History Behind Wii U Purchase
The Wii U is somewhat of a weird system for me. For years, I believed that the original Wii would be the last Nintendo home console that I would buy as I moved onto the next chapter of my life. Furthermore, after the Wii U was officially announced, I definitely cannot say that I was dying to get one.
As we got closer to the Wii U release, I kept telling people that I was unsure if I would get one or not. It was interesting, yet it did not seem to be compelling enough. Nevertheless, after Nintendo announced on September 13, 2012 that you could reserve Wii U at GameStop, I decided to run out that evening and reserve one -- just in case. I figured that I could sell it on eBay if I really did not want it. Of course, let's not kid ourselves: I wanted it. What Nintendo fanboy had not dreamt of playing Mario and Zelda in HD?
On the afternoon of November 18, 2012, I walked into GameStop and picked up my reserved Wii U Deluxe Set (black) for $349.99. I also purchased New Super Mario Bros. U and ZombiU on launch day. No crazy stories this time.
Unfortunately, as we all know, Nintendo botched the Wii U worse than anything other than the Virtual Boy. Initially, confusion started when people could not tell if it was an add-on to the original Wii or a brand-new system. Then we found out that this new system was only slightly more powerful than PS3 and Xbox 360, which meant the PS4 and Xbox One would be much more powerful -- just one short year later. Oh, and then there were several draughts between 2012 and 2014 where months went by without first-party Nintendo games. And, of course, the asymmetrical gameplay idea of the GamePad was never realized to its fullest.
So it may come as a surprise that, in retrospect, the Wii U might get too bad of a rap. It probably should get some more love. To start, it laid the groundwork for the immensely popular Nintendo Switch. Wii U also had a unique Miiverse social networking feature, which blossomed into an artistic community, and was the initial home to the Amiibo toys-to-life platform. It gave birth to the much-loved Splatoon and Super Mario Maker games. And, by the end, it had a respectable collection of well-received indie games that could be downloaded from the Nintendo eShop. Finally, you could even download some previously portable-only games from the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS as part of the Wii U Virtual Console, which worked well on its GamePad.
For me, though, I think my appreciation of the Wii U grew after its demise. I realized that I could have been using the Off-TV Play mode much more by not keeping the console tethered to a specific TV. (Eventually, I purchased a second Wii U AC Adapter Power Supply so that I could move the console around the house more easily in order to keep it near the Wii U GamePad for playing games off-TV.) I also realized that Wii U was a great console for Zelda games since you could download the retro Zelda games, play the remastered HD versions of The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, and enjoy Breath of the Wild as Wii U's swan song.
And, with the end of Wii U, I am officially a Nintendo retro gamer. I never did purchase the Nintendo Switch, and I imagine that any future video game systems will end up being my kids' games, not mine.
Talk about love and heartbreak. Guitar Hero Live tried to evolve music games with its different guitar, cool first-person presentation style in the on-disc GH Live mode, and streaming music videos in GHTV online. The singular focus on guitars and playing to the backdrop of 500 music videos was awesome -- a ton of fun for 1 or 2 players. But the abrupt end, as of December 1, 2018, was a stark reminder about online services. I'd love to see Rock Band adopt music videos...or a hack.
For a long-time Mario Kart aficionado, the Wii U version of Mario Kart 8 dazzled. Beautiful HD graphics, solid online play, 4-player local Grand Prix, lots of great new and retro courses, DLC expansion packs with Zelda and Animal Crossing content, and a 200cc mode! Always so much fun. The only disappointing part of the game, Battle Mode, was rectified in the Switch "Deluxe" release (3 years later).
Early adopters of the Wii U were treated to a great port of the best Mario Kart clone ever made: Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed. With tracks inspired by Super Monkey Ball, Panzer Dragoon, Golden Axe, and After Burner, and up to 5 players among the TV and GamePad, it provided loads of Sega nostalgia and lots of frenetic-yet-balanced fun action with the cars, boats, and planes. The finale of Doug, Scott, and Nate.
Clearly, Nintendo Land was built to showcase the capabilities of the Wii U GamePad and the potential for asymmetrical games as well as 5-player games using four (4) Wii Remotes. And, in retrospect, it is a summation of the possibilities, eccentricities, and failures of the system. Nothing else really took advantage of the Wii U like Nintendo Land, yet I never really returned to it. Still, a few of those mini-games were fun, especially Mario Chase.
I enjoyed Super Mario 3D World, but I don't love it. Although it marked the first 3D Mario game that allowed for up to four (4) players simultaneously, I believe the 2D multi-player Mario games offer a lot more fun. Overall, Super Mario 3D World's linear design makes it feel a bit short, constrained, and lacking in replay value. But it (and Cat Mario) still hold a fun, unique spot on the Wii U. This would be replaced by another Mario (Super Mario Maker) if I had spent more time with that one.