Well Christmas has come and Santa didn't have the foresight to pre-order the WiiU and stick it under the tree for you. Now you have to fork over the cash and GameStop gift cards all by yourself. The question is, "Is it worth the money?" The answer is an emphatic yes! A lot of people purchased the original Wii way back in 2006. The system's niche gameplay style and ease of use that appealed large masses of unskilled gamers from grannies to toddlers, turned hardcore gamers away from Nintendo's little console. The fact of the Wii not appealing to avid gamers combined with the fact that the Wii didn't offer HD graphics while it was going directly up against the Xbox 360 and PS3 that did, pretty much relegated the system to a dust catcher of a tiny area of your entertainment unit. Will this be the case with the WiiU? Hardly. As you will see, Nintendo's latest offering handles all the things that it does well. From the new fandangled touch screen controller, to kid's games, to online capabilities, to graphics and even to the more mature titles, the WiiU completely shines in every area.
The first thing you will notice when you get ready to play your new system (besides the lengthy system update) is that the new WiiU Gamepad is nearly as big as the system itself. In spite of its great size, which is necessary for the generous touch screen area, the controller is very comfortable and is a blast to use. The touch screen applications are instant and seamless when they affect something on your TV as well. For example, on Super Mario Brothers, when the player using the Gamepad touches his screen, a block instantly appears on the big screen for the other players to jump on. I'll speak more on that in a bit. It's all quite genius. There are a couple things to note about this controller however. I'm not sure you would want super young kids to be handling it. We have the Nerf Armor on ours($19.99) and I think that this armor will help a tumble off the couch on to carpet but a drop on a tile floor, with or without it, would most likely be disastrous. The Gamepads also aren't currently replaceable at retail locations so to have one break would be the end of your fun for who knows how long. The second downer is the battery life of the pad. The owner's manual claims 3-5 hours of use from a 2-3 hour charge. Thankfully you can play with it plugged in but since some of the games, like Rabbid's Land, require the passing of the pad the cord can easily become a tripping hazard or just be quite a bother. The other thing I saw in the guide was that the batteries are good for 500 charges and can be replaced by buying a new one at a retail store. I know the bad sounds bad but after time with the system, I feel the good far outweighs any detriment the battery issues bring. You might be thinking, "this is all fine and good for Player 1, but what's everyone else gonna do?"
WiiU Pro Controller/Wii Remotes
Those of you who love the Xbox 360 controller are definitely going to want to pick up at least one WiiU Pro controller. These controllers offer, if you believe Nintendo on this one, 80 hours of play on a 4-5 hour charge. Why they couldn't put some of that goodness into the WiiU Gamepad is beyond me but oh well. While these are great controllers and offer amazing battery life, the downside is that they are not usable on every game. For whatever reason you can not use them on Super Mario or Nintendo Land but Assassin's Creed 3 and Sonic All Stars Racing Transformed use them flawlessly. The other option you have is the backwards compatible Wii Remote. That's right, the Wii Remotes are back along with, in some instances, the Nunchuck. This is great news for original Wii owners who dumped money into making sure 4 people were able to play together back in the day. Controllers aren't the only thing from the Wii that work on Nintendo's latest. Wii games are also compatible on the WiiU.
Backwards Compatibility/Data Transfer
That's right, a la the Wii playing Gamecube games, the WiiU plays the stellar titles from the previous generation as well. Be aware that the Wii games won't be upscaled on the WiiU. However if you want to play Super Smash Bros., Super Mario Kart, Guilty Party, you can. You name it and pretty much you can play it. There is a minor catch though. On the WiiU, you have to choose the Wii Menu option. This turns your WiiU into a mock Wii where you will be able to play the older games right from where you left off and including any that you have downloaded (plus any remaining Wii shop points) provided you do the system data transfer. The data transfer is a bit confusing. Just know that you need to download the transfer tool from the Wii Shop on both the old Wii and from inside the Wii menu on the WiiU. You will need an SD memory card and about an hour depending on how many games and game saves you have. You will need to format the SD card in the WiiU first, then put it in the Wii, then finally back into the WiiU. The way it transfers data is quite humorous. I won't spoil it too much but if you are a fan of Pikmin, you will love it. For full details on how to transfer your data, click here.Now let's get to the meat of the system, actual WiiU games.
