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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Wii U - Even Gaming Journalists Have Become Trolls

I've had the Wii U for a little more than a week now. I turned down a review copy of the system as I was easily one of the biggest Wii U haters out there pre-release. The entire system didn't make sense to me, not to mention the severe distaste the Nintendo Wii left in my mouth.

Not literally in my mouth of course.

I reluctantly picked up my Wii U at midnight as I happened to be driving back from a University of Oregon Ducks game at that exact time. The next morning, unexcited and underwhelmed at what was in front of me I began to play. Several hours later I couldn't believe what I was playing. I immediately hopped online to read the reactions of other gamers out there, only to be met with hate and cynicism.

"Are they playing the same system that I am?" I said to myself. "Half of these complaints aren't even real!". 

I shrugged it off as typical troll behavior and moved to the next site. Much to my surprise I was greeted by the same negativity. Only this time it was by some of the more well-respected gaming journalists out there (if there actually are any of those anymore).

This is where the line had to be drawn. The critiques of the Wii U were unsubstantiated and completely subjective. Yes, I understand that reviews are the subject's opinion. Trust me, I've been on the receiving end of that troll fight far too many times. However, when complaints such as first-day updates and a learning curve are involved, it's gone too far.

These are not reviews any longer. They are hate articles on Nintendo, and the severe bias towards the competitor has never shown this strong before. For the first time since Strength Gamer has been created I am going to point out pieces of the articles I am referring to. Hold on to your buttholes folks, shit's about to hit the fan.

From CNET:

"Unfortunately, one section where the Wii U majorly fails -- compared with other consoles -- is media playback. Truth is, there is none. Even with all of its USB ports and SD slot, users cannot play their own media on the console. Throw this into the missed opportunity category."

Which is absolutely a legitimate concern, if we didn't have a number of streaming apps available to us on the Wii U. Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Instant Video are currently available. Nintendo even has a service known as TVii coming out in December that will not only let you watch live television, but record it as well.

I posed this question on Facebook last night while writing this article: "Just curiously, for those console owners out there, when's the last time you used one to watch a physical disc? CD, DVD, Blu-Ray? Or is it mainly streaming apps like Netflix, Hulu Plus, etc?"

The answers I received were as follows: 

"My PS3 is my bluray player and I use it when I rent from red box. Maybe 2-3 times a month?"

"A lot of movies are 30+ days delayed to streaming services, or more expensive ($4+) on services like Amazon or Netflix. Occasionally I'll rent from iTunes on the AppleTV because they tend to have things earlier or even before they are released on physical media. I doubt it would be a deal breaker for many people though. It wouldn't be for me, if I was considering a new console."

"I do stream my Netflix and Amazon shows and some free movies from my PS3. I have a separate, 3D compatible Blu-Ray that I watch all my personal movie collection, and all the big action movies on because it gives off better picture and sound quality in my personal opinion."

Sounds like it's not a big deal. It's not for me at least. What about you?

"So far, Nintendo has yet to do an overly impressive job of locking up exclusive titles only available on the Wii U. Aside from forthcoming first-party titles like Pikmin 3 and Game and Wario, Nintendo has only teased exclusives like Bayonetta 2, Lego City Undercover, and The Wonderful 101."

Ever heard of this game called Zombi U? It's sort of a big deal, and absolutely exclusive. There's also this small indie game titled Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate. While it's not coming out solely for the Wii U (it's a 3DS release also), it's a Nintendo exclusive. I can understand how CNET hasn't heard of it though. Like I said, it's a small game made by a very small developer.

"The image displayed on the GamePad gets cut off a bit around the edges when swapped to the TV screen. It doesn't seem to affect games, but it does slice a bit of the image off in the Wii U OS. "

For this to even be a complaint baffles me. Here's a link to the image he is talking about. #seriously?

From The Verge:

"Big, heavy, and basically a mirror"

Not at all true. The Gamepad doesn't act as only a mirror. More on that later, but even sites like Kotaku in their review of Zombi U mention that the Gamepad is far beyond a standard controller. It enhances the experience far more than anything else out there.

