Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One might get more attention, but Nintendo’s little console that could, the Wii U, might end up winning this generation’s console wars.
Sure, the Wii U doesn’t have a typical control setup like the Xbox One or PS4, its innards are not as powerful, and it doesn’t accommodate as many third-party games. But the basic Wii U is $US100 cheaper than its Xbox and PlayStation counterparts, and it’s got a growing library of must-play titles that are fun to play solo or with a group of friends.
The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are versatile systems, but neither console can play previous-generation titles. Nintendo, on the other hand, offers a full catalogue of Wii U and Wii games, as well as access to even more classic titles available over its online platform, called the Virtual Console.
If you missed out on the Wii the first time around, you'll be able to play all the best titles from the Wii's six-year life, including the 'Super Mario Galaxy' series, two new 'Legend of Zelda' games, the stunningly beautiful 'Okami,' the bestselling horror game 'Resident Evil 4,' and the 'Metroid Prime' trilogy. These games are absolutely worth your time.
The Wii U's primary controller, called the GamePad, is not your traditional controller. It comes with an embedded touchscreen that lets you to play select titles when you can't play them on the TV. (Not all games require the GamePad's second-screen functionality, but some portions of games can only be played on the GamePad screen, and not the TV.)
The GamePad features a 6.2-inch screen, which can be controlled with one's fingers or a stylus, but it also comes with a front-facing camera for video chat and motion control support. Can you take selfies on your Xbox controller? I didn't think so.
You might not know it, but the Wii U might be the most hackable game console out there right now. If you have an internet connection and a free SD card, you can activate classic game emulators, cheat engines, DVD players, and even Wii-specific Linux distributions. And if you've stored any old games on a USB stick, The Homebrew Channel can help you play those games, too.
These homebrew options are easy to access: With the simple LetterBomb hack that takes only about 10 minutes to complete (HackMii has the full set of instructions), you'll be able to activate The Homebrew Channel and an application called Homebrew Browser, which acts as an alternative marketplace to download popular apps, games, and emulators.
Nintendo last year released its first 'cross-buy' game for the Wii U, which means if you purchase the game for Nintendo's handheld 3DS, you'll receive the Wii U version for free as long as you have your Nintendo Network ID set up across both platforms.
The first game, 'Squids Odyssey,' was nothing too fancy, but Nintendo's upping the ante big time by making its next cross-buy title 'Mario vs. Donkey Kong,' which lets you create, play and share Mario stages online. If you already own a Nintendo 3DS, cross-buy games are a great reason to own a Wii U.
'Nearly every aspect of Smash Wii U seems fine-tuned not only to appeal to the nostalgia of long-time Nintendo fans, but also to be accessible to new players. Once they're hooked, it draws them in deeper with a set of great modes and tempting rewards. There's just so much here, and I've rarely seen a game with so many enjoyable and replayable ideas in a single package. Playing eight-player matches and classic four-player brawls are only the beginning, and I don't see a reason to stop playing Super Smash Bros. for Wii U for a long time.'
'Countless games have attempted to ape Mario Kart's blend of fizzy racing and disruptive vehicular combat. A few have come close, but none have succeeded. Mario Kart 8 is the series at its very best; an exciting, hilarious and satisfying to-and-fro. Move on from the training wheels of the deliberately ponderous 50cc and there's a delicious sense of speed, whizzing along at 60fps under cerulean skies. The devil, much like that battenburg starting line, is in the detail. It's the subtle shifts in weight depending on character and vehicle choice; it's the satisfying hop that sends your kart into a drift, sparks flying as you charge a boost round a sweeping apex; it's the flick off a ramp, opening your glider and either lifting high above the track or dive-bombing into increased acceleration; it's the evil glee of a perfectly thrown green shell; the infuriating explosion of that blue one that zeroes in on the leader. This is a formula that has been close to perfect for a long time.'
