Wii U Review Update: 20 Months Later

Wii U Review Update: 20 Months Later

If you don't have a Wii U, it's time to get one. This is our Kotaku review update for the Wii U, the gaming console with a screen in its controller that we've been telling you since November 2012 is not yet a must-have. It finally is.

It is because the Wii U finally has so many good games that it's possible to forget some of them! For example, someone might ask a Wii U owner which games are great on Wii U and they will mention this one:

Wii U Review Update: 20 Months Later

And this one....

Wii U Review Update: 20 Months Later

But they will forget this this one existed.

Wii U Review Update: 20 Months Later

Or they may not even know that this one is out.

Wii U Review Update: 20 Months Later

You've heard about the one that remixes old Nintendo games, right?

Wii U Review Update: 20 Months Later

Have you seen this one?

Wii U Review Update: 20 Months Later

Would you believe that this Nintendo console is even building up a stack of indie games worth splurging on?

Wii U Review Update: 20 Months Later
Wii U Review Update: 20 Months Later
Wii U Review Update: 20 Months Later
Wii U Review Update: 20 Months Later

Long ago in the year 2012, we knocked the Wii U for its sluggish operating system. Nintendo sped it up a bit. It wasn't enough, so Nintendo kept tinkering. Today, we can praise the Wii U for its new start-up menu that lets us get to its games a bit faster.

Once, we knocked the Wii U for having a pitiful amount of internal storage, 32GB max, (well, really only 29GB). And... we still think that's too paltry but maybe you're cool with plugging in an externally-powered USB drive to give you extra storage?

Once, we complained that the Wii U GamePad controller battery died too quickly. It still does (but you can buy a better battery).

We can live with these problems. They're overwhelmed by what the Wii U does right. And that GamePad controller is actually pretty great. So is the optional (and recommended) Xbox-style Pro Controller.

The Wii U launched with a bunch of services, but what we weren't sure about at first was how well they'd run long-term.

Good news!

Wii U Review Update: 20 Months Later

The Wii U eShop is easy to navigate, constantly filled with sales and regularly updated with new and old games alike. The Virtual Console back-catalogue could use some beefing up, but who are we to slight a console that now lets you download everything from Earthbound to Advance Wars to Golden Sun to Metroid Fusion?

The system's social network, the Miiverse, is somewhat insane but it's also the warmest, friendliest community you can find on a console. From the console, you can go into a message board for a game and find that people are drawing pictures celebrating it. And sometimes those pictures make it back into the games. Cheery! Seriously, it's a nice touch.

Wii U Review Update: 20 Months Later

Back in the old days of 2013 or so the coolest thing about the Wii U was that it was giving you Nintendo graphics in HD.

Wii U Review Update: 20 Months Later

And then that became a clichéd reason to be excited about the Wii U.

Wii U Review Update: 20 Months Later

Oh, whatever. It's really nice to see Nintendo graphics in HD!

Wii U Review Update: 20 Months Later

Note: On the occasion of writing about the Wii U here at Kotaku we don't always mention two games that many of our readers love. We will do that here to further show off how cool the Wii U is.

First, we are mentioning Monster Hunter 3: Ultimate right here.

Wii U Review Update: 20 Months Later

Second, we are mentioning Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze here.

Wii U Review Update: 20 Months Later

The best thing about the Wii U is that you can play most of its best games without even turning on your TV. Trust us. This is great. It's great for playing console-quality games without a TV, be it in your bed or in public places (especially if you're really handsome)...

Wii U Review Update: 20 Months Later

It's also great for playing Wii U games while someone else in the house is using the TV that the console is hooked into. Call us crazy, but this has become the norm for many of us Wii U owners at Kotaku who routinely trade stories about playing this or that Wii U game via the system's controller screen without turning on the TV. Do we do this just because we can? No, we do this because it turns out to be an awesome option.

We even have people on staff who play games on the GamePad while they themselves are using the TV. Oh, the multitasking insanity!

