As you can tell from my previous article, I love the Wii U. It seriously might end up being in my top 3 consoles of all time, but the system has about 2 seconds of life left in it, so I’ll reserve judgment for now. However, I’ll be the first to admit that the Wii U is not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination. Here are five things that’s the Wii U got wrong:
Let’s just say there’s a reason online on the Wii U is free. Anyone who has attempted to play Splatoon, Mario Kart 8, or (god forbid) Super Smash Bros. online without good Wi-Fi or an Ethernet adapter will be able to tell you the frustration of lag on Wii U. And that’s not mentioning the lack of voice chat! No, not voice chat exclusive to your registered friends, the way the Switch will handle it. There is no voice chat whatsoever. There’s a microphone right there on the gamepad, for crying out loud! Why not use that?! Hopefully, a paid online service on the Switch will mean more money to spend on fixing problems the Wii U had with online.
Nintendo’s consoles haven’t gotten good multi-platform 3rd party support since the days of the GameCube, Xbox, and PlayStation, but the Wii at least made up a lack of multi-platform titles with a wealth of exclusive 3rd party games. The Wii U began its life with things looking up for both types of 3rd parties, with multi-party games from the Assassin’s Creed, Call of Duty, and Mass Effect series coming to Wii U, and ZombiU marking a potential beginning for exclusive 3rd parties. But, as 3rd parties stopped developing for PS3 and 360 to optimize their experiences for PS4 and XBone, they also stopped development for Wii U. And once Wii U sales started blaring the warning siren that the Wii U was heading in a bad direction, you’d better believe 3rd parties pulled the hell out! And that’s been a huge bummer for the Wii U, because not everyone has the kind of money to buy more than one console per generation. I’ve always been fascinated by games by Square Enix, EA, and especially Bethesda, but as a student who doesn’t have the money to buy multiple $300 consoles per generation, I’ve had to go largely without them. (1st world problems, amiright?) Say what you will of Nintendo; you can’t deny they have the best 1st party games. It’s just a shame that Nintendo games (and the occasional indie) were all we really got on the Wii U.
A problem associated with the absence of sales for a console is a lack of confidence to invest any great sum of money on a game for that console. Halfway into the Wii U, we were really starting to feel that Nintendo was either releasing their budgeted versions of games, delaying them for the Switch, or straight-up canceling them. Some examples of “budget” games for the Wii U, (which aren’t necessarily bad, just not as amazing as they could have been) are Super Mario 3D World, a technically 3D Mario that ends up playing a lot more like a New Super Mario Bros. game brought into the third dimension, and both The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess being updated for the modern era, prettied up into HD, and shipped off as Wii U games to try to fill the void that an exclusive Zelda leaves. Again, none of these games are bad. On the contrary, these games rank among my top ten games on the Wii U. They simply don’t have the same amount of time and money invested into them as, for example, Super Mario Galaxy or Ocarina of Time. As far as delayed or cancelled games, we might never know the full list, but we do know that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is coming to both Wii U and Switch, while I’d bet the same game we’ll get on Wii U could have come out last year had it not been delayed for a simultaneous release. But that’s all conjecture. What we do know is that the Wii U’s feed of games throughout 2016 was a bit lacking, with the only original games coming out on the system being Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, Star Fox Zero, Paper Mario: Color Splash, and not much else. A general lack of games in the final months of a console has almost always been a problem with Nintendo consoles, but that doesn’t mean that having few games coming out doesn’t suck.
While the virtual console greatly reduces the cost of playing old Nintendo games, it does so while being plagued of problems. While you could have all virtual console games bought on the Wii transferred to your Wii U with the help of some very cute Pikmin, there is no way to transfer a 3DS virtual console game to Wii U, or vice versa. You can’t even buy the same game at a reduced cost! If you were to buy A Link to The Past on Wii U for $8, and wanted to play the game on New 3DS, you would have to pay the same $8 again, paying $16 for a 16-bit game! And it’s not close to the quality of the original Link to the Past of SNES, as the emulation, with a few exceptions such as GBA and DS, is generally poor. Just look at this side-by side comparison of NES games from the Wii U virtual console and from the NES Classic Edition.
The Wii U emulation is garbage in comparison! Finally, there’s the problem of staggered virtual console releases. Some classics that should have been on the console on day one had to wait over a year into the console’s life for people to be able to play it! Take, for example, Star Fox 64. Such a timeless classic such as this has got to have been on the console at least within the first year, right? Nope! Star Fox 64 only came out on the platform on January 19, 2017. That’s less than a month ago! While the Wii U’s virtual console has done loads of good, it’s also done its fair share of bad.
This is really more of an afterthought than a legitimate complaint, because I’m not the type of person who has to go out and buy a super-computer with a 4K monitor to enjoy playing games. You can compare the Wii U’s “inferior” graphics to the XBox One’s and PS4's and say that it’s a worse console because it has worse numbers, but while I’ll admit that playing Uncharted 4 in 4K would probably be glorious, I’m perfectly happy playing games like Mario Kart 8 and Xenoblade Chronicles X just the way they are. However, I will admit that seeing Zelda in 4K would probably make me squeal in delight. It’s really never been a problem for me, but it is for some people, and hey, that’s all right. We’ve all got something a little different we’re looking for in games, and if graphics are what you’re looking for, you’re better suited purchasing something other than a Wii U.