Five Things Wii U Doesn’t Get Enough Credit For

I regularly see the Wii U outright dismissed as a “failure,” generally based on little more than its low sales numbers. Sure, looking only at that, the Wii U hasn’t been a spectacular success. But since when are hardware sales numbers alone enough to state that a system is a flat-out failure? When a system like Dreamcast only sells 9 million, we say it’s a tragedy; when the Wii U is only at 10 million (so far), it’s a failure and Nintendo should take it out back and shoot it. The outright contempt for the Wii U – and at times, Nintendo itself – continues to baffle me, with people only zeroing in on what it does wrong (something that people don’t seem to do for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One nearly as badly). So I felt that the Wii U deserved to have someone call attention to some of the things that it does right that people don’t seem to ever talk about. No, I’m not necessarily saying that the Wii U is better than the PS4 or the XB1; that’s not the point of this. All I’m trying to do is get people to be a little more positive about the Wii U and respect it for the multiple things that it has been doing and continues to do right.
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1 – FULL backwards compatibility, physical and digital

Wii U is the only system this generation that launched with any type of backwards compatibility, and it remains the console that has handled it the best of the three. Not only can you play all of your physical Wii games in the Wii U and use all of your same controllers (hear that, people who have had to spend $50+ for a second PS4 or XB1 pad?), but Nintendo has handled the carrying over of last gen’s digital games far better than Sony or Microsoft has. Ironic, since Nintendo gets so much grief about how behind the times it supposedly is in dealing with online features and digital game buying. While Sony and Microsoft both gave a big middle finger to the people who spent the previous 10 years racking up digital purchases on their PS3s and Xbox 360s, Wii on Wii Unot letting gamers bring any of those games over to their new systems, Nintendo lets you transfer every single game you bought for your Wii directly to your Wii U free of charge. It even continues to let you access the Wii’s separate digital store and allows you to download games that are only available there directly to your Wii U. And should you want to re-buy the Wii U-specific version of a classic game for whatever reason (namely, the ability to play it natively on the tablet), you can do so by only paying a couple of bucks if you already bought the game on Wii rather than making  you pay full price for it all over again. Nintendo has set it up so you have no reason to keep a Wii hooked up, as your Wii U does everything your Wii did and plays all of the games your Wii played. Those of us who have to keep our PS3s hooked up next to our PS4s and/or our X360s hooked up next to our XB1s while our entertainment centers strain under the excessive load should give Nintendo more props for not making us do that with our Wii and Wii U.
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2 – The strongest – and best-selling – first-party support in the business, and some of the top-selling games of the entire generation

As of this writing, the top-selling game of the year that is exclusive to a single console is Wii U’s Splatoon. Halo 5 is nipping at its heels and may very well pass it by year’s end, but the fact that Splatoon and Halo 5 are comparable sales-wise is more credit than most people are willing to give Wii U games. I mean, a new core Halo game is an event, and it’s no small feat that a completely new IP – and on the Wii U no less – has drawn similar numbers. Going down the sales list for the year, the next console exclusive is PS4’s Bloodbourne, though Mario Maker is only about 60,000 units behind it (and has only been out a third of the time that Bloodbourne has and hasn’t yet been out for its first Christmas, when Nintendo games typically get huge spikes). Mario Kart 8 is the highest-charting game on the 2015 list in terms of gamesMario kart 8 that came out in 2014 (not even just exclusives). In 2014, the best-selling exclusive of the entire year was Mario Kart 8, followed by Super Smash Bros for Wii U, with PS4’s Driveclub being the only other console-exclusive game to even come close (and it only sold about half of what Smash did, not to mention that a lot of those Driveclub sales were piggybacked off of a free version for PlayStation Plus members). Finally, Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U are the best-selling first-party games of the generation by a pretty considerable margin at 5 and a half million copies sold; no first-party PS4 or XB1 games have yet passed 2.5 million. The only overall games that have outsold those Wii U games at the time of this writing are the PS4 versions of the last two Call of Duty games. If it seems like I’m hitting this “exclusive” thing a bit hard, I feel it is justified. First-party and exclusive games used to be what separated one console from another, and this gen Sony and Microsoft just don’t seem to have strong first-party lineups and are mostly just fighting over who sells more copies of Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto. Nintendo deserves more credit for continuing to put so much work into nurturing its first-party output and giving Wii U owners a truly unique lineup of games instead of just trying to score exclusive DLC and timed exclusivity for the AAA third-party games that everyone else is getting anyway.
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3 – Local multiplayer is still a priority