We can't deny that there are drawbacks to owning a Wii U. If it's your only console, you can kiss the chances of playing the next cutting-edge Assassin's Creed, Batman or Grand Theft Auto games goodbye. Unless you're a big Sonic fan, you're not really going to find many big-company non-Nintendo games that you can only play on Wii U or play on Wii U at all. Get another system if you want to enjoy blockbusters from Activision, EA, Ubisoft, Take Two and the like. There are also huge genre holes on the Wii U that are likely to get bigger what with a dearth of realistic sports games, a rarity of RPGs, and a slowdown of new shooters.

We are at peace with this.

Wii U Review Update: 20 Months Later

There was a time when the Wii U simply cost too much for the amount of great games it had on the system. There was also a time when Nintendo TVii might have been a big deal. (This was around the same time!). That was the past. That was a past when you could merrily skip the Wii U and be ok.

Today, however, if you skip the Wii U, you're missing out.

Please recognise that we don't make console recommendations based on the future. We're not telling you to grab a Wii U now because there's a Smash Bros. a few months from release and a gorgeous open-world Zelda farrrr out on the horizon.


We are recommending the Wii U in the present. We are recommending the console of surprise feature-adding Pikmin 3 patches...the console of the wonderfully weird and eminently crowd-pleasing Nintendo Land...the console of... this:

OK, maybe that's a bit much.

But still, do we now recommend that you get a Wii U? Are we now pretty sure that you'll have a good time with it? Do we finally feel like the system has hit its stride?


    Pikmin 3 would be my reason to get the Wii U, but too expensive for what it offers more compared to the Wii.

      $198 is too expensive?

      Sell the Skylanders game and it gets even cheaper.

      Buy Mario Kart 8 and get the special deal to get Pikmin 3 as a digital download for FREE.

      I was about to buy one the other day but for an unfortunate traffic violation robbing me of the money I’d planned to spend.

      The thing stopping me buying one at full price isn’t necessarily that it doesn’t do enough MORE than the Wii, it’s that it doesn’t even do the things that the Wii does. I throw my PS3 on and I’ve got access to a huge library of PS1/ PS2/ PS3 games and I know that if I buy them that I’ll be able to use them for as many Sony consoles as can run them.

      99% of my Wii use since Skyward Sword has been to play either Gamecube games or Virtual Console games. If I get a WiiU (particularly if it’s a basic one) I have to port all my VC games across at further cost to myself, then it can’t play Gamecube games and won’t support those controllers, the basic WiiU doesn’t come with a Wii-sensor so I have to take it off my old Wii which will make it harder to use for Gamecube games….

      My Wii essentially became a go-to box for all things Nintendo (or as much as they would put up) and despite being perfectly capable for being that, Nintendo is too lazy/disorganised/stupid to allow me to transition it all across to the WiiU in any kind of organised manner. I don’t want two Nintendo consoles gathering dust under my TV waiting for the 1-2 Nintendo games a year that come out and are worth buying.

        Sounds about right - We got a GameCube too with a few games, and they work fine on the Wii. I won't buy a WiiU for $400. $150, I just might consider it.

          If you could have a Nintendo account that allowed me to download and play games across Nintendo consoles like I can on the PS that would do it for me.

          I SHOULD be able to log into a new WiiU or into my 3DS Nintendo account and access every single pre-32 bit console game that I’ve bought previously. I should have been able to download GC games on my Wii and I should be able to play them on my WiiU now.

          Nintendo just digs themselves into deeper and deeper holes with their complete lack of foresight. If they’d set up a decent accounts system in the first place they wouldn’t have these problems. Why should I be ok with the idea that losing my 3DS or dropping it in the sink will permanently kill my collection of $60 games when my phone allows me proper protection for my $3 downloads?

          It’s freaking ridiculous. Nintendo (in my mind) have the best back catalogue of any company out there, they’re just about 10 years behind the rest of the world in getting their sh*t together.

            If you could have a Nintendo account that allowed me to download and play games across Nintendo consoles like I can on the PS that would do it for me.

            It sounds like this is what they are moving towards. Fingers crossed.

