Close
Are you sure? Are you sure you want to report this comment? I understand, report it. Cancel

Critical Consensus: Wii U

Critical Consensus: Wii U

Fri 08 Jun 2012 12:12pm GMT / 8:12am EDT / 5:12am PDT
Hardware

After a disappointing E3 press conference, a lack of compelling software left many critics unconvinced about Nintendo's new console

The conversation about 'Who won E3?' may be too insular to have any real weight, but this year Nintendo seemed certain of that hollow victory. With Sony and Microsoft ruling out any discussion of their next consoles, and EA and Ubisoft occupying a lower tier in terms of general importance, most predicted that Nintendo would emerge as the leader on the basis of having anything to say at all.

But it wasn't to be. As the last few attendees leave Los Angeles for another year, the general consensus is that Ubisoft's press conference stole the show. An invigorating blend of smart AAA franchises, energetic casual titles and genuinely intriguing new IP, the publisher deserves every word of praise being heaped upon it. However, the fact remains that it was Nintendo's battle to lose, and while it would be easy to place all of the blame on its dubious presentational skills, the general malaise surrounding the Wii U could be found in the majority of hands-on reports to surface in its aftermath.

According to The Verge, the problem isn't the hardware itself. An entire year has elapsed since we were given our first glimpse of the Wii U, and in that time Nintendo has made a number of subtle refinements to the GamePad - including a near-field communication button - resulting in a slimmer, lighter and substantially different design to its predecessor.

"It is suggested that changing weapons in Ninja Gaiden is made much easier by tapping the required icon on the GamePad screen. We're not yet convinced"

Edge magazine

"The version that will ship with the diminutive console has vastly improved thumbsticks that can also be pressed in to serve as buttons... The GamePad's original design, while relatively sleek, also felt precarious when holding the controller sideways. This retail design solves that issue with plastic moulded grips built into the backside of the controller. A ridge of plastic about a quarter of the way up from the bottom of the back of the device can be easily gripped when holding the controller sideways."

The shoulder buttons have been redesigned, the face buttons and d-pad have also been changed and shifted further towards the screen. "The end result is a controller that feels very comfortable to hold and game with," and we now know that two people will be able to use GamePad's the same time. For what it's worth, Nintendo has done a fine job on the form-factor.

But the look and feel of the hardware is a distant second to the games, and in that respect the reaction has been far less enthusiastic. Shigeru Miyamoto's charming demonstration of Pikmin 3 is universally accepted as both the highlight of Nintendo's press conference and the single most promising piece of software for Wii U. Look beyond that, however, and most journalists have struggled to dole out unqualified praise.

2

The problem is simple: few people understood the Wii before they encountered Wii Sports, and it stands to reason that the Wii U needs its own great communicator. However, the Wii U only has the fun but considerably less persuasive Nintendo Land.

"It seemed exactly the kind of casual carousel gamers associate with Wii software, and to say the least, it was not what those people were hoping for," writes Eurogamer's Oli Welsh, who has a generously proportioned soft-spot for Nintendo's products.

"Nintendo's new console is a strange concept that needs a game to explain it to people, but it has so many facets and possibilities that it can't be explained by a single game. And you have to give Nintendo some credit for at least attempting to foreground gameplay ideas such as asymmetric multiplayer. However, it's also true that Nintendo Land comes off a little unfocused, more Wii Play than Wii Sports, with the conceit of a Nintendo theme park featuring favourite franchises only just managing to tie it together."

There are games based on Donkey Kong, Luigi, Animal Crossing and Zelda among others, and Welsh acknowledges that many of them clearly demonstrate the ability of Nintendo's Kyoto team to realise design concepts and perfect new control schemes. However, it's the notion that this could be the Wii U's tentpole launch title that really stirs the feelings of uncertainty.

"Like Wii Sports, Nintendo Land will be a good game that's unfairly dismissed by many. However, I just can't see it defining a console and changing games as Wii Sports did"

Oli Welsh, Eurogamer

"Attendees are having fun with it on the show floor, but it only demonstrates a handful of light concepts, it does so in a fragmented way, and with the best will in the world, it's just not very sexy... Like Wii Sports, Nintendo Land will be a good game that's unfairly dismissed by many. However, I just can't see it defining a console and changing games as Wii Sports did. Its ideas are too scattered, its selling point too hard to grasp. Perhaps that's also true of Wii U itself - and if so, it could be tough times ahead for Nintendo."

