Pretty damned LONG but good review.....which I pasted for your convenience...http://www.amazon.com/review/R291Q7F...R291Q7F0BRIBTN
(I've posted an update at the bottom where I talk a bit more about long term use, the ineffectiveness of the cradle, and the 10% rebate on games.)
I remember that Nintendo came under a lot of criticism for not having an HD version of the Wii. HD was around when the first Wii came out, and a lot of people were a bit skeptical that they stuck to the lower resolution. As HD became common, Nintendo told fans that they had to do something "more" than just come out with an HD version of the Wii.
Well, thats just what Nintendo did. The Wii U is more than "just Wii HD". But Nintendo hasn't changed the Wii experience very much. You still use Wii remotes every time you play. The Wii U is not "completely different" like the Wii was when it came out. The Wii U is the Wii's younger, smarter brother. And if you liked the Wii, you'll like the Wii U.
The 3 main features of the Wii U are:
1) Its HD, which brings it (finally) up to speed with the Xbox and Playstation ... and everything else out there.
2) The Wii U sports a single video controller. The video controller opens up new game experiences. Whoever is playing on the video controller sees something different than the other players. For generations people have wanted multiplayer games that didn't use a "split TV screen", and the Wii U gives you that in one console. This is a really big deal. The video controller is also a touchscreen which you use to flick something at the screen, or move things on screen. The new video controller allows for new control options ... just like the "Wii balance board" allowed Nintendo to sell yoga and ski games.
3) Videos, videos, videos. Netflix, youtube, amazon instant video. It will keep track of the TV shows you want to watch, and when they will be on. And, it will support TiVo in January 2013. You'll also be able to use the Wii U as a social outlet to chat about TV shows and movies. Nintendo calls this Wii TVii, and it would be a revolution in TV watching... if only all the features were available now. So you can use the Wii U as a control for all your Video experiences with your TV. The video controller will act like "PIP Picture in Picture in the palm of your hand". I use the Wii U with Amazon Video to watch movies for free, and the Wii remote lets me see information about the movie on IMDB WHILE the movie is playing. For sports, you'll be able to watch instant replays on the small screen... while the rest of your buddies continue to watch the big game on the main screen. So its going to be a remote controller on steroids. To be honest, this is going to be a really big big deal but since not all the features roll until "later" I can't give the WIi U a star for it yet. Maybe it will change your life, maybe not. Time will tell.
And that concludes the main appeal of the Wii U. We finally get HD, the video controller adds a new dimension to the usual Wii gaming, and it also serves as a "TV command center".
FAQ:::Some people have asked me about the Wii U, and the short answers are:
1) No, you don't have to own a Wii to have a Wii U.
2) You can only use ONE video controller with your Wii U. All other players use the old Wii remote.
3) 5 people can play at once, making it even more of a "game party" console than before.
4) You can't play DVDs or Blu Ray discs. Blue Ray is Sony Playstation territory, as you probably know.
5) You can surf the internet on it (why would you want to? I don't know)
6) Should I get the deluxe? Probably. You get 32gb of memory, which will become more important the longer you have the console, and the more you do with it. You get the Nintendo Land game. You get the cradle for charging the video gamepad. And until 2014 they will give you a store credit of 10% every time you make a purchase of digital content (games). If you buy digital content regularly, you might "earn back" the extra $50 you pay for the deluxe Wii U. (I tried this yesterday, read below for more info on the credit)
Nintendo Land has a nice set of games that introduce you to life with the video controller:
1) Some of the games are a lot of fun. The most popular minigames in our house are the game where one player pretends to be a ghost and scares other players. This is accomplished by having two screens, the ghost can see everyone, but nobody else knows where the ghost is. This is always a howling good time at our house. The Mario hide and seek works the same way and is also popular with us. (update: after a month of play, the Kids now play Zelda and Metroid the most)
2) Some of the games would be worth about $1 in an "app store". (race game, balloon game, and yoshi game: I'm talking to you!)
3) Some games have more than one control scheme. The Pikmin game is enjoyed by my 4 year old because he can use a stylus to direct "Captain Olimar" instead of the joysticks/d-pads. He just points at what he wants to do. So for the first time even my youngest can join in on at least some of the action.
4) Metroid and Zelda show off what the Wii U can do for multiplayer combat/FPS. In Metroid, the player with the video controller operates a "helicopter" while everyone else are "ground troops". The two screens allow for different perspectives in battle.
NintendoLand has satisfied my kids for a whole month, but its really starting to wear off now. NintendoLand is particularly good if you have a lot of friends come over to your house. But, its just a variety game and not very deep. You'll probably want to buy another game shortly after buying the Wii U. (PS I bought Trine2 from the Nintendo eShop for $20, but, I think it was worth about $10.)
The Wii U has a host of "lesser" features:
1) A person can play the Wii U without having the TV on. Expect a smack on your head if you want to play ZombiU while your wife watches a movie.
2) Its backwards compatible with all older Wii games (but maybe not dance pads!), which is nice if you bought Zelda Skyward Sword this summer.
3) Just as with the old Wii, you can download games from the Nintendo store. If you buy online content for your iPhone, Xbox, or PS3, you know that this is a big deal. I used to buy songs for guitar hero to add to the songs that came in the box. If you buy this DELUXE version, you get a 10% credit back for all online purchases, see more about this credit in "The Bad" below.
4) The Wii U video controller is like a universal remote. You can turn on your TV and change the volume from the gamepad which is a convenience.
5) Most of the old Wii hardware is compatible too, which is nice, EXCEPT that round "gamecube style" connector is not present on the Wii U. Games that use a mat like "outdoor challenge" and "Dance Dance Revolution" become history in your house.
6) There is a big, easy to find "download again" button for all digital content, so if your Wii U got fried by a power surge you wouldn't lose your purchases. That's always nice.
1) The menus aren't intuitive. There are two menus... the Wii U menu and the Home menu. The Home menu is found by pressing the Home button. On the old wii the Home button didn't take you to many places, but on the new Wii U the home button is the only way you can install purchases you bought online. Why couldn't everything be set up as "channels" on the main screen? That would have been easier.
2) Transferring data from the Wii to the Wii U should be easier. In particular I didn't like that when I imported my Miis, I had to do a separate step on the Wii U before I could actually use them in the games. The day I got it the patch took way too long to download and install, and after I transferred my data from my Wii I felt like I had spent 2 hours on the whole thing. But, since then, there has been no problem.
3) Freezing. I did have a problem with NintendoLand locking up, but, that went away after one day. This will be something they fix and becomes a thing of the past. I wouldn't sweat it.
4) Long updates. It does take a long time to update stuff. I've heard a lot of people complaining about updates, but, when Nintendo makes its next production this problem will probably be resolved. And even the weak menus just need to be "updated". So I don't consider any of that to be a dealbreaker.
5) Installing downloaded content should be easier. I recently downloaded Trine 2 from the eShop. The eShop has Wii U games for $10, $20, etc. You don't have to spend big money on Mario or Zombie if you aren't ready. But this "digital purchase" experience was kind of messy. First, I couldn't find Trine 2 after I bought it. I finally found it by pressing the home button and clicking on the downloads icon - only then did I find out it was going to be a 45 minute download. Then, after it downloaded, the Wii U wanted "permission" to install it. I had to click an "install" button 4 times! What the heck. I don't have to "install" software I download on my iPhone, Xbox, iMac... it automatically installs after it finishes downloading. After the download was done, the Wii U took 20 minutes to install Trine 2, and during this time you can't use your Wii U. The good times just hit a brick wall.
6) Digital