Is It Time to Buy a Wii U yet?

Yes, I think it is.

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Now, I’ve been horribly down on the Wii-mote motion control scheme since it’s inception, and the Wii U adds another gimmick with it’s touch pad controller as well.  With all the gimmicks on top of gimmicks, what could possibly get me to change my mind about the Wii U?

The games of course.  It’s always about the games.

In the past month or two, there have been no less than four new titles announced or released that are worth picking up.  Looking back on my own personal history with consoles, this is a regular pattern.  A really great game will come out, that I need to play and it’s a console exclusive.  So I go ahead and get the console.  It’s a steep entry fee, somewhere from 200 to 300 dollars just to play one game (and those numbers keep creeping up).  But in my own experience of gaming consoles and the purchases I make for them, I always find my library growing by 10 to 20 additional games.  I remember buying the Wii for just 2 games, Super Smash Bros Brawl and Mario Kart (5 or 6 I think), and that library is now somewhere around 30 games just from what my children have personally asked for.  I suspect that many others I know follow a similar buying pattern with their console purchases as well.

So what four games are coming out that I must have badly enough that I will actually make the claim that my son wants a Wii U so we should listen to him?  What could get me to ignore the gimmicks and bite my lip and start the cycle all over again?  Unsurprisingly, I want to pick up both Super Smash Bros and Mario Kart 8.  Mario Kart 8 is just beautiful.

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It’s easily one of the best looking games I’ve ever seen and on a high def tv I can watch my son play the game for hours.  Plus, it’s a fun game for up to 4 players.  If I want a chance to play any, I need this.  If I can’t share the experience with my family, there’s no point (and a much harder sell).

Super Smash Bros is another game that’s pretty to look at and also supports 4 players.  But I won’t lie on this one.  My chief reason for wanting this game is all about him.

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I can claim first hand experience with Pac-Man on a cabinet in a physical Arcade.  Yes, I’m that old.  Yes, this matters to me.  Yes, it’s nothing but good.  Pac-Man’s inclusion in this round of Smash Bros is a boon to a character that has languished for a long time, and is totally deserved given his long history and contributions to video game popularity in general.

The next game I’m deeply into is of course the new Zelda game that will be out sometime next year.  We know literally nothing else about it beyond the trailer we saw for it this past year at E3.  You remember that one.  It caused a huge stir for a brief moment when everyone thought for a second that the blond, androgynous, hero in the trailer might be either a female version of Link or Zelda herself.  Too bad about that.  Still, it’s the best looking Zelda game I’ve ever seen, and if what we saw was anything close to actual gameplay, than what we’ll get will easily be worth the wait.

All of these games are great, but none of them are the big sell.  I have Smash Bros, and Mario Kart on the Wii now.  And while Zelda is always a must have, it’s still a year away.  Why now?  What’s coming out that would be worth the cost at this point?

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Is this really a surprise?

I love the Dynasty Warriors series.  It’s always been difficult for me to play these games as they’ve had their homes on non-Nintendo consoles for years.  My particular favorites have been the Gundam variants of Dynasty Warriors, combining the tactical and fighting strategies of Dynasty Warriors with one of my favorite genre Anime stories of all time.  But Dynasty Warriors has always been about playing a game at least 2 ways.  You can be an amazing fighter, capable of decimating bosses with your skills, combos, and battlefield prowess and never once look at the map.  Or you can be a horrible button masher who’s only hope is to strategize your way to victory, maximizing your armies and combat locations to give you the biggest advantage possible.  I fall between those two (sadly more on the button masher side), but I appreciate the breadth and depth of the Dynasty Warriors series, particularly with their stats and skills systems that allow for upgrading warriors to improve their battlefield capabilities.

And now all of that is coming with a Hyrule setting and characters.

Not only that, but a lot of the familiar tropes from the Zelda series will be usable in some form in Hyrule Warriors.  The Hookshot, Bombs, and the Bow and Arrow have all been shown as usable items in the game. We’ll have to wait and see how well they’re used but that they’re available at all in a Dynasty Warriors style setting is impressive.

The game will have a huge cast of interesting playable characters, including Darunia and Ruto from Ocarina of Time, customizable skills, additional weapons, and several different modes of play.  Koei Tecmo has gone all out on it.  Personally I’m hoping that we’ll see future cross-overs for the Dynasty Warriors games and Nintendo, but even if not, it’s clear that Koei Tecmo was looking to impress with this and from the gameplay footage I’ve seen, they’ve delivered.  And yes, I can’t wait.
Other interesting games for the Wii U that might be fun?  Bayonetta 2 will be sold WITH a copy of Bayonetta 1.  Two games for the price of one is a good deal, no matter what that game is.  This would be an entertaining purchase but I doubt I’ll be able to get this one.  I can’t buy Bayonetta 2 and claim it’s for the 7 year old.  That creates an entirely different set of issues that would need addressing.

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This is the most I’ve ever seen her wear.

There’s also the backwards compatibility features the Wii U will have.  I know my Wii games will be functional on it even though I’ll likely keep the Wii plugged in for it’s Gamecube backwards compatibility.  I still have more Tales of Symphonia to play and I can’t get my JRPG fix from anywhere else just yet.
That will also give me access to Nintendo’s back library of games on the Wii.  I’m hoping the Wii U will have an extended library as well and I’ll finally get to play Metal Warriors again.

In looking back at my long (very long) history of console purchases, one thing is clear.  I’m a Nintendo fan, through and through.  Always have been.  While it’s arguable I missed out on the golden days of the PS2 and 3 and even some of the better games on the original X-Box, I haven’t ever regretted not owning any of those machines.  I do regret missing out on Perfect Dark and Golden Eye when they came out.  Some of the first and best FPS games ever made were interestingly enough, Nintendo console games.  Most FPS games since then have only emulated the success those games had (and not well either).   Hmm, I wonder if they’re in the store.  Bet they are.

But there’s never been a reason not to be a purely Nintendo house.  Sony and Microcsoft are playing for older gamer markets and most of their good games end up on PC anyway.  I don’t need them and since they don’t make anything my kids want, why waste the money?  Nintendo has taken a lot of flak for their rigidity, their platform exclusivity, strict licensing controls, terrible gimmicks, and seemingly abandonment of the hardcore gamer market.  These are all criticisms that are worth discussing and can be fairly leveled at the game maker.  But for a sub set of gamers, their strategies work amazingly well.  I am squarely in that subset and I regret nothing.  I can’t wait to play Chrono Trigger with my son.  It’s going to be awesome.  I wonder if 7 is too early to expose him to a post-apocalyptic future.  “Yeah buddy, this game is great.  Everyone dies in it.”  Hmm.  What could go wrong?

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