Indeed, Wii Sports was such a powerful demonstration of its console's technology that it managed to sell tens of millions of units almost single-handed. Even as its life-cycle draws to a close, relatively few third-party developers managed to take full advantage of the Wii's motion controls, and for Edge magazine, the Wii U presents a far stiffer creative challenge.

With the Wii Motion Plus now firmly established, and the GamePad featuring a dizzying array of possible inputs, "it's easy to imagine game developers not knowing where to begin." In Edge's view, the only playable experiences that offer a glimpse of the asymmetrical gaming the Wii U is built upon are a handful of mini-games in Nintendo Land, but the same can't be said of its third-party offerings.

"The two highest-profile Wii U exclusives from third-party publishers at E3, Lego City: Undercover and ZombiU, are more at home simply clearing traditional clutter from the main screen and pushing it onto the one between your hands. As you'd expect, it's a route also taken by Batman Arkham City: Armored Edition and Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge, both built on games already in existence and therefore less likely to confound expectations."

1

The reduction of clutter on the TV screen is certainly welcome, but the resulting play experience, "isn't immediately comfortable." The DS asked gamers to move their eyes just a few inches, but certain Wii U games require you to shift your gaze from a large screen before you to a small one in your lap to perform even the most basic gameplay functions. If developers are going to ask players to do so, they need to provide a more compelling reason than just switching weapons or managing inventory.

"It is suggested during our demo that changing weapons in Ninja Gaiden is made much easier and quicker by being able to tap the required icon on the GamePad screen. Easier than it would be to, say, tap a direction on a D-pad while not moving your gaze from the TV? We're not yet convinced."

Of course, this is just a sample. It is impossible to pass any lasting judgement on a console based on a few stolen hours at a crowded trade show, with only a small slice of the games that will be available at launch. However, if Nintendo intends to launch the Wii U this year E3 will be its most important opportunity to send a positive message to consumers. And whenever Nintendo find itself on that sort of knife-edge, it is able to turn to perhaps the greatest weapon of any company on the industry: Mario.

"There is no Wii Sports among the Wii U games I played. There is no game that I think people will fall in love with the moment the Wii U is released later this year"

Stephen Totilo, Kotaku

In Super Mario Bros. U, Nintendo has a game that the enthusiasts will expect to make intelligent use of the system's capabilities, and the masses will stand in line to buy. In its most iconic character, Nintendo has the ultimate sugar pill to help make its message more palatable. Yet Kotaku's Stephen Totilo believes that it shows Nintendo missing a gilt-edged opportunity to push the Wii U's concept. It is enjoyable, of course, but only in the most familiar way, and that isn't what the the console requires.

"Nintendo reps boast that this will be the first Mario game to launch with a Nintendo console since the Nintendo 64's Super Mario 64. This game is no Super Mario 64," he writes. "Rather, it feels as predictable and obvious as Nintendo could be and lacks, in the pair of E3 demo levels I saw, freshness. The game looks and plays like New Super Mario Bros. Wii which itself was barely distinct from the Nintendo DS' New Super Mario Bros..

"This feels not like a Super Mario World or Super Mario Galaxy evolution of a great series but more like a Call of Duty-conservative tweaking of a popular thing. This is, in other words, sadly, the safest Nintendo launch game I think I've ever seen.

"Perhaps Nintendo designers believe that Wii U gamers will need something as comfortably formulaic as New Super Mario Bros. U to clearly demonstrate how a Wii U game can differ from the many single-screen TV console games we've played for years, but this really feels like a re-tread with an added gimmick. Worse, Ubisoft's Rayman Legends which does the same side-scroller asymmetrical, co-op multiplayer straight-up looks better and looks more fun.

"There is no Wii Sports among the Wii U games I played. There is no game that I think people will fall in love with the moment the Wii U is released later this year."

