Wii U Review Roundup

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By Edward Smith | November 19, 2012 10:20 PM EST

Nintendo's new Wii U console launched in the US on 18 November, quickly selling out at retailers across the country. Primarily aimed at a casual gaming family market, the Wii U is set to build on the whirlwind success of Nintendo's Wii, which revolutionised computer gaming with its accessible motion sensitive controls.

However, reviews for the Wii U have been mixed so far, with several writers criticising the necessity and functionality of the GamePad, and doubting the attraction of first-party launch titles such as New Super Mario Bros. Wii U and Nintendo Land.

Polygon staff

The review was particularly critical, awarding the Wii U a 6.5 out of 10:

"The first Nintendo console to join the high definition era, the Wii U's main selling point is something different - the GamePad, a merging of a tablet interface with a traditional controller. Where the Wii was designed around simplicity and accessibility, the Wii U is a much more complicated proposition. In the Japanese giant's new attempt to retake the living rooms of the core gaming audience and the massive mainstream foothold it found with the Wii, the biggest problem is how to explain just what the Wii U is, and what it's trying to do.

"Playing games on the GamePad independent of the television screen is convenient, but it's not a new experience...Granted, the enthusiast press has demonstrated an inability to grasp ideas from the company that later turn out to be brilliant in retrospect, such as the Nintendo DS's dual screens or the Wii's motion control.

"But that doesn't change the fact that few games on the system use the GamePad to do something new with console gaming."

David Pierce at The Verge

{Pierce was somewhat more complimentary, giving the Wii U a 7 out of 10:

"There are things it can do, things enabled by the GamePad / console twosome, that are both awesome and unique...But these moments of brilliance are for the moment overshadowed by the clumsiness of the system.

"Then there's the fact that the Wii U itself, with its chintzy materials and giant charging bricks, seems more like a prototype than a polished product. The touchscreen is a mess, the controller feels like someone mapped the buttons wrong, and even the console is bigger and clunkier than it should be.

"In all, the Wii U is still as much a tech demo as anything else. It can do remarkable things, but exactly what those things are and how we can best use them are yet to be determined. The Wii-style gameplay is as much fun as ever, but it's been outdone by Kinect and Nintendo does little here to gain ground.

"The new console could be great, if developers get on board and come up with clever ways to make use of the entire system. Or, it could be a graphically weak system with a giant controller and a terrible media ecosystem.

"I don't know which future awaits the Wii U. But until it's obvious, I'm not buying one."

Andrew Hayward of TechRadar

Hayward criticised the Wii U for having too many ported launch titles and Nintendo Land for being sold separately:

"Since multiplatform games take up such a large chunk of the launch lineup, its success depends a lot on perspective. If you're upgrading from a Wii, you'll find a large number of fantastic HD experiences that simply weren't possible on that dated hardware.

"For owners of Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, or a capable PC, a lot of the lineup may seem like a retread, with only a handful of titles beyond Nintendo's own games really delivering fresh experiences.

"With unique mechanics in many of the games, Nintendo Land doesn't have the breezy accessibility of something like Wii Sports, but this light and amusing entry should have been a pack-in for all systems. Sold separately at $60, it's a tougher recommendation aside from wanting a token launch title or to take in the ample fan service."

Kyle Orland of Ars Technica

Orland praised the GamePad for having good sound quality, saying it was a good idea that wasn't necessary just yet:

"The GamePad's tilt sensitivity precision is probably its most surprising feature. This is best put to use in conjunction with the built-in screen to give you direct control of a first-person camera. Moving the GamePad around and seeing the image on the screen change perspective instantly (and accurately) is like looking through a portal to another world, creating a seamless bit of augmented reality that just isn't possible on other systems.

"While the centering can get a little confused if you shake the GamePad violently to one side or the other, for the most part the effect was nothing short of magical.

"The GamePad is a little less convenient for games that just require tilting the controller without using the screen. There were a few times I found myself wishing I was just holding a Wii Remote, rather than struggling a bit to lean the bigger and heavier GamePad quickly one way or the other. You're not going to be swinging the GamePad like a Tennis racket, that's for sure.

"Overall, it's a nice extra feature, but not really a necessary one just yet."

Kyle Wagner at Gizmodo

Wagner praised the Wii U, saying it's a must buy for gamers and their families:

"In-person multiplayer is a huge amount of fun on the Wii U. It's not as immediately intuitive, and you'll have to give everyone a few more instructions, but it's still simple and creative enough for everyone to pick up quickly.

"It's also nice to be able to play games other systems get, like Mass Effect or FIFA, with modern, HD graphics, and without having to figure out how to use a Wii Remote to control them.

"While technologically, the Wii U sort of feels like the step you'd take before you get to motion controls in the Wii, that doesn't mean it doesn't totally fit into Nintendo's ethos of interaction. It's fun. It's something your family will enjoy using.

I"f you're looking for a network-enabled media center, like the Xbox or Apple TV, though, definitely wait before purchasing this. The demos we've seen have looked pretty decent, but not being ready for launch isn't a great sign. Same goes for the robust third party support of traditional, big-time games that never quite made it to the original Wii. It could be that everything will work wonderfully once it's out, but being cautious never hurt anyone."

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