The Wii U is the first console of the eighth generation of gaming
The Wii U is the first new system in the last six years and, in my opinion, could set Nintendo down a technological path its stockholders and fans don’t want to go down.
Before I continue, let’s talk about the Wii for a moment. Six years ago everybody was clamoring to get the Wii, which was sold out across the country. The Wii was a cultural phenomenon, though perhaps not much of a gaming one. Due to lackluster motion control and inferior technical specs, the Wii’s novelty wore off quickly.
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Soon Wii owners found themselves subjected to shelves of cleverly disguised “Mini-Game” based games that tried to recreate the excitement of Wii on Day 1. That isn’t to say the Wii didn’t herald solid games. Games like Super Smash Brothers: Brawl and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, were valiant entries, but the main draw to the Wii, the motion control, hindered the experience and was usually circumvented by way of a GameCube controller.
By the time the PlayStation Move and Microsoft Kinect hit the market, the Wii was obsolete and Nintendo seemed a shade of its Nintendo 64 glory days.
Six years later, Nintendo has once again come out with a technologically innovative system, but this time it is attempting to compete with Sony and Microsoft in the “Entertainment System” area. This system also marks the first console of the eighth generation of gaming. Also of note is that this has so far been the longest gap between gaming generations, which typically last five-six years. Only the Wii U has broken ice so far, with Microsoft and Sony offerings slated for 2013 and 2014 possibilities, though no official announcements have been made.
The Wii U boasts a system similar to the PlayStation Store or the Xbox Marketplace, as well as a slew of other entertainment apps (such as Facebook and Netflix), all of which are features that Microsoft and Sony both perfected years ago.
Essentially, the Wii U stands on two foundations: Nintendo’s iconic characters and the Wii U’s controller.
Diehard fans will clamor to grab the latest game in the Zelda or Mario series no matter what system they have to endure.
The Wii U’s controller, which has a LCD screen embedded within it, offers an upgraded motion control from that of the original Wii but allows portions of the game to slink off-screen onto the controller itself. For example, in ZombieU, the Wii U’s zombie survival launch title, the second screen is utilized as both a map and a scope when sniping. While the action of sniping a zombie through a digital scope is cool, I imagine the novelty of the second screen will eventually wear off, just like the second screen on the Nintendo DS did.
At the same time, I hope it never does. Sadly, if the novelty of the second screen wears off, the Wii U finds itself as another entertainment system, and that’s a race where the competitors have a four-year head start.
For now, the Wii U remains a fun new device that shows much promise. Hopefully Nintendo will continue to keep the titles varied and interesting, while promoting a distinct flavor of gaming that’s depth lies beyond the motion control.