              I’d love to know when though, and even more, I’d love to know what it means for the games I’ve bought in the last 6 years when they should have had a decent accounts systems in place.

              I’m going to be pretty shitty if the Nintendo WiiDS (or whatever it’s idiotic name Nintendo decides to call their next handheld) comes out with an accounts system and I can’t transfer my 3DS games over.

              It will be great when (if) they ever do get a decent system together though!

                I think the introduction of Nintendo Network ID's and having them tied to consoles is the first step in the process. We had nothing like that on the original Wii. If Nintendo uses those accounts to keep track of our digital purchases, it'll be entirely possible.

                Of course there's the issue of actually making the games work across all platforms too that needs to be figured out.

          You can buy a basic wii U basic with Nintendo land plus Skylanders for $179 at quite a few stores, i.e target, kmart, bigw, eb.

          Personally I have been a wii U hater for its entire life span and honestly not much has changed. However I did just buy that $179 console + Mario Kart 8 for $70 (free copy of Monster hunter to download).

          However I literally only bought the console to play MK8 with my sister and her husband when they come over and want to "do stuff" and that's because I have enough spare cash that even if I hated it i woudn't mind, but I ended up pleasantly surprised.

          The Game pad is nothing short of fantastic, the touch works seamlessly, it's comfortable to hold even for extended use and already I have already found the off screen feature useful as I sit in bed watching a movie while my sister solo's some MK8 in my recliner.

          However despite the fact I have enjoyed it so far I still have problems with the console and more specifically about its future. For starters this article isn't "firm" enough. The store front is a joke, it is convoluted and confusing and is the very worst of the 3 home console groups by a large margin.

          There is also the hidden cost of the console, sure I may have paid $250 but its going to cost ALOT more. First to actually download my free game I had to buy a HDD and a special cable to use both usb ports so it was actually powered properly, I got a 750GB for $80 (even a 60GB external HDD is over $50 and has to be imported, a thumb drive is asking for trouble). IF you want an Ethernet port that is another $50 accessory, you want the game pad to last for an entire play session, another $50 for a battery (that you can't even buy local). Need a sensor bar another $10. There is also that first party titles are poorly priced, hell even pikmin 3 I can't even import for less than $55

          All up for a console that I already got for 50% of its RRP has already exceeded that in basic requirements (not to mention all those poor people who paid full retail at any point). So while I like the console I still wouldn't recommend it to many people at all outside those who will get 100's of hours out of MK8 or super smash when it arrives.

          Also where is the HD version of power tennis? I would love to play that, the GBA version on teh eshop looks horrendous blown up on a hd screen.

            Dammit! Now look what you've done...
            You made me ask my missus for approval to buy the WiiU.

        Little known fact: that black bar across the top of the Gamepad is a sensor bar. If you sit the gamepad up in front of the TV it works as a sensor bar in Wii mode.

        Also, it costs you nothing to move your existing VC games over to the Wii U and play them in Wii mode- only to upgrade them to Wii U VC games. I bought a basic one cheap and am loving it. There's heaps of places selling them cheap at the moment ($179-$189) so I say go for it. Especially if you have a spare external hard disk laying around like I did.

        Actually, all of your VC games will still work on your Wii-U in Wii mode, so you don't have to buy any of them again. Plus your existing controllers will work, which isn't something you can say about any other console since the Atari.

      You could always get Pikmin free when you buy Mario Kart. I picked up Monster Hunter 3. Pretty good deal, two games for $70

      If you had bought Mario Kart 8 you would have gotten it for free like I did...

      If you got Mario Kart 8 right now you would get Pinyin 3 for free. So that is some savings.

    It's the only next-gen console (yeah, it is, deal with it) I've got, despite being able to afford either of the others. The only way I could be happier with it is if Nintendo had announced a new Prime game at E3.
    Wii U haters gon' hate, but I haven't had as much fun with a racing game since Midnight Club 3, and MK8 is only one of the games I have which I adore.