Nintendo is the only company that still places a priority on local multiplayer, and the Wii U is no different. Almost every first-party Wii U game has multiplayer support, and unlike the other consoles, you can actually play with people who are sitting next to you and not on the other end of the country. With Halo 5‘s complete lack of any splitscreen support – a feature that the entire Halo Super Mario 3D Worldfranchise was built on – it feels like local multiplayer is quickly on its way to becoming extinct. The Wii U is the only console where you can rest assured that a game having “multiplayer” never means “online-only multiplayer.” A lot of us actually do still like to gather around the TV with out friends and play, and a lot of us have families and kids we’d like to game with, and only with the Wii U is that a feature that is still respected and revered. There are even multiple Wii U games that have four-player local multiplayer, something that hasn’t been commonplace on PlayStation and Xbox consoles for the last couple of generations. Finally, the tablet makes local multiplayer gaming…well, let’s save that for #4.
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4 – The tablet is pretty great

The Wii U’s tablet is often pointed to as the place where Nintendo “went wrong” with Wii U, with people seeming to have a serious grudge against the unorthodox controller. Those people don’t know what they are missing. The Wii U tablet is a very versatile accessory, and easily one of the most unique and innovative in gaming history. For starters, with many multiplayer games on the Wii U, one person can have the entire tablet to themselves while the other has the whole TV, which makes the longstanding issues with splitscreen non-existent and honestly makes it hard to go back to splitscreen once you’ve gotten used to it. It’s the most accessible way for two people to have their own screen – but still be in the same room – in gaming history, without having to drag a second TV and console into Wii U tabletthe room and deal with networking it all together. The tablet can also be used as a game screen for many single-player games, which is a feature than anyone who lives with people can appreciate. Best of all, you can generally toggle between the two on the fly. In the middle of Hyrule Warriors and your wife/roommate/kids want to take over the TV? No problem, just hit a button and you can keep right on playing on the tablet while they take the TV. In terms of Virtual Console games, old-school 8-64 bit games look fantastic on the small screen, sometimes far better than they do blown up on our giant TVs. You can also watch Netflix and Hulu on the tablet too, and with so many of us doing that on our phones and iPads anyway you can’t tell me that isn’t appealing. Only, again, you can use that to switch between watching something on the TV and watching it on the tablet seamlessly. Finally, even though you still need to use a Wii remote and it can be a bit cumbersome, Nintendo did make it so that original Wii games can also be played through the tablet, which is a neat feature (and, not unlike VC games, Wii games look pretty sharp on the small screen).
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5 – Hardly any of the headaches of “modern gaming”

When Wii U games launch, they launch complete. They launched polished. They aren’t broken and buggy for the first month until all the patches come through. Even if you never connect your Wii U to the internet, any Wii U game you buy will work just fine without any major issues – can you say that about most PS4 and XB1 games? The Wii U is the last bastion of hassle-free, pick up and play PS4 patch screengaming, with very minimal patching (and even then, it’s typically for balance tweaks and not just to make the game playable). When I only have 20 minutes to play, there is no safer bet among the 8th gen systems that I’m going to be able to spend most of those 20 minutes actually playing a game than if I choose the Wii U, even if I’m playing a game for the first time. Go out right now, buy a game, and put it in your XB1 or PS4 and time how long it takes you to actually start the game from the moment you first put the disc in. In that time, I’ll have raced a whole Mario Kart cup, beaten three levels of Super Mario 3D World, played a few matches of Splatoon, played enough of Wind Waker HD that I have a sword already, and probably still had enough time to beat one of those insanely long DK Country: Tropical Freeze boss fights.
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13 thoughts on “Five Things Wii U Doesn’t Get Enough Credit For