"The size isn't the end of the world since it's something you'll rarely pick up or move, but it's deep enough that it stuck out over the edge of my TV stand."

Here's a link to the image of what I'm guessing is the reviewer's TV stand. It obviously would not stick out over the edge.

"I'm not sure I've ever written about a power cable in a review before, but the Wii U's merits a mention. Because it's massive. The power brick is almost the same size as the console itself, and it made installing the system a lot harder — hiding something that big behind your TV can be tough."

It's much smaller than the one on the Xbox 360. It's by no means close to as large as the Wii U itself. Which even if it was isn't saying much, as the Wii U isn't isn't a large system. It's substantially smaller than the Playstation 3 and the Xbox 360.

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"The whole thing feels a little cheap and flimsy (a common occurrence with Nintendo consoles) though it's plenty sturdy in use."

Right. Because my NES, SNES, Nintendo 64, and Gamecube are incredibly fragile. The Gamecube is almost literally a brick. You could throw that thing off a mountain and wouldn't break. That hard plastic has never been a great idea.

Even my Wii, while not as thick as the rest of the Nintendo consoles, has never broken. There's even a YouTube video of some jackass breaking one at launch and it takes him multiple hits with a sledgehammer to break it. This is clearly Nintendo trolling at its finest.

"It's a disaster of a touchscreen, though: the resistive display often doesn't register taps or swipes at all, and you have to really mash on the screen to get it to register. Gaming's all about fast-twitch reactions, and you'll miss a lot while trying to tap the screen. The included stylus is a little better, but not much."

Two things here. There's a reason a stylus is included. It's not to make it react quicker, but to be more precise. Also, it's by no means unresponsive. If anything it's overly responsive. I've found myself pressing commands that I didn't mean to while surfing the internet. It's so responsive in fact that Miiverse (more on that soon) has created an art gallery of sorts. Nearly anyone can draw something, and those with a sliver of artistic ability have created drawings that would make the greatest of graphics art majors envious. 

Don't believe me? Click here.

"But every game implements the GamePad differently, and most don't do it very well. Some of the games in Nintendo Land take place almost entirely on the GamePad, so all you see on your TV is "Look at the GamePad!" Others are mirrored, so you're seeing exactly the same thing on the TV and on the GamePad – it's distracting to see things happening on both screens, and I wound up constantly shifting my gaze because I'd see some movement out of the corner of my eye."

Not a critique at all. This is instead proof that the author simply can't multitask. Sure the Gamepad may show the same screen in some games, but it's by no means distracting. Not to mention it does this on purpose so that you can watch TV while playing the Wii U games at the same time. 

"When you go to the Wii U's home screen, by default it shows your available Miis (the animated characters that represent whoever's playing the Wii U) on the TV and all the app icons and menu options on the GamePad. That's the opposite of what it should be, if you ask me, and it speaks to a much larger problem: I never figured out which Wii U screen is the default screen."

This can be switched with a simple button press. It's also there so that you can see what the community has submitted to Miiverse. All the drawings and comments will be shown on one screen, while your UI is shown on the other. Don't know which one to look at? Let me give you a hint: it's the one where all your apps are located.

"There's nothing special about how it works on the Wii U, though — the GamePad and TV just mirror each other, so you can look at either screen, but there's nothing added by having both pieces." 

This is in response to New Super Mario Bros. U. It's also completely false. The Gamepad is used for two reasons. The first is a mirror image so you can play it while your TV is occupied. Say you are watching the game for example. No problem, you can change the input of the TV (using the Gamepad as a remote) and watch it, all while still playing NSMBU. The second is that if you have a controller - Wiimote for example - you can have one person playing while the player with the Gamepad taps the screen to hit enemies and add helpful blocks.

This even allows for up to five people to play at once. Yes, five person local multiplayer.

Clearly the individual who wrote this review either didn't actually play New Super Mario Bros. U or doesn't have any friends to play it with. If you're going to write that it does nothing, you should make sure that it actually does nothing.