      Same. I've only recently picked up a Wii U mind you but it was great timing as the games are awesome, and the future is looking fantastic as well. Nothing on the other two consoles interests me enough yet.

        Everything I want for PS4 & Xb1 comes out in 2015, or is also available on PS3 later this year with a negligible performance hit. Arkham Knight is the game which will will force my hand - or, depending on whether it's a 2015 release, Uncharted 4.
        Until then I'm happy with my PS3 back catalog and Nintendo's killer lineup of exclusive IP's.

    As mucj as the wiiu is my most loved console, i can't recommend it.
    It still has major issues with speed and also lacks good VC games like majoras mask.
    And don't get me started on 720 natives.

      I really fail to see how being unable to play a game from a console three generations ago is at all a legitimate complaint about a current machine's capabilities. It's not like those games don't exist in any other playable form either.

        If Im not mistaken there's no backwards compatibility with the Xbone or PS4, whether native (ie: stick the disk in and play) or buy again ala nintendo VC?

        In comparison to the wii that had it, all they have to do is add off tv play. Lazy.
        It isn't just that, i love nintendo, but they just keep messing up, like they did with native 720p for mk8 and the fact that they refuse to add back triggers and not buttons.
        If i were them and my console was struggling i would get Ssb out, and fast.

        Also: where are the gamecube games that they COULD do? I want VcGc.

        Last edited 09/07/14 2:20 pm

          messing up? you can still access the wii VC in wii mode, mario kart 8 looks bananas in 720p and SSB is coming out soon.

            Yep, I can't get over how good MK8 looks. How it does it in 2 player split screen at such a high framerate is beyond me.

          also, off tv play is available in wii mode.

      You can get majora's mask through the wii store in the wii menu.

        Already have it there, twice actually due to games not being account bound.
        can you play majoras mask off tv now?
        And mk8 doesn't look that good, i do have it.

          you can play the whole wii off tv, the pad has a sensor bar built into it.

          You do realize that you can transfer all of your Wii save data and games to the Wii U, right?

            Yeah, in WII MODE. That sadly isn't the same.
            I'v owned all the nintendo home consoles, so i'm not dome ignorant hater.

              Sorry to reply four days late! Why do you own it twice? Do you have two Wii Us? I think I missed something :/ Sorry to bother you again.

                I have 2 wiis. 1 is the red mario collectors the other was the shared families.
                U got the red one after i purchased fo my house hold one

      The VC games from your Wii still work on the Wii-U, so I don't see the issue.

    I have been hanging out for a reason to get a WiiU, apparently I missed a few of the games releasing that would convince me to buy one....soooooooooo I guess you just spent some of my pay check for me KOTAKU ! Thanks for nothing !!

    KOTAKU keeping people broke since 1925 !

      Grab it from Kmart for $179, comes with nintendo land and skylanders and then grab MK and price match target for around $70.


        Why thank you my lord..................this surely will save me some cash and allow me to provide a suitable offering at your alter !

        All hail the one true ruler Kingpotato !!

        (in all seriousness cheers for the heads up)

    As a owner of all the consoles Wii U seems to be the one I'm playing the most at the moment. I didn't see that coming. Looking forward to the future.


      same, i couldn't even tell you when i last turned on my xb1

        I turned mine on last night! To update the firmware....

        Last edited 09/07/14 3:13 pm

          I use mine a fair bit, but mostly because I use the YouTube app on it while I play Wii U in game pad only mode (turns out the YouTube app isn't as terrible as it seems, provided you pair it to a PC and control it all from there). I didn't think I'd find myself using Kinect voice commands but it's actually sort of good being able to open/play/pause YouTube without touching a controller. If they ever fix it so that I don't have to control playlists via the PC it might actually make my XBOX One work like in the ads. =P
          The reverse of that works well too, Wii U game pad playing YouTube while I play another console, but so far I've only really been doing that while playing 360.

      Same....sort of......the steam sale go me though. But as far as consoles go, yeah since MK8 came out I've been playing the Wii U more than my PS3.

