Last time, we talked about our Favorite Wii U Memory. Now, let’s take a moment to look at the bad.
Adopting the system so late led to me really not investing too much into it with the then titled NX right around the corner, which is honestly the part I enjoyed the least about it. There was stuff like Bayonetta 2 that I never really experienced with my funds stretched so thin, either from more important things or simply other games I’d much rather play on the much more accessible 3DS.
The stupid UI decisions Nintendo made with this thing, specifically forcing you to use the gamepad for all the navigation in the menu and only on the screen. If you moved it up to the screen you could no longer move through the menus. That was dumb and it became a pain at times where I forgot the gamepad or the charger for the gamepad and couldn’t play the system, even when I didn’t need the pad! Smash is the best example of this as me and my friends would always use GameCube controllers but to just turn Smash on we needed the gamepad and then it would just sit there and waste all its power while going unused. It was a stupid way of forcing us to use the gamepad and a massive waste of electricity. I hope the Switch does this better.
Really, it just comes down to the GamePad, and the lack of interest in using it. If you look at the console’s offerings, it’s honestly a creatively wonderful period. Pikmin 3, The Wonderful 101, Splatoon, Mario Kart 8, Smash, 3D World, Bayonetta 2, Mario Maker, Affordable Space Adventures; there was just a wonderful collection of good, innovative, and captivating games. The problem was that the innovations weren’t tied to the machine. Nintendo’s best hardware innovations make each of the consoles they were tied to feel needed. The second screen of the DS, the Wii’s motion controls; those are fundamentally compelling ideas, ones that are immediately accessible and have obvious innovations. The GamePad…wasn’t that. There are games that used it well (I can barely go back to playing Pikmin without it), but it lacked a spark to tell you what it could do, a reason why it fundamentally had to exist. Even Nintendo struggled, perhaps more than anyone as though they were trying to justify it retroactively. My hope for the Switch is that the premise goes back to the Wii’s; it’s simple and clear and basic, even if Nintendo has had trouble representing that.
Everything about the Wii U as a hardware machine. The software is good, or great, depending on who you ask. But the hardware is honestly terrible. Playing with the GamePad sucks. It feels like a toy, it’s not comfortable, and the screen is a noticeable step down from a TV screen, so I never felt like exclusively playing on the GamePad (not that it mattered, I could only move like 15 feet away from the machine anyway). It just wasn’t a fun device to play on, and as a result I found my Wii U quickly shelved in lieu of better experiences.
I’m going to have to agree with Wolfman_J, 100%. A lot of the games on the Wii U, while stellar — didn’t feel like they made good use of the hardware. Honestly, Nintendo failed to convince consumers what the Wii U had to offer, and why it was important to own one. This led to lackluster sales across the board (in addition to the branding confusion) and ultimately the short system lifespan. With the amount of games being reported or remastered from the Wii U to either the 3DS or the Switch, it seems Nintendo themselves are aware of how ‘un-tied’ their games are to the Wii U itself.
While I completely understand the outcry of problems with the Wii U’s hardware itself, the hardest part for me throughout the system’s lifetime was the software droughts. Having gotten my Wii U essentially around launch, there were far too many times where I was kept waiting for what would come next, unsure if it would really be a good title or not. Sure, some were amazing even in the pre-release hype, such as Mario Kart 8 and Smash, but then there were others that were complete letdowns. I’ve always been fond of the Mario Sports games, especially the Mario Tennis series. I had my doubts when Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash was announced, as it did not appear the most compelling, but I remained optimistic. For some reason that I can’t remember now only a little over a year later, I downloaded the game at midnight when it released, and spent maybe an hour with it before realizing I had unlocked all of the characters, and had essentially played the bulk of the game already. I realized that Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash, the latest entry in a series I loved, was severely lacking, and this was my real wake-up call with problems with the Wii U: Some amazing titles came out of it, but a lot of rushed, sub-par titles tagged along with it, and only succeeded in further hindering outlook on the system.
While a lot of people tend to complain about the Gamepad’s integration into the Wii U’s UI, I personally think the Wii U UI in general is sort of a mess. While it looks good overall and does actively look like a menu, everything takes multiple hoops to go though. If I want to play a Wii game, I have to go into Wii Mode just to play it while I wait for the console to reboot. Personally having to do that is bothersome considering of how long it takes to get into the Wii Menu. Not to mention either, the 3DS can boot DS and DSi games straight from its own UI without any fuss. You don’t even see the original DSi UI on the 3DS at all. Everything is intuitive on the 3DS while the Wii U isn’t really cleanly organized in my opinion.
Heck, they even had an opportunity of fixing the organization issue in Wii Mode. When they announced Wii VC back in 2015, they could’ve easily transferred the WiiWare and Wii VC library to the Nintendo eShop just so everything could be accessed from the Wii U Menu. That would’ve also fixed the storage problem in Wii Mode where you still have the Wii’s limited amount of space considering the games could be theoretically ran off the External Hard Drive or Wii U’s flash storage.
The UI in general just doesn’t seem fleshed out compared to the UI’s Nintendo has made in the past (especially the 3DS’s) and the rapidly dropping support for the console is probably one of the main culprits. Let’s hope the Switch’s UI does a better job!