As you may already know, It’s been 10 days since the launch of Nintendo’s new console, the Wii U. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time with this unit during this time, and here are my first impressions:
So…how do I look?
I am pleased with the overall look of my deluxe Wii U. The black color complements my other gaming consoles in the entertainment center quite nicely. However, it’s easy to differentiate the Wii U from the others due to its elongated and sleek design. When paired with the 6.2 inch gamepad in its stand, the overall unit truly stands out and has already made a bold impression to the guests who have visited my gaming loft thus far. They are just as pleased with my decision.
Hey…it’s what’s on the inside that counts, right?
Similar to looking under the hood when purchasing a new car, many gamers are equally concerned about what’s on the inside of this nice looking console. Those of you who have followed us at Confident Gamers know that we’re not a part of that majority. While we appreciate high power and great graphics, it’s not that high on our priority list. We value the gameplay, innovation, and fun factor more. After the initial setup and waiting almost an entire hour for the completion of the preliminary software update, I got a chance to view the display on my high-def TV. To be honest, I wasn’t completely blown away at first. In fact, the images on the gamepad seemed to look sharper than that of my television.
I spent some time exploring the apps (featured below) before breaking the seal on New Super Mario Bros. U. After yet another update, I began my journey on the new Mario installment, and this is when I was finally hit with the wow factor. Mario never looked better and I was pleased by the quality of what I saw both on my television and on my gamepad. This is a significant step in this area for Nintendo. On the flip side, other games such as Assassin’s Creed 3 and Nintendo Land didn’t look as impressive to me. Critics have and will continue to ridicule Nintendo for the fact that the graphics of the Wii U seem “on par” with 6+ year old technology such as the 360 and PS3. And actually, I don’t fault them for expecting more from a next gen console. But we have to keep these 2 things in mind: (1) Nintendo is more concerned about innovation and changing the way you play games; (2) this system is only 10 days old and it usually takes some time to see the full power of a new console as developers come up with new ways to take advantage of the system. So patience is the key here.
Freeze, you’re it!
Remember your childhood days of playing freeze tag with your friends? The awful feeling of getting caught and having to stay frozen in place until tagged by a free runner? I was one of the fastest kids in my neighborhood, and rarely got caught. But when I did get caught, I didn’t appreciate it, at all! Not then, and definitely not now. No, I no longer play freeze tag, but apparently my Wii U does. There’s been a widespread report of Wii U’s freezing up all over the place during these first 10 days. Normally, these things never hit close to home. But I experienced the freeze while attempting to play a mini-game within Assassin’s Creed 3, forcing me to unplug the power supply. Fortunately, this was the sole mishap for me thus far, but it has affected CG’s own LazyCoffeeGuy on at least 4 separate occasions. The good news is that Nintendo is aware of the issue and rumor has it that a free runner is on the way to set you free in the near future in the form of a system update.
That’s a load of crap!
Along with the freezing, people have also been complaining about the loading times as you switch between applications. Now don’t misunderstand me, the lag and loading times are indeed noticeable, but they are not overbearing or frustrating. Sometimes I wonder if people just need to find something to complain about. With that being said, Nintendo is again aware of this issue which will also be fixed in the next system update as well.
There’s an App for That!
It’s all a matter of preference. Some gamers unbox their new console, power on, and simply throw in a game to begin playing immediately like the days of old. As for me, this gamer prefers to take the time to explore the apps and features first. That could change if Nintendo ever decided to launch a Zelda title with a new console, but I digress. In these first 10 days, I’ve taken some time to explore apps such as…
Hello, my name is JayDubb, and I am addicted to MiiVerse. The good news is that I’m not in denial. Reggie called this the killer app for Wii U, and I can testify that he is correct about that. The best way I can describe MiiVerse, it’s basically a social network for gamers. This social network allows the Nintendo family of gamers to post typed or handwritten messages to any of the several communities within MiiVerse (each launch title has its own community as does the video streaming apps). Some of the handwritten artwork are nothing short of spectacular! I thought I had a pretty good grasp of what talent looked like, but I had to reevaluate that once I saw what people were able to do with a stylus and 6.2 inch digital canvas. Simply amazing! Here are a few samples.
MiiVerse contains trace elements of Facebook and Twitter. If you appreciate a stellar piece of artwork or simply like something you read, you can “yeah” a post which is similar to hitting “like” on Facebook. You can gain a following or follow other users similar to twitter. And of course, you can also send/accept friend requests, view profiles, and comment on user posts. So how is it unique? Well the beauty of MiiVerse is that you can post from within any game you’re playing without having to exit your game, complete with a screenshot if you’d like. But better than that, some of the community posts from other users will also appear within your own game at certain times. The best use of this so far is in Mario Bros. U where posts from your friends and other users will appear next to the levels they posted about on the world map, filled with advice, warnings, or celebratory acts or achievements. These posts also appear in Nintendo Land as speech bubbles from the Miis that have populated your plaza. Writing or reading about it is one thing, but to experience Miiverse for yourself is something completely different.
Wii U Chat
Not as exciting as MiiVerse considering this isn’t necessarily groundbreaking technology. Nevertheless, it’s still a pretty cool feature for the Wii U. The fact that fellow CG member Bageera was able to video chat with me from his gamepad while his wife watched another channel on the TV serves as just another unique spin from Nintendo’s Wii U that no other home gaming console can do at this present time. Meanwhile on my end, I had the option of deciding which ugly face I wanted to view full frame and where I wanted to view it, gamepad or TV. Similar options were available for sound. The quality of the video and sound were not bad at all, and it was fun using the stylus to doodle on our faces and draw different hairstyles as we conversed.
Wii U Web Browser
Although it doesn’t support Flash, the Wii U web browser is significantly better than the browser on any other home or portable gaming console, which I suppose was to be expected. I was pleasantly surprised by the speed. I also enjoyed the feature of being able to close the curtains on your TV if you wanted to view a webpage privately on your gamepad; not to mention the ease of navigating your content and adding bookmarks. It also works extremely well with YouTube.
Speaking of the devil. This app was not available on Day 1 and so many people simply utilized the browser until the actual app came online 7 days ago. Simply put, I agree with the sentiments of my MiiVerse family by saying I will continue to use the browser for my YouTube fix. The app isn’t bad, it just doesn’t work as well as it does from the browser in our opinion.
If you’ve run this app from one device, then you’ve run it from them all. I don’t see a major difference with the Wii U version other than being able to switch views between the gamepad and television.
Hulu Plus / Amazon Instant Video
I am not a subscriber to any of these services, and reviews have been mixed in their respective MiiVerse communities. Most posts in this section involve people asking which is better between Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon. From what I gather, they all have their strengths and weaknesses and basically boils down to what the individual is looking for. Just know these apps are here for you if you need them.
That’s it for my initial 10-day impression. Hopefully it was enough to give you a little insight of what to expect. Just a bit of warning however, these are simply my impressions. I would love to know yours? What do you agree or disagree with? Which apps or launch titles have consumed your time thus far? If you are still waiting on your Wii U, which apps or launch titles are you looking forward to spending time with the most? Comment below.