On 19th November 2006, the World finally got hold of what it had been eagerly anticipating for many, many months. Launched to great fanfare as the first standalone motion-sensitive console is available, the Wii went about redefining what a typical “gamer” was, with a range of titles designed to include the whole family from the teenage boy right through to grandparents. It offered so much promise, and yet in 2012, the Wii is looked upon as a far inferior product compared to Sony’s Playstation 3 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360. Lacking the HD visuals and network infrastructure of its main rivals, even legendary Nintendo game designer Shigeru Miyamoto was forced to admit that the Wii could not offer the same gaming experience to “core” gamers as the other 7th generation consoles. This is where the challenge lies for the Japanese gaming giants’ latest console, the Wii U, so what does Nintendo have to offer this time around that will get serious gamers back onside? Can Nintendo reclaim lost ground on Sony and Microsoft with the Wii U?
A Different Breed of GamePad
If the Wii Remote and Nunchuck combination offered something dramatically different from the accepted norm, the Wii U GamePad is once again looking to rewrite the rule book on controllers. Designed with a touch screen built-in, the GamePad can both supplement the on-screen action or replace it, with users able to play solely on the pad if the TV is unavailable – yet if it is, you can make use of the ‘slide’ function and quite simply flick your hand over a selected video or set of photos on the Gamepad’s interface and towards your television, then watch in awe as it appears right there on the big screen in front of you.
This innovation combines for the first time Nintendo’s traditional and handheld gaming experiences while offering a raft of other features including an accelerometer, gyroscope, camera, dual analog sticks, built-in microphone, and near-field communication support.
So far, so novelty – the main problem with the original Wii. However, with the U, Nintendo is also releasing the Pro Controller with the aim of attracting the “hardcore” gaming fraternity. Armed with the traditional control sticks, buttons, and triggers, Nintendo has brushed off the claims that it looks remarkably similar to the Xbox 360 controller, insisting that it offers an “enhanced version” of the Wii Classic controller.
Network Capabilities Need to Improve
Although the major attraction of the Wii initially was the way it enabled groups of family and friends to play games together, this capability is something that has since been matched by Sony and Microsoft with the introduction of the Kinect and PlayStation Move respectively. This robbed the Wii of its USP, while the poor network infrastructure meant that it simply couldn’t match what the PS3 and Xbox 360 could offer.
With this in mind, it is essential that this time around Nintendo get it right, and they will be hoping that the ‘Nintendo Network’ can provide the kind of support that PS3 and Xbox users currently enjoy.
Providing the means for online multiplayer gaming, video chatting, and digital downloads, the early signs are good that Nintendo has learned its lesson, but we won’t know for sure until those first users get up and running against the rest of the world.
Games Are Key to Its Success
No matter how impressive the hardware or innovative concepts are, a console lives and dies by the quality of its games. One of the major issues for the original Wii was that quality, third-party titles were so hard to come by. Browse the Wii section of your local video games retailer and you will see umpteen examples of dancing and family-focused titles, but very few of genuine interest to traditional gamers.
For the Wii U, Nintendo has promised greater support for third-party offerings and it seems to have come good already, with their recently released list of launch titles mirroring the standard of those that are currently available for the PS3 and Xbox 360. Some of the most notable and mouth-watering titles include:
- Assassins Creed III
- Batman: Arkham City Armoured Edition
- Mass Effect 3
- The Avengers: Battle for Earth
- Tekken Tag Tournament
As the battles lines are drawn on the next generation of game consoles it is clear that Nintendo needs to up its game considerably if they are to be considered a serious gaming platform once again. Yet given the Japanese firm’s reputation and history in the industry, who would bet against them?