Wii U? More like P.U.!

Joel
Joel van der Veen
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The last time I got excited about a new video game system was in September 1999, when Sega introduced the Dreamcast.

It had a 128-bit processor — back when that was an important statistic — as well as great launch titles like Sonic Adventure and SoulCalibur. It also had a $299 price tag.

I was 10; my brother and I had just scraped together $40 for a used Sega Genesis. That was our first system, followed by an NES that hardly worked, a Super Nintendo bought from a classmate, and an Atari found at a garage sale for $7.

We saw the Dreamcast as a luxury item reserved for a select few, not something we could ever imagine owning. I remember playing it at Zellers and glancing sadly as I left the store, knowing it was not to be.

The reason I mention all this is that the memories all came flooding back last week, when Nintendo announced the launch date and price for its new console, the Wii U, with a glitzy press conference in New York City.  

The system will reach stores on Nov. 18 with a retail price of $299 for the basic unit. A deluxe set with a pack-in game, a charging dock for the controller and extra memory will cost $50 more.

The big deal with the Wii U is the GamePad, the fancy new wireless controller, featuring a built-in touch screen surrounded by buttons. Some games can be played using just the controller screen, freeing up the TV for other use.

Unlike the Wii — which was designed to appeal to kids, geriatrics and every demographic in between — the new system is targeted at hardcore gamers, perhaps the only reliable market in an era when every tablet and phone under the sun can fulfill the needs of casual players.

I haven’t laid my hands on the Wii U yet — the Times-Herald’s invitation to New York must’ve gotten lost in the mail — but even from 2,000 miles away, I find it simply overwhelming.

First, the name’s juvenile and confusing, if not plain stupid. “We You?” Enough with the pronouns. If they’re aiming for hardcore gamers, they could have chosen something aggressive, like “Deathbox” or “Pixeltron” or “Spriteblaster.”

I’m also perplexed at why they’re releasing it here three weeks before it comes out in Japan. Normally, the situation is reversed; for instance, Super Mario Bros. 3 was released in 1988 but didn’t reach the U.S. until two years later. Maybe we’re getting the beta version so they can work out the kinks out first.

Finally, I’m not sure how I like the idea of controllers the size of tablet computers. CNET says they’re lightweight and small enough for a child to grasp, but they look massive and awkward to me. I suspect they’ll drain batteries quickly and be expensive to replace or repair.

I know young Joel would be devastated, but it’s the truth: the latest system on the block is within both my reach and my price range, and I don’t really care. 

It could be that I’m getting too old and too busy for new toys. Perhaps I’m content with the mountain of games I currently possess (and no longer have the time to play). Maybe Nintendo has relied on gimmicks and the same characters for too long.

For now, I’ll just stick with the oldies — at least, while I’m holding out for Sega to come back and give us the Deathbox.

(P.S. I finally bought a second-hand Dreamcast last year for $25 and it was just as awesome as my 10-year-old self had imagined. Crazy Taxi forever.)

Joel van der Veen can be reached at 691-1256.

Organizations: Nintendo, Atari, Zellers Super Mario Bros.

Geographic location: New York City, Japan, U.S.

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Recent comments

  • Humble O.
    September 19, 2012 - 22:04

    This piece reads well; a quick and poignant opinion piece. (On par with any big city piece.)

  • Congratulations
    September 18, 2012 - 10:52

    I'm not sure why anyone is taking this opinion piece serious at all. Yes, the article is poorly written, you have to realize that it is from an opinion column in Moose Jaw......Would you take an opinion article written by someone from the backwoods of Alabama seriously?

  • DS
    September 18, 2012 - 00:42

    Why is a news organization employing a biased fanboy to cover their video games section. This reads like an angry forum post from a nerd living in a basement. Even if you are personally skeptical of the console's success, describing consumers as "kids, geriatrics " as if these people don't matter about sums up your ability to think beyond your masculine self. Do me a favour, continue to be uninterested in video games. People like you are exactly what is wrong with the games industry. Insatiable, entitled, and self centred.