Games:Nintendo E-Shop/Arcade Games
I want to first talk about the Nintendo E-shop. From here you can purchase any "arcade" type game as well as full retail titles. An important thing to note is that with the 8gb WiiU you will need an external storage device for downloading items. This is not necessary on the 32gb system so that is the only system I would pick up. I also strongly suggest that you don't download retail titles from the E-shop. It takes forever. You could literally go get gas and an oil change and then pick up a copy at your local Gamestop or BestBuy and still be waiting. I know because I bought Sonic All Stars this way. The arcade titles that I've downloaded don't take nearly as long however so those are worth it. You can purchase games by adding money to your account with a credit card or with redeemable codes purchased at retail stores. Both ways work well so it's just a matter of how cautious you want to be with your personal information. As far as E-shop exclusives, I have downloaded Mighty Switch Force HD and Trine 2. Mighty Switch Force is a highly rated game that debuted on the 3DS back in 2011. It's an interesting puzzle/platformer where you try to capture escaped prisoners playing as Officer Patricia Wagon. It keeps you coming back with Par times for each level and awesome art style. Trine 2 has been out for a bit on the PS3 and Xbox 360. I had it on the PS3 and it looks every bit as good on the WiiU. So far I've only played online with Ben (HardcorIVChrist) but the online worked very well. The only issue was that the game has no voice chat. In a co-op puzzle game that is problematic. Thankfully we have the same cel phone carrier so free talk time FTW!
Aside from the titles we've downloaded, we have somehow managed to obtain a fairly impressive launch title collection. The 32gb system, which is the only one I would recommend getting currently, comes with Nintendo Land ($59.99 value). There are 12 mini games to choose from. Some are solo efforts while some offer play for up to 5 people. All the games are fun but Mario Chase is the standout offering. 4 players using Wii Remotes are trying to catch the Gamepad wielding Mario as he runs from them all. It's a blast! This isn't the only launch title Mario shines in, of course.
You honestly can't go wrong with Super Mario Brothers for the WiiU. It is old school greatness at it's finest. It also isn't nearly as frustrating playing with inexperienced players as the previous game was on the Wii. 5 players can participate. 4 play with Wii Remotes while one person, who we deem "The Maestro", makes blocks and stuns enemies for the others. A great use of the WiiU Gamepad.
Probably the best use of the Gamepad for our family so far has been on Sonic All Stars. 4 players race on the screen as in the Xbox version and on the WiiU we get a fifth racer using the Gamepad screen! This is one of the best cart racers I've ever played with tracks from the worlds of iconic Sega franchises as well as the beloved characters. From Sonic, to Alex Kidd, to Beat they are all there. There are even some cameos from Wreck it Ralph and a real life race driver. The controls are great and the pacing of the single player is great. Your whole family will love it. The game is awesome and is probably our family's favorite launch title on the system.
Scribblenauts was purchased soley for my oldest daughter but the game is great. The kids get 15 minute turns and I find myself wanting a turn every time the game is on. It's not a difficult game by any means but it is super fun. Whatever you type into the Gamepad shows up on the screen. Want to use a dragon? Type dragon. Want the dragon to be blue? Add the adjective "blue". Scribblenauts offers local multiplayer but be warned, it is lame. The other players don't really get to do anything.
The last "kid's" game we have is Rabbid's Land. I bought this in spite of mediocre reviews based on Ben's recommendation of a demo he had played. Turned out the reviews were wrong. The game is a 4 player mini game fun fest in the style of Mario Party. The funniest thing is that Ben recommended Rabbids based on playing the Rayman demo. Thankfully it worked out and the whole family loves the game.
So by now you people without kids and families are probably wondering why you would even take a second look at the WiiU. Let me assure you that game handles M rated games very, very well.
