Alex Phillimore: (alex.phillimore-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2013-07-18 06:42:05
Why I bought a Wii U
I received my 32GB sleek black Wii U three days ago from Amazon.co.uk for £199.00 as part of an unofficial retail price drop that other virtual and physical marketplaces have now followed. I did this despite the doom and gloom I continuously read on websites with a vested interest in posting sensationalist click-bait articles about how Nintendo are crashing and burning. The Wii U is the next Dreamcast, I am told, which is one of many speculative complaints directed at the system. Others include: Nintendo are going to go the way of Sega; they should stop making hardware and instead exclusively develop software for the PS4/Xbox One; and the Wii U is already obsolete, which will be made evident when Sony and Microsoft's new consoles hit retail. In spite of all of these warnings, though, I still bought a Wii U.
Why did I do it? Opportunity struck, for one - £199.00 is a good price for a console that has been on the market for less than a year. But what other possible reasons would I have for being skeptical of Wii U naysayers? Well, I do recall similar negative articles predicting the death of the 3DS not too long ago, most of them arguing that the system would never be successful due to the modern influx of iOS/mobile/tablet gaming. The system is now selling a healthy amount, however, and is churning out at a prolific rate far more quality titles that I wish to play than anything modern phones are currently offering. Perhaps down the line people will stop buying Nintendo handhelds, but, quite clearly, this is not that day.
So when people tell me that the Wii U is an awful console, just as they told me the 3DS was, I am inclined to be suspicious. It doesn't help that most people complaining haven't actually sat down with the system and played it. While I don't deny that the hardware cannot compete with the PS4 and the Xbox One, I have never viewed Nintendo home consoles as my 'main' console for delivering the best graphics. Two generations ago, I bought a PS2 and then complemented it with a Gamecube; last generation I bought a PS3 and boosted its software line-up with the Wii. This generation, I'll be getting a PS4 and a Wii U. I don't buy Nintendo consoles for incredible graphics (although, I have to admit, games like Pikmin 3 are easily visually appealing enough to stand up today); I buy Nintendo consoles for the quality first-party software and the exclusives, of which the Wii U will have many.
I also buy Nintendo because they are the one company out of the three who have kids in mind. Look at the launch titles for the PS4 and the Xbox One - they're hardly games that I'd be comfortable letting an eight year old play. Look at the Wii U, on the other hand - all of the titles I'm interested in (Pikmin 3; The Wonderful 101; Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze; Mario Kart 8) are games that can be enjoyed by anyone. Nobody has universal appeal like Nintendo. Not every gaming experience needs to be the most graphically intense and realistic-looking game in the world. This latent competition that exists among gamers - always needing to weigh consoles up against each other and establish which is the 'best' - can be seen as needlessly aggressive. As a guy in my early 20s, I can enjoy a fantastic Mario platformer just as much as I can enjoy a mature title like The Last of Us. I can understand people who are only able to buy one console having a difficult choice ahead of them in choosing what to buy, but I've always been content to buy two consoles per generation - you get the best of both worlds as a result.
My Wii U currently sits next to my PS3 (and, one day, PS4) on my desk. They don't fight - they co-exist peacefully. Consoles can co-exist. It isn't fair to instantly discard the Wii U simply because it isn't as powerful as the consoles that are coming up. Power and graphics aren't everything - the 3DS isn't as powerful as the Vita, but I favour the former because of its games. Titles like Animal Crossing: New Leaf look good enough; you could get better visuals if it showed up on the Vita, but visuals are the least of my concerns in a game like that. The same can be said for the Wii U - its games will look and sound good. Not as good as the PS4, sure, but good enough. I'm more interested in how a game plays than how it looks, after all.
The Wii U, with its future line-up, will offer games that I cannot play anywhere else - games that maintain the high quality that Nintendo have always ensured in their core titles, and games that I could happily play with younger relatives. I bought a Wii U because Nintendo have never let me down before, and I honestly don't see them letting me down now. I'm absolutely fine with the Wii U not being as mature or as 'advanced' as the PS4 and Xbox One. At the end of the day, I have every faith that Nintendo will deliver some good games with the system. Sure, the Wii U has had a slow start, but once things pick up - and they will pick up - the system's appeal will pick up as well. The PS3 had a troublesome start, as did the 3DS, and both systems are now must-haves for gamers. The Xbox One, meanwhile, is arguably the most controversial gaming system in history, and yet I would be amazed if it didn't go on to become a success story in the long-run.
So why did I buy a Wii U? Perhaps I'm taking a risk. Or, perhaps, I'm just unwilling to write Nintendo's latest console effort off a mere eight months after its release. I remain optimistic for the future of this console. It isn't trying to compete with Sony and Microsoft: Nintendo are content to do their own thing with the Wii U, and I'm all for it. Having a third super-powered console on the market in this coming generation would be an even bigger headache. Just as the Wii was weaker than its contemporaries and ended up selling more, so too do I see the Wii U not requiring the latest technology to captivate an audience of gamers all over again.