Community Review: The Wii U

This weekend I had very little time to spend with the Wii U. I headed off on a holiday weekend, came back on Sunday afternoon, had a BBQ for family and friends, and that was it really. But something interesting happened during that BBQ. For the first time ever I got a chance to play the Wii U with a group of friends, with a mixture of people — some who liked games, some who didn't, some who could take it or leave it. It was an interesting experience to say the least.

This is the tl;dr version of this story: everyone absolutely loved it. We played NintendoLand exclusively and people were effectively losing their minds.

The real magic of the Wii U and NintendoLand (probably the only launch title that actually uses the GamePad properly) is how well it allows players to recreate childhood games in a space where rules are easily comprehensible and consistent. I think that's the real magic of the game. Take Mario Chase for example. Mario Chase is essentially a game of tag. The player with the GamePad is the one getting chased, by up to four human players using WiiMotes. Mario Chase allows the runner a full view of the map, along with the position of all the players chasing him. The four doing the chasing have to communicate, head the runner off. They have to conspire and talk and chase. The runner gets to hide, use strategies, run frantically. Have that claustrophobic feeling of the walls closing in. It's so delicately simple, easily comprehensible, yet perfectly balanced.

And this goes for almost all the mini-games in NintendoLand.

I think it's fairly easy to be negative about the Wii U. The third party games (in my opinion) are heavily disappointing. New Super Mario Bros U is just way too familiar to genuinely feel like a 'killer app' and there doesn't seem to be much on the horizon. What you can't and shouldn't forget, is just how carelessly energetic and hilarious NintendoLand can be with a group of friends.

I know I had forgotten. NintendoLand, for me and my family, will no doubt replace Wii Sports, it'll replace Rock Band. It will be the new thing we do when we're together and we feel like playing video games. Make no mistake — that's a hard gap to fill, and solid legacy to continue. And it speaks to the potential of the Wii U as a console.

So that's some of my early thoughts on the Wii U. Very keen to hear yours! Let us know in the comments below!


    Im finding Im using it more as a handheld, been playing Scribblenauts Unlimited and Mario and just using the gamepad, a lil resentful couldve saved some money and just got a 3DS, just waiting to see what the future holds for the console. A new HD Zelda? Smash Bros?

    By the way didnt relise how evil Scribblenauts is - so far Ive made a pizza with cat abd used a baby as bait to catch a shark :S

      I found on the first Scribblenauts on DS I was able to solve most of the problems using a shotgun!

    I love mine. Nintendo Land is fantastic, loving Zombi U and NSMBU. Tekken is great too. Theres problems, but hopefully they get ironed out. Overall though its's great. Miiverse is the best thing ever.

      I'm surprised by how awesome Miiverse is. Probably to do with the ability to draw pictures, so I get to see heaps of amazing fan art ^_^

    I think for me, the Wii U is currently reasonably solid, but is most impressive in the potential it displays. NSMBU is decent, and shows off the 'play while someone else is watching TV' thing, but isn't exactly a killer app. Games like Nintendo Land and ZombiU are showing some great ideas for using the gamepad, and really excite me about the future of games on the Wii U.

    I've had my Wii U for a little over a week now and have soley been playing NintendoLand, along with my 6 yo daughter and wife. On the most part it's a great timewaster and some of those 'mini' games have some depth too them. Don't really care for those that use motion controls, with the exception of Donkey Kong Crash Course. My daughter especially likes Pikmin and Yosh's Fruit Cart. Miiverse is also great and some of the art people put up is something in itself.

    The issue in my house are all related to who gets to use the gamepad, as most of the games have that extra dimension when using it. Mario Chase is one such game where using the gamepad is much more fun.

    Have to contribute to this. Decided to get one on a whim after work on Friday. Haven't owned a Nintendo Console since the N64 (apart from handhelds like DS, 3DS, etc) and I have to say it's been a blast.

    Picked up a Premium Pack, so got Nintendo land, also got ZombiU, NSMBU and Arkham City Armored Edition. (I've never actually played AC yet, so seemed a good buy)

    Games have all been great fun so far. Console interface is solid, gamepad is great - far better than I was expecting. There's some small issues I've encountered - slow updates, some slow load times between apps, or exiting a game, etc but not a huge detriment to the experience.

    So far what I've loved is the integrated community - Miiverse, and the ability to post notes about games, or even like NSMBU where you can post notes about a level if you do something special, like finish it without taking damage. Easy to use, and heaps of fun.

    The community, combined with no achievement/trophy system makes the whole experience feel so much lighter, enjoyable and less stressful.