    • David
      September 18, 2012 - 12:22

      "designed to appeal to kids, geriatrics and every demographic in between..." Young, old and everyone else; I don't get why you, DS, think the titles 'kids' and 'geriatrics' are somehow insults.

  • Jesse D
    September 17, 2012 - 22:36

    Nintendo has averaged a 5 year life cycle on there consoles. So yes Xbox and PS4 will be out in two years but the Wii U will be almost half way through its life cycle. And when PS4 and the next Xbox are two to three years old the next Nintendo will be coming out. The Wii U will be a good system it is more powerful then the PS3 and the PS3 is not maxed out graphically. I don't think we will notice a huge difference graphically between this generation and the next for several years. Remember when Xbox360 came out initially the first games didn't look a whole lot better then the original Xbox. So quit Nintendo hating and be glad they caught up and are bringing hardcore games (like Call of Duty) to there console finally

  • CDB
    September 17, 2012 - 21:56

    Here are my reasons for buying- This replaces my 2006 Wii (which is near dead) and the $200 for a Harmony remote tv control, allows me to consolidate Netflix and Hulu and my DVR content on one spot, and plays all those Wii games I picked up (and now can buy very inexpensively). Say what you want, but for $300 that is a steal, even before I get to the new capability.

  • Chop
    September 17, 2012 - 20:03

    I also thought that the remote looked large and hard to hold when I first saw it but the latest trailers really changed my opinion about it. The controllers actually look like a pretty good size to fit in someones hand. I know that I am defiantly excited about the Wii U coming out.

  • Kev
    September 17, 2012 - 17:48

    Sorry but nothing says juvenile more than "Deathbox". Have you ever considered the possibility that Nintendo might want to stick with a proven brand name for their home consoles? Afterall, they are not marketing exclusively to teenage boys. They are emphasizing U the same way Microsoft and Sony will emphasize 720 and 4, except 720 doesn't roll off the tongue so easily and only fanboys will associate a generic number with Sony's console(s). Nintendo has even more reasons to stick with Wii branding considering the role of Miiverse on Wii U and how integral that will be to the social aspect of the system. As for the release dates, it's not unusual for a Nintendo console to be released in NA before Japan. The Wii console itself was released in NA two weeks before Japan.

  • Doo Doo
    September 17, 2012 - 17:46

    You write for a Saskatchewan paper.

  • No
    September 17, 2012 - 17:13

    One word: Fanboy.

  • Db
    September 17, 2012 - 16:36

    The fact that you can't find a store that still has pre-orders in stock kinda voids this article writer's opinion, no? Nintendo wins again.

  • Victor Morales
    September 17, 2012 - 14:28

    I have to disagree with you. Firstly, how can you count something out without never trying it first. I had the pleasure of trying it out at a Wii U experience event and it knocked my socks off. There so much the Wii u is offering its sort of crazy. Asymmetric gameplay, availability of playing games on the gamepad while someone watches TV, Good 3rd party support, Nintendo TVii (did you not see the Sep. 13 event) and its... Nintendo .. in HD! Zelda! Smash Bros.! Mario Kart!, Doneky Kong! ALL IN HD! That alone makes this product worth the hype and the price. Innovation is key and if there is anything Nintendo is great at is Innovation. The D-pad (modern "cross" design) was developed in 1982 by Nintendo. Shoulder buttons (L&R) invented by Nintendo on the super Nintendo controllers. Nintendo 64 controller made home console controllers with analog sticks (control stick) popular and although didnt technically invent it.. did make it a industry standard. Rumble features in controllers... oh yeah Nintendo too. Nintendo brought motion gaming to life with the wii.. and what did we see years later down the line.. Playstation move and Microsoft Kinnect. My point is Nintendo sometimes seems weird or eccentric to many consumers (mainly American consumers) but its just because they are ahead of the curve. The Wii U isnt any different, it will be a great piece of gaming and one that will be copied by its rivals just like in the past. Read: http://www.craveonline.com/gaming/articles/196041-5-reasons-why-you-should-be-excited-for-the-wii-u & http://techland.time.com/2012/09/17/nintendo-wii-u-is-core-enough-and-its-the-most-innovative-game-system-ever-made/