  1. Another impressive and thing about Nintendo sales performance is that outside of a few exceptions, their games don’t go on sale. Mario Maker is close to Bloodborne, and you can find bloodborne for $19.99 everywhere. Good luck ever seeing that price for Mario Maker. Splatoon has seen a good amount of sales, but I think that is Nintendo trying to get the word out on their new ip. And it still hasnt dropped to $19.99.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A few things I find myself thinking as someone who barely uses my Wii U aside from Hyrule Warriors, Bayonetta, and Virtual Console.

    1. While it is true they do backwards compatibility better then PS4 or XB1, don’t say you have no reason to have the Wii connected. The Wii can play Gamecube games via component cables without paying over $100 for the Gamecube’s Japan only component cables, while the Wii U can not play Gamecube games. Granted this is more of a strength of the original Wii then a weakness of the Wii U.

    2. It’s hard to say how well these games would sell if they weren’t virtually the only thing to play on the system. Halo 5 hasn’t sold as well, but the Xbox also has lots of multiplats for people to choose from instead of only their first party titles.

    3. While companies removing the option of local multiplayer is indeed crappy, leaving out online in the current day irks me beyond belief. Leaving out online means that I can not play with my friends, making Super Mario 3D World and the like completely worthless to me. All my friends have moved or don’t have time to hang out, I’m not gonna make new friends just to play games. I’m going to buy games that do let me play with my existing friends.

    4, You presume no one who dislikes the Gamepad actually has the system. I do, I don’t think I should have to ever power it up if I don’t want to use it, that includes accessing the console settings which are for some reason tied to it even though most games don’t require it. Xbox probably never would have beaten them in sales if they didn’t offer a Kinect free bundle, while the Gamepad is not as bad as the Kinect that should have given Nintendo a hint to boost sales.

    5. Spot on, while I am irked that Nintendo has not followed certain standards that Sony and Microsoft set last gen. I’m happy they haven’t followed some of the decisions they have made for current gen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 1. Well that is true about the Wii’s GameCube functionality, and I certainly utilized that a lot with my Wii, but I wanted to keep things relevant to just this console generation and the last and compare how much of the Wii Nintendo brought over to the Wii U and how little of the PS3 and X360 that Sony brought over to their descendants. The Wii definitely makes a better GameCube than the GameCube itself, mainly because of how much less shelf space it takes up.

      2. True enough, but the credit for how well those first-party Nintendo games have sold still stands considering how many fewer Wii U’s exist in the world than the other two. For a game to sell to HALF of the people who own a system is pretty impressive no matter what the numbers are. Sony and Microsoft would kill for a sell-through rate anywhere close to that. Even their absolute top-selling games only account for about 10-15% of the total number of consoles they’ve sold.

      3. You’re right, it definitely goes both ways. For every game on PS4 an XB1 that should have local multiplayer and doesn’t, there’s a game on Wii U that should have online multiplayer and doesn’t. Ptrety much all games should have both, period. I just know that there are a lot of people out there who still like to play with people in the same room and are frustrated by the gradual phasing out of local multiplayer in gaming as a whole, and Wii U is the only platform that still makes that a priority.

      4. The tablet isn’t perfect, and I never meant to presume that the only people who hate the tablet are those that have never tried it. I just feel that there are positive aspects of the tablet that people either aren’t aware of – I have talked to people who truly didn’t know that some multiplayer games let you split the gaming between the tablet and the screen, and others who didn’t know you could stream original Wii games to it – or that they take for granted, so I wanted to point those things out.