Ubisoft really went out of it's way to support the WiiU launch. The aforementioned Rabbid's Land was an Ubisoft offering as well as Just Dance 4, Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2013, ESPN Sports Connection, and even the upcoming Rayman Legends. Thankfully they also went after the more hardcore titles, Assassin's creed 3 and ZombiU. Assassin's Creed 3 has been on my wish list for months. I never played the others but the time period (American Revolution) intrigued me this time. The game is awesome on the WiiU. You don't lose anything graphics wise either. It runs in HD graphics through the systems included HDMI cable and it looks fantastic. You also have the option to play the game on the WiiU Gamepad so if you want to watch TV while you play, that option is yours. Online play seems interesting to me with each player having a target but before Christmas there wasn't anyone online. Hopefully that has changed now. Will update when I find out.
ZombiU offers only local multiplayer for 2 people. One survivor runs around while the other person uses the Gamepad to unleash the zombie horde. The biggest problem for me and my friend who played was the Y axis inversion. I play inverted, he doesn't. Both people have to have the same option in multiplayer. This mode is not the greatest but I can see how it could be fun for a bit. Online would have definitely been better. The single player is where it's at and it is tough. ZombiU employs the Gamepad as your backpack of sorts. In there you can organize all of your precious items. This brings an intensity in that while you are looking down at the pad, you can be getting surrounded on the screen. It's nuts. If you die, you die permanently and start over as a new survivor. You then have to scramble to find your last character to get your backpack and all of your stuff back. It's crazy. It's scary. It's intense. If you like zombies, this is a no brainer, pun intended. Thankfully, if you get stuck the MiiVerse is there to help!
The last thing I want to talk about is the MiiVerse. Here people from the WiiU community can post screenshots, drawings or just written posts about whatever. Need help with a boss? Post a screenshot and write "HELP!" Someone will answer you. It's pretty great. People draw some really awesome pictures on the MiiVerse. If you come up with something particularly great people will give your drawing or post a "Yeah!" It's like, well "Like", on Facebook. Each game has a community that you can post specific things relating to it. You can set up a profile and you can send and receive friend requests as well. It's all pretty slick. For parents wondering about their kids seeing vulgar or abusive content in the MiiVerse, know that they are quick to get rid of and block things they don't see fit. I got blocked temporarily for having the gospel message in my profile. There are always consequences for breaking rules.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. So reads God's Word written through Paul in Romans 3:23. What does that mean for us? Most think that they are generally good. The Bible says we are sinners but what is sin according to the Good Book? 1 John 3:4 says that sin is transgression of the Law. That means that whoever has broken God's Law (hint: it's all of us) has sinned, thereby making Romans 3:23 true. All have either lied, stolen or wanted something someone else has had, committed adultery in our hearts by lusting after someone, or worst of all blasphemed God's holy name. Those are only half of the 10 commandments, God's Law. The Bible says that all liars will have their part in the Lake of Fire. No thief, adulterer, or any covetous person will inherit the Kingdom of God(1 Cor 6:9-10). God won't hold anyone blameless who misuses His name. The punishment for the breaking of God's Law is eternal conscious punishment in a place called Hell. It is not God's will that we go there. He shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. And that is the good news. That Christ, fully God and fully man, lived a sinless life then died for our sins on a cross. He got off the cross and 3 days later rose from the dead, defeating sin and death forever. If we repent and trust in Him alone for salvation we will have eternal life in Heaven because of His imputed righteousness into our account. For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor 5:21). We can not bribe our way into Heaven by trying to be good or do righteous things. The Bible says our best offering are like filthy rags to God(Isaiah 64:6). We must trust in Christ and His finished work on the cross for salvation. The punishment for breaking the rules is not like the slap on the wrist I received in the MiiVerse. Hell is serious business. We will be dead longer than we will be alive. That makes what happens in eternity all that matters. Christmas is over. Whether you buy the WiiU or not is really insignificant in the scheme of things though you will have a blast with it while you are here. God's free gift of grace, however, expires when you do. Be on the right side of that grace today. Repent and believe the Gospel.