Review: Nintendo Wii U

 

If one this is for sure, it’s that Nintendo’s Wii U is a bold, unique idea. As a console focused around a tablet controller, it’s the first of its kind. Yes, many of us have a tablet or smartphone that we use for gaming all the time, but the Wii U GamePad is built to interact with the television gaming experience, and that is undeniably a new approach.

While other console manufacturers have mostly forgotten about the joy that comes from local multiplayer gaming, Nintendo has fully embraced it. As many as five people can play certain Wii U games at once, with one player using the GamePad and four using Wii Motion Plus remotes (a standard Wii controller with the WMP add-on works too). Launch titles like Nintendo Land and New Super Mario Bros. U demonstrate this new form of interaction beautifully, and represent the biggest point of differentiation for the console.

Nintendo has never made the console with the most horsepower under the hood, and Wii U is no different. In terms of graphics, Wii U games are just about on par with current-generation Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 visuals. But they are finally in HD, and this is a big step forward.

Thankfully, Nintendo has finally established an online presence, which they’re calling Nintendo Network. The Nintendo eShop is the Wii U's online virtual store, allowing for the downloading of full Wii U games and digital-only titles. The Miiverse is a social network of sorts, that lets Wii U owners trade pictures, messages and more. Finally, Nintendo TVii is a free service that connects live TV, streaming services and DVR into a single package.

In addition to its use in conjunction with the TV, the Wii U GamePad can also work on its own as a standalone screen—so long as you’re in the same room as the console. If you’re playing a game and mom wants to watch television, you can bring your game with you. How far away you'll be able to stray from the console varies; as long as it was in line of sight of the console, it will work up to 25 feet away, but things get a bit rough when you’re separated by a wall.

Wii U - Best Games:

Nintendo Land: Bundled along with the Deluxe Set, and the Wii U's equivalent of Wii Sports. There are 12 mini-games on the disc that make use of all the cool ideas the Wii U hardware has on offer, and is the must-own party game.

ZombiU: Ubisoft's ZombiU is genuinely scary, and demonstrates how having your map on the GamePad screen is way better than having it on the pause screen. It’s the best third-party launch title by a mile, and if you’re a zombie/horror fan it’s essential.

New Super Mario Bros. U: Mario looks amazing in HD, and the game is a perfect example of how great the off-TV GamePad experience can be. Up to five players can jump in at once (the GamePad user provides key blocks to help the others access hidden areas and avoid enemies).

Chasing Aurora: A great indie game that’s exclusive to Wii U, Chasing Aurora is all about flight—with other friends in the same room. Its gorgeous art style and soundtrack help make it infinitely replayable.

Price: $299.99 (Basic), $349.99 (Deluxe). Games $14.99 - $59.99

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by Devin Santos