Okay, calm down everyone and just let me finish! I know this seems completely backwards and possibly even a bit misguided. I will also concede that my article in the beginning of February delivers a bit of an “elephant in the room” atmosphere. Yes, the Wii U has been out since 2012, and it has been a rather underwhelming system since its launch (more on that later). While the price tag is not far off from its shiny new padawan, and doesn’t seem to be budging any time in this life, there are some aspects that I believe should be considered now that the Switch is making its grand appearance.
Are You Ready to Switch It Up?
The new touchscreen tablet console is impressive to say the least. We are talking about a handheld/home console hybrid that Nintendo has mysteriously waited until 2017 to release. Also, when I say “hybrid,” I absolutely mean it. It’s as if a mad scientist pieced this machine together from a pile of disassembled Nintendo consoles, dating back 20 years. I haven’t lost the excitement that was presented in my last Nintendo Switch article, but recent developments from a favored publication source have given me much more to ponder on.
Kirk Hamilton delivers a balanced perspective on the Nintendo Switch, looking at what the system has to offer fundamentally, while deeply considering the long-term integrity of system. He mentions that the primary purposes of the Switch as executed quite well. The transition from handheld to TV display is seamless, while the functions based around the tablet style add much needed usability to the system. However, the biggest pull has to be Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Any fan knows that console Zelda launches are nothing to turn your nose up at, and it looks like Nintendo pulled out the big guns for this one. So far I’ve loved everything I’ve seen and I can’t wait to see more.
An amazing launch title doesn’t exactly change the fact that the Switch comes with a laundry list of minor issues not limited to: issues with the joy-con connectivity, a number of external annoyances with the hardware, and a general lack of clarity for what is coming next. While the console to tablet features work well for at home gaming, there are heavy concerns that using the device as a portable gaming system is somewhat unrealistic, due to its battery life and less than impressive screen. These minor issues are further highlighted by the amount of hidden costs that are going to come with a new Switch system. After the $300 hit you’re going to take just to get your hands on the console, you will also need to shell out $60 for Breath of the Wild. But wait, you just realized that the Joy-con grip doesn’t include a charging adapter, and after that you might realize that you prefer the more ergonomic Pro controller. If you are planning to use your Switch as a portable console, you will need a protective case. The list goes on. Reading through the critic reviews was a little daunting since I didn’t foresee a lot of these issues pre-launch. Now that I’ve gotten the run down, I’m starting to think that giving the Switch a year or so to work out the kinks and improve upon its own design could warrant me spending upwards of $400 when I finally break down to buy the system.
To U or Not to U?
It’s common knowledge that the Wii U was not a success in comparison to its predecessor. The Wii was marked as one of the highest selling home consoles of all time, while the Wii U suffered a 53% decrease in sales year over year. Therefore, it came as no surprise when they announced that production would cease back in November 2016. With the confusion from the name connection to the original Wii, to the aggressive price tag that never wavered, there was a lot pushing against the success of the Wii U. Now that production has ceased, that pesky price tag is probably never going to decrease. If the Wii U consoles become a collector’s item, it’s likely we will only see that price become more aggressive until it reaches commodity status. The manufacturing halt doesn’t bode well for Wii U’s game library either. The system already fronts a pretty sparse collection and the cross platform release of Breath of the Wild will mark the end of new available titles for Wii U owners. I can’t help but think back on the lifespan of the Nintendo GameCube here.
I’ll give you a second to pour one out for a fallen and virtually unrecognized console…
Now if you’re a real gamer, you should know that this doesn’t necessarily mean that the system is completely dead. Consoles have lasted through adversity before. I still pull my GameCube out of my closet every now and then to hop back into Phantasy Star Online (sans online). My original Nintendo 64 is a great addition to house parties and get-togethers with people who can’t and won’t let go of the past. The simple fact that the Wii U distributed some quality titles before its early retirement means that the system still holds some value. This is my recommended must own list:
Super Smash Bros.
In my opinion, is this the greatest addition to the series to date. While I actually own this for my 3DS, the experience just isn’t the same. Nothing compares to breaking out the controllers and gathering in the living room for some truly ruthless stage combat. The roster includes so much diversity that comparing it to the original 64 version just seems cruel.
The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD
Wind Waker remains one of my most treasured Zelda games. Everything from the open ocean, to the memorable dungeons, to the amazing graphics sets this game apart from the rest, and these features are enhanced tenfold by the masterful HD remake. I recently tried to replay the game on my old GameCube and found myself longing to experience the perfection I knew the HD remake would bring.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD
This is an example of another well done and completely necessary remake. Twilight Princess, until now, existed on two pretty outdated consoles. While I mentioned earlier that I still break out the GameCube from time to time, it’s always a slightly uncomfortable experience, dealing with the poor resolution. This issue also applies to the Wii, as it was always a huge step behind in the HD game. If graphics isn’t a concern on your list, then maybe the temperamental motion controls would push you over the edge.
Mario Kart 8
It’s hard to find a bad Mario Kart game, but this one finds itself far away from that categorization. It’s clear that the main mission of the 8th installment was to bring the party game genre back into the hands of Nintendo users (the same can be said for most of the franchise titles on the Wii U). Not only does MK8 offer up a plethora of character and vehicle options, it also breaks down the barriers between its neighboring counterparts; i.e. you can race as Link! Brettlind editor’s Note: It also represents one of the worst and most uncharacteristic Nintendo moves ever, with allowing corporate branding inside one of their games, i.e. the Mercedes Benz carts.
Xenoblade Chronicles X
This is a solid title that will satisfy die hard JRPG fans, while still appealing to casual gamers. The combat is as enticing as the explorable world. In short, it’s easy to pick up, wondrous to behold, and delivers more than enough content to get some use out of your selective gaming system.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
For anyone who is worried about missing out on Breath of the Wild because they can’t get their hands on a Switch, don’t forget that it’s also coming to the Wii U. However, I would never recommend spending $200-$300 dollars on a Wii U just for this game. At that point you might as well fork over a little extra cash and spring for the Switch. If you already have a Wii U though, it might be wiser to settle for this edition until the Switch becomes a safer investment.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Yoshi’s Wooly World
New Super Mario Bros U
Super Mario Maker
If I think back to my old Nintendo systems, their game libraries aren’t much bigger than the above list. In fact, one of the more significant qualities of Nintendo is to produce games that are substantial and nearly eternal in their relevance. When I examine these games I feel an imperative need to own and beat them over and over again. While the price is the most upsetting feature of the Wii U, there are alternative options. You can find pre-owned consoles at major retailers, buy them online, or convince a friend to part with theirs for a nice $200 investment towards that new Switch they want.
If you do manage to get your hands on a pre-owned Wii U system, the savings don’t stop there. Many of the available Wii U titles are currently sitting in the $20-$40 price range, while Nintendo Switch games are going to set you back $60 each. If at one point you owned the original Wii system, you might be able to dig up your old Wii Remotes and any original Wii games to use with your backwards compatible Wii U. Then you’ll have a sweet recycled set up with a considerably smaller cost to you. At the end of this little venture, you could find yourself well under the $300 dollar mark, which still beats the base price of the Nintendo Switch.
But hey, I’m probably just be rambling. Do what you want.
[Update 3/10/2017] My fiance and I just purchased a pre-owned Wii U (Zelda Edition) and have no regrets!