23 Comments

Russell Kentish
Studying Master of Digital Media

19 0 0.0
They are still chasing after the same Wii audience as before, but I'm not convinced that those people exist any more. The Wii fad has worn out. They could at least market it better, when I first heard about it, I thought it was just another Wii peripheral, I mean the case is identical to the Wii's, it even shares the same name, imagine what a casual consumer might think. The core audience who helped make you who you are are still here Nintendo, why risk losing us forever.

Posted:2 years ago

#1
A little bit harsh. Without being there, it seems to me that the enhanced Batman game would be the perfect "game" to demo the system - see if it really works (i.e. can enhanced non-WiiU titles).

Posted:2 years ago

#2
Why isn't anyone talking about Project P-100?

Posted:2 years ago

#3

David Radd
Senior Editor

359 78 0.2
"Why isn't anyone talking about Project P-100?"

Good question, though the better question is, "Why wasn't it shown during the Nintendo E3 press conference?" Tank!Tank!Tank! got a short clip, I'm not sure why the new game by Platinum Games didn't deserve a mention until afterward on Spike TV's coverage. It's a brilliant looking innovative game but I'm worried that it'll be buried because it's so different.

Posted:2 years ago

#4

Mihai Cozma
Indie Games Developer

123 34 0.3
Wii was the first Nintendo console I ever got, and it will be the last. What a waste of money. It could have been better if I would have been able to buy online games in their WiiStore, but I can't from our country, and there isn't really any boxed title that can't be played with the Wii Classic Controller which I also have.

Posted:2 years ago

#5

David Lee
Chief Concepticator

17 6 0.4
This negative outlook reminds me of the original Wii's bow at E3--I heard a ton of negative comments about it from my colleagues--dumb name, gimmicky control, under-powered graphics. I was excited about the original Wii and I'm excited about the WiiU hardware as well. The Nintendo press conference was definitely poorly managed but I'm not counting WiiU out by any means. However, it does look like they're behind on having great software to show, and that is a concern.

Posted:2 years ago

#6

Yuri Bialoskursky
Designer

3 0 0.0
Better yet, why didn't they show Aliens: Colonial Marines? With Gearbox going on record saying that the Wii-U will have the best looking version out of the bunch, you'd think that they would put it front and center. Imagine if the press conference would have opened up with the audience in the dark with a dramatic demo of Aliens and the suspenseful look and sound of the motion tracker working on tablet. It would have brought the house down.

Posted:2 years ago

#7

Ian Brown
IT Developer / IT Infrastructure

107 26 0.2
Better yet, why didn't they show Aliens: Colonial Marines? With Gearbox going on record saying that the Wii-U will have the best looking version out of the bunch, you'd think that they would put it front and center. Imagine if the press conference would have opened up with the audience in the dark with a dramatic demo of Aliens and the suspenseful look and sound of the motion tracker working on tablet. It would have brought the house down.
As a gamer (core i suppose) that would have given me an interest in the Nintendo camp which has been gone since the gamecube (wasn't great but was a nice second console). But from my point of view I can see it being Nintendo doing what they do best and ignoring every one from prior generations and producing the same stuff as before for new customers via another Mario, Pokemon or metroid game. Consistently works for them so i guess "if it aint broke don't fix it".

Posted:2 years ago

#8

Rod Oracheski
Editor

58 23 0.4
A little bit harsh. Without being there, it seems to me that the enhanced Batman game would be the perfect "game" to demo the system - see if it really works (i.e. can enhanced non-WiiU titles).
It doesn't really do anything innovative with it and a year-old port isn't going to move launch titles. They'd be much better off focusing their attention on a game that's going to be new and use the tablet in a unique way.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Rod Oracheski on 8th June 2012 5:29pm

Posted:2 years ago

#9

Kenneth Wesley
Engineer

3 1 0.3
I think it was a solid showing not full of surprise. I think it makes sense for Nintendo to show what they showed on the floor and in the conference. Pikmin 3 needed to be shown, New Super Mario Bros U and Wii Fit U were the best selling games on the Wii. I was never convinced on the Wii Remote as a gaming device but I bought because it was different-something I couldn't say about any other thing on the floor for E3. Too many blasted sequels-probably gave Nintendo a reason to not try this year.

