Why the Wii U is Underrated

Wii U

The Sega Dreamcast is often touted as the most underrated video game console of all time. Sega’s string of poor business decisions in the 90s and the dominance of Sony meant that the Dreamcast was short-lived, and Sega ceased making home consoles altogether as the Dreamcast came to an abrupt end. In the few years it was on the market, the Dreamcast built an impressive library and housed a number of technical innovations that other consoles are only now catching up with. Despite its greatness, it never had the chance to shine.

Well, the Dreamcast may now only be the second most underrated video game console ever, as Nintendo’s Wii U has grown into one of the more impressive modern consoles with an increasingly deep library, yet it is still in the shadow of its less-inventive competitors and is still often the butt of jokes on the internet.

Granted, when the Wii U launched in November 2012, it didn’t have the best lineup ever, and it took it a number of months before the console finally found its groove with Pikmin 3 in 2013. But since that time, its rarely let up. Nintendo has been releasing quality first-party titles for the Wii U at a consistency they haven’t done for their home consoles in a very long time.

It is also true that the Wii U continues Nintendo’s trend of having minimal third-party support. But this particular gripe may not be quite as big of a deal as it was a few short years ago, at least where quality is concerned, anyway.

Although gamers seem to live under the idea that more third-party games automatically equates to better games, I think it’s safe to say that the increasingly common trend of AAA third-party titles falling considerably short of their hype is proof to the contrary. That isn’t saying that third-party games are bad and that Nintendo’s lack of them is good, of course. That would be silly. But I do think it’s safe to say that the quality of the Wii U’s library hasn’t suffered from their absence in the way the internet would have you believe.

Destiny and Titanfall were both supposed to be two defining gaming experiences after all, and both fell flat in the eyes of most. Meanwhile, Super Mario 3D World’s name is still frequently thrown around discussions of today’s most fun gaming experiences.

Nintendo could definitely do with better third-party support, and I do hope one day they manage to work out better relationships with other developers. But at this point I find it baffling that so many people suggest the Wii U is inferior to its competitors because of the lack of third-parties. Video game consoles should be primarily judged by the quality of their titles, and as it stands, the Wii U is dancing around the PS4 and Xbox One, third-parties or not.

Bayonetta 2

“Totally a Mario game.”

A great annoyance comes when you hear gamers use the tired “argument” of “Zelda and Mario are great, but they aren’t enough for me.”  Yes, Mario and Zelda are mainstays (just as Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto and Halo are), but they hardly make up the entirety of the Wii U’s library. Bayonetta 2, Pikmin 3, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, even The Wonderful 101 (a game I didn’t care for but others seem to enjoy) are all just a few of the quality Wii U titles where Mario and Link are nowhere to be found. Upcoming games like Splatoon and Star Fox also represent different series than Nintendo’s two powerhouses. The way these games go so conveniently ignored by so many gamers is eye-rolling.

But that’s not the worst part. The biggest crime gamers commit against the Wii U are the excuses. The blatant, unfounded stances they have against the console are becoming something of a self-indulged ignorance. A fine example is the aforementioned Bayonetta 2, a Wii U exclusive sequel to a multiplatform game. As soon as the game was announced, gamers – true to their nature – had nothing but petty complaints at the fact that the game was exclusive for the Wii U. They would claim they were going to boycott the game, or rant about how unfortunate its home console is. Even after it was revealed that this Bayonetta sequel basically exists because of the deal with Nintendo, gamers still refused to accept Bayonetta’s new platform. Instead of potentially rethinking their stance about the Wii U because it had a game they wanted, they dismissed Bayonetta because it was now found on a console that they simply don’t want to like.

There are also those who complain about the Wii U’s GamePad controller. Although it is clear that the GamePad has not reached its full creative potential, it still works perfectly fine as a gaming controller. Its size is a non-issue, as it is no heavier than your standard controller, the button placements work just fine, and the touchscreen has greatly benefitted some titles. But when it comes to things that are different, gamers have a tendency to dismiss them on the sole grounds that they are different. There are still gamers out there who act as though the Wii Remote is some dumbfounding piece of alien technology, unlearnable to humankind, despite that the Wii Remote is probably the single most accessible and comfortable controller for any console. But when things are different, gamers tend to react to them like Frankenstein’s monster to fire. No matter how effective the GamePad could be, it never stood a chance.

