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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Review: Wii U - 10 Things I Love, 2 Things I Don't

This post was intended to be titled "Wii U - 10 Things I Love, 10 Things I Don't". Problem is that I'm finding it incredibly difficult to find that many things to not like about the Wii U.

Rather than pick it apart and find elements to dislike (like a large percentage of gaming sites out there), I have settled with 10 things I love, and 2 things I don't.


TV Remote
This is one of the features that's been known for a while that I absolutely shrugged off. Whoa you can use your GamePad as a TV remote... big deal. You know what else does that? My TV remote. Think it's cool that you can watch TV while you play New Super Mario Bros. U? Buy a 3DS then, right?

Wrong - the TV remote function on the Wii U GamePad is a game changer. Simply press the "TV" button and volume, channel, power, input, and other commands pops into view. You can even turn your TV on from the GamePad. If the game is too loud you can simply turn it down with your freaking controller. It's brilliant. Haven't used my actual TV remote in three days.

Second Screen Functionality
Yet another function that I have been very vocal about not understanding. No one can look at two screens at once. Hell, most people can hardly drive while looking at the road. It just didn't make sense to me, especially considering the SmartGlass and Vita can more or less do this already.

Not like this though. This is something special. For example in New Super Mario Bros. U the player with the GamePad can tap the screen to add blocks to the level, in theory helping the other player out. If you play with a few of your closest friends this usually means you dying as they love placing them in your way, but the game mechanic works flawlessly. You can even tap enemies to freeze them, or collect Star Power and simply eliminate them.

In games like ZombiU the GamePad acts as your map, inventory, radar, and Augmented Reality scanner. You hear your guide talking through the GamePad speakers as well. I won't get too far into how beautifully the GamePad works with ZombiU as I am in the process of the review. I will say this however - it's unbelievably great.

Front Facing Camera
While there hasn't been a ton of features that use the front-facing camera, taking a picture of my zombie-self for ZombiU was way too much fun. You can also video chat with your Nintendo friends, which is great if you are the type of person that likes your gadgets to be multifunctional.

I can talk about Miiverse for the rest of my life if you let me. This is absolutely the next generation in social gaming. Just like the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 you can add friends to play with online. The major difference here is that this is all performed in the Miiverse. A social gaming hub if you will.

Say you want to post a screenshot and share it with your friends. That's simple. During the game press the Home button and select Miiverse. You are now taken to the hub and are given the choice of either typing a comment or hand-drawing one. Once you have done this, attach your screenshot. Now every single person using Miiverse that's hanging in the appropriate game community can see your post. They can also comment and "Yeah!" it.

It's a massive social hub that makes it feel like everyone on the Wii U is finally connected. During New Super Mario Bros. U you can even leave little comments about the level for everyone to read. It's really exciting to log on and see what people have been posted. Especially the artistic gamers who clearly spend more time drawing their next comment then actually playing the game. Infinitely better than anything else out available out there on consoles.

In-Game Screenshots
While this is mentioned above shortly, being able to show off your favorite moment to your friends never gets old. Pressing Home and going to Miiverse lets you post screenshots. I wish you could Tweet them out (much like you can with the Vita), but that's something that can be patched.

TV and Gaming Simultaneously
Last night I watched Netflix on my Playstation 3 while playing Scribblenauts Unlimited. You can do this by simply hitting the 'TV' button and changing the input on your TV. The game then plays on your GamePad as if it was on your television. Console-quality gaming on your controller - hell yes. It's really nice for those long collectible-collecting adventures that you are addicted to yet still want to watch the football game.

This works for other games as well, such as New Super Mario Bros. U, and Batman Arkham City: Armored Edition as well.

Headphone Jack in GamePad
Simple one here. There's a headphone jack in the GamePad itself. Great for playing while the other person in the room is watching TV, reading a book, trying to sleep, or really anything where video game sounds aren't appropriate. It's also extremely immersive for games like ZombiU. Suddenly the zombies aren't in front of you, they are inside your ear holes.

Speaker in GamePad
Same idea as the headphone jack really. It's very immersive. One of my favorite things about the Wii (and there weren't a lot for the record) was the speaker in the Wiimote. It brings the game closer to you. Coupled with the secondary gaming abilities of the GamePad and that speaker really increases the experience.

Web Browser In-Game
This is a huge deal when used appropriately. Have you ever wanted to look up a few tips and tricks to that game you are playing, but didn't end up doing it because of the hassle? That's completely gone now. As an example there was a spot in ZombiU that I could not figure out for the life of me (pun intended). All I did was press the Home button, then clicked on the Internet Browser, and before I knew what happened I was surfing the web better than my tablet can do.

You can even set bookmarks. Which is perfect for when you need to remember the latest StrengthGamer guide.

HD Mario
Nothing else needs to be said on this one. It's Mario, in HD. Done deal here.

Don't Love: 

No Achievements
I'm an Achievement Whore and fairly proud of it. It gives me more reasons to keep playing a game. It's probably something to do with the completionist side of me. Everything must be done.

Needless to say I was disappointed to see that Nintendo didn't install a dedicated Achievement system. Would have been a cool thing to see in classic Nintendo games.

Command Buttons below Joystick
I can't get used to the command button being below the right joystick. It's much easier for me to move my thumb slightly up and to the right then immediately down. Whether that's due to years of it being the other way, or actual human motion preference I don't know. As of right now, it's driving me insane.
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