Alright, the holidays are here and we know what that means for a lot of people, video games! This year is only a little different, because this year Nintendo finally admitted that this whole HDTV thing wasn’t the Milli Vanilli of technology and released a HD console, the Wii U. You maybe at your local game store and are wondering: “I already have a Wii is it worth the upgrade” or “I have an Xbox is it worth it at all”? Before that I want to talk about what the Wii U is like. I mentioned earlier this is the first HD home console that Nintendo has ever released and unlike the other two HD home systems the Wii U has the HD cabling in the box even with the cheaper $299 version the Wii U. It is a little longer than the Wii, but is still considerably smaller than its counterparts the Xbox 360 and the PS3.
I played 3 Wii U games thus far: New Super Mario Bros. Batman Arkham City and Ninja Gaiden Razors Edge and I am glad to report that those games look comparable to anything else out there. Outside of just games the Wii U also has the standard apps of Netflix, Hulu Plus and a web browser. The big innovation this time is the tablet gamepad which has 10 buttons, including L3 and R3, a seven inch screen in the middle, two analog sticks on the ends and the analog d-pad which is about an inch from the left stick. The Start and Select buttons are two inches under the face buttons and the home, power and TV buttons are on the bottom. It sounds like its a convoluted mess, but the controller is actually pleasing to look at my problem(s) with the gamepad comes with the short battery life of 2-3 hours! More on that later.
The gamepad also play some games from start to finish on the gamepad itself leaving the TV free for watching turning the gamepad into an overpowered DS to use this awesome feature you just need to have the gamepad and within 100 feet of the console, which isn’t that great, it wouldn’t be that bad if you weren’t constantly tethered to a power outlet charging the gamepad, also you can use the Wii gamepad as a universal remote I admit I don’t see the point but it’s there unfortunately I haven’t had a chance to use the front facing camera and the pro controller, (stay tuned for those write ups) because of that short battery life. Not all games use the split screen feature though take Batman for instance the gamepad is used for your upgrade screen and activating a power-up for the console exclusive suit. Although the Wii U is backwards compatible with Wii remotes and accessories playing Wii games is more complicated that it should be having to put to console into Wii mode before you can play said classic Wii game. Transferring all of your Virtual console purchases is a simple wireless one involving an internet connection, an SD card, both consoles on the same network, and the ability to read and comprehend the prompts.
The Wii U comes in two tiers a Basic Set ($299) one that has 8 gigabytes internal memory an HDMI cable a white console, and a Wii sensor bar. Then a Deluxe Set ($349) model has 32 gigabytes internal memory, HDMI cable, a black console, a cradle for the game pad, a Wii sensor bar, and Nintendo Land game. The memory on the Wii U can be expanded via an external hard drive, but you have to format the drive to the Wii U, the e- shop is young, but you can download full Wii U titles direct to the consoles memory for those who want to do this with the Basic bundle then invest in that external hard drive now, because your console can’t handle the large file sizes.
Now back to the original question: is it worth it? For those who have the original Wii no, there isn’t enough there to justify the upgrade now. If you have a Xbox 360 and or PS3 a reluctant no because as of now outside of Nintendo Land, Zombie U, and New Super Mario Bros the launch lineup consists of games you either have or finished on those consoles, but give it two years before you look at it again.