[Update: I added a few more things to the end of the list that I thought about after this was originally posted. This thing has a lot of quirks.]
When I first got my 3DS, my lack of research into some of its finer points left me occasionally dumbfounded at some of the decisions Nintendo had made regarding its design. Well now I have a Wii U. And guess what??? Nintendo has done it again. There are some things about the Wii U which, design-wise, I will never understand.
Did you know…?
- You can now have Nintendo money in four different places, none of them linked to each other. You can have eShop bucks on the DSi, the 3DS, the Wii, and the Wii U, and none of it is transferable. The 3DS and Wii U have retail-purchasable gift cards that can be applied to both, but you can’t, say, use half on your Wii U and half on your 3DS. Also, I got one of these gift cards for Christmas that was worth $35. There is NOTHING on the eShop (any eShop) that costs $35. And putting it on the Wii U means I can’t use it to download Virtual Console games from the dashboard’s Wii channel, which sits there, tucked away in a secret place on the Main Menu, penniless. What.
- You can use Wii controllers for a lot of games, but only if they’re MotionPlus. Even to access the Wii menu, where (presumably) everything is Wii-ready, you need the extra whatevers that MotionPlus brings to the table. I haven’t really played my original Wii since MotionPlus was introduced, so I had to pick one up (for $40?!) to play Mario and Nintendo Land with friends. This wouldn’t be so bad, except…
- To play New Super Mario Bros. U multiplayer, you need at least TWO MotionPlus controllers, one per person. This is despite the fact that you can play the game single player with the Wii U GamePad just fine. Why can’t we pick what controller we want to use? Nobody knows.
- The GamePad screen stays “on” no matter what you’re doing, sucking battery life away at a rate rivaling the SEGA Game Gear. Playing Mario U on the big screen? It’ll show the entire game on the little screen too (and play all the music and sounds out of the Pad’s speakers, as well). Watching Netflix? Your GamePad will stay lit up with movie info the whole time, ruining your room’s mood lighting. True, it will dim a bit after being untouched for a few minutes, but the sensitive accelerometer within will pop it back to full brightness if you so much as breathe near it. The brightness setting is buried in some menu, but “off” isn’t an option.
- Despite their best efforts… wait, no. There haven’t been best efforts by Nintendo to get into the real world of 2002. New Super Mario Bros. U, their flagship launch title, has time attack modes but no online leaderboards. There is multiplayer, but it’s only local co-op. For a AAA game released in 2012 by one of the biggest and brightest game developers in the world, this lack of basic understanding of what a game like this needs in the modern day is infuriating. Super Smash Bros. Brawl had online multiplayer, limited though it was, so it’s definitely possible, even for Nintendo. Drop-in/drop-out online co-op would give this game – and, by extension, the entire Wii U – relevance, as well as some much needed legs. And those multiplayer-only Nintendo Land games when you don’t have any friends home? Online connectivity would be nice for that too.
- The Miiverse has already turned into a huge repository of original Sonic fan art.
- Nintendo Land is much more fun than it has any right to be. Just like Wii Sports.
- There is no good way to hold the GamePad with one hand while you use the stylus with the other. I have huge hands and do this iPhone-like “rest the bulk of the weight on the pinkie with the other fingers splayed across the back” kind of thing, and no matter how light the GamePad feels at first, after a few hours of that your hand won’t close anymore.
- Using the GamePad as a TV remote is one of the easiest setups I’ve ever done. In less than a minute, I was using it to control both my TV and my cable box. Handy because this thing is much easier to not lose than a tiny TV remote.
Did you know all this stuff? Maybe, if you have your own Wii U. But I bet it wasn’t in a handy bulleted list format.
[Update on 1/16: bonus points!]
- There is still no Trophy/Achievement system in place at all. I thought the Accomplishments on the 3DS’s Mii stuff meant they’d be leaning that way, and multi-platform games already have them programmed in, but no. Doesn’t Nintendo realize Achievements were a huge boon for the 360 in the pre-PS3-Trophy days? There was I think zero multiplat releases that sold better on PS3 than Xbox 360. When all other things are equal, the game that offers more – in this case, an arbitrary reward system that was like crack to some gamers – is the clear winner.
- You can transfer everything from your Wii to your Wii U, but only once, and it’s an all-or-nothing move. Do you want an empty Wii, while everything you’ve ever done on it is locked into the sad, slow Wii channel on your U? Where your GameCube games/peripherals aren’t even supported? Yeah, me neither. Also, there’s some data that, for one reason or another, just won’t transfer. Deal with it. *shades*
- The Wii U eShop hasn’t had a single non-retail game added to it since it launched on November 18, 2012. Not. One. At least it was just announced that Double Fine’s The Cave is landing on January 22, but, to be honest, this game doesn’t look appealing to me at all. On the plus side, Wii U owners get the game a full day before the rest of the world.
- You can’t see the size of games you want to download before the checkout screen. With such a limited storage capacity, Nintendo must have realized that seeing too many gigabytes of data would scare people off from downloading a particular game? Wii U storage space is at a premium, especially when a game like Tekken Tag Tournament will take up around half of the Deluxe Model’s space, and that’s just on the first day of the console’s life. What if this system is around for five years? With no overarching online model linking purchases to the person instead of the console, we may all be out of luck if larger capacity Wii U’s aren’t already in the works. But let’s face it: this is Nintendo. We’ll have a Wii Ui Mini Lite XL with three more cameras by Christmas 2013.