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Should I Buy a Wii U?

Now that Microsoft and Sony's next-gen consoles are on the scene, the USgamer team asks whether you should still reserve a place under your TV for Nintendo's latest machine. Is Mario's latest and greatest adventure enough to make the system worth buying?

By USgamer Team. Published 5 months ago

The eighth generation of games consoles is officially upon us.

In fact, it started a year ago with Nintendo's release of the Wii U -- a console which many believe is going to struggle to survive amid stiff, technologically superior competition from Microsoft's Xbox One and Sony's PlayStation 4.

But is it that simple? Is Super Mario 3D World a compelling enough reason to pick up one of these quirky little consoles, or is the system destined to be forgotten? Team USG put their heads together and pondered a pertinent question as we move into the holiday season: should I buy a Wii U?

Jaz Rignall Editorial Director

Should you buy a Wii U? No. Not right now. Wait a while.

I really hate to say no, but I can’t honestly recommend buying a Wii U right now. Despite being out for a year, the machine doesn’t exactly boast a huge range of software. Sure, it has some absolutely brilliant games available for it, but for every good one, there’s a piece of premium-priced shovelware.

But while my somewhat cynical perspective might be seen by some as “hating,” I hold no malice towards Nintendo’s novel console, and indeed I am still rooting for it. Even though some didn’t like it, Wonderful 101 provided me with some of the most entertaining, over-the-top gameplay I’ve experienced so far this year. Super Mario 3D World is top-notch, as is the earlier New Super Mario Bros U. Pikmin 3 is superb, and Zelda: Wind Waker HD is a classic that’s well worth playing again, and a must-play if you missed it the first time around. I even have a soft spot for Sonic's latest outing.

"I hold no malice towards Nintendo's novel console, and indeed I am still rooting for it."

The Wonderful 101: one of the strangest games in years.

Those are the games that I think are the best that Wii U has to offer. Is that enough to warrant shelling out $300 for one? That’s something only you can decide. For me, I’d say no – but like I did at the beginning of this piece, I’d also add “not right now.”

Wii U has some great up-and-coming titles, and I my betting is that Nintendo will lower the price of the system soon to help it compete with the two giants that have just launched. At a cheaper price, I think Wii U is well worth it – but I think it’s just a bit too pricey, and its must-have games just a little too few to be worth investing in at the mo.

But maybe early in the New Year, we’ll see a price reduction and perhaps even a bundle with a couple of great games – and that’s when it’ll be worth buying. So just hold on and be patient. The machine isn’t going anywhere, and I think it’s a buyer’s market. Just you wait and see.

Jeremy Parish Senior Editor

Is Wii U a worthwhile purchase? I own one and haven’t had a moment’s buyer’s remorse. It won’t be getting all the games going forward, but between Nintendo’s first-party content and the third-party games that do make it over — as well as indies and Virtual Console — there’s plenty of quality to be had here. I see Wii U a lot like I did GameCube, which is a place to play Nintendo games and the occasional oddball title. I don’t see it being my primary game machine, but it stays active enough.

As for games, Super Mario 3D World is a fantastic halfway step between Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario 3D Land. I never cease to marvel at Nintendo’s capacity for taking the very simple rules of Mario and doing something new and interesting with them. This is another of those times — almost every level of the game does something different than the last, and along with all the new power-ups you’ll constantly find new and interesting applications for old standbys. Great stuff.

"I see Wii U a lot like I did GameCube, which is a place to play Nintendo games and the occasional oddball title."

Super Mario 3D World: one of the best Marios out there.

I’m not much for Platinum games since I don’t really cotton to brawlers and melee action games, but The Wonderful 101 is different. It’s weirder in terms of tone, harder to pin down in terms of mechanics, and completely nuts. Whenever you pine about the old days when Japanese developers used to embrace weird shenanigans instead of chasing the Western market from an outsider’s perspective, pop The Wonderful 101 into your console and sigh with contentment.

