The full next-gen lineup has had some time to mature on the shelves. As sales pile up for both the Xbox One and Playstation 4, what is to be said of Nintendo’s flagging Wii U? While it’s still failing to perform at the level that the Japanese gaming giant would like, are there any reasons left for gamers to take a look at picking up the unique, somewhat strange ‘stepchild’ of the current lineup? Well, of course there are! I thought I’d take a moment and jot down some of the top reasons not to count the Wii U out yet.
As the children of the ’80s grow and begin their own families, the gaming habits they’ve developed stick with them. Many certainly want to pass their love for games on to their children — and what better way than through the direct descendant of the console that, for many, was the start of it all? With a bountiful lineup of child-friendly but not child-only games, including Super Mario 3D World, Mario Kart 8, and great hits from the Wii’s existing library, there’s a ton of games that evoke childlike joy in adults, and bring out the very best in gaming for young ones. I speak from experience here: these games make great parent-child bonding time a breeze, especially when you play cooperatively to take down a common enemy.
While Microsoft focuses on the Kinect technology introduced last generation, and Sony keeps pushing their cross-platform play and online features, the Wii U quietly brings a lot to the table that’s unique and well-executed. From the use of the Gamepad as an area scanner in Lego City Undercover to rich online video-sharing and competetive play in Mario Kart 8, many of Nintendo’s latest outings feature brilliant additions that add to the fun without making a big fuss about it.
The bane of the Wii U early on was a lackluster list of launch titles; certainly able to act as a death knell for any console, the unimagined grouping available early on left a lot to be desired. Now, though? With Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Super Mario 3D World, Mario Kart 8, and Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD on shelves now, along with more Zelda and a new Smash Bros. in the works, it’s a great time to be excited by what’s available or in the pipeline. It may not have the third-party blockbuster lineup that the others are touting, but it’s hard to beat the pure, unadulterated gamer-joy of some of these marvelous titles.
The only member of it’s generation that’s fully backwards-compatible, the Wii U takes it up a notch by adding Nintendo’s extensive Virtual Console offering as well. Fan favorites from several prior generations of console goodness are available for download. Featuring hits from the NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, and more, there’s a ton of great content that’s easily accessed and, all told, pretty cheap – I just picked up Mario Kart 64 as a free offer via the Club Nintendo program that uses “Coins” earned by buying and giving surveys on software and hardware from the Wii or DS product families.
1. Good Plain Fun!
This is really the unifying factor for all of the reasons I’ve listed above, but the easiest way to say it is that playing the Wii U, I’ve had more flat-out, old-fashioned gaming fun than with any other console in the last couple of generations. I’m not talking about the serious, “hardcore gamer” style of struggle-fun, but the kind of fun we all had with our games as kids – and the kind of fun we want our kids to have with games. It’s been a wonderful, joyful, exhilarating ride filled with unbridled laughs and uncompromising smiles. It’s the kind of great experience that I’d easily recommend to anyone, be they an established gamer or not – for those who’re looking for a good time, or to remember what it was that brought them into gaming in the first place, or for anyone who just needs to unwind.