Thursday, January 24, 2013

Tired of Negativity: Things Nintendo Is Doing Right With the Wii U

I don't know about you, but I have grown tired of hearing and reading about everything that is wrong with the Wii U or how the console needs "saving" after only being out for two months. Perhaps I have more than half a brain, and that is why I find such statements as silly (read: stupid) and obnoxious. It's the start of a new console, and if you have any kind of long term memory, then you know that problems usually occur. It's the chance you take being a buyer of a new console at launch.

Rather than go on about what still needs tinkering with when it concerns Nintendo's new, young console (seriously, you've probably read enough negativity in this industry to last you until next generation), I would like to talk about the stuff that makes me satisfied with the Big N's direction with the Wii U.

Focusing on core and casual gamers

A criticism of the Wii was that Nintendo was focusing more on casual gamers. Now, I don't know if I agree with that premise, as there were plenty of core titles for the system (and no, I don't mean one or two a year), but with the Wii U there's a shift. Nintendo is not only aiming for core gamers, but they are also looking at casual gamers as well with titles like Wii Fit U, Wii Party U, and Sing Party, for example. Core gamers are getting a ton of titles, too, such as a 3D Mario, two Zelda titles, The Wonderful 101, Bayonetta 2, Pikmin 3, the tentatively titled "Yoshi Yarn", and Monolith Soft's new untitled RPG.

I am in the camp that the same people who flocked to the Wii in its heyday won't give the Wii U a second glance. If history has shown anything it's that the casual gamer is a fickle one. Seeing Nintendo try to appeal to the crowd that felt burned by the company with the Wii is something that is nice to see, but also seeing Nintendo do their best to interest those ever-fickle casual gamers is also great. It makes the Wii U look like a console for everyone instead of just for one group or another.


Miiverse is fantastic and a killer app for me. There-- I said it. It allows players from all around the world to post in separate communities for each game, writing Twitter-like posts to the community at large, getting assistance on problem areas in games, and just finding like-minded players online. It's a great gathering place for players, and one that encourages users to share tips, post funny comments, and provide the community with awesomely done drawings.

There are some updates I would like to see, however, as Miiverse is not perfect. For one, posting screenshots to Miiverse consistently is a crap shoot. Countless reports from people, including myself, have had troubles connecting to the server when trying to post a screenshot. We usually get an error code after a minute or two, and have to try posting it again. Posting a screenshot should not take upwards of five minutes.

Some things I would like to see added to Miiverse include the ability to favorite posts, including a user's own posts, would be pleasant to see. Right now, you can only "Yeah" a post of someone else's, and you are stuck getting notifications every time someone comments on it. Another addition I'd like is the ability to "Yeah" comments. If you have no idea on how "Yeahs" work, you simply touch an icon on a person's post to essentially agree with it and show your support. Regardless, it would be good to be able to get "Yeahs" for helping people out in a trouble spot of a game or replying to someone's initial post with a witty comment.

The future of Miiverse, as told by Nintendo president and stunning hair model Satoru Iwata, includes the ability to create your own communities, sort through specific content, and have more than one community per game. (This information was gathered by IGN. See here.) Miiverse already rocks for many Wii U owners like myself, and these future additions will only make it much better.

The Virtual Console

Wednesday's Nintendo Direct brought with it new announcements of games, but it also contained information of the Wii U's Virtual Console. Some might complain about having to pay a fee to get games they already own on the Wii's VC service, but they are getting Wii U-enhanced versions.

The two most prolific updates include being able to play Virtual Console games solely on the Wii U GamePad, an often desired feature of Wii U owners. The other update is something extremely helpful and good, which is the ability to customize the controls. As Nintendo 3DS VC game owners know all too well, not having the right control setup can make or break a game. I'm looking at you, NES version of Super Mario Bros.

To complement the platforms already on the Virtual Console is the upcoming (no date was given) inclusion of the Game Boy Advance to the service. Will it arrive on the system that people were expecting it to, the 3DS? Who knows.

Nintendo also announced a marketing campaign starring the Virtual Console in celebration of the Famicom's 30th anniversary. There will be several months, each spotlighting one Virtual Console game that will be offered for a spectacularly low price of only thirty cents. Yes, thirty cents. The title for January is Balloon Fight, and future titles have been announced as well, such as Donkey Kong, Yoshi, F-Zero, and Super Metroid. Nintendo delivered with their Wii U Virtual Console unveiling. Let's hope it launches without much in the way of problems.

Creating a much better atmosphere for indie developers than with the Wii

Let's face facts here. The WiiWare service was pretty atrocious. We can give Nintendo leeway as it was their first attempt at making an online game service, but it still reeked of failure. It seems with the Wii U eShop, however, that Nintendo has pulled a total 180.

Putting downloadable games on the Wii U is a greatly improved experience. For one, developers set their own and can change their own prices, as well as set sales at any given time they want. Unlike Microsoft's B.S. and infamous policy of charging developers for patches and DLC, with the Wii U, patches and DLC can be put online for free. That is a crucial element in inviting indie developers, some smaller than an ant, on board to develop for the Wii U.

Mighty Switch Force: Hyper Drive Edition screen
The service is off to a grand start, too. Already we have Trine 2: Director's Cut (a review for this will be up soon), Mighty Switch Force: Hyper Drive Edition, Nano Assault Neo, Little Inferno, Puddle (was out at launch for the European eShop, but will be coming to the North American eShop next week), Chasing Aurora, and the newly released The Cave, Double Fine's very first game released on a Nintendo platform. Hopefully the pace of releases and support continues as Nintendo has really outdone themselves this time around, and in this case, that's a good thing.

Looking into fixing OS issues with future updates

The final thing I would like to talk about relates to the Wii U's OS. A main problem with the operating system of the Wii U is that it takes a good while to load games and a good while to back out of games and applications. Satoru Iwata addressed this at this week's Nintendo Direct with a statement saying that two updates, one spring and one summer, will hone in on these issues. It's about time that Nintendo addressed these problems and proposed a fix to them. I know many Wii U owners get antsy with loading times and screens, so this was no doubt welcome news to them.


Those are just five examples of things that I believe Nintendo is doing right with their new system. Do you agree with my thoughts? What about your own opinion on stuff the Big N is doing right? Perhaps you want to talk about a point I was going to bring up about Nintendo allying more with third-parties? Well, let the SPC community know in the comments section below.

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