Opinion: Is the Nintendo Wii U worth getting yet?

Nintendo could turn around its Wii U- but it needs to make some moves.

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.

Games like Bayonetta 2 can sell the system.

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.

More frequent titles like NES Remix 2 would be awesome

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.


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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  • reply
    May 18, 2014 9:00 AM

    Robert Workman posted a new article, Is the Wii U worth picking up yet?.

    Nintendo could turn around its Wii U- but it needs to make some moves.

    • reply
      May 22, 2014 9:00 AM


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      May 22, 2014 9:29 AM

      Title needs work.

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      May 22, 2014 9:29 AM


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      May 22, 2014 9:36 AM

      Didn't read the article but the answer is yes if you like Nintendo games, no if you don't.

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      May 22, 2014 9:39 AM

      Ok, read it, and I disagree that Nintendo could "easily" reduce the price on the Wii U. I think they're already taking a loss on it at $300. $50 to $100 more of a loss per console is not something they can really afford right now.

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        May 22, 2014 10:16 AM

        I think it's theoretically possible to pull the Xbone Kinect and simply redirect the system into not requiring the screen controller any more. Personally I loathe the shit out of that but if they aren't going to do anything meaningful with it, then why force it? It is the very thing putting the system in a loss lead status.

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      May 22, 2014 9:54 AM

      As a Wii U owner, I will say it's circumstantial.

      Do you have 2-3 other people you can get to sit on the same couch as you and play some games? Then yes. Definitely yes. There is a really good selection of local co-op games and it's a ton of fun playing them.


      Unfortunately those same games are not as much fun by yourself. Yea they are still fun games but there are easily better games on other platforms that provide a better single player experience or I should say, one person on the couch experience as the other platforms provide an adequate online multiplayer experience which the Wii U is not particularly excelling at.

      The problem I have with it is that Nintendo is not adequately doing what it does best: innovating. They have a really good screen controller which has lots of potential but so far the only use I have out of the thing is I can play Wii U games on my bed in the other room which implies that I am playing solo. This would be a great feature if Wii U games weren't such a drab single player experience when compared to other platforms (this includes the 3ds or PSP/Vita which I can also play on my bed). Like other Nintendo consoles, the fate of the console rests on how strong the first party titles are. Unfortunately all Nintendo has been doing with this console's release list is constantly remaking the sidescroller again and again. These are good games, don't get me wrong but are they getting games to fly off the shelves? No way.

      What made the Wii sell like it did was a game like Wii Sports. This is a game that made a strong and clear statement: This is what this system is. This is why you want our console despite being underpowered. It can't play the games the other systems can play but those systems can't play a game like this.

      We have Nintendoland for the Wii U but it hardly made as strong of an impact as Wii Sports did. We have yet to see Nintendo release a game that is a bold second try. There's potential in that damn controller but for some reason Nintendo can't seem to tap into it.

      There are still some good games here and there. NES remix is a quick larf. Wonderful 101 is fantastic. There as some of the best local co-op games I've played in a long time. Don't expect any true 3rd party support. Nintendo is probably more on its own than ever. It's coming to be a few years of the Wii U's lifespan and still so far every game store has a Wii U section that's a tiny corner with literally only a handful of games. I reaaaaally want nintendo to up their game with the Wii U. We'll see how well Mario Kart and Smash will lead the charge.

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        May 22, 2014 11:18 AM

        Do you have 2-3 other people you can get to sit on the same couch as you and play some games? Then yes. Definitely yes. There is a really good selection of local co-op games and it's a ton of fun playing them.


        This, when there are people in my house. The Wii U is on and we are having a blast. DKC, Super Mario Cat World, Wii Party U. Amazing couch co-op experiences that make me remember why I loved my Gamecube so damn much. It's just plain fun.

        Everyone leaves, well a lot of these games become a heck of a lot less fun and I'll slink back on over to the computer or PS3.

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      May 22, 2014 9:57 AM

      Games like Bayonetta 2 can sell the system.

      No it can't

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      May 22, 2014 10:20 AM

      TL;DR: Yes, it is.

      Why? Mario Kart 8.

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        May 22, 2014 11:01 AM

        Last Nintendo system I had was a GameCube. Loved it. Since then, I've dissed on the Wii* systems constantly, being an Xbox guy. Lately, I've just wanted some good classic fun. Picked up the Mario Kart 8 WiiU bundle (get it on the 30th).

        Considering how little games I play on my Xbox 360 now, the 3 games I play on PC... if I only get 5 or so games that are truly enjoyable out of the system (WiiU), I'll be ok with that. Plus, the family will want to play these games too.

        Do I think Nintendo needs a boost? Yes.

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      May 22, 2014 11:59 AM

      Well I for one am super glad I bought a Wii U about 1 year ago. I have had an absolute blast.

      Mario 3D World has been my favorite entry into the core Mario series since Mario World on the SNES.

      Rayman Legends was phenomenal- I'd never played a Rayman game before and I was completely blown away by how clever the whole thing is. And with some friends around the Kung Foot bonus game is hysterical.

      Lego City Undercover is the best Lego game I've played so far- just hate that its single player only. Such a polished game otherwise and multiple laugh out loud moments. Tons of replay value working toward that 100% mark.

      My wife and I put over 70 hours into Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper. She played with the Pro controller on the TV and I played with the gamepad and had my own screen. It honestly felt like a networked game running on two separate systems, but it wasn't- just 1 awesome Wii U.