Party games are a bigger draw than the gaming press gave it credit for. I think things will be good for the Wii U.

Posted:2 years ago

#10

Kenneth Wesley
Engineer

3 1 0.3
I've never understood how Nintendo 'lost' core gamers with the Wii. When did core gamers just play one type of game and not try to discover now titles and genres?

Maybe Nintendo knew that kind of gamer only spends money on a few games a year-the same type of game. Core gamers...aren't really financially keeping the industry afloat.

Posted:2 years ago

#11
I wasn't impressed with the presentation either however the actual design of the console leave loads of gameplay mechanics (both casual but also core) that are now possible and more importantly only possible on the Wii U (exclusing Tablet Console tie-ins or additional hardware etc).

It will be fine although it needs to come in at the right price and with Mario otherwise it could get off to a slow start.

Posted:2 years ago

#12

James Berg
Games User Researcher

146 186 1.3
A little bit harsh. Without being there, it seems to me that the enhanced Batman game would be the perfect "game" to demo the system - see if it really works (i.e. can enhanced non-WiiU titles).
The handheld is used to control inventory, and steer batarangs. It doesn't look like a game to get excited about, unfortunately.

Posted:2 years ago

#13
I understand that some journo's have been briefed not to be too 'harsh' on the Wii U and "wait and see"! This Wait-and-see attitude is linked to the 'encouragement' of if you are not too critical we will make sure you are first on the list for the production review machines (make it worth your while)! This was not the case with the Wii - and trying to draw comparisons is difficult, and some would say misguided.

To be blunt - the WiiU press promotion has been poorly handled, and the machine itself has some major flaws - that is before we discuss the proposed Nintendo constantly connected, The Cloud based game storage subscription model (bye bye pre-owned). All this aside the players will be the true judge and could totally go nuts for the package - as they did with the original Wii, (and to be accurate most media did not get the Wii when launched and just followed the audience interest).

Posted:2 years ago

#14

Meelad Sadat
[a]list daily editorial director

51 30 0.6
Sadly, not yet perfect. Right now the experience feels a little like texting and driving. It's not like the DS/3DS where the second screen is right there in your field of vision. It'll take some getting used to.

Posted:2 years ago

#15

Patrick Frost
QA Project Monitor

393 189 0.5
You see I think there is a major problem in Nintendo's logic. The Wii and the Wii U launches are extremely different.

Firstly the initial purchasing group for the Wii simply doesn't exist anymore or is at best hugely diminished. Many long term Nintendo fans have happily migrated over to the other 2 consoles whilst Nintendo courted the family gamers, because they actually get the games they want. And now with Kinect, they can have silly physical games, dance games and exercise games. So who is left to buy the Wii U at launch? Families?


1. They already have a Wii & another console.
2. One of the other HD consoles are cheaper with a bigger back catalogue and better range of games coming soon.
3. They have seen no evidence of experiences whose value equates to that kind of money, or any on the horizon (a 1st party whizz-bang, "we're working on it!" montage would have helped).
4. They have Mario, Wii Fit and the other casual big hitters already and don't see the value in the minor upgrade.

I'm sure the Wii U will have some success and will take a while to warm up but seriously, who are going to be the ambassadors?

Posted:2 years ago

#16

Angus Syme
Senior Artist

22 21 1.0
I could be wrong about this (I frequently am) but the Wii success always struck me as having little to do with games. It was more akin to a board game craze such as trivial pursuit or something similar. People bought it, took it out at christmas or at parties and everyone mucked about on it, had a laugh, then it went back in the closet.

The wii's big advantage over the other consoles wasn't the ability to move a controller but the fact that it allowed several people to play at once on the same screen - something the other consoles didn't cater for (preferring to let you hook up via the internet so providing a very NON party experience).

As for the Wii U - don't really get it. Seems to be sort of clunky but hey...

Posted:2 years ago

#17

Dominic Roberts
Junior Software Developer

7 2 0.3
Theres a lot of doubt here, but I dont understand why the "Hardcore Nintendo fanbase" would dissipate - its the only place you will get Mario, Zelda, Metroid,Pikmin, Smash Bros and other great exclusives, they might not all be there at launch, but they will at some point.

