How the Wii U Converted a Nintendo Skeptic

When I first saw Nintendo’s new entertainment console the Wii U, it was at the 2011 E3 Expo in Los Angeles. I was intrigued by the possibilities of the new unit, but had to wonder to myself that Nintendo was still playing catch-up as graphically I didn’t see anything that was superior to what was are ready being offered by the Xbox 360 or the PlayStation 3.

When Nintendo later disclosed that much the footage shown during our conference was actually that of games running on other consoles it certainly gave me reason for concern.

At the 2012 Expo, I was given some hands-on time with the unit, and again my concerns about the graphical power of the system were raised. While I found the games exceptionally fun, I kept getting a feeling that much of it had been throttled back and I was essentially getting the same games that I played on the Wii just with slightly brighter and shinier graphics, yet with those that did not greatly surpass what was currently available.

People were quick to tout the supposed technical abilities of the CPU and graphics processors the system is supposed to employ but to me all the horsepower in the world doesn’t do anything if the developers do not program games to take advantage of the hardware’s abilities.

When we went to San Diego Comic Con, we were invited to a press only viewing of the new system and I was happy to see that a larger selection of games was made available for us to sample. While I enjoyed thoroughly the Nintendo produced games would really caught my eye was ZombieU from Ubisoft, and Ninja Gaiden 3 : Razors Edge by Tecmo and published by Nintendo.

Not only did I see very intense and violent gameplay, but I saw a sharp and colorful graphics, with lightning fast yet razor smooth gameplay and animations. These two games really gave me an idea of what the new console is capable of, and had me thinking that unlike the Wii, third-party games will not have to be throttled down and limited in order to be played on the platform.

Having to sacrifice graphical quality, online play, and even portions of the game, will not be an issue for this new console. It will be very intriguing as the years go by and more developers learn new ways to program for the system what exciting things will lay ahead for gamers.
While I enjoyed the Wii there were at times many games I felt I had to sacrifice quality for the novelty of using a motion sensitive control. I really think that with the Wii U gamers will have the opportunity to play cutting-edge games without having to sacrifice anything yet get the added dimensions of motion sensitive controls, touchscreen inventories, and perhaps even in time, video interaction with other gamers.

I personally am going to have a wait-and-see approach to anything but console exclusives as the PC does remain my platform of choice for gaming, but it’s certainly going to be interesting to see if a multiplatform game release will allow the system to stand toe to toe with the other consoles without asking gamers to sacrifice any graphical or online gameplay.

Another very positive sign was during our media visits during PAX Prime was learning that respected headset manufacturer Turtle Beach has two headsets, The Nla and the N11 due out November which is designed for the Nintendo Wii system. Seeing microphone equipped headsets indicates that this system is going to be a much bigger player in the online gaming community and we’ve ever seen previously from Nintendo.

I’m not going go into the waves of technical specs of the system because as to me the proof is in the gameplay. A developer can count all the hardware specs in the world but it means absolutely nothing if the products that come out do not meet or exceed the current standards of the competition. That being said, while I started as a skeptic, I become so impressed with what I’ve seen in the potential of the unit that we decided to make the Wii U cover story for October magazine, and eagerly look forward to the arrival of our unit.

One thing I found very interesting is that despite minimal ads for the unit, the units have sold out of the pre-orders for the 32GB units and were almost sold out of the base unit as well.

I have held focus groups with several middle and high school students and asked them what they thought of the console. Most admitted they had not even heard of it. This shocked me as this is the target demographic, but my sample size was limited to one market. Clearly the worldwide pre-orders show that Nintendo has a massive hit coming.


Our Oct Wii U Magazine