    I bought my Wii U 3 weeks ago. Got it for $410 with Mario Kart 8 and Zelda WW HD (Promo).

    I've played all the MK's but MK8's Online is amazing! Very quick to connect and very competitive (not game breakingly so but's it's MK...anything can happen in the 3rd lap!).

    I also replayed Wind Waker, which after 10 years and the upgrades they've made to making the game easier to play, was a blast!

    So all in all, I've clocked 40+ hours in Zelda and 30ish in MK8 (growing as I play online everyday).

    For any Nintendo fans out there waiting for Nintendo to return to their Glory days, it's now. They've certainly made a beautiful system which, even though it's not as powerful as XBONE or PS4 (which are dwarfed by my PC), can still create the best GAMEPLAY in the industry. Nintendo games are fun! Period!

    ..still here? Well Super Smash Bros is coming...http://www.smashbros.com/en-uk/

    Here's my defence of the Wii U, which is currently my favourite & most used console (mainly due to the GamePad play mode): http://andthegeekshall.wordpress.com/2014/06/19/devils-advocate-defend-nintendo-wii-u/

    Here are some game reviews for it too:



    So many people I know have purchased Wii Us during the crazy EOFY $259/199/179 bundle deals.
    Madness to get the console and several decent games for that price.

    You want us to buy a Wii U and play them games but don't bother giving us the names of them.

      PSA: All the names of all the games/software in this review
      Names are given in the order in which their pictures appear.

      Super Mario 3D World
      Mario Kart 8
      Pushmo World
      NES Remix (or NES Remix 2)
      The Wonderful 101
      Shovel Knight
      Little Inferno
      Mighty Switch Force 2 Wii U
      Mutant Mudds Deluxe
      Wii U eShop
      Pikmin 3
      New Super Mario Bros U
      The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD
      Monster Hunter 3: Ultimate
      Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
      (LAX Airport?)
      Wii U eShop (loading screen)
      Game & Wario

        CHAMP! Thank you! Classy journalism on display here

    Meh, I'll potentially grab a used one when the new Zelda comes out, and sell it when I'm done.

      You'll be missing out on a lot of awesome games if you decide to do that.

        Sure, but there's only so much time in life and my Shame List on Steam is… long.

        At least I'm willing to buy even a used console for a Zelda game, I'm not willing to buy a used Xbox1 or PS4 for anything that is upcoming.

        Last edited 09/07/14 2:47 pm

      Good idea. I bought in to the hype for MK8. now I hardly touch the thing... just like my gamecube and wii.

        I bought a Wii and got a fair bit of use out of via Wii Sports when I'd have friends over, or when I wanted to punch my girlfriend in the face without the cops showing up. But other than that, I literally only used it for Zelda and eventually traded it in towards Diablo 3. That's another story, though, and a disappointing one :P

    It is worth it just for off screen play. This has increased my gaming time 1000%

    I'm very happy with my Wii U. I'd say now is the best time than ever to jump on the Wii U train. Also...WONDERFUL 101

      So, I played Wonderful 101 very briefly at a friend's place and I found it confusing, too visually busy, and ... I guess overall I just didn't "get" it. I'm guessing I should give it another go?
      Briefly, could you let me know what I'm missing out on?

    Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate - the game has a learning curve and is quirky but you can play with three 3DS' connected and go on four player coop Monster Hunts..... so great! For this experience alone I would buy a WiiU.

      I brought the Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate Bundle when I got my Wii U and didn't really pay any attention to it. I loaded it up once or twice and it seemed sort of clumsy and pointless (later I learned that's because it's essentially a 3DS port). However the other weekend I started playing it and I think it's really digging it's hooks in.
      It's got something I don't encounter all that often in that knowledge plays a huge part in it. It's sort of like EVE Online in that having good equipment is just having good equipment. It's not about knowing rotations, combos or encounters. It's not about outputting the maximum at all times. It's about proper knowledge and application of that knowledge.
      Hunting isn't realistic per se but it's sort of demands real skill. How good at hunting isn't just how high your hunting stat is. It's much more practical about everything which is really refreshing since I'm burnt out on MMORPGs that go with the 'just do as much damage/healing/threat as possible at all times and maybe take a few steps here and there'.

