Yesterday was the launch of the Wii U. I made sure to get the Deluxe bundle, and we picked up Scribblenauts Unlimited and New Super Mario Bros. U to go with the bundled Nintendo Land. To be perfectly honest, I was in a rush to play it.
The first problem I ran into was that the system’s wireless signals have practically no ability to penetrate through walls whatsoever. I had to move one of my routers to bring it closer to the system, or it just plain wouldn’t connect to the internet. That said, after I got it connected, it only took me 45 minutes to download and install the 5 GB update (you read that right – you barely get any actual storage at all if you picked up the basic system).
Something I have to commend Nintendo for is the fast internet speed on the system. Nintendo Land and Mario Bros. U both had day one patches, and transferring from the Wii also required a download, but they went by quickly. Annoyingly enough, though, the Wii needed to be patched to be able to access its store and download the transfer utility, but the Pikmin-style data transfer sequence was amusing. That said, it was the most monotonous part of the entire process. It took upwards of an hour to get the data from my nearly-full Wii to my Wii U, and I couldn’t tell it to leave some of the data alone (I didn’t necessarily want my Wii Speak Channel to transfer, for example). The browser’s speed is ridiculous (in a good way), though.
Making accounts on the Nintendo Network, however, was a pain. Not only does trying to make an underage account force you into the parental controls menu and charge a parent’s card 50 cents, but the accounts on the network are apparently tied to each system and cannot be transferred. Quite the blunder on Nintendo’s part for the latter. For the former, one of my brothers went the cheap route and claimed his birth year was the same as mine, placing him as 19. People will save money wherever they can, Nintendo, and 50 cents is still something.
As for the gameplay itself after the patching was complete, my brothers were busy, I started off by inserting my Scribblenauts Unlimited disc. The gameplay was what I expected from Scribblenauts, but I still enjoyed the open world and appreciated the backpack to store my utility items like my jetpacks, as well as the button that lets me reset the area to how it was prior to my entry while I keep the starites. The TV screen was completely pointless in single-player, though, and we honestly tried to connect our wiimotes for multiplayer later on, but it refused to acknowledge any of them while the game was not paused (it would connect in the pause menu and the home screen overlay, but they would disconnect automatically when I returned to playing). I honestly hope that, unless I missed something, that the issue gets patched out.
New Super Mario Bros. U was the next game I tried playing. To be perfectly honest, it felt like I’d played that game before, but that was to be expected. As such, after beating the first mini-boss, I stopped playing. When I returned for multiplayer later that night, I honestly got bored of Boost Mode and joined in as player 3. However, the save file we made in multiplayer had to be promptly nuked, since they chose not to tie the save files for the game to each account instead of system-wide, and we needed all three slots. Like Scribblenauts, the two screens felt redundant to each other, so it was like playing on a DS with both screens showing the same thing.
Nintendo Land was the last game I tried. I’ll be honest here – it’s the best game of the three. Each minigame had a fun, inventive way of using the gamepad, with a handful of exceptions. I have yet to play all of the solo minigames, but of the multiplayer ones, I’ll single out the Zelda minigame. Aside from being able to hit the less-common aerial foes, or the rare enemy who stays out of the swordsmen’s range, there is no fun in playing the archer (which is what you get if you use the gamepad). In contrast, the gamepad is very useful and fun for practically everything else (except for the Metroid one, where it isn’t as fun as the wiimote players). The minigame collection was, overall, really enjoyable, though. It gave me a Mario Party vibe, in a way.
While I’m enjoying it, the system isn’t very compelling at present. Not only do most of the games I’ve seen and heard about not make good enough use of the gamepad, more games have to come in. More good games. I’m hearing that practically every AAA port not named Sonic or Darksiders was lazily put together, and that’s not a good sign. Perhaps the end of the launch window, when all of the initial offerings have been released, will provide a more optimistic look at the system’s library, but the current line-up isn’t looking good after you remove the lazy ports from the list. Luckily for Nintendo, however, the system is on backorder at practically every store that stocks it, meaning that they’ll probably have stable sales until the end of the launch window. I can only hope that the system is looking better by then, and/or E3 2013 brings in a few major hits.
I was worried it would pull development time away from Turtles all the Way, but it doesn’t seem like that’ll be the case just yet. Everything’s just being too subdued for that at present.