    Loving it, and keen to see where it goes from here.

      I'm really glad Nintendo didn't include achievements. Keeps them focused on making the gameplay in games as fun as possible.

        Yeah me too. Achievments have kinda lost their zing me for. Can't really be bothered anymore.

    NintendoLand well surpassed my expectations. I had so much fun playing Mario Chase with a group of mates, including non-gamers. Some of the games you can't quite call mini games, as they are too well fleshed out, (Zelda, Pikmin, Metroid). NSMBU is awesome, but only as much as expected. The MiiVerse integration was very impressive!

    compared to the wii... i really like this console... waiting for more games :D

    Nintendoland is bloody amazing, and it only gets better in multiplayer!

    Have to disagree with "Nintendoland...probably the only launch title that actually uses the GamePad properly". ZombiiU makes fantastic use of the gamepad, especially when using the scanner and the map/radar.

    I gotta say I love what Nintendo have done with it and mirror what many people here are saying, it's the future potential that excites me about it the most.

    Which having said that has me hoping that Nintendo add in DVD/BluRay playback and local file support, for a console that they seem to be pushing in the home entertainment/media center direction its a really odd omission to have.

    After the day 1 update which took half a day (which was also followed by a short blackout not 5 minutes after it finished updating :S ), I had a quick look around the system and fired up ZombiU. It's a genuinely tense and frantic experience (There is always one Zed you don't see!) and makes great use of the gamepad (which is far lighter and more comfortable than I thought it would be), it has a few quirks but it's a overall great first effort from Ubisoft (also looking forward to Rayman Legends by them).

    While I haven't tried NintendoLand, from what everyone is saying I'm looking forward to it.

    I've spent about 5 or so minutes in MiiVerse and I didn't see a single crudely drawn penis, was pleasantly surprised. Either everyone is strangely mature or Nintendo's crack team of moderators are on top of things.

    That's the extent of my experience so far, all in all imo it's a great console and can only get better from here.

    I was a bit underwhelmed by it on Friday update upon update - then i had to go to work. Spent some of Saturday playing Mario - which to be honest is solid but uninspiring. The ability to put the cricket on the TV whilst jumping and discovering retro goodies is very welcome. Then on Sunday I sat down and played Nintendoland with my girlfriend. It blew our tiny little minds! Mario Chase was incredible. The octopus inspired game had us in hysterics. The use of the gamepad camera is an amazing accompaniment to the gsmeplay. Bring on more games!

    Anyone notice the common theme ? Nintendoland rocks!

    Miiverse is really cool and I like the way it's tightly integrated into the games themselves. It's kinda confusing the way that they have this and a friends list, though. It really should be one thing.

    I've played the first world and a half of Mario and enjoyed it, but agree that I wasn't blown away. Then I tried playing NintendoLand for a while with my 2 year old son on Sunday morning. He had a great time tapping the boxes on cue on the touch screen in the overworld, got bored during the ninja game. Then when we tried playing the "mikmik" (pikmin) game, he hit the home button while I was tapping on the screen, I hit "Quit game" and we were back at the main menu. I gave up at that point :)

    I'm loving these comments. Makes my purchase of one this Thursday feel more of a geniune buy than a fanboy/early tech buy. Does anyone know how AC3 plays? Framerate, graphics etc.

      Unicron: I'm about 1/4 way through AC3 and it's great. Textures are sharp and, despite the odd framerate drop, gameplay is generally smooth. It's a shame the developers didn't have the time and/or inclination to exploit the console's relatively more robust capabilities but, as it stands, the U version is just as good if not a little better than the 360 one (haven't seen the PS3 version).

    I didn't have any of those 5gb updates that people were complaining about (although there were a lot of 5 minute ones).
    Quite honestly, playing NintendoLand with my gf is probably one of the best console experiences I've ever had. The whole thing feels like a breathe of fresh air.
    This week we're going to go buy a second one as a Xmas gift for her sister.

      It is a 1gb system update. Takes 50m to an hour.

        yeah sounds about right about an hour for the update i set the update up before i went to work.

    So if you're not remotely interested in playing Nintendoland (I only occasionally have friends over and we tend to play board games if we want a game) is the black SKU worth it over the white one? As I understand it the on-board storage is going to be irrelevant long-term since you'll end up attaching a USB hard drive (and besides that, I would shy away from online purchasing until Nintendo implement a modern account-based system like everyone else). Are the rest of the extras really worth the cash difference?