 

It would be a lie to say that the Wii U is a perfect console. It had to hit a lot of bumps to get where it is now, and there are still areas that could use a good deal of improvement. But it would be just as much of a lie to say that the Wii U isn’t the best gaming console currently on the market. Certainly not the most powerful, or the biggest “entertainment machine,” but most assuredly the best pure gaming console right now.

Its library of exclusives is already impressive, and looks to only get better with the likes of Splatoon, Mario Maker, Zelda, and whatever else Nintendo has in store. It’s also the only current console with proper backwards compatibility, being able to play any Wii game plus the increasing list of classic and retro titles on the Virtual Console. There simply isn’t another home console out right now that screams “play” nearly as loud.

The good far outweighs the bad when it comes to the Wii U, but because it doesn’t fit into the stereotypical mold of what a console “should” be, it’s relegated to an obscure corner in the gaming community. The Wii U continues to have inconsistent sales numbers, and it is still treated like a disease or a joke by many gamers. It’s their loss, as they’re missing out on one of the more fun gaming machines of the last decade.

Dreamcast be damned, the Wii U is quickly becoming gaming’s most underrated console.

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2 thoughts on “Why the Wii U is Underrated

  1. veryverygaming

    Hey, I found your blog thanks to Nintendobound’s Liebster award thing, and I like what I’m reading! It’s a very interesting state of affairs on the Wii U, that’s for certain. I don’t own a Wii U so I’m not deliberately trying to keep up with the latest and greatest on it, but a lot of blogs I read cover Wii U and talk about it in similar glowing terms, albeit with some caveats. I guess most people expect, like last generation, that the Wii U will close up shop earlier than the PS4/Xbone, and the latter will continue to expand their game library for years to come. You’re buying future potential with PS4/XBone while Wii U has a strong set of games right now. The Dreamcast comparison makes a lot of sense I think when you put it that way.

    Anyway I just wanted to mention that the other day I had a strange experience in a game store of looking at the Wii U selection. The Wii U section was about 10 games total, all of them Nintendo published games except for one Lego game. It was Smash Bros, Hyrule Warriors, Bayonetta 2, Wonderful 101, Pikmin 3, Mario 3D World, Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze, Wind Waker HD… you get the picture. The funny thing was it reminded me of Gamecube so much, except even more lacking in third party stuff, and more distilled down into Nintendo-specific games. Eternal Darkness, Metroid Prime, Mario Sunshine, Wind Waker, Smash Bros Melee, Pikmin. I really enjoyed the Gamecube, don’t get me wrong, but I can’t help but wonder how the Wii U is going to sustain itself for much longer with even less third party support than the GC.

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    1. themancalledscott Post author

      I think it’s a safe bet the Wii U will end up lasting five years, which will definitely be shorter than its competitors, but is the average lifespan for Nintendo’s consoles (only the NES and Wii lasted longer before their successors took over). While I do hope Nintendo’s next console can be a bit more long-term, I can say that if the Wii U does wrap it up with five years under its belt, I’ll have had very little qualms with what it did in that time.

      One way Nintendo has always sustained its consoles is through long-term appeal within the games themselves. Games on other consoles do most of their business upon release, but Nintendo’s games, even when they don’t have as big of launches as others, tend to continue to sell at a steady flow for years after their initial release.They’ve always been able to afford delaying some big games, because their past big games continue to sell for a good while, so that helps keep things afloat.

      The Wii U also saw a boost in success with the releases of Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros. and the new craze that is Amiibo. Nintendo has the potential to keep that momentum with a number of their upcoming games, and future waves of Amiibo. The Wii U will never be the success the Wii was, but it is far from the barren wasteland that predictable gamer ‘humor’ would suggest.

      Thanks for reading, by the way. 🙂

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