Friday, October 12, 2012

The Pendulum Swing -- Thoughts on the Wii U (Part #1)

Hello everyone! How are you? I figured that it was about time to do another blog post (particularly because I have some disposable time and due to the fast approaching launch of the Wii U just around the corner).

The following are my thoughts on the upcoming Nintendo console. I do not want to discourage those from purchasing the console nor overly advocate the purchase of the Wii U. You have to use your own discretion. If any of my points help in your final decision, then more power to you.

For the most part, I feel like an emotional pendulum regarding the pros and cons of the console. On the positive side for instance, the Wii U is backwards compatible with nearly all of its predecessor's titles. In addition, the Wii U also uses the Wii Remote, Nunchuck, and almost all of the other accessories as well. This is a great benefit to those that don't want to waste money on extra controllers.

However, there are also a few downsides. For example, the new tablet controller (which I will hereby dub as either the U-tablet, U-tab, or U-pad) while versatile in allowing players to play without the need for a television screen, still is limited in range from the console itself (so you can't go on a road-trip & play a game) and there is a limit of two U-tablets per console. I would imagine that if you wanted to play Call of Duty Black Ops 2 multi-player with 4 people, you might only be able to play "fair" with 3 players total because you could have two U-pads but would still need a Wii Remote controller (which requires the use of the full television screen, thus limiting the potential for two Wii Remotes & Nunchucks because playing split-screen is somewhat difficult to do and gives an unfair advantage to those who engage in the practice of "screen-watching" where you peek at your opponents screen to determine where they're at on the map) or at the very least the other two players would both need to have Classic Controllers (or the Classic Controller Pro).

As a side note, it was a terrible marketing strategy for Nintendo to make an "improved" Classic Controller by adding only two more buttons and slapping on a "Pro" label to make it seem less arbitrary. Instead of having the appearance of an SNES controller like the original Classic Controller, this one is shaped more like the Nintendo GameCube controller. It functioned in essentially the very same way as the original, but with the exception that the shoulder buttons, which were designed to be digital trigger-shaped buttons, are placed vertically instead of horizontally. The connection cord is positioned on top of the controller rather than the bottom, and the spring-loaded attachment slot underneath the original model was removed.

The Nintendo TVii concept also seems somewhat gimmicky. I don't see the point of being able to post or comment on shows & movies when people do that with little care already on social networks. Adding Facebook functionality to Nintendo TVii is just sugar-coating something that isn't really all that significant to a gamer. I'm not sure exactly how it works but, Netflix could have just been on a separate app for the console like the Netflix channel already is on the Wii, but I suppose having Hulu and your DVR devices (such as TiVo) linked up all in one place would be a somewhat significant benefit. I like the idea of Miiverse though, because you can chat with your friends and track each other's progress as well as provide hints or tips to one another.

I'm also sort of perplexed as to why Nintendo is offering a significantly hindered Wii U console (the "Basic White Set") if the black ("Deluxe set") has a feature that could've benefited BOTH models. What I'm referring to is Nintendo's Digital Download Rewards Program of sorts. Apparently, the "Deluxe Black Model" (which has 32 GB of internal memory) allows for players to earn points for every digital download they purchase to be applied towards additional add-on content or other games. Apparently, players earn approximately 10% of the price paid at the Nintendo eShop for each game and downloadable content purchased online. Points are only earned on purchases over 10 cents and at 10 cent increments. Owners of the Wii U Basic Set do not qualify for Deluxe Digital Promotion.

This feature seems to really force consumers to buy the "Deluxe Model" because the "Basic White Set" (8 GB of internal memory) does not have this sort of "customer appreciation" aspect attached to it. In fact, the Basic set is severely limiting in that for only $50 more, you could get four times the internal memory. It is almost as if Nintendo was intentionally trying to create a schism between lower and higher income families. Personally, I think that Nintendo should've made the Deluxe Model the standard, saved on production costs, and just made the only difference an aesthetic color change. I believe that all products should be made available in black. It's a sleek, stylish color, and it's been said that "black goes with everything". I hold that to be a self evident truth, but I digress. It just seems like an unnecessary division artificially created by Nintendo in order to make up for lost profits.

On the positive side, I'm FINALLY content with the launch line-up this time around, especially with the increased third party support. I'm happy that Nintendo decided to pick up Bayonetta 2 (although I don't believe that this title will be ready by the holiday season). Nonetheless, I would be more than willing to pick up a copy of the game despite having no prior knowledge of the original title's storyline.

I'm worried that since Nintendo is releasing the Wii U towards the end of this year, Microsoft & Sony will just steal/expand upon more of the innovative concepts that Nintendo has implemented and thus make the Wii U a flop. The Wii lost a lot of hardcore gamers because of the lack of third party support, decent online support, and proper processing power. As such, I felt somewhat betrayed for purchasing one with the foolish belief that it would be a worthwhile investment. Especially since Microsoft and Sony took the motion control concept and made it much more fluid. Nintendo had to sell an add-on accessory to get the Wii to have true 1:1 movement.

At this time, I'm still skeptical and somewhat hesitant of the idea of purchasing a Wii U especially considering the MSRP tag of $299.99 (£249.99,€299.99) for the Basic and $349.99 (£299.99, €349.99) for the Premium. Until I see the other new consoles, their capabilities, and I am able to make an reasonably informed decision, I will look at Nintendo with condescending glare. I'm waiting for Nintendo to really impress me amidst the competition.