And finally, Scribblenauts Unlimited and/or Unmasked. Either of the most recent Scribblenauts games explores the same basic concept: You’re a dude named Maxwell with a magical notebook that can make any noun real, and you create things out of thin air to solve puzzles. The puzzles can be a little simplistic, but there’s a ridiculous amount of freedom to explore and mess around with your vocabulary. It’s an amazing game for kids without feeling dumbed down to be a “kids game.”

Should you buy a Wii U? I’d say yes… provided it’s not the only machine you can afford. I think PS4 is going to offer much more content in the long run. But Nintendo’s homemade content is good enough to justify the cost of the console for me.

Brendan Sinclair Contributing Editor

Is a Wii U a worthwhile purchase? It's a difficult question, and the answer depends a lot on what kind of gamer you are. The Wii U is worth it only for a very specific type of gamer. It's the same kind of gamer who might have bought and loved a GameCube. That's the sort of gamer who loves the Nintendo staples: Mario, Zelda, Super Smash Bros. and the like. Nintendo is going to keep cranking those franchises out, and barring some entirely unforeseen catastrophes, they'll be exactly as good as they've been for years now (for better or worse).

"Even though the 3DS made a remarkable recovery after a horrible launch year, at this point, the Wii U is what the Wii U is: just another GameCube."

Pikmin 3: a good example of Nintendo's quirkiness married to enjoyable, deep gameplay.

The gamer who would be happy with a Wii U is also likely the sort of gamer who doesn't really care about online play, because only a handful of Nintendo franchises have ever really used online modes, and even when the company does add it in as a feature, it's not exactly the sort of rich, reliable experience that characterizes the top-flight online games out there. It's also important that you're not relying on the Wii U to provide you with the latest and greatest third-party games, because that system won't be getting many of them, and that percentage is probably going to get lower as years drag on and publishers stop having Xbox 360 and PS3 versions to port over.

My wife has a Wii U, and the thing hasn't gotten much use in its first year. We both thought Pikmin 3 was fantastic, and Nintendo Land was an interesting novelty, but that's literally all we've played on it so far. Rayman Legends, Wonderful 101, and Super Mario 3D World are on the to-buy list, but it's looking awfully dry beyond that. If you can make your own list of Wii U games you want to play and they sound like they're worth the $300 investment, then the answer's pretty clear. But if the stuff that's already out there and on its way doesn't grab you, I wouldn't hold my breath expecting something else to push you over the edge. Even though the 3DS made a remarkable recovery after a horrible launch year, at this point, the Wii U is what the Wii U is. And that's just another GameCube.

Should you buy a Wii U?

Search your heart. You've known the answer all along.

Mike Williams Staff Writer

So we're heading into the second holiday season for Nintendo's Wii U. The system's not exactly lighting up the sales charts, but it's well-loved by its fans. Should you buy a Wii U? Like the others have said, it's mostly up to how much you love Nintendo's games.

Nintendo's titles are all pretty damn good. Between their first- and second-party games, the company has a solid lineup of titles for a new buyer this holiday season. Super Mario 3D World, Wonderful 101, Wind Waker HD, and Pikmin 3 are all great games and Nintendo has put a lot of love and care into each title. With Wii Fit U and Wii Party U you have a solid lineup that should keep families happy this year.

"If you're not interested in the aforementioned Nintendo games, $300 is a hard sell for third-party games with missing features and smaller userbases."

Ubisoft hasn't forgotten you exist Wii U owners.

But those who are looking for games outside of that sphere, the prospects aren't as great. Wii U third-party support isn't as strong as it is for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, or PlayStation 4. If you're not interested in the aforementioned Nintendo games, $300 is a hard sell for third-party games with missing features and smaller userbases. Some third-party publishers - like Ubisoft - are stepping up their game, but not enough of them are. That might not completely be Nintendo's fault, but it is Nintendo's problem. Especially heading into Black Friday with Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 deals bringing system bundles into the $150-$200 range. You're paying that extra $100 for Nintendo games.

