5 Things | That Excite Me About the Wii U

Nin­tendo has a home con­sole hit­ting store shelves fairly soon and I’m get­ting pretty excited about the whole thing.  Nin­tendo is all about inno­va­tion and fun, so their new sys­tem is packed to the gills with great new fea­tures.  With­out fur­ther ado I bring you, in no par­tic­u­lar order, five things that excite me about the Wii U.

1. Asym­met­ric Multiplayer

I’ve found it some­what dif­fi­cult to con­vey just how much of a game-changer asym­met­ric mul­ti­player really is with­out putting it in front of some­one.  To put it into con­text, from what I’ve got­ten the chance to play, it feels just as big as motion con­trol did when the Wii first launched back in 2006.  The best part about it, is that it really applies to every kind of mul­ti­player and finds a way to improve each of the experiences.

With com­pet­i­tive mul­ti­player, it sep­a­rates you from your oppo­nent, giv­ing each of you var­i­ous advan­tages and dis­ad­van­tages.  My favorite exam­ple of this so far is the local mul­ti­player mode for Zom­biU.  One player uses the pro con­troller along­side the TV to con­trol the char­ac­ter much like the reg­u­lar game.  The other, using the Wii U Gamepad, sends zom­bies their way to stop them from accom­plish­ing the tasks set out for them.  I love the abil­ity this has to, instead of mak­ing the play­ing field even, flip­ping it on its head and cre­at­ing a very unique couch-competitive experience.

With coop­er­a­tive mul­ti­player there are sev­eral things that asym­met­ric game­play can offer to shake things up.  Play­ers can get a dif­fer­ent view of what’s going on and even have sep­a­rate abil­i­ties.  In the Metroid Blast sec­tion of Nin­tendo Land, one player can take con­trol of a ground trooper dressed as Samus from the tit­u­lar series and the other can con­trol her trade­mark ship using the gamepad.  Each player has dif­fer­ent abil­i­ties and a dif­fer­ent view of the bat­tle­field.  They can also com­bine these skills to cre­ate unique and fun strategies.

In the Wii U ver­sion of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, they’ve found a great way to solve the per­va­sive screen-sharing mul­ti­player issue that has hin­dered local mul­ti­player for ages.  One player, in either co-op or com­pet­i­tive, uses the TV screen while the other uses the screen built into the gamepad.  Hav­ing an entire screen to your­self, big or small, makes a big dif­fer­ence in a game like that, so it’s a pretty excit­ing addi­tion to what this con­sole can do.

2. TV to Gamepad Games

Shar­ing a TV in a liv­ing space can be very tricky busi­ness.  Some­times, you want to play a game, while some­one else is more in the mood to watch some TV.  The Wii U is going to address this issue by giv­ing you the abil­ity, in some games, to take what you’re play­ing on the TV and switch it to the screen on the gamepad.

A lot of peo­ple get portable games so they have some­thing fun to do on a car trip or while on the go.  I can com­pletely under­stand this rea­son­ing and use portable sys­tems for these pur­poses as well, but mainly I play them when the TV is oth­er­wise occu­pied.  They are a great way to keep on play­ing games when your room­mate wants to do their own thing with­out upset­ting them.  The Wii U is bring­ing this to home con­soles and I couldn’t be more excited about it.

3. Miiverse

There haven’t been a great deal of details about the social net­work Nin­tendo has in the pipelines for the Wii U.  What I do know about Miiverse does excite me.  With the seam­less abil­ity to con­verse with the gam­ing com­mu­nity, right from what­ever game you’re play­ing, it has great poten­tial.  Nin­tendo has done some decent things with social net­work­ing when deal­ing with the 3DS, so if they can take what they’ve learned from that and apply it to a home con­sole, this could be the booster shot they need.

When the 3DS launched, I was expect­ing to be enthralled with the games I was pur­chas­ing with the sys­tem.  I found myself instead spend­ing the most time with some of the built-in appli­ca­tions on the sys­tem.  Street­pass is one of the most well-implemented ideas for social­iza­tion on a hand­held and I still get excited every time I see that green light appear on my sys­tem.  If Miiverse can live up to the stan­dard that Street­pass has already set, Nin­tendo will have a very strong duo of social gam­ing net­works when the sys­tem launches.

4. Back­wards Compatibility

If you’ve owned a Wii for any length of time, you might just have a closet some­where that’s full of acces­sories for the sys­tem; I know I do.  While it would have been easy for Nin­tendo to have swept all of these past gad­gets under the rug, they’ve taken all of them and made them com­pat­i­ble with the new con­sole.  This was a bril­liant move, because it means that instead of start­ing from square one, they can take all the lessons they’ve learned from the hard­ware that already exists and con­tinue to improve upon it.

The new sys­tem is also fully backwards-compatible with Wii games.  While, at least in this day and age, it seems like a given that this should be true, I could cer­tainly see a sce­nario where this didn’t hap­pen.  Not only are all of the disc-based games able to be played on the Wii U, each of the down­load­able games are as well.  The only backwards-compatibility that isn’t included is with Game­cube games, but with the used price of the 2001 sys­tem hov­er­ing around a very rea­son­able price, it’s an easy issue to rem­edy.  In fact, I’ve already got­ten my replace­ment Game­cube to sup­port my col­lec­tion of those games going forward.

5. Nin­tendo TVii

Most of my excite­ment for the Wii U revolves around dif­fer­ent things it can do with video games.  To my sur­prise, one of the fea­tures that has me very excited actu­ally has noth­ing to do with games at all.  Nin­tendo TVii takes the video-streaming ser­vices like Net­flix and Hulu and gives you the abil­ity to find any­thing you’re look­ing for across any of the ser­vices you have.

While all of the current-generation home con­soles have the abil­ity to use the var­i­ous video-streaming ser­vices, none of them have done it like this before.  Each per­son in the house­hold can cre­ate a pro­file, with their Mii attached to it of course, that has their pref­er­ences.  Nin­tendo TVii can then rec­om­mend shows that they like based on this, but that’s not the kicker.  The real awe­some part of this whole thing is that it shows you where you can find what you’re look­ing for across any of those video-streaming ser­vices, includ­ing your stan­dard cable.  There will also be ways to share what you think about them directly to your social media net­work of choice.  This barely scratches the sur­face of what this appli­ca­tion can do and I can’t wait to give it a try when the sys­tem launches.

  • KQ

    TVii sounds amaz­ing. How help­ful that it will find the video-streams of shows for you!

    • http://www.facebook.com/ben.horn.31 Ben Horn

      Def­i­nitely! Glad there’ll finally be some­thing that con­sol­i­dates all of the options. Being able to watch it on the gamepad ain’t too shabby either.