Soapbox features allow our individual writers and contributors to express their opinions on hot topics and random things they’ve been chewing on. Today, as the Wii U approaches its tenth anniversary next month, Jim, with your help and ours, tries to make amends for missing out on a misunderstood Nintendo console…
Let me start with an apology to Nintendo fans everywhere. The title is correct, I’ve never owned a Wii U and I’m sorry for that. But, really, can you blame me? [Thin ice, Jim. Thin! Ice! – Ed.]
I wish I could say that I’ve always been the type to endlessly support the big N in everything it does, possessed of an unwavering eye that can see past purely aesthetic or technical decisions and see the positive regardless. In fact, in 2012 it wasn’t me.
Seeing the Wii U wasn’t a question of “Wow, look at all these cool games”and “you don’t need the TV to play this thing?” Instead, my thoughts were the following: ‘Hey, it looks like an iPad; wait, it’s thick; chunky = bad; I hate it’.
Honestly, I don’t feel good about making such an assumption ten years ago, but hey, those were the hazy days of 2012, we live and learn. Except I didn’t learn. To be clear, I have played a few Wii U in the following years. There was a small Wii Sports Club here, a small amount of Super Mario Bros. U there, and of course there are all the Wii U Switch ports, but to say I ever have really felt the console would be a bit of a leap.
When I saw the Wii U… my thoughts were: ‘Hey, it looks like an iPad; wait, it’s thick; chunky = bad; I hate it’
This year I’m changing that. I recently got my hands on a Wii U and I’m determined to catch up on everything I’ve missed over the past decade. OK, all can be a stretch; let’s decide some of the things which I have missed. This will be a series of experiences covering everything from exploring the homepage and making a Mii to playing blockbuster titles for the first time.
My plan is to get my hands on the console and then share my thoughts on the anniversary in some kind of weird retrospective. The problem is that I don’t really know where to start. Of course I do could google and I’m sure I’ll find some fun stuff, but what I really want is some advice from people who know.
Below, a handful of our wonderful writers have shared their Wii U starter tips, covering everything from first-time mechanics to first-time gameplay. If there’s any advice you think is missing from the following list, write it in the comments below and I’ll do my best to put it into action!
Alana Hagues, staff writer
Admittedly, I’m by no means the biggest Wii U pioneer, but there are so many things to celebrate about it – and you’re getting one at just the right time!
My mandatory recommendation would have to be Xenoblade Chronicles X. Even with Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and 3 on Switch, X still has the best open world of any game I’ve ever played. I must apologize for casually recommending a game that is over 100 hours and filled with systems, but it is pure otherworldly escapism with an incredibly detailed and rewarding world to get lost in and explore.
If you haven’t already played it, Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition is a really great way to play one of the best superhero games ever. Putting the map on the GamePad is genius – Zelda: Wind Waker does it too! More games should have used the GamePad, so seek out the ones that do! On the other hand, Yoshi’s Woolly World is more of a pure platformer, but it’s also the cutest, softest video game ever. If you can get a cheap amiibo, please do – Yoshi knitted in Samus’s costume colors is something you have to witness. And you can play it co-op too!
Finally, I have to send you to the eShop – not only because it’s shutting down in March 2023, but because there are so many great exclusives there, Including a pretty amazing Virtual Console line-up of Game Boy Advance and DS games, and there are still plenty of games on the service that don’t have re-releases like Mario Golf: Advance Tour and Kuru Kuru Kururin. It’s a retro fan’s dream, and until NSO gets GBA games, this is a great way to play them.
Ollie Reynolds, Staff Writer
Interestingly, my memory of the Wii U has become somewhat hazy in recent years. Maybe the console just hasn’t left a lasting impression on me, or maybe I’m just getting old; both options are equally viable at this point.
What I will say though is that if you don’t have an original Wii, you absolutely need to download Metroid Prime Trilogy from the Wii U eShop. It’s frankly mandatory for any self-respecting Nintendo fan. They are three of the best video games ever made – especially the original – and stand as fine alternatives to the standard 2D Metroid adventures many of us are familiar with. Heck, there’s a reason people went so crazy when Nintendo announced the existence of Metroid Prime 4!
That aside, I would probably recommend a game that has been largely forgotten in the Nintendo community: ZombiU. It was released as a launch game for the system, and as such made notable use of the gamepad controller, requiring you to select key items from the gamepad’s screen while your character remains vulnerable to zombie attacks on the TV. It’s nothing groundbreaking, by any means, but the Wii U functionality combined with the surprisingly unique setting of London and Buckingham Palace make ZombiU a pretty solid title if you’re looking for a splash of horror in your game collection.
Gavin Lane, Editor
I would start like most Wii U owners did and start exploring Nintendo Land.
It’s an intriguing pick-‘n’-mix of various Nintendo goodies that was looked down upon largely because it wasn’t Wii Sports and failed to demonstrate the Gamepad’s potential with a simple, concise pitch. For a piece of launch software, it was a huge mistake on Nintendo’s part, but the real shame was how the game itself got lost in the general confusion and apathy that followed. Its patchwork of new experiences included plenty of nostalgic nods and glimpses of genuine innovation. In the end, local asymmetric gameplay probably asks a little too much from all players present unless everyone is 100% engaged and enthusiastic, but Nintendo Land is filled with unique ideas and moments. Don’t expect Wii Sports, whatever you do, but hire a willing Player 2 and explore. I remember particularly enjoying the Zelda, DK and Balloon Fight “attractions”, but there’s all sorts of magic mixed in there.
The other obvious thing to do is go into the eShop and download Affordable Space Adventures pronto. There are a handful of other Wii U exclusives but for my money ASA ranks among the best games on the system.
Also, take a long moment to caress one of those smooth slices. Oh.
Is there something we missed? Head down to the comments and let us know! Imagine making suggestions to someone who has never touched a Wii U before (this isn’t quite the case but it’s not a million miles off), what would you tell them to do first? The more specific, the better.
Leave a comment with your first Wii U advice and stay tuned to see if we can take it for a spin!
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