Wii U: A Day One Purchase?

My finger is hovering over the pre-order button for Wii U. For the first time since the GameCube, I’m actually considering buying a console on the day it comes out.

I think what clinched it was the announcement of Bayonetta 2 as a Wii U exclusive: where Platinum Games goes I will follow. As you’re no doubt aware, both Sir Gaulian and I are more than a little fond of this left-field Japanese developer, and if they’ve put their faith in Wii U, then I will follow suit. Also, Platinum’s Project P-100 (newly christened The Wonderful 101) looks amazing, sort of like the sequel to Little King’s Story that should have been, so these two games are already a cast-iron reason to buy into Nintendo’s latest little wonder.

The Wonderful 101 (aka Project P-100) looks bloody ace. But when can I buy it?

I’m also intrigued by the new WiiPad controller (even if the name sounds like a bladder-control device). The way Ubisoft have incorporated it into the gameplay for ZombiU looks intriguing, as it forces you to look away from the TV screen to access your inventory, thus heightening the tension by giving the zombies a chance to sneak up on you. Asymmetrical multiplayer also sounds intriguing – I’d love to see it implemented in a game like Dungeon Keeper (or even Overlord), where one player positions traps and demons using the WiiPad and the others play adventurers battling their way into the dungeon. If the Wii era is anything to go by though, it’s likely to be up to Nintendo to lead the charge in terms of showing developers how to use the controller in innovative ways, and there’s the danger that third party companies will just throw out lazy Xbox/PS3 conversions and mini-game collections. Still, Ubisoft seem to be leading the innovation charge with ZombiU, so hopefully that’s a good sign for the future.

Zombie hunting in an apocalyptic London? Sign me up please.

The initial UK launch line-up is less inspiring:

  • New Super Mario Bros. U
  • Nintendo Land
  • Mass Effect 3 Special Edition
  • FIFA 13
  • Rayman Legends
  • ZombiU.
  • Trine 2 Director’s Cut
  • Nano Assault Neo
  • Toki Tori 2

ZombiU seems like a must-buy right about now, but the other games are hardly setting my world alight. Even New Super Mario Bros. U doesn’t really grab me that much – after the brilliance of the two Galaxy games and Super Mario 3D Land, another ‘old school’ Mario game isn’t what I was hoping for. Still, it does look quite good fun in multiplayer.

A quick look  at the other games scheduled up to March is equally average:

  • Aliens: Colonial Marines
  • Assassin’s Creed III
  • Batman: Arkham City Armoured Edition
  • Darksiders 2
  • Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power Of Two
  • Game & Wario
  • Game Party Champions
  • Just Dance 4
  • Lego City: Undercover
  • Madden NFL 13
  • Marvel Avengers Battle Fo Earth
  • Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate
  • NBA 2K13
  • Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge
  • Rabbids Land
  • Rise Of The Guardians: The Video Game
  • Runner 2: Future Legend Of Rhythm Alien
  • Scribblenauts Unlimited
  • Sing Party
  • Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
  • Sports Connection
  • Tank! Tank! Tank!
  • Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Wii U Edition
  • Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper
  • Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2012

Not a lot to get my teeth into there, and a notable lack of Pikmin 3, Bayonetta 2 and The Wonderful 101, which raises the question as to when these three are likely to appear. The appearance of Assassin’s Creed III also raises the question about cross-platform titles: what reason is there to buy this game on the Wii U as opposed to the Xbox or PS3? It’ll be interesting to see how they incorporate the WiiPad controller to differentiate the Wii U release and perhaps give gamers an incentive to buy that particular version, but will it be enough to tear the hardcore away from their Achievements and Trophies? Which also leads to the question of whether Nintendo are planning an Achievement-point equivalent for the Wii U – most of the gamers I know are pretty addicted to their ‘chieves, so it would make sense for Nintendo to jump on this particular bandwagon.

‘New’ Super Mario Bros. always makes me think about that old cartoon The ‘Real’ Ghostbusters. Who were The Fake Ghostbusters?

Then there’s the backwards compatibility issue: Nintendo’s European president announced that “most” Wii games would be backwards compatible – i.e. some won’t work. This is a bit of a blow for me, as for various reasons I’m currently Wii-less, and I was hoping to play all my old games on my new Wii U. Still, I suppose I could always borrow a friend’s Wii to play the ones that don’t work – most of their Wii consoles are just gathering dust in a cupboard anyway.

I guess that’s the sad truth about the Wii – after an initial burst of excitement from hardcore gamers like me, most gamers went back to their Xboxes and Playstations as a result of the uninspiring avalanche of me-too Wii games, interpersed with the occasional spark of brilliance from Nintendo. I was guilty of this for a while too, but about a year ago I headed back to the Wii and I’ve had great fun discovering a whole raft of brilliant first- and third-party games that are exclusive to the system, and I’ve never doubted the big N since. From the software point of view, it looks like Wii U may get off to a slow start, but if it’s anything like its predecessor, it will leave behind a legacy of unique gameplay experiences that simply can’t be found anywhere else.

But do I buy it on day one, especially now I know it’s going to be £300 (yowch) for the Premium version? Decisions, decisions…

[As penned in excitement and agitation by Lucius Merriweather.]