dorky looking glasses to get that experience. But no, instead Nintendo is just doing for the home console what it has already done on the handheld market, adding a second screen. And touch screen capabilities. And…? Hopefully the news that will break in the coming months will give me more reason to be excited than I am for this new machine, but given my financial situation I have to make tough choices as the new generation rolls out. I will definitely not be buying three machines this time. Nintendo will likely still get me to buy their machine through Zelda alone, unless Link adopt’s Samus Aaron’s new whine-your-enemy-to-death approach… Still The Metroid series has lost me because of Other M, I am not impressed with Wii U, Mario is more a kids game… it’s entirely possible from what I have seen that Nintendo might loose me in the next generation.

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