From Polygon:

"This review was largely completed prior to the Wii U's "day one patch," which enabled the online marketplace for the Wii U as well as Miiverse and online play. While this review does not speak to the Wii U's online components, we will be continuing to evaluate the Wii U over the coming days, weeks and months. As Nintendo's new platform evolves, so will our review."

As of writing this, nothing has been updated despite the firmware update. I'll make sure to change this section once the promise they made has actually been implemented.

"The console isn’t big, strictly speaking, but it is quite a bit deeper than the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. Laying flat, the system looks kind of silly. But vertically, it cuts a sleek, friendly, and modern silhouette."

This is also not true. I lined up all three systems and snapped a pic. As you can see, the Wii U is about 1/4" longer than the 360. It is however smaller than the Playstation 3. So I ask you Polygon, how did you come to the conclusion that the Wii U is "... quite a bit deeper than the Xbox 360 or Playstation 3"?

"The GamePad is also well constructed and comfortable to hold, and it’s much lighter than expected — at 1.1 pounds, it weighs less than the iPad 4, though it is heavier than the Xbox 360 or PS3 controllers."

Once again, contrasting points between reviewers. Of course it's heavier. It has a freaking screen in the middle of the controller for crying out loud. #smh
"The Wii U’s GamePad allows for the possibility of playing full console games without a television, and regardless of whether or not this is a practical concern for you as an individual, it’s still cool that it works. It’s only offered in a few retail titles currently: New Super Mario Bros U, Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition and Scribblenauts Unlimited, but in those games, the ability to play independent of the television has proven practical."

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Finally, someone out there who realizes the Gamepad isn't another 3DS. It allows us to play full console games without a television. 

As for only three games having the ability to play Gamepad only, this is not true. At all. I don't understand how a site as large as reputable as Polygon is publishing complete bullshit. The ability to play on the Gamepad alone is also offered on Darksiders 2, Batman Arkham City Armored Edition, Black Ops 2, Rayman Legends, Mass Effect 3 Special Edition, NBA 2K13, and Skylanders Giants. For the record, those are only the games I have played with this function. I'm sure there are more.

As for Assassin's Creed 3, I haven't had the chance to play it yet so I can't say whether it works or not. You can however play AC3 in 3D on the Gamepad, so I'm assuming it has the Gamepad function - some confirmation from you, the reader, would be greatly appreciated. 

You can also play Trine 2 on the Gamepad only if you so desire.

"The three hour battery life also hurts Nintendo’s efforts to make the GamePad ubiquitous as a television remote."

Just plug it in? I have about eight-thousand outlets in nearly every room of my house. I haven't had an issue with this. Also, the Polygon review mentions three hours of continuous play without a charge. That's plenty of time considering what the Gamepad is doing. The cord is also 8.5" long, plenty of length to plug it in. I wish I had more than three hours of free time to sit down and play. When I do, I simply plug it in.

Also, if you're planning to use the Gamepad as a television remote solely, which the above sentence suggests, it's going to last a lot longer than three hours. Even playing Black Ops 2 on the Gamepad lasted around 4 hours for myself. 

"Playing games on the GamePad independent of the television screen is convenient, but it’s not a new experience, given Nintendo’s strong handheld console legacy."

Irrelevant as the Wii U and Gamepad offer full HD, console gaming in the palm of your hands. The 3DS and the Wii U/Gamepad are two completely different things. The closest thing to this is the Playstation Vita, which I am also a huge supporter of.

"... we’re left without compelling reasons to recommend Wii U versions of third party software."

Totally. Because playing games like Darksiders 2, Black Ops 2, and Skylanders Giants on the Gamepad isn't revolutionary. Not to mention games like Zombi U which use the Gamepad to create an immersive experience unlike anything out there. Here's my review.

"As of this writing, the Wii U that customers will buy on November 18th doesn’t have an online component — that has to be downloaded in a day one firmware update for the system. While firmware updates are nothing new, no one outside of Nintendo and some third-party developers have any idea how the Wii U’s online infrastructure will function. We don’t know what the shop experience is. We don’t know how you reach out to friends, whether you can join games via invites a la Xbox Live, how voice communication works. In fact, at the time of publish, Nintendo hasn’t even enabled backwards compatibility for Wii titles."

