Look! On the store shelves! It’s a Wii! It’s a new controller! It’s an entirely new console with a similar name! And so began the Wii U’s downfall. Which is a shame, because it’s not a bad console, it just had terrible marketing. Still, I have one and I enjoy it, so…that’s something. Though it is still objectively another quirky gameplay gimmick, it is one that…I was going to say “works in theory” but I just realised that I’ve never actively used the gamepad screen for anything. Barring my initial introduction to the system and a Mario hide-and-seek mini game, the Gamepad has more or less served as a large, unexpectedly comfortable controller. The simple fact that it is directly below a player’s normal range of vision prevents it from truly bolstering gameplay as a second screen and its limited range hinders its capabilities as a surrogate main screen, leaving the console as a shell of what it could be, living under the misconception that it is a small addition to something far more popular. In short: It really sucks being the Wii U.
In addition to the latest Smash Bros experience, Mario Kart foray and unexpected Pokken Tournament experiment, my highest praise for the Wii U by far comes from one game: Bayonetta 2. I loved the first Bayonetta, a clash of insanity, style and camp that made for one heck of a fun experience. Unsurprisingly, I was less than joyous when it was made known that hopes of a sequel were low. Then something amazing happened. Coming from so far out of left field that they were in the stands, Nintendo revealed that Bayonetta 2 would see the light of day, as a Wii U exclusive. What? Who saw that coming? Perhaps those smarter than I, but that does not change how surprised I was. Combine this with the fact that the game is actually awesome and did not disappoint and you’ve got yourself one happy me. A happy me who feels bad for the little console that didn’t, mired in confusion and a smattering of missed opportunities, poorly optimised games and crummy marketing. Still, I hope the future versions of us all will look upon the Wii U fondly and remember it for the good. For the kung-fu Pokemon who smacked each other silly. For those who were both squid and kid and let you know about it. And for the sexy witches who showed that you can have a second adventure if you truly believe…and have wicked cool fights with dinosaur demons and F-22 Raptors.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
The Wii U to me is all about quality over quantity, and by quality I mean sheer exceptional one of a kind you won’t find anywhere else quality. The PS4 and Xbox One are more or less the same, and could easily be replaced by a high-end PC. But not the Wii U, there was no substitute for it and the excellent (albeit small) library of games makes it one of my favourite systems. The Wii may have been the best selling Nintendo console, but the Wii U felt like the system the Wii should have been and more.
Wii U was home to the likes of Bayonetta 2, which perhaps the best action game of the last generation (the Switch has kickstarted a new gaming generation by the way), it had the ever popular Splatoon, Nintendo’s way of showing the multiplayer shooter market how to make things fun, engaging, and addictive… above all, how to make a multiplayer experience that doesn’t discriminate players based on their skill. Speaking of multiplayer, who could forget the visual and multiplayer feast offered by Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart 8. Then there were two refreshing RPG mammoths: Xenoblade Chronicles X and Tokyo Mirage Sessions. Then there were of course some wholesome feel good platform games like the utterly sublime Super Mario 3D World, the charmingly innocent and infectious Yoshi’s Wolly World, and the sensory joy overload that was Sonic Lost World. Let’s not forget the Nindies either, as it was a real pleasure to have Freedom Planet on the Game Pad.
I love the Game Pad, it made menu and map navigation so smooth and intuitive in many titles (particularly Zelda) but the gyro motion controls left a lot to be desired. The worst application of gyro controls is evident in Star Fox Zero but there were few instances where it worked like a charm; Splatoon was one of them, but a case where it seamlessly blended into the game design and flow was in a little special gem called Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker.
This began life as a mini-game in Super Mario 3D World, taking control of Captain Toad to collect Green Stars in isometric cubic worlds that required the use of Game Pad gyro camera to fully view and navigate. These mini-games were something I looked forward to and it was almost too generous to include an independent side quest given how amazing Super Mario 3D World already was in of itself. Nintendo too saw that these Captain Toad missions were such inventive, intuitive, and above all, fun puzzle platforming segments that they went a ahead and made an entire game out of it, and what a charming, wholesome, and utterly joyous game Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker ended up becoming.
The puzzle and level design was so organic and challenging that not once did I have to look up a guide or video on how to solve some of the stages. The gameplay variety kept things fun and interesting, including the customary mine cart shooting segments that made great use of the Game Pad’s gyro camera. The boss battles were really colorful and interesting given that you took a strictly defensive approach. Above all, the visuals were simply magical and joy-inducing. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker personifies the creative ingenuity of Nintendo, and is easily one of the distinguished highlights of the Wii U library.
