Let’s face it: the gaming world has left us behind, turned a cold shoulder, and yet we’re happy on our little island because its ecosystem is unlike any other. There are rare fruits hanging low from the trees and they’re delicious. Anyone could’ve had this taste of paradise and overpopulated the area but no, we saw the beauty and decided to stick around to smell the flowers. That said, there’s so much we haven’t seen from the Wii U and it’s eight years old. EIGHT.
I’m not sure who wrote the rules on console sales and development, marketing and trends, but I just don’t fully agree with the ploy that a new console needs to be released every 6 years. Back when the NES and Sega Genesis were current and new hardware was coming out, I remember agreeing with Sega’s strategy to create an attachment to your current console and upgrade what you’ve got. I thought it was simple, practical, and made sense. Why buy a whole new thing if I can just add on to the thing I all ready have? If I remember the hearsay correctly, I don’t think Nintendo wanted to create the Super NES. They were cool with the NES and pushing it further. Or not pushing further but still create new and creative titles with the limited capabilities of the system; that IS Nintendo’s mantra after all. Ever play Mario’s Cement Factory?
At the time of this writing (November 2020), exactly eight years from the Wii U’s launch, I find myself perusing Nintendo’s Developer Portal to price out NEW Wii U development hardware. It’s still for sale and still supported. The downside however is that it costs well into the seven thousand dollar range for all the tools necessary to make anything remotely close to a Wii U game that could go to market. Even still, what retailer would stock it on their shelves? Probably nobody.
I’ve read stories of Nintendo salesmen going to third party developers and try to sell them on the “new” system with its “cafe” chip set. What I’ve learned is what’s been said before but I’ll say it my way: The Wii U is (was) technically powerful but not really. From what I understand it had all the capabilities of the late consoles of the generation previous to it, and by that I mean PS3 and XBox 360, and just a little more. What held it back from being as powerful as the XBox One and PS4 was processing power and weak fan. If you didn’t know, Nintendo wanted a console that was unobtrusive in the home entertainment space and that included having a quiet fan. The purpose of the quiet fan was to keep your ultra-casual, non-gaming mom from getting annoyed. The reason why your game of CoD Ghosts, Darksiders, or Need For Speed: Most Wanted U crashes mid-game could very well be based on your Wii U getting a little overworked and needing a break, not glitchy software. Ever notice how pretty and smooth Nintendo’s games look and run on the Wii U? They’re slow, beautiful, and creamy like a tuxedo made out of butter from cows that ate heaven’s grass and then had a master masseuse massage the savory-sweet honey-milk out of their udders. Breath of the Wild isn’t exactly sprinting, you know? Even still, the potential of the console I still believe remains untapped.
The U in Wii U stands for “untapped.” I don’t think Nintendo knew that at the beginning. Now we know. Yeah yeah I know it stands for “you” as in “you” hold the GamePad, and “Wii’l” (we’ll) play with the Wiimotes. Why not make it stand for Wii-a-bU (ever play Tokyo Mirage?) All wii, as heavy WiiUsers need is a marathon runner of a GamePad battery and some super cool titles that really take the GamePad into new territory. I’m talking 3D, fourth wall territory. Even AR. In my last post I mentioned how the console can connect to the 3DS. I can’t even begin to comprehend what’s possible between the two pieces of hardware working together.
Let’s talk about some Wii U games that use the GamePad in unique ways. If you play Nintendo Land the way it was intended you should get an excellent fundamental understanding of its purpose and capabilities. Having a screen for maps and inventory is such a boon. Immediately I think of games like Windwaker and Axiom Verge for this. Windwaker does some cool stuff though, like using it to aim your grappling hook. When I experienced that for the first time I sat straight up and got right into the game. I personally love it in games like Batman Akrham City where you need it to scan crime scenes to find a bullet’s trajectory and help solve a murder. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE uses it as a fake smart phone to push the story forward by getting text messages from your party members and also uses it to display enemy and player stats during battle. The only downside, once again, is that I have to keep it plugged in next to me and use a separate controller while going back and forth from TV to GamePad with my eyes.
What about new, unused ideas for the GamePad? Inventory and snapping pics is cool, but what if you used it as a P.K.E. Meter in a Ghostbuster’s game? Luigi’s Mansion could be so fun! What about something where you accumulate little marbles in a Magical Drop style puzzle game and flick them up to the screen like a ninja star in Nintendo Land’s Ninja Castle? The Wonderful 101 seems to do cool stuff but I haven’t played enough of it to make a solid enough comment about it. I’ve always wanted to make a Tai Chi game for the Wii U where the GamePad would illuminate a shining ball of light on its screen and have it grow or shrink depending on the amount of “Chi” you build by doing moves correctly. Thinking about it now after what I’ve said about the battery, utilizing the GamePad would require some serious GamePad battery juice management. What about something like a sequel to Link’s Crossbow Training? I think some kind of accessory could be made where you prop the GamePad up on a crossbow-like holder and use it as an aiming device. There’s just so much we haven’t seen yet, and in theory, I believe that’s what Iwata wanted us to figure out ourselves from the very beginning.
Wii Party U GamePad view of the Fashion Plaza game board.
Star Fox Zero GamePad view from the cockpit.
Link to Wii U GamePad Zapper idea.