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.
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.