The girls I’ve dated in the past had never the interest in video games…or in pop culture…or in anything that I actually enjoy. It wasn’t an issue then, and to be honest it isn’t an issue now, but being with my most recent partner has opened me up to a world I never once knew; the world of shared experiences. Getting the Wii U wasn’t the biggest decision for me; I had no home console at the time, and I wanted to play Earthbound once more, so I saved my money and purchased myself a unit. It wasn’t until the release of NIntendo’s newest IP, at the time, Splatoon, that I was able to truly appreciate what the machine had to offer. This game was right up my alley; funky tunes, and urban setting, hip-hop/skater fashion, and a fun gimmick; painting. Splatoon on its own was great, but it was only in my ability to share my love for it that I was able to gain so much more. My partner saw me watching a gameplay trailer of Splatoon and bought her very own Wii U soon after. She was enamoured, and so was I, and it was then that we were able to truly come together in a way that I personally never had the chance to before.
We would sign ourselves up for the closed beta, wait in line for the open, we both took the day off work to purchase the game on release and we played against one another night after night. Not only that, the other SnapThirty crew mates also had the game, and all of us together made one hell of an unbeatable team. THIS, to me, was why I love Splatoon so. Not only was I able to find more common ground with my love, but I was able to share so many moments with my best friends. There was no yelling, there was no frustration, there was no thirst for victory, there was just…fun. Whether it be comparing clothes, showing off new weaponry, fighting with each other, or even battling against one another, Splatoon just proved to be great fun day after day after day.
The Nintendo Switch is now out, and Zelda is taking up most, if not all, of my free time, but it’s Splatoon 2 that has me around its little finger. They could have no Zelda, no No More Heroes, no Shin Megami Tensei, no new Fire Emblem, but if it still had Splatoon 2 it would have been worth all the time and money in the world. An opportunity at reliving what once made me so unbelievably happy is one that i’d be silly to pass up.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD
The more I write down these memories, the more I realise how little I had to do to get these consoles. Many being gifted or sold cheaply. The Wii U is no exception. Literally gifted to me by a wonderful stallion of a person, I got it entirely for free, including the bestselling Wii U games of all time. Super Mario Bros., Nintendo Land, and FIFA. Of course I didn’t play any of them, baring a few minutes of Mario. That is because the age old adage is really true, you never truly appreciate something you got for free. With this console sitting in my lounge room I felt like I needed a draw to bring me into it. Then I remembered that, Wait! Smash is also on the Wii U! So I ventured out of my dwellings to give it a try.
I purchased both it and a Pro controller as I assumed It would make all the difference, and also that I didn’t have a second controller. I took them all home and set it up and began to play. And play I did, for a few hours. Then I realised how much I preferred the 3DS version and went back to that. Being giving the Wii U and not having much interest in the games available, I feel the console as a whole avoided me. I owned it, and I played it but I never truly experienced it. The only time I started getting interested about the Wii U was the roll out of Twilight Princess HD but by the time that was out I was broke and enthralled in the hype for Breath Of The Wild. So that also passed me by. Whilst it does seem like a missed opportunity, I did still enjoy the time I had with the Wii U and even though I didn’t utilise the console to its fullest it really was, for me, a Nintendo Memory! Now if that’s not a way to end the article, I don’t know what is.
Super Smash Bros. Wii U
When I think of the Wii U, I can’t help but to feel that I was going through the same thing as Nintendo at the time, we were both at a crossroads, unaware of the brighter days that lay ahead, but defiantly going to have a good time anyways. Having a good time was what I needed at the time and with games like Smash Bros. for Wii U, I did.
I have fond memories of playing Smash Bros. for Wii U with the rest of the SnapThirty team. In fact we had one hell of a New Years party where Smash Bros. played a big part of it. There was also the many times we duked it out with fellow gamers at Sydney’s Spawn Point bar.
It was a time of confusion for me in life but also a time of discovery and understanding of where I was going in life and with realization that sometimes you need to switch things up and try something new, because something new ain’t bad. Change isn’t a monster that lurks under your bed, waiting for you to put a foot on the ground only to get you, no change happens more like it does to a tree, it assesses its surroundings, the changing times and the weather and it sheds its leaves and bares itself to the world only to be reborn anew in spring. So yeah, I had to change and I guess so too did Nintendo, but what’s fun is good right? As long as we hold onto that, everything will be okay in the end, even if who we are in the end isn’t the same as who we were when we began.