The other silent fortune I can see from Wii U is the massive smartphone/tablet app/games market that is already in place, if Nintendo encourage developers with a decent marketplace then there is definitely a second screen market to be had.

Posted:2 years ago

#18

Andrew Ihegbu
Studying Bsc Commercial Music

440 146 0.3
In all seriousness, a core gamer has to be able to relate to his older core mechanics, controls and GUI in some way. Sure you can put a Nintendo badge on the Wii and call it a Nintendo product, but a gamer that came from the NES, SNES, 64 and Gamecube, it shares absolutely nothing with them.

Don't get me wrong, a departure from the norm is good, but the Wii didn't just alienate Nintendo's core gamer, it alienated the predecessors consoles that came before it. It owned the same brands and they looked similar, but they couldn't feel the same because the controller was so radically different that no relation could be made to the controllers that came before. Furthermore the Wii had 20 million peripherals and most of them were only used on 2 to 5 games.

It seems to me like the Wii U is that all over again. I mean even Wii's core audience (if there is one) won't relate to it as once again the control system is too different. Nintendo need to slow down. I understand that the Wii U is supposed to be a combination of the DS and Wii control systems, but Nintendo lost a huge amount of its 3rd party support with the Wii because its users simply didn't buy that many games ,the Wii U is gonna have that as its major hurdle, especially seeing as it hasn't had too good a launch with the 3DS, the successor to its last strong hardware platform.

Posted:2 years ago

#19

Andrew Ihegbu
Studying Bsc Commercial Music

440 146 0.3
Except a console, especially for cash stricken Nintendo needs to do well at launch, and as you say with the 3DS, without Zelda, Metroid and/or Smash Bros at launch, you will have a lot of problems even surviving as a company making a games console.

Posted:2 years ago

#20

James Prendergast
Research Chemist

735 430 0.6
The conversation about 'Who won E3?'

Oh come on, Matthew. "Winning" and "losing" an event is as irrelevant as anything you can come up with these days. Maybe it harks back to the arcades and traditional 80s consoles whereby your play-through was intentionally limited and challenged by perma-death or REALLY limited lives. Either way, it's a moot point and an entirely subjective, opinionated question. Tell me now, how, in the E3 when the Wii was revealed that they "didn't win E3" and then go on to show terrible performance, for example.

It's childish, blinkered and it needs to stop. Especially as it's almost impossible to "lose" a game any more these days... (given enough tries)

The terminology is bankrupt and obsolete. The press needs to divest itself of this thought process. Who won any of the tech conferences in asia this year? Maybe Samsung? Maybe the guys who had bendy e-ink screens?

I'd also argue that Nintendo is it's own worst enemy here. Nintendo Land is measured against Wii Sports - a game that defined the last console to many people, even when they did not comprehend the import of the control system. In contrast, Wii U is a more complete and developed system. It's basically the same, only better. It's Win 7 to Win Vista.... but no one in the press trumpeted the Wii U in the same way that Win 7 has been. I feel like people are looking for something that can't and isn't there here. No one complained that the 360 and PS3 were just refinements of the Xbox and PS2. That's all they were - especially at launch. But, somehow, there was heaps of praise and, once again, Nintendo somehow has not got that. I'm not saying they deserve it.... but then again, i'm not saying that MS or Sony deserved it back in the day either.

I think this quote does it for me the most:

There are games based on Donkey Kong, Luigi, Animal Crossing and Zelda among others, and Welsh acknowledges that many of them clearly demonstrate the ability of Nintendo's Kyoto team to realise design concepts and perfect new control schemes.

If that's not what Wii Sports did then I don't know what will please the fickle gaming press. At the end of the day, I don't know if a more complicated system could be explained in a more concise manner than a less complicated system. Hence Wii Sports will always be easier and gentler to understand and "comprehend" than the more complicated asymmetric game play of Nintendo Land.

As a scientist I butt my head against this every day with the reporting prowess of the general press. The number of times I slap my forehead against general misunderstandings, misrepresentations or misconceptions is astronomical (if only i could be an astronomer!). The time I had to explain to a co-worker that, "no, we cannot see deeper into universe BETTER by looking THROUGH stars", was a stand-out achievement of poor reporting and consequently poor understanding - not that he was at fault!