Three things here. While Polygon may not have known, developers absolutely do. Secondly, the online component is far beyond anything else out there in regards to consoles. Miiverse is a social network with communities set aside for each game released. I spend at least an hour a day on here, scrolling through user comments, responding to FAQS, and adding to the community itself. Ever heard of Raptr? If you have, it's like that. Only I don't have to sign up and it's always in the palm of my hands.

Thirdly, there's a massive app in the middle of the Gamepad that enables Nintendo Wii backwards compatibility. Next time Polygon, when publishing an incomplete review, only review the portions that you actually know about. Or at least update the review. 

"With Microsoft and Sony expect to announce new, significantly more powerful systems within the next six months, Nintendo has only a short amount of time to establish the Wii U. We are concerned about its ability to be more than a box for Nintendo first-party releases. Nintendo has always delivered on that, but it's promised more, and that’s what we expect."

Expect(ed) is the key word here. I realize this is a typo on their part. Also, if "Nintendo has always delivered on that" than what are they so pessimistic about?

From IGN:

"The channels are clean and easy to navigate, especially with the GamePad, but you'll quickly find the loading screens can last anywhere from 10 to 30 seconds."

This is very true. It isn't however different than anything else out there. There are numerous articles out there recording the difference in load times, with the Wii U being on par if not slightly faster than most. Here's one for you to read.

"But the odds that anyone else will release anything as innovative as the Wii U are unlikely. If you want something that'll offer absolutely one-of-a-kind gaming experiences, crazy same-TV multiplayer, and the ability to play next-gen games on a tablet, the Wii U is king."

Yet they rate is a 7.6 out of 10? That's interesting...


I'm not even going to get into the GameSpot review of the Wii U. I'm exhausted from the above article. It's just as ridiculous as the rest of them out there. The point of this article is to simply point out the obvious bias in the game industry. If you want a true review of the Wii U, ask someone who has one. Hell, ask me. I'm not exactly known for hiding the truth. Listen to a few of the Strongcasts if you want my opinion pre-release.

The sad thing about the above information is that it's taken from legitimate gaming websites. Some of the most influential, legitimate ones out there. It's unacceptable to make false claims like they have been. It's trolling, and it's somehow sneaked its way into "professionals". If you want to have a really fun time reading the immense Nintendo hate, take a look at the comments of nearly any Wii U article. I'm not sure if it's a generational attitude towards Nintendo, or leftover anger from the Wii, but it's becoming ridiculous.

The Wii U is a phenomenal system that is worthy of exceptionally high praise. It's yielded my Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 useless. Why would I want to play a game on the other systems when the Wii U offers a more interactive, better looking experience? I wouldn't. Which is why I find myself on the Wii U more often than not. The Gamepad works well enough as a tablet that even my iPad has become lonely. It's also an all-in-one television remote, allowing me to control inputs, volume, channels, and browse through the guide. If that's not enough for you, it has Miiverse, which is every bit as great as Facebook, only with a whole lot less creepy.

So let's recap. The Wii U lets you play on both your television and the Gamepad at the same time or separate. If you do play at the same time, the Gamepad acts as a map, inventory, or a type of boost mode. If the TV is being used, or let's say you're in a room that doesn't have a television, you can still play your favorite games on the Gamepad - all you need is the Wii U to be plugged into an outlet. The Gamepad also works as a television remote, internet browser, and tablet. You can stream Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, and very soon Nintendo TVii. It has a 4-6 hour battery life when not plugged in, and comes with an 8.5' power cord if you do have to plug it in. Oh, and yes, the majority of games I have played do look slightly better on the Wii U than the PS3 or Xbox 360.

For those out there who don't agree, that's understandable. For those out there who view this as the reason Nintendo is doomed, just remember that developers are still unlocking the full potential. This happens in every system. Look at the difference between Uncharted 3 and Uncharted. Or Halo 4 vs Halo 3 for that matter. Give it time to mature.

I hope this sheds some light on the situation. 

Now have at me trolls.
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