I don't regret buying my Wii U. I camped out on my birthday last year at Sam's Club to pick one up. It's gone through months of disuse at times, but I'm a busy guy who games on a ton of platforms. It's still a solid system and I can't wait for Mario Kart 8. Can I recommend it wholeheartedly to my friends? Not really. If you have an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 and Nintendo games aren't your thing, stick with those. If you want improved graphical fidelity, you're better off with a PC or PlayStation 4. The Wii U just occupies this odd middle ground and the only people I can fully recommend it to is Nintendo fans.

But hey, that was good enough for Nintendo in the GameCube era, not sure why it's a huge problem now.

Pete Davison News Editor

I've owned a Wii U almost since launch and, like Jeremy, despite it having endured long periods without doing anything, I certainly don't feel any buyer's remorse; it gets more than enough occasional use to justify the initial purchase, and recently it's actually been getting a far amount of love.

One thing I will say is that if you don't already own a Wii U and are dead set on getting a new console this Christmas, Wii U is actually a pretty good option. The system's had a year on the market, and while that hasn't furnished it with a huge number of must-have games, there's certainly more than enough to keep you entertained for a significant period of time -- there's no need to settle for either Xbox One or PlayStation 4's largely uninspiring launch lineups when you have a much more diverse range of games to choose from on Wii U.

And they're unique games, too, for the most part; while there are some multiplatform ports available for the console, the ones you should really be giving your attention to are the honest-to-goodness exclusives, most of which come directly from Nintendo itself. My personal highlights right now -- I haven't played Super Mario 3D World yet, but I believe it's a fairly well-established fact that it is Very Good -- are Nintendo Land, Wii Fit U and Wii Party U. Which, given my general taste in games on other platforms -- typically meaty role-playing games or narrative-heavy visual novels/adventure games -- is somewhat surprising to me. But thinking about it, these are absolutely the best examples of why I find having Wii U in my house so enjoyable.

"There's no need to settle for either Xbox One or PlayStation 4's largely uninspiring launch lineups when you have a much more diverse range of games to choose from on Wii U -- and they're unique games, too."

Nintendo Land's games have simple basic rules, but a lot of depth when you get into them.

Nintendo Land is, like Super Smash Bros., a celebration of all things Nintendo. This is a celebration of Nintendo's aesthetic, presentation and gameplay-centric approach rather than specific characters, however; although each of the games that make up the complete package are based on a franchise such as Mario, Zelda, Metroid or F-Zero, the iconic characters from those franchises don't actually put in an appearance -- instead, they tend to involve your Mii characters cosplaying as the characters in question, which is a surprisingly adorable touch. The games themselves are all simple but rock solid, and I find it extremely telling that even a year after I got it, when I have friends over they still want to play Mario Chase, the Animal Crossing-themed sweet-eating game and the Luigi's Mansion game in which four players cooperate on the TV to track down an invisible ghost who is using the GamePad.

Wii Party U is a similar sort of idea to Nintendo Land in that it's largely based around minigames and short challenges, but with a noticeably different rhythm to it; a single session of a Nintendo Land game tends to be a two-to-three minute affair, whereas in Wii Party U you play one game for maybe thirty seconds or so, then you're doing something else, perhaps as part of a longer metagame that takes around 30 minutes or so. It's a lot of fun, and it keeps things constantly interesting with over 80 different games to play -- including an excellent puzzle game plus a number of two-player tabletop challenges that use nothing but the GamePad.

Finally, Wii Fit U is a stroke of genius. I'll talk more about the specifics in my review and the series of articles I'm working on with Cassandra, but I have to respect any game that makes me actually want to get up and do exercise. It's testament to the "Nintendo magic" that the exercise games involved in Wii Fit U has that I actually look forward to my daily workout now, rather than seeing it as a chore. The Puzzle Squash activity in particular is just a great game, let alone the fact it gives you a decent workout too!

"The whole system is infused with a feeling of genuine joy and love for gaming."

Puzzle Squash from Wii Fit U makes working out fun.

