Brad- So Cheets, we got to check out the Wii U this past Friday. Our YouTube video will give our readers a brief overview of what we thought, but I wanted to take some time to dive a little deeper, especially as the games were concerned.
Again, I came into this event really wanting to find something to like and grab a hold on to with the Wii U. What I left with was the impression this is just another Nintendo gimmick, and any hope I was holding out was kind of dashed. I know you agree.
Cheets- Indeed. I went in feeling rather neutral on this system and left with an overwhelming feeling of negativity. There were a few positives: the general feel and weight of the controller, the comfortable Pro Pad, and of course Rayman. Unfortunately, most of it felt, well, unnecessary. Nintendo seems to have innovated themselves into a corner.
Brad- Hah! That’s actually a good way to put it. They’ve pigeoned-holed themselves into being the system that’s accessible by everyone. Now they find themselves needing to gain hardcore support back. What I saw wasn’t gonna cut it though. I agree the controller actually felt better than anticipated, and Rayman felt very much like…Rayman, which is a good thing.
I was really surprised they didn’t bother showing off the Miiverse features at the event. Of all the “innovations” they are making with this console, I was most interested to see how that worked, but it was nowhere to be seen.
Cheets- Miiverse and their entire online plan could make or break this system at this point. Without a very solid online presence this system has no chance of catching on with the hardcore crowd as is. Sadly, there are quite a few reasons for this, many of which center on that awkward controller. There was odd lag on some games, most likely caused by the system pushing video to the TV and the controller at the same time, as well as the unconventional methods of working this extra screen into gameplay, like they did with the game many are looking forward to, Zombi U.
Even I was excited about the depth the distracting controller would add to the gameplay but in the end it felt like more of an annoyance. It pulled me out of the experience more than pulling me in. I can’t see hardcore gamers going for it once they get the chance to try it out.
Brad- I couldn’t agree more. When I was playing Batman, there are times where you have to select one of your bat-gadgets to get you through the world. I instinctively went to select stuff the way you do when playing the game on PS3 or 360. To do it in the Wii U version, you have to press up on the D-pad just to access your inventory, and then on the touch screen drag and drop which gadgets you need into your quick select. It isn’t natural, and it took me out of the game immediately. It shouldn’t take that much work to execute what is a basic in-game command.
Let’s dive a bit deeper into Zombi U since you brought it up. You played it way more than I did. What were your general impressions of the game? It’s one that was getting a lot of buzz coming out of E3.
Cheets- Honestly I hope it’s far from finished. For one, it looks like a 360 launch title, not some “next-gen” game like Nintendo would want you to believe. For another thing, it feels like VERY common ground. It’s another Zombie shooter and it’s not very exciting. This game plods forward clumsily.
The angle of the sticks was my first obstacle. Unlike a 360 or PS3 controller, the sticks cause your thumbs to rest in a perfectly vertical position which will seem very unnatural for experienced gamers, and especially for shooter fans. Then there was the odd lag. Barely a fraction of a second, but very noticeable as you tried to aim and would miss the mark a tad. Then as you continue on, you have to use the pad to fumble with inventory. This is meant to be used as a distraction, as you can be attacked while doing things with the pad (the game is not on pause while managing your items). This sounds like a challenge, but it’s not very fun. Hell, I wasn’t even attacked and I disliked it, as shifting my eyes from one field of depth to another that quickly is not easy or fun. This is why some 3DS games are horrible; changing the depth of field in your vision like that is not natural. One last issue was the camera placement. But wait, this is a first person shooter, right? Well sure, except your head seems to be about eight inches in front of your body. I had a zombie on my chest and I couldn’t see it. At all. Overall I walked away from that just irritated.
Brad- It didn’t look all that impressive from where I stood either. I get having limited enemies and vision adds to the tension, but people play zombie games because they want to tear up the undead, not because they want to stumble through a dimly lit world complete with monotonous objectives. I know it’s an early build of the game, but I don’t get what all the fuss was about when it debuted last month.
We also got to check out New Super Mario Bros U…which felt a hell of a lot like every side-scrolling Mario game that preceded it. If you really enjoy those, great. I was blown away when Super Mario Galaxy released and wish Nintendo would continue pushing the envelope further with new ways to present a franchise that, quite frankly, is getting a little tired. The new feature in this one is you can have someone manning the GamePad to create platforms for the other players to use to reach hard-to-get items and coins. This is awesome if the person creating the platforms doens’t like to have fun when they’re playing video games. Seriously, you’re just sitting there staring at a 6-inch version of what’s on the big screen tapping the GamePad to make platforms appear for your clearly much more talented friends.