"Nintendo's new console is a strange concept that needs a game to explain it to people, but it has so many facets and possibilities that it can't be explained by a single game.

So, if even the pundits agree on this then what's the problem? The iPhone wasn't built on one app to display all its properties and potential functions? This, I feel, is a consequence of expecting everything to be simple. The Achilles' heel of the modern age. We expect everything to be accessible and simple.

but certain Wii U games require you to shift your gaze from a large screen before you to a small one in your lap to perform even the most basic gameplay functions. If developers are going to ask players to do so, they need to provide a more compelling reason than just switching weapons or managing inventory.

I guess those games without a realtime inventory pause (e.g. Resident Evil) are also uncompelling or distasteful......... Doom 3 was also a critical failure because of disentanglement between different functions of the game systems. i.e. exploration via flashlight and combat via weapons. Is this *REALLY* an issue? At least be consistent here, games industry (not the website).... I mean, metacritic puts RE 4 and 5 at 96 and 84% respectively.

Of course, this is just a sample. It is impossible to pass any lasting judgement on a console based on a few stolen hours at a crowded trade show, with only a small slice of the games that will be available at launch.

And then this is the worst co-out sort of sentence in the piece. So, we're making all these complaints... but we acknowledge they may be wrong and moot. Why say anything at all if it's just a waste of space? Why not just stand by your assessment? This constant back-pedalling in the critical industry is not condusive to constructive conversation... because any challenge to your opinion is met with "well, i qualified that statement with an 'and' and a 'but'". Where's the analysis?

Yet Kotaku's Stephen Totilo believes that it shows Nintendo missing a gilt-edged opportunity to push the Wii U's concept. It is enjoyable, of course, but only in the most familiar way, and that isn't what the the console requires.

And yet a budding console does not need a guaranteed "safe" multimillion seller? The mind boggles!

"This feels not like a Super Mario World or Super Mario Galaxy evolution of a great series but more like a Call of Duty-conservative tweaking of a popular thing. This is, in other words, sadly, the safest Nintendo launch game I think I've ever seen.

And i say he's wrong here. SMW was not like galaxy - there was not the generational evolution, instead it was more of an iteration of SM3, complete with overworld level selection and abilities. But, of course, you're just reporting. It's not the job of the critics to criticise the other critics...


However, if Nintendo intends to launch the Wii U this year E3 will be its most important opportunity to send a positive message to consumers.


No, it's not. If the Wii U launches this year, there will be a whole slew of marketing events and procedures - just like those of the Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii before their respective launches. The consumers (in a large part) do not take notice of E3 - only enthusiasts. None of my coworkers or friends know about E3... none of them care. Maybe i'm an exception (see? Cop-out of opinion and stance! Plus, blatant baiting of opposition through potentially misrepresenting reality. Or maybe I'm just being honest - it's hard to tell.) but i doubt that E3 is a major selling power to the general market...

Worse, Ubisoft's Rayman Legends which does the same side-scroller asymmetrical, co-op multiplayer straight-up looks better and looks more fun.

And.... so basically, the console gets the game that shows off its features, regardless of publisher? But it's a loss anyway?! This is just crazy logic!

Seriously poor critical analysis all around this E3, in my honest opinion.

Posted:2 years ago

#21

Tamir Ibrahim
Programmer

75 56 0.7
especially for cash stricken Nintendo
Uh, really? Maybe you should take a look at exactly how "cash stricken" Nintendo really are. Not at all.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tamir Ibrahim on 11th June 2012 2:10pm

Posted:2 years ago

#22

Paul Gheran
Scrum Master

123 27 0.2
Nintendo didn't redesign! Alert the internet.

Isn't the PS1, PS2, and PS3 controller essentially the same? Aren't the games the same? Final Fantasy? More like 'Latest Crap JRPG Incarnation x'

Xbox, Xbox 360? Aren't all the pos Halos the exact same game? Aren't all the Gears? Mass Effect? Every other pos game on the pos system.

What is the unique problem here?

Posted:2 years ago

#23

Login or register to post

Take part in the GamesIndustry community

Register now