I should also give honorable mention to Lego City Undercover, which my girlfriend, who doesn't play a lot of console games, has been glued to for somewhere in the region of 50 hours now. Grand Theft Auto meets Lego? Fantastic.

Oh, and don't forget if you never owned a Wii you can play the Wii's surprisingly strong back catalog on a Wii U too. I recommend starting with Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story and Pandora's Tower -- three of my favorite games from the outgoing generation of hardware.

Should you buy a Wii U? Yes, I think you should -- particularly if you like playing with other people who are physically present. The whole system is infused with a feeling of genuine joy and love for gaming that can sometimes feel absent from the rather sterile environments of Sony and Microsoft's user interfaces. I don't regret my purchase at all, and I strongly believe that the system will come into its own in the near future -- it may not be as huge a success as PlayStation 4 and Xbox One look set to be, but that's okay by me, so long as I continue to get interesting, enjoyable games out of the deal.

Cassandra Khaw Content Editor

Should you buy -- wow, I sound like a broken record. Look. I'll level with you. Thanks to my wandering ways, I've not had the opportunity to indulge in a console in ages. As a result, I'm not the best person to talk to. But, if you ask me, I'd say: Wait. With the release of the Xbox One and the Playstation 4 as well as the imminent arrival of the sales season and what not, it's likely that we're going to see a drop in prices. You don't need to buy one right now. Waiting is totally good for the wallet.

Or you could just go ahead and get it. From what I've seen so far, the Wii U has a surprisingly solid line-up. Sure, it's riddled with vaporware but there is a lot of good stuff. Super Mario 3D reviewed fantastically, for example, as did Pikmin 3. My experiences with Rayman Legends and ZombiU at various conventions have been rather awesome as well. Rayman Legends is probably one of the rare games I've overstayed my visit for. Nothing says a swell time like leading your friends into oblivion.

Dance, I said. DANCE.

Additionally, Wii Fit U is actually impressing me from an objective viewpoint. I'm still Team Nay, but. God. Any game capable of enticing gamers into wanting and loving exercise is okay by me. Also, the tiny tweaks they've incorporated for Deus Ex: Human Revoution - The Director's Cut were excellent.

The Wii U may be a bit niche in some eyes, but if you enjoy Nintendo's quirkiness, this is likely going to float your boat.

The best community comments so far 24 comments

  • lonecow 5 months ago

    "Sure, it has some absolutely brilliant games available for it, but for every good one, there’s a piece of premium-priced shovelware."

    Why are we valuing good games vs. shovelware?

    It has Mario 3D World, but that is negated because it has Chicken Toss 2?

    I've never understood using shovelware as strikes against systems. Just pretend it doesn't exist. Just because a system has some crappy games, doesn't make the system itself crappy.

  • DiscordInc 5 months ago

    I think I might be one of the few people who has a Wii U and am completely fine with making it my sole console. I don't have a much time to play video games, so the small selection doesn't really hurt me, especially considering I am a Nintendo fan. Combine that with my apathy for Microsoft and Sony's consoles, and I've been very happy with my choice.

    Now if I was playing a lot more games I might feel the need to supplement it with another console, but right now the Steam Box seems to have more promise than the other two.

  • Thusian 5 months ago

    For me it is going to be my soul console at least for the foreseeable future. I just don't like a lot of the AAA space, and the few that are interesting so far, have been ported to Wii U. I already own over 15 retail games for the system and one of those I logged over 250 hours on (Monster Hunter Ultimate). I mostly like Party games and the odd single player experiences, but not really shooters. As a result I just don't have that much pulling me onto the other systems. I guess if you count my 3DS its not my only console, but between my 2 bits of Nintendo hardware, I just don't have a need for either of the other two.

    And I want to be clear, that is not a slight on anyone enjoying the other two systems. I just see them courting a taste that does not align with me. So I'm grateful I have a WiiU and got to play Rayman asynchronous and Wonderful 101,

View 24 comments

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