And herein lies the problem, I believe, for the Wii U. They need to make this thing accessible to the casual market, because they sure as hell aren’t going to be making a lot of waves with the hardcore crowd if our, and the other attendees at the event, impressions are any indication. They’ve yet to announce a price, but I have to believe it’s going to cost more than $299 from the tech we saw with it, right?
Cheets- At least. Was this tech worth the trouble? I mean we had fun with Rayman, even with just using the pad but even there I felt there was a small problem that can become quite big. There was this odd sense of detachment while I used the pad to interact with Rayman. I mean I was a part of it but I also felt like I wasn’t at all. It’s really difficult to explain and I didn’t like it in the end.
There’s more! Oh yes, more issues! Some of the games had an odd lag on the controller screen itself. Let me say: the resolution was nice, and again, the weight was negligible so that isn’t a concern. The strange lag we saw concerns me greatly. These pads were all tethered to the system. They were clearly being powered by this tether as a demo unit is prone to do with a wireless controller. However, the systems all had the business end of the system obscured so we couldn’t see the wires attached. I attempted to take a close up picture of one of the systems that wasn’t obscured, but was warned away. Why? Why would they not want us to see what wires were back there? I think the cables running into the system were for more than power. I’m concerned they haven’t gotten the pads to run properly while being fully wireless. This thing is (supposedly) months away from release; there should be no secrets when it comes to the connections.
Brad- I will say the Batman guy mentioned to me the tethers were just there for security reasons; that the pads were actually running on a charge. I don’t think he was lying, but I will admit the whole event had a very Apple-ish vibe to it. By that I mean it was a very controlled experience; they very much only wanted you to see what they wanted you to see. Even the guys managing the interactives were doing their damnedest to get you to play the games they way they wanted.
So we obviously weren’t impressed, and again, talking to many of the other attendees brought the same vibe. I really am worried this is going to be Nintendo’s version of the Saturn after the mega-hit Genesis. If Nintendo is honestly expecting this thing to have the success the Wii had, I just can’t see how it’s going to happen.
Cheets- So you’re calling me paranoid? Heh, I don’t trust them at this point. You’re right, that event was very controlled, and maybe that’s part of the problem I’m having with trust right now.
As for this thing taking off… I really don’t see it happening. Sure they can depend on the holiday sales rush to help it get going out the gate since it will be the new thing everyone must have. Between the pricing, which has no chance of being on level with the Wii, and the sure to be lackluster word-of-mouth, I can’t see this system being another Nintendo powerhouse.
Now we may sound overly negative here, but it’s not that we think this is a totally crap system. There’s clearly some power under the hood. It’s just rather superfluous. The third-party games are either already released or easily released on the other two consoles, and the first-party games could easily be made on the Wii. Look at Pikmin 3. It still used the Wii remote and no GamePad. All it has is prettier graphics.
What is the point of this system?
Brad- I haven’t figured that one out yet either. And if you want to know why I’m so down on it coming out of this event, that’s the reason why: because I still can’t figure out the niche the Wii U will fill. And to address your point on the horsepower this thing has, I’ll just say what everyone else has said ad nauseam: what’s going to happen when the PS4 and new Xbox hit the market probably next year? We likely know the answer to that question already.
I’d love for Nintendo to make us all look in the mirror in two years time and say “damn, they got us again.” Competition is good for the marketplace, and the kid in me never wants to see Nintendo stumble for all the crap I talk about them. I really do hope the Wii U is the right answer; I just wish I could figure out what the question was.
Cheets- The question Nintendo is asking: “What can we do differently this time?” It’s a dumb question. Stop trying to be different and start trying to be better. Make a truly great system with Wii Remote support and you’ll be in every household pretty damn quickly. Do it cheap and lose money on the consoles for once. Please. I swear, this would put them in the black pretty soon. If they had managed to beat their competitors to market in this current generation with a true “next-gen” system that was affordable, Ninty would be back on top. This won’t cut it though. Not by a long shot.
Sorry, Brad, but our inner children might be crying this time next year when we see how the sales are going and how much true support this thing has among third parties.
Brad- Well, the good news is while my inner-child will be crying, my outer-man will be enjoying his PS4!
Cheets- And I’ll be enjoying my Smart Glass features on whatever Xbox is out (and not during my damned gameplay). That’s about as close as I may come to a Wii U in my home. Why buy a new system when my current one can do the same but better?