      New Super Mario U / Luigi U - pales in comparison to Mario 3D World, but fun as hell nonetheless.

      Zelda Wind Waker HD - Holy freaking crap. So well done. And the integration of the Mii-verse with the messages in bottles is absolutely brilliant.

      Donkey Kong Country TF - So hard, but so gorgeous and so much fun.

      I'm so pumped for Mario Kart 8, Hyrule Warriors, X, Smash Bros. I just don't understand how someone who loves video games can look at this system and think its anything other than fun as hell.

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      May 22, 2014 6:02 PM

      How about wait and see. Considering nintendo's history, ~2 years on is when they announce hardware changes/price drops. I would wager they will make some sort of announcement at e3 regarding either the WiiU or 3dS

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        May 22, 2014 9:26 PM

        Not to give the system too much flak, but "wait and see" is what I kept telling myself to keep the buyer's remorse at bay.

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      May 23, 2014 5:58 AM

      cut the price by 75% and i'd consider it.

      Nintendo is a niche market of games that is a plus, but i dunno...

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      May 23, 2014 6:24 AM

      Nintendo's strength is from local coop, its from fun games. Whether it has some for of multiplayer local or otherwise its inconsequential.
      Innovation isn't what makes Nintendo either. Nintendo doesn't have to reinvent the wheel every time they come out the gates.
      What they NEED to do is deliver fun, exciting games that no one else can deliver.
      Thats it.
      and they have done this many times in the past and they continue to do it now.
      No one can top Nintendo's Q&A in this industry is second to none.
      There are many factors that have contributed to whats happened to Nintendo's turn of events, but good games, and good times are not it.
      You can chalk this one up partially to keywords such as casual gaming, Halo, COD, hardcore gaming and obsessed gaming multiplayer community and achievement seeking whore-mongers and "smart-devices"

      To start the list.

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        May 23, 2014 9:58 AM

        They make good games but that's not enough to make systems fly off the shelf.

        They have been successful because they were innovators in meaningful ways. They made machines that weren't about power but about efficiency.

        NES - Spoke for itself

        Gameboy - First port. Many tried to up the ante with color screens and more power but ultimately the Gameboy climbed over them because it was what made the most sense with what you can do with a couple AA batteries.

        SNES - Took what the NES did and took it to a new level. The modern controller design from every other platform has taken off from the SNES Dpad. The powerhouse that it was at the time didn't hurt either.

        N64 - While they innovated with bringing back the analog stick to the home console and putting it to good use it was the decision to stick with carts and licensing restrictions is what began a decline and a lower relationship with 3rd parties. Nevertheless the power of the system and spearheading the analog control scheme is what they designed their games around and it kept them a competitor.

        Gamecube - What was probably the most conventional approach and brought IMO the best games. The Gamecube was arguably the most powerful system of that gen. This is probably where I would dispute your claim that it's simply games. Gamecube games were amazing but that said, it was the system that sold the least of the 3.

        Wii - This is my other case and point. Wii sold like hotcakes. It was under powered and the games were good but I would probably rate my gaming experience with the Gamecube better than those with the Wii. Certainly I'd say that my experience with the 360 and the PS3 were better. That's beside the point. The system sold like crazy because of the promise of innovation.

        Nintendo' s dilemma is a combination of things. First and foremost their poor relations with 3rd party. Ever since post SNES, no one wants to deliver content on their home consoles any more . N64 and PS3 are prime examples of the lesson where sometimes it's better to design hardware with the developer in mind. They'll figure out how to make this chunk of plastic and wires fun.

        Second is that they choose to stand out and be under powered compared to the competitors. There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with this. However if you aren't going to keep up with the power curb, no one will want to make games on your system. People will feel less interested in the games of your system unless there is something particularly unique about the system that allows for gameplay that is impossible on a conventional system. This is how the Wii got its success. Where it lacked in power, it delivered something that the other systems could not. If it was not for the Wiimote, the Wii would not have sold nearly as much. The games would still probably be pretty good but its success would have only been limited to the smaller amount of audience it had available.

        Now combine some of this and now you have Wii U. Wii U wanted to have the possibility to control like a conventional console. However from all reports, developers are saying that the Wii U is development hell. It under performs even against 7th gen consoles which have been around for over 5 years. Now take the under-utilized screen controller. Personally I think it's got amazing potential but so far I have yet to see any kind of effort to deliver a message, "this is what our console can do that the others can't". In fact the screen controller is the very thing that puts the Wii U in a loss lead status (meaning that they lose money on a console sale). This is usually remedied by the forecast of game sales... but oh no wait, no one wants to develop for the system so toss that out. They can't get developers to make games on the thing and to top it off they are struggling to sell the console itself compounding the damage.

        If the Wii U has any hopes of success they need to not only deliver the games that we know and love (forth coming Smash and Mario Kart) but they need to start making the games that make the message clear, "You can play the games the same way you've been playing them on the other consoles or you can try something new and exciting."

        This is what Wii Sports did and this is why the Wii flew off the shelf.

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      May 23, 2014 8:01 AM

      I've always been a supporter of Nintendo and have owned every previous console, but this is the first system I'm not going to get. I don't care about what the specs are and what other features the console has. There aren't any games that I find remotely interesting and if there aren't any games then I don't see any need to spend money on it including games in series I enjoy such as Mario and Zelda.

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      May 25, 2014 9:48 AM

      I'm still holding out for the 2.0 / Slim / updated version. :/

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