I was able to get a Wii U this weekend after spending five hours in line at a local Fred Meyer. I had not camped out for a console since the PS2 and I have to admit even though it was cold and rainy, I had a great time. I spent most of the day yesterday playing the shit out of it with my family and we had a blast. Ben has posted a lot of great Wii U coverage over on the PAR but I wanted to give you a quick rundown of my impressions after the first day.
It was easy to set up but the day one patches are a pain in the ass. There is a big one for the console that took over an hour and every game I put in has a patch process that takes anywhere between 10 and 30 minutes. Overall it feels sluggish and It’s slow to load games and apps. The menus don’t always make a lot of sense and even after a full day I don’t understand their online offerings like Miiverse or how exactly “friends” work.
The most important thing to me though are the games, and the games are awesome.
This was a massive hit at my house. My wife Kara and our son Gabe (who is 8) played this all afternoon. Luigi’s Mansion is the stand out hit but all the games are fun. Towards dinner time Kara actually said we needed to figure out a way to get food that didn’t involve us stopping Nintendo Land.
In terms of a pack in, I actually like this much better than Wii sports. I have to admit that Wii Sports did an amazing job of bringing in people who had never played a game. I think that was its job and it did it well. Nintendo Land is for people who already like to play games and just want to see what this goofy new controller can do. And what it can do is a ton of fun. We were laughing all afternoon with Nintendo Land. I’m telling you if you have a family or a group of friends this is a must own party game.
Later that night when I flipped on the Xbox to do my Nike+ Kinect training, my son was able to keep playing Nintendo Land on the Wii U gamepad. That’s pretty damn slick.
New Super Mario Bros.
This was another great family game. We played in boost mode where one player gets the Wii U gamepad. They can tap the screen to drop in platforms, knock enemies around and help the players reach hidden spots. I’ve never been a huge fan of any of the multiplayer Mario games. Some of the precise jumps and tricks end up getting screwed by bouncing off the other players. That still holds true for the latest version but after my son went to bed Kara and I gave it another go.
This time it was just her on the Wii U gamepad and me playing as Mario. Now this was cool. Sometimes on her screen she will see secret boxes that she can tap to make them materialize on the TV. Getting to these prized “tripple ups” is never easy and it requires some really fun coordination between the person with the gamepad positioning platforms and the player navigating them quickly. This was actually awesome and something I’m excited to do a lot more of.
This game is hard as fuck and I’m not sure if I like it yet. The idea is to push through this survival horror game as far as you can. When you die (and you will die) the game doesn’t end. You just wake up in the “safe” house as a different survivor. If you want all your gear back you need to go out and find the zombie version of the character you were just playing, kill them and loot their corpse. My first survivor died almost immediately. My second one lived for about thirty minutes. Long enough to make a run to a nearby grocery store, pick up some food, ammo and hammer. Then she bit it (or got bitten I guess) and I started a new guy. Now I needed all that shit I had scavenged so I had to hunt down my previous self. When I found her she had a red number above her head that showed her score and how long she had survived. I put two bullets in her head and got my candy bars back.
In the space of a couple hours last night I burned through five survivors. I will not lie to you, I was cursing at the TV by the end of the night. Like I said, this game is hard as fuck.
That’s really all I had time to do yesterday. The system certainly has some rough edges but overall I was really impressed. I think the best thing I can say about it is that I don’t regret the freezing cold five hour wait in line to buy it.