      5. Now let’s just hope it stays that way for NX and that Nintendo doesn’t completely give into all of that the next time around.

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  3. Well, Chi-Scroller. I have a few more things that the Wii U doesn’t get enough credit for.

    Keeping the game’s originality: Unlike a lot of other game franchises who are constantly changing the concept of their games to try to attract a new generation of fans. Nintendo doesn’t change anything about their famous games. New Super Mario Bros. takes the Mario franchise back to it’s roots, The Legend of Zelda still is true to it’s traditions by letting Link still being the main protagonist (same to Mario). This past year, Mortal Kombat X shocked some fans by reducing the original characters to either supporting roles or make them villains in order to make way for the new characters, they also changed a lot of the complexion of Fatalities and give the characters different weapons, powers and fighting styles.

    Trying to be right for everybody: This should’ve been in the article in my humble opinion. Nintendo nowadays gets a bad reputation for the nature of their games as a lot of gamers today just regard them as “too childish” or “too immature” or “too easy”. However, most games for the Wii U are very enjoyable not just for wild, crazy and hardcore gamers who are over the age of 20, but for absolutely everybody. They’re appropriate for everybody and the difficulty level on some games are also right for everybody. Another plus for Wii U games is that they’re not included in the gaming controversy as most of them are not “too violent” or “too raunchy” (of course there’s Zombie U, but who remembers that game) as most Wii U games don’t contain blood, gore, obscene language, questionable subject matter or even any depictions of sexual innuendo or intercourse.

    You don’t need internet to run the game: It has been said before the release of the X-Box One is that there’ll be some games where you must be online in order to play it, you don’t need that for the Wii U, you can still play games even if you’re not online (or if your router or internet connection is on the fritz).

    Very Durable: The Wii U also has a surprising feature that it’s quite durable. You rarely if at all have to worry about it breaking down. Something that can’t be said about the X-Box One as it still has the “dreaded” red ring of death signaling that the console itself is on the fritz.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ll admit, I’m an owner of the PS4. I haven’t touched my Wii, except for netflix and haven’t played it forever. Your article certainly inspired me into going back to Nintendo. All your points were valid and is what keeps true gamers hooked on Nintendo’s products. However, I will this, their position on higher end hardware production and lack of ambition to sign on many third party developers to produce games for them bothers me. It shouldn’t take another console to fix this. Nintendo knows how to market and do it fairly, with their customers in mind. They are probably the company in the video game industry that stays true to its fans, by avoiding DLC and nickle-n-diming.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I really enjoyed this whole article and I completely agree – the Wii U and Nintendo in general get a lot of unnecessary flack. The final point in particular stood out to me. I recently had a birthday where I received Shadow of Mordor for the PS3 and Majora’s Mask for the 3DS. I put in Shadow of Mordor but ended up playing Zelda for the hour or so that it took for all the updates to download on the PS3. There’s nothing more frustrating than putting in a game you’ve been hyped to play, only to have to wait even longer to actually enjoy it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Which wouldn’t be as big of a deal if you only ever had to go through that once, but it’s a pretty regular occurrence. I once had to wait a full half hour for a game to update that was a month old and I had been playing it almost every day, so it’s not like I was behind on patches or anything. I am a father with young kids, and I have very limited time to play once they’re in bed. I hate wasting it staring at progress bars.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Another thing about the Gamepad is that it’s a capable web browser if you need help on the fly. It lets you stop the game jump on the internet and watch a guide video if you’re stuck in an awkward situation and you don’t know how to get around it. It’s also a very efficient web browsing substitute if your regular web browsing devices aren’t as capable as they could be, or an ill fate has befallen them.

    Aside from this, I’d like to say that I love the format of the site and how you keep sharing the articles on Facebook. It makes for a very interesting read at some point in the day.

    Liked by 1 person

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