Opinion: Is the Nintendo Wii U worth getting yet?

By Robert Workman, May 22, 2014 9:00am PDT

It's been just over a year and a half since Nintendo hit the game market with the Wii U. Fresh from the phenomenal success of the Wii, it seemed like a new console would take off like its predecessor. There was a lot of promise going into this console a few months prior at E3, with the announcement of an HD Mario game, New Super Mario Bros. U, as well as many prospective titles from third-party companies.

However, since that time, the system has sat in the doldrums, in the shadow of more popular systems like Xbox One and PlayStation 4, even though it launched months earlier. Despite its innovations, the system hasn't seen the support that Nintendo was hoping, with third parties leaving left and right and some projects, like Watch Dogs and Aliens: Colonial Marines, either being vastly delayed or cancelled altogether.

But is all hope lost? The system is picking up steam with the release of a few key titles, including the universally entertaining Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Super Mario 3D World and next week's forthcoming Mario Kart 8. Plus, more great titles are inbound from the big "N", including Super Smash Bros., Bayonetta 2 and whatever else will be announced at E3 this June.

So it begs the question: Is the system worth picking up yet? Let's look at both sides of the picture.

Yes, it is

When it comes to value, the Wii U is the cheapest console in town when it comes to "next gen" technology for an affordable price. Where the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 sit at $399, the Wii U is available for $299, and includes a pack-in game, either Super Mario U or The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD, depending on which bundle players go for.

In addition, the system is highly accessible when it comes to certain applications. Netflix, for instance, runs more efficiently on the Wii U, mainly because of a smoother interface that allows users to pinpoint their scenes. It's a bit better compared to the apps for Xbox One and PS4. Plus, users can watch from the convenience of their gamepad rather than hogging the television when someone wants to watch hockey playoffs or something.

And the Wii U does have a decent game library. Great? No. But there are some good exclusives, including Pikmin 3 and the aforementioned titles above. There really is nowhere else to play these, and Mario Kart 8 could be a huge hit that you'll want to play with friends.

While the digital eShop isn't the most overloaded out there, it does include a few downloadable gems, like Super Castlevania IV and Contra III: The Alien Wars from the olden days, as well as more recent indie releases like Mutant Mudds Deluxe and Mighty Switch Force 2. More are on the way, and you can bet that Nintendo will have a big focus on these at E3 in a matter of weeks.

So, yes, the Nintendo Wii U does have some decent value to it, especially to Nintendo loyalists who love its franchises inside and out. For you guys, the system has its worth, and will only continue to grow as more exclusive games come out.

No, it isn't

The Wii U has suffered from a great number of setbacks over the past few months, but the biggest one is hard to ignore: there's barely any third party support. Electronic Arts has pretty much abandoned it, despite what it says in press statements; Ubisoft only has one project, Watch Dogs, announced at this point, and there's no word on a release date; and others like Warner Bros. and Namco have been stagnant with game releases. Even when games do come come out, there's hardly any downloadable content for them.

In addition, Nintendo hasn't built the eShop up to everything it could be. Where the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 have steady releases from third party companies, the eShop is sparingly getting games from indie developers and the classics library. It's not the worst selection in the world (especially when the NES Remix games are concerned), but clearly more is needed.

Nintendo also isn't providing the Nintendo Network with the support it needs to be a true contender. Games like Super Mario 3D World are off-line only, although that does present a good couch experience when playing with friends, we're living in an online world. Still, here's hoping that Mario Kart 8 is the game that gets the network off the ground, and maybe prompts Nintendo to make some changes to make it more accessible for potential Wii U owners.

Finally, the price for the system, despite some good games, is a bit too high. While $299 is reasonable compared to other consoles, Nintendo could easily mark it down as it did the 3DS to bring in a new audience. Raising it to $329 for a premium Mario Kart bundle doesn't make that much sense. $249, on the other hand, is a little more casual buyers' speed, especially when they're low on funds.

E3 is going to be a big event for Nintendo, and an opportunity to show it does care for the consumer. It's just a matter of seeing what it has up its sleeve, and how it's willing to support them.

Maybe?

Despite the struggling sales and the lack of third-party strength, the Wii U is still going moderately. Even though there are excellent reasons for and against its getting one, there's still plenty of room for the Wii U to rise up and be noticed. After all, the 3DS was struggling for some time before the company made key choices and brought it back up to speed. Then again, it wasn't as oddly designed as this machine is.

It's just a matter of seeing what it can do over the next few weeks. All eyes on Reggie…

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