After 10 Years I Finally Got A Wii U, Here’s What I Thought About It

used correctly, Nintendo was really onto something with this technology

The fact that so many console exclusives are now on the Switch is a credit to the quality of the games. what if breath of the wild was only released on Wii U? Would it still be a fantastic game? Fuck yeah! Would it have had the impact it did? Certainly not. Of course, there were some missteps – Twilight Princess remains a boring Zelda game, HD or not (don’t @me, please) – and most third-party studios have only done the bare minimum to support the GamePad, but the overall success rate on proprietary titles was really something.

And that’s not even to mention the Wii-ked (sorry) Virtual Console! I had an absolute field day scouring the eShop and snatching up all the titles I’ve wanted to play for years, but never had a chance to pick up a physical copy. Yes, this was made all the more pressing as the Wii U eShop will be closing in the next few months and so my time is limited, but damn it, what a rush!

Of course, I can’t talk about Wii U games without at least addressing Nintendo Land. It’s weird. It’s not quite Sports Wiinor is it quite wii partybut it’s a fantastic display of what the GamePad could be used for and made me and my willing friends laugh with its super-simple mini-games.

Mario Chase remains a highlight and prime candidate for party nights in the future, and while some games feel like they’re repeating the process a little too closely, there’s enough variation to show that, used correctly, Nintendo was really onto something with this technology. I’m still not sure what I was supposed to do with these parts and the following prices, but I still had a great time doing it.

The experience

Wii U
Image: Damien McFerran/Nintendo Life

Sure, the GamePad is great when it’s working well, but when it’s not, it’s redundant at best and a weighty distraction at worst. I’ve played an odd selection of games over the past month, some that used the GamePad effectively (Legends of Rayman, Twilight Princess) but others – many others – found no use for it. Exactly why I was playing Assassin’s Creed 3 (a series of games that I usually can’t keep up with) is beyond me, but seeing the GamePad subjected to being the home of a boring map without any care or detail made one thing very clear – it was a good piece of kit desperate for a goal.

a piece of gaming history that’s so brilliantly weird, I doubt we’ll ever see something so inventive again

This is perhaps the thing I’ve come back to more often than anything in my last few weeks with the Wii U. I’ve played on my TV, at my desk, even in bed, but at no time I didn’t feel like I knew what the console was trying to do. Is it a fun handheld? Yeah a little. Is it a fun home console? Yeah a little. But why be average at both when you could be really good at one?

Long before Microsft boasted of Xbox One that “this console will play your games, stream your TV, massage your feet, and pay your taxes!” the Wii U did just that. It was to my surprise to find a video camera, TV remote, streaming options and social media platform (old but cool sounding) all integrated into a console that I foolishly assumed was only about Games. I’d be intrigued to spy on a parallel universe in which the global pandemic happened five years earlier and humanity turned to the Wii U’s video chat to keep the economy going. Many of these features won’t work ten years from now, and the lack of direction seems a little awkward (is it for games, for TV, for social media?) but the ambition is there. It is a brilliant mess indeed.


After a month of gaming on the console I’ve rejected for so many years, I don’t think it’s fair to call the Wii U a failure (unless you’re talking financially, in which case it’s hard to disagree). Yes, at the time, it may have been a marketing disaster with pretty big gaps between major game releases, and my heart goes out to all the fans who diligently supported it. However, now we can see it for what it really is, a piece of gaming history that is so brilliantly, oddly confusing, I doubt we’ll ever see something so experimental and inventive from the game again. one of the “big three” console manufacturers.

If you play like me, you have the chance to be selective with a console for which there are, admittedly, a lot of lows. You can play the best first-party games without having to wait months for the next one, the entire Virtual Console library is there with GBA, DS and Wii games to boot, and the marketing campaign is so far in the past now that I think I can safely say that this is a console in itself and not just a Wii accessory.

Me and the Wii U are 10 years older now and we’re both cooler for it.

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