Before I start, I want to set the record straight: I am one of the biggest fans there is of the Wii U as a platform. I was initially amazed by the idea of having two screens for console gaming, and even more amazed at how well the concept works in motion. I have already notched up hours and hours of game time. Finally, I have extensively played and owned every Nintendo platform dating back to the NES.
It should be clear to you that I absolutely love everything Nintendo does. This is what makes it hard for me to acknowledge that they’ve completely dropped the ball with the launch of the Wii U.
Don’t get me wrong, the launch lineup is absolutely incredible. Admittedly, several titles are just enhanced versions of titles already released on other platforms. But the calibre of such titles, such as Mass Effect 3, Batman: Arkham City and Assassin’s Creed 3, in addition to the numerous original and wonderful original titles such as New Super Mario Bros. U, Nintendo Land and Scribblenauts Unlimited, has led me to the belief that the Wii U’s launch lineup is one of the greatest in recent gaming history.
So you might be wondering, then, what my problem is, given how much I love the platform in motion and the games it has already brought to the table. Simply put: firmware.
To begin with, out of the box, the Wii U ships with very little. Only the bare minimum is present, and that’s if you can be bothered with the tedious day-one patch. I don’t have a problem with this patch itself, as online services are essential, but it delivers very little content that promotes the Wii U’s drawcard (its gamepad). Even the 3DS had several applications which showcased its abilities, such as AR cards and Face Raiders. The lack of such material in the Wii U, I feel, is disheartening. Essentially, everyone who bought the basic Wii U pack will have to go and buy $90 software in order to learn what the Wii U can really do. This hardly seems logical to me -- why does Nintendo not want to convince customers to stay with them in the long term?
However, this is hardly a crippling issue, and it pales in comparison to the ultimate turn-off with a launch console: hardware crashes and lockups. See, all those players who spent hours downloading an update for their Wii U are placed at a risk of bricking their console, as the MiiVerse system (introduced through the day-one patch) is unstable, and can lead to console crashes and malfunctional hardware. This is an issue which has the potential to be of the degree of the Xbox 360’s famous Red Ring of Death, should Nintendo not get onto it quickly enough. There has been an incredibly high number of bricking reports, and this is simply not good enough in this day and age.
Keep in mind that some analysts have predicted a stock shortage over the holiday season just as the original Wii had. Early adopters of the Wii U may miss out on having a console at all (in the short term) if they have to return defective units because of firmware issues.
Will this alienate potential buyers and turn them back to Sony and Microsoft? Who knows. After bricking my Wii U yesterday, I can safely say I’m not going anywhere. That said, I’m really concerned that Nintendo have shot themselves in the foot by rushing a console’s release and loading their consoles with incomplete firmware.
What have your launch experiences been like with the Wii U?
By Harry Hughes - Bio