'On the surface, worlds divided into categories like jungle, beach, and ice seem like they could drift into well-worn territory, but the variety is amazing. You platform across giant leaves (kept aloft by gusts of wind from Alpine Horns timed to the background music), ride mine carts through a sawmill as obstacles are carved out just ahead of you, dash through a raging forest fire with slick lighting effects, and navigate ice chunks that quickly melt in the lava below. Just like in the previous game, I yelled alternating cries of agony and relief working through particularly challenging areas.'
'It is not just that the core fighting system is so great, but that the game's construction lets players pick and choose the parts they most enjoy, and delight in discovering new secrets as they do so. The sheer polish applied to every part of Bayonetta 2 is something every major studio should aspire to: the exceptional and wide-ranging soundtrack, the huge number of unlocks, the Nintendo easter eggs, the 'making of' materials, and the unlockable characters that bring their own style. Not a single thing has been held back. In this second adventure, Bayonetta over-delivers in every regard, and it will be a long time before another fighting game threatens her crown.'
'After years of playing second banana to Princess Peach and the Mario Brothers, the Toads have gone and nabbed themselves starring roles in Captain Toad's Treasure Tracker. The delightful action-puzzle game for the Wii U is more fun than a barrel of monkeys and as gentle as a hand rocking a baby's cradle.Captain Toad's Treasure Tracker is a joyous experience in an age where many games go for the grim. This low-cost, high-value puzzler's packed full of sweet characters, delightful visuals, and its multi-objective level design lets nubile gamers feel accomplished at simply beating a stage while still leaving some nice challenge for the more hardcore among us. If you own a Wii U, you absolutely owe it to yourself to pick up Captain Toad's Treasure Tracker.'
'Back in the day, Wind Waker's cartoony style came under fire for being 'too kiddie.' But the joke's on its critics, because while its contemporaries haven't stood the test of time well, Wind Waker has refused to grow old. This timeless tale of a young boy searching for his kidnapped sister re-works classic lore from The Legend of Zelda into a thoughtful and heartwarming adventure that loops itself around familiar tropes. Visually, this new HD treatment isn't much more than a texture update and a new lighting system, but it's impressive and immersive. … If you've never braved this amazing seafaring adventure, the Wii U version offers the definitive way to experience a story that's both charming and elegant.'
'While the series has been around for more than a decade (debuting in 2001 with the original 'Pikmin' for the then-current generation GameCube console), it's remained one of Nintendo's best-kept secrets -- never possessing the star power of 'Super Mario Bros.' or the cultural ubiquity of 'Super Smash Bros.' And to the uninitiated that only know Nintendo as the company that makes 'Mario Kart' games, that's a shame, because, well, 'Pikmin 3' is one of the best video games I've played in years. … Simply put: I could leave gaming behind content with the fact that I never got the chance to play the next Mario game that Nintendo will inevitably release. Not so with 'Pikmin.''
'The game, which is set within the Sprixie Kingdom, is broken into seven main worlds, each subdivided into a number of discrete levels. The structure allows the designers to play with ideas in a way the grim, cinema-aping blockbuster games, which must squeeze their game design ideas into tight narratives, cannot. Mario's verbs of play may remain consistent throughout -- run, jump, pound, clamber -- but each level is presented as a rounded idea that can stand alone, a vignette-like five-minute journey around a single idea, or a set of juxtaposing ones. Nintendo EAD's mastery can be seen in the seeming ease with which the team introduces brilliant ideas, often as one-offs, never to be reprised. … Mario and his makers once again assert their dominance of spatial navigation games, displaying a rude abundance of ideas to delight, surprise and celebrate innocence and playfulness.'
'Kirby and the Rainbow Curse will amaze fans of traditional stop-motion animation with its achingly charming visuals. It works great as a lighthearted single-player platformer, a wild and boisterous multiplayer campaign, a tough-as-nails action-puzzle challenge, a bite-sized Off-TV handheld experience, or a big beautiful HD spectacle on your television screen, all depending on how you choose to play it. It's a game that has a little something for everyone, all without compromising its unyielding, unique, and undivided attention on its mission to blast pure adorableness into the world in all directions. If Kirby and the Rainbow Curse doesn't make you smile, you may need to see a doctor for that.'
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