      I know it's a bit late to be so gushy about the series, but it's probably the biggest surprise I've gotten from a Wii U game so far.

      Last edited 09/07/14 2:56 pm

        Spot on! You really have to gain "in the field" knowledge of the monsters and their preferred battle techniques to master the combat. Also battles wildly vary depending on your skill level with the weapon that you take in and your mastery with said weapon. The mastery of this game is quite fulfilling over time. The first time you fight a new type of monster can be an absolute nightmare yet later on it can be a walk in the park. The 50 minute time limit really adds something to the hunts too. Bring on number 4 I reckon!

    I tried to find a bundle last weekend and the are ALL sold out. Should have expected it with Mario Kart and the excitement produced from E3

    The Wii U eShop is easy to navigate

    I don't think that's true. It's 99% cool but it fails on the final 1%. It suffers from that same problem the XBOX One Store does where there's tons of lists, recommendations, sales and info but there's no 'All Games, broken down into alphabetical sub-categories and genre tags' option. Quite a few times I've gone in there looking for something and I wasn't sure if it wasn't there or if I simply wasn't looking in the right place.
    You've either got to do a direct search knowing exactly what you're looking for or navigate this maze of lists (where most lists overlap on content). If it's not new release, on sale or otherwise on the front page it's sort of tricky.

    It's a really weird quirk on the eShop and XBOX One Store that just seems to be an oversight nobody noticed because originally the lists were so small everything was on the front page.

      agreed. the xb1 store is a horrible nightmare.

    Bought a wii u for mario kart. Bored with that so got Wind Waker. Finished that, so got AC3. Finished, so I got Deus Ex... which ive finished on PS3 4 times already.
    Wii U is a piece of shit. I was a fool to buy one

      it's shit because you got bored with a game and finished another 3?

      So you've played through four great games in one month and are somehow having an issue now?

        Three great games and Assassin's Creed III.

          Ha, I was going to say that, but there's enough contention about third parties on nintendo hardware.

      You sir are an idiot.

        Takes one to know one!!

        Last edited 10/07/14 11:23 pm

    aren't a lot of these indie games available on pc... for cheaper? Not just that, but Nintendo's account system has pissed me off, only being allowed to connect 1 3DS and Wii-U, did they change that yet? Cause atm, Steam alone treats me better.

      Aren't a lot of games for any console available on the PC.. for cheaper?

      Aren't a lot of games for the PC available for a few bucks for the 360/PS4 in the bargain bin at EB Games?

      I have a PC gaming rig, but have bought some of the indie games on the Nintendo because I like the controllers and playing in the loungeroom, and being able to play on the Wii-U built in screen.

    Lol at this guy - Has played and finished four games on the console, and says it's shit. Hate to point out the obvious mate, but if you took the time to play through all the games, you were obviously having fun.

    Super helpful of you to screenshot all those cool looking games and then not name them :-(

    MH4 isnt coming out on wii u :'( 3ds only.

    I love the Wii U and have bee championing it for a long time, but I have a big issue with this review. namely the cross posting from the US site doesn't mention unless you set your console to the UK or US you won't have access to a bunch of eShop games from Shovel Knight to Armillo to Karaoke by joysound.

    Heheheh I'm pretty happy with my own console and I'm looking for other games to enjoy on it. I was one of those lucky ones who got it on the K-Mart 180 bucks blunder

    why bother buying a wii u when most games (e.g. shovel knight) look like nes/snes/n64 games...

      The only only games that look like NES games are the Indie ones, and they look that way on PC/XB1/PS4 as well.

    Not getting a Wii U here basically because I've never particularly enjoyed the Nintendo 1st party games. This may make me weird, but it's true. The whole Nintendo rainbows-and-lollipops aesthetic rubs me up the wrong way. Plus, their pricing on older titles is somewhat bizarre.

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