1. 1st and 2nd party games
There can be a million problems with a Nintendo console, but at the end of the day, you know that one thing will be absolutely certain: Nintendo will make great games. Not all of them will be great, mind you, but there will at least be a handful of games that’s will be heralded as classics decades after their release. I stated in my previous article that some of the games for Wii U were more “budget” titles, with New Super Mario Bros. U, Super Mario 3D World, and the HD Zelda ports being examples of fun, if not particularly innovative, titles. Despite this, we still got some stellar games on the platform, including the best Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. to date (fight me), Super Mario Maker, the kind of game fans had been wanting for years, and Splatoon, a “fresh” new IP from Nintendo that takes a wonderfully colorful and intuitive take on the shooter genre that will no doubt come to every future Nintendo platform as certainly as any new Mario, Zelda, or Smash Bros. will.
But where the Wii U’s games REALLY shine is in their 2nd party games. There’s Hyrule Warriors by Koei Tecmo and others that brings the satisfying Dynasty Warriors treatment of The Legend of Zelda franchise, Pokkèn Tournament, an excellent fighting game in the style of Tekken with respectable depth and Pokémon’s first real venture into HD, developed by Bandai Namco and the Pokémon company, and finally Xenoblade Chronicles X, an RPG with heavy exploration through an imaginative world larger than The Witcher III, Fallout 4, and Skyrim, COMBINED (and my favorite game on Wii U). And that’s only six games! I haven’t even mentioned Paper Mario: Color Splash, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze, or Bayonetta 2! The Wii U, even with its droughts, had a wealth of undeniably excellent games.
2. Local Multiplayer
In yesterday’s article, I wrote about how the online multiplayer on Wii U was far from good. However, the local multiplayer tells a different tale. In my interview with T2norway, he cited local multiplayer as his favorite thing about the Wii U, and not without reason. While XBone and PS4 have drifted away from local multiplayer in favor of pursuing better online play, they’ve left the Wii U largely unchallenged as the best local multiplayer console, and the Wii U fills that job quite well. From the unique asymmetrical gameplay of NintendoLand to the more nuanced gameplay of Super Smash Bros., Pokkèn Tournament, and Mario Kart 8, the Wii U had a cornucopia of competitive multillayer games. And then there were the co-op games. Sure, you’ve got Super Mario 3D World, but you’ve also got some traditionally single-player games that have surprisingly good co-op, like Star Fox Zero and Hyrule Warriors. If you wanted to play a console online, you’d choose a PS4 or XBone. But if you wanted to have a console to play at a party, the Wii U had you covered.
3. The Pro Controller
So, at least for me, the Wii U gamepad REALLY isn’t uncomfortable. My hands never got tired or cramped holding it. However, it’s far from luxurious. Compare it to the XBone or PS4 controllers, and both beat the gamepad in turns of comfort by a mile. But the Wii U Pro Controller. Oh man, that controller! It melts into your hand like no other controller does. I go back and forth each day on whether the GameCube or Wii U Pro Controller is the best, but considering the GameCube controller is so revered that Nintendo had to make an accessory for them to be compatible with Super Smash Bros., the fact that the Wii U Pro Controller even comes close to beating the GameCube’s should impress upon you how comfortable it is. And it’s compatible with more games than you might think: Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros., Hyrule Warriors, Pokkèn Tournament, the list goes on and on. As long as the game doesn’t require a function exclusive to the gamepad (and surprisingly few do), the Pro Controller is generally supported. You can even play most virtual console games on it! And even for games like Xenoblade Chronicles X where using the gamepad is mandatory, you can still play with the Pro Controller and lay the gamepad on your lap or next to you for when you need to select something on the screen, which worked wonderfully for the 230+ hours I poured into that game. It makes playing Wii U and virtual console games so much more comfortable, and it’s well worth the $25.
4. Netflix/ Internet
I might be in the minority in this, but I actually really enjoy using Netflix and the internet on my Wii U. I can watch YouTube videos on my TV or watch Netflix on the treadmill where tablets can be placed, as I don’t own any other than the Wii U Gamepad. The YouTube app works like crap, but it doesn’t really matter as the YouTube website works just fine on the internet browser. It’s remarkably convenient to type in a search or tap on a video on the gamepad and immediately see the video you want on your television. There really isn’t much else to say: it’s the Internet and Netflix on your TV and gamepad, and it works great.
5. Off-TV Play
Another convenience the gamepad utilizes is being able to play most games on the system when the TV is in use, which happens quite often in my household. Not only that, you can even do off-TV play when the Wii U isn’t hooked up to a TV. I used this to my advantage when visiting family for a week that didn’t have a place for me to hook the Wii U up to their TV. Instead, I simply brought the console, gamepad, and power adapter, plugged it into an outlet by my bed, hooked it up into my Wii U, placed the Wii U under my bed, and played Xenoblade Chronicles X in off-TV mode. I also know of someone who does the same thing using outlets on plane flights, so they can play Wii U games on a plane. It’s certainly not as portable as the 3DS or the imminent Switch, but it’s certainly easier to set up than a bulky Xbox One that needs to hook up to a TV to be played.