      Well Big W and Kmart have the premium pack for pretty damn cheap at the moment, so if you get in soon then the extras are kind of free in a way. Have you actually played Nintendo Land yet, a any of the demo places? It's just that from the sound of your comments you're only thinking of it as a multiplayer game that you won't use, rather than something you can play by yourself if you like.

      Personally, I never had any wish ti play Wii Sports on my own, it only got carted out when friends came around and demanded it. But that changed with Wii Sports Resort, I plugged a tonne of hours into that on my own and come to think of it hardly ended up getting it out for friends. Nintendo Land seems to be the same way, it feels like there's a whole load of content in there and it's still plenty of fun to play on your own, even if a couple of the games *require* multiple players.

        I have dozens of unplayed or unfinished single player games which would give me a far more complete and fulfilling experience than a mini-game collection, however good it is. I'm sure it's not bad, but I doubt I'd do much more beyond playing each game once and then throwing it on the shelf, so maybe I'd get 3-4 hours out of it at the most. Haven't played it but seen enough of it to know it's not really something that offers me a lot of value.

        I can't afford one at this point anyway. I'm more thinking that it's going to be easier to justify buying the cheaper one once it has some games at least announced that I really want to play (has nothing particularly interesting at the moment but a lot of potential) but if the difference between the two SKUs is significant enough I'd regret not paying more I'd like to know. It doesn't seem to be.

          To be honest, up to this point wiiu feels like a social experience (unless zombiU grabs you). So probably not until you we see more games come out next year.

          Last edited 03/12/12 12:38 pm

          You don't get a wii sensor bar in basic pack. If u have a wii - u already have one.

    Absolutely loving it. Nintendo Land is indeed fantastic - though I've since changed my tune a bit. I was going on about how it's not Wii Sports at all, it's more like Wii Play in that it's made to showcase each function of the new controller etc. But really, it's not particularly like that at all - it's more like Wii Sports Resort. And I friggen loved that game.

    ZombiU though... holy crap is that game scary. I don't do well with scary games, I struggled to put myself through the zombie level of Conker's Bad Fur Day, so this is an uphill struggle for me. But it's so damn good, I want to fight on. Definitely makes just as good a use of the gamepad as Nintyland - if not better, since it showcases its full use in a "proper" non-minigame game, and just what it can bring to that experience.

    Oh, and completely surprised by how good the video chat thing is! That camera's pretty damn decent, I was hardly in any light at all but could still see everything. Miiverse is also rad, and OMG WE CAN ADD TOTAL STRANGERS TO OUR FRIENDS LIST AND START TALKING TO THEM???

    Last edited 03/12/12 12:08 pm

    Octopus Dance. I just love my ugly mug in the background, floating around, looking like it's having a blast.

    It seems like I need to get some friends over and NintendoLand it up.

    This time next year I think we will either have (and definitely will have seen) a new 3D Mario game, a new Zelda and a new Donkey Kong. While that is awesome, I am truly worried about third-party support in the long run. No one is ballsy enough these days.

      When my face randomly appeared whilst playing I laughed and completely failed. They do a great job of distracting you. The game is so simple yet so entertaining.

    I want to say this first (because I doubt anyone will read to the end):

    Wii U is a horrible name. Was at my nanna's birthday party on Sunday and brought up amongst older family members that we had bought a new Wii. Of course, everyone says, "Oh, we haven't used ours for years...". It was kinda surprising how many of them had Wii's, but, the thing is, why on Earth would I want to bother correcting them and explaining that it's a new Nintendo console? It should have a completely different name.

    I played Nintendo Land over the weekend with my girlfriend and a friend. Some of the games become completely unbalanced with three players (we had been playing with two beforehand). Animal Crossing seems near impossible to win for the people collecting sweets, but I imagine it would be a lot easier once you have more people collecting. Mario Chase is reasonably fair giving either side an equal opportunity to win, but again, I imagine with more people it becomes almost impossible for Mario to win. It seems the sweet spot for Nintendo Land is probably 4 or 5 players, 2-3 just doesn't feel all that comfortable.

    My girlfriend has been playing NSMBWU, and we've kinda found that the Miiverse isn't all that good for asking for help. When you finish a level with 3 Star Coins or without losing a life or whatever allows you to post to Miiverse at completion, it will tag your post with the level you are on. But when you want to ask for help finding a Star Coin or something like that, you can't tag the level in to your post because you haven't finished or.. something. I have no idea! Maybe there's a way to do it, but it's not obvious, and it seems to contradict one of the major ideas behind the community section.

    Battery life on the game pad! It's horrible. It's probably -only just- enough battery power to last through a single average length gaming session. It really seems like Nintendo cheaped out massively one area that is kinda meaningful here. I've had to move the charging adapter around to three different power points so far to keep the pad charged in the various "off screen" places I have been playing. It kinda takes away from the experience to be able to play off the screen but still be tethered to a power point. I just wish they'd given it enough battery power to last perhaps 6 hours (not the ~3 hours I am getting). Hopefully some more powerful third party alternatives come out soon (I Imagine that's what Nintendo is hoping for too...).

    Over all I am definitely enjoying the console. What I've pointed out here would be my major complaints without listing all the positives. We had a top time playing Nintendo Land on the weekend despite some balance issues, and my girlfriend is loving NSMBWU on the game pad (since she needs to put her glasses on to see the TV), and having a second player being able to help gather Star Coins is awesome. Looking forward to a larger gathering of people to really see how it works at a real party.

      playing NSMBWU with 5 people is incrdibly fun i was incontrol of the Wiiu pad, and i decided who lived and who headbutted a magically appearing brick and fell in a hole :D

      Luigi's masion and animal crossing candy game are by far the best games on the WiiU so far, esspecially with a full house playing, its incrdibly entertaining watching your mates freak out as you stalk them with the ghost.

      Yep battery life is a bit of a pain, but there will be 3rd party batteries soon enough which will boost time span. Not sure how they may effect the 'feel' of the gamepad though.

      I like the idea that they should have called it the Super Wii

      i got atleast 3 to 4 hours so its a shame the gamepads battery life is so short. Not a deal breaker for me though.

    Wii U has already captured my heart, I love it especially my sexy black gamepad! <3 Nintendoland are better and more fun than I thought it would be also it have more contents than you expected! ZombiU are so intense and really got sucked into, forgot about time and played for 6 hours straight on it, damn time gone so fast! I really love Mario U, it felt like its one of the best Mario Bros game.

    oh not to forget about Miiverse, everyone underestimated it and almost the half amount of time spent on Wii U was spent on Miiverse, it have cheerful atmosphere, so many talented artists have amazing drawing in it and a better place to ask for help. WII U FTW!

    We played for 4-5 hours non stop yesterday with a total of 6 people, playing Nintendo Land and NSMBU and it was fun! You won't get that type of fun from any other console/pc. It's clearly designed to cater for the good old couch gaming fun extended to up to 5 players, and this is really where the Wii U shines.

    Damn you guys to hell. I have to wait until Christmas for mine....

      Thats too bad, but you will no doubt have an excellent Christmas with a Wii U, I can tell you the 1 and a half years of waiting since i was announced was already difficult enough for me. I hope there are more games like Mario Chase and Luigis mansion in Nintendo land, the fun kids have playing those games is gold. One thing that bugs me is the hand grips on the gamepad are too damn small, im hoping a gamepad case with larger grips can fix that up in the future

      Last edited 03/12/12 3:04 pm

        Yeah, I can't wait to get it. I got Fifa 2013 with the bundle (from JB, it was only $40 with the console) and plan on getting ZombiU before Xmas. I'm REALLY waiting for the first party releases.

        Do you think that one of the 'sleeves' might make it bulky enough for you? Not an optimal solution but thought I might suggest it.

          i got mine from JB too, got Sonic Racing for $40 its pretty good value at that price. I dont mind the bulk as long as it fits in my hand a little more comfortably. I already got the Wii U starter pack that comes with the Wii U when you bought it at JBhifi, but it doesnt enlarge the hand grips as much as i would like.

    What is the support like for original (non motion plus) controllers?
    I'm going to pick up a WiiU sometime this week but i don't have motion plus controllers, I'm assuming it wont matter form NSMB but what about ZombiU (2player) and NintendoLand?

      some of the 5 player multi games on Nintendo land need it like Zelda and Metroid (not sure about pikmin) which sucks but im gonna get all my Wiimotes fitted with motion plus. Luigi mansion, Animal planet and Mario chase dont need it. I got COD BO2 and i dont think you need motion plus for Wiimote plus nunchuck controls, its pretty good.

    ZombiU has grown on me. The more I play the more I like it. Usually it works the other way so that was a plesant surprise. Mighy Switch Force is okay for the price. Nano Assault Neo is a bit of fun, especially with the great two player.

    Nintendo land is pack in chaff and outside of tech demo family/friend multiplayer I wont be touching it again.

    Roll on more games!

      Is Mighty switch force on the aus shop yet? Didn't see it yesterday.

      Still wondering how you managed to get an unreleased game?

        Got a US Wii U so I'm using the US eshop ;)

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