Friday 7 December 2012


That's the sound of da police.

It's new Nintendo console time, and I thought I'd try something hilarious - give my opinions on a system I've not seen and don't plan to buy, because that's totally what you want to read. Won't get that elsewhere on the internet, nope.

When I became invested in full-time internet fun almost a decade ago, I was shocked to find "Nintendo" was still a thing. Sure, even in the UK we had Nintendo systems, but I'm certain people had gonorrhoea too - they weren't hot topics of conversation. Though you can always expect a gathering for niche interests, never did I imagine Mario and Zelda had such a big following in the twenty-first century (though mind you, back then I didn't even know what Zelda was - that's the sort of impact we're dealing with here).

Nintendo has repeatedly revolutionised the industry at large for decades with excellence and innovation, but in order to access F-Zeros and Star Foxes in the UK, you'd have to set yourself up for a long and painful fight with the powers at be, mostly on the grounds of not living in the right country. Nintendo has spent the last twenty-five years finding new and unique ways to look obtuse and out of touch with the British populace, so while you could go on a crusade to convert others to your Mario-loving cause, you'd likely find more friends at camp PlayStation.

Delusion is rife in Nintendo circles, so for many, criticism of the company is seen as blasphemous. It's a view I disagree with wholeheartedly - for twenty years Nintendo's games have been priced too highly, arrived too late or have been gimped for PAL regions, to the point where it becomes laughable, so if anything, we're not slagging this company off enough. Nintendo consistently takes second or third place without any intention to improve, and though it may be cool if you're fine with mediocrity, the fact the competition doesn't suffer from these problems suggests there's some serious work to be done here.

And now we have the Wii U. For the last year and a half I've been trying to comprehend the purpose of this device, and at the moment I've settled on it being a system built to win back grassroots voters (i.e. those who came to Nintendo systems for games). In reality, there could be a number of descriptions - false ones such as "it's a add-on for the Wii" and "it's a handheld" are already common among the masses, but with Nintendo still putting effort into what is deemed a "casual" audience, there's no point in ruling out a continued focus on new recruits either.

Frankly I'm in no position to talk about the machine as a product. Others have been happy to assess technical specifications in detail, but for all I know the added benefits of a touch-screen more than make up for the highlighted shortcomings. Indeed, just because I'm not keen on the system doesn't mean the masses won't be - there's nothing to say at this stage that the Wii U won't be a rousing success among the general public, but I am, however, happy to skip this console, so I figured I might as well justify why that is. It's easier than reviewing games.

Firstly, the Wii U strikes me as an expensive novelty with little long-term value. The basic model is worthless, the premium is a gamble, and despite the promise of strong first-party titles, little currently differentiates the system from my Xbox 360 (aside from having a vastly smaller games library to play with). The situation would no doubt be different had the Wii U been released half a decade prior, but with only the hardcore Nintendo crowd having been denied an "HD" fix, it's not a console I'm due to benefit from in any way.

Few Wii U titles interest me, and those which do are available elsewhere. Prices for games are unregulated, two US launch titles have been pushed into 2013 for Europe without explanation, and most baffling of all, PEGI 18 games (i.e. about 10% of the market) can't be downloaded for twenty hours of the day, for fear that Germany invades Poland or something (says Japan, that historically loyal, non-aggressive allied nation). The next few months are bleak and with increased competition on the horizon, the console's long-term future is less than promising.

By far the biggest concern is the travesty of Wii backwards compatibility, a move which limits games to 50Hz for no doubt ignorant and borderline offensive reasons, but it's a culmination of all these aspects that leads me to think Nintendo are not addressing past concerns. Once again, if you live in a PAL region, your life will be made miserable for no reason at all. It's not acceptable - don't accept it.

Many will argue that the company has many months ahead to improve - that the Wii U can't possibly have hit its stride straight out of the starting gate and won't become relevant until the latter half of 2013. This may true, but is nevertheless revealing - nothing on the table suggests a "changed" Nintendo, and for a company that has consistently failed in this territory for so long, that has to be a concern for the Wii U's long-term future. Even worse, the company seems less than keen to produce "new" products - much is relying on the successes of yesteryear, and we all know how I feel about that!

So for me, I can't say I'm keen to support Nintendo's new machine. That's not to say I'll never own one (I've owned the last three Nintendo home consoles after all), but it's not a system I could ever love, for it currently has no intention to return the gesture. Hopefully for its sake, things will be different six months down the line, but should they not be... eh... don't say I didn't warn you.


  1. The Wii backwards compatibility only limits VC games (except TurboGrafx games and Nintendo system imports) to 50Hz. Everything else in Wii mode seems to run in 60Hz.

  2. Is that for definite? I almost shat myself when I read Squirrel’s version of events.

    If it onlt affects the VC, then that’s not news at all: it’s exactly how the original does it.

    1. If you're using anything other than HDMI, you'll be limited to 50Hz and "both" Virtual Consoles are shafting users with 50Hz versions of NES games. In a sense it doesn't matter, but in a larger sense, this always matters.

      Interestingly the Wii U is following a course very similar to that of the UK NES back in 1987/1988 - I don't think a Wii U game has hit the top 20 since launch week (although IIRC the Wii U version of FIFA 13 qualified for 19th or something at one stage but was being grouped with other platforms).

      Times are changing, busines doesn't want to take chances on quirky systems. Supposedly the money's being placed on the next PlayStation although I've heard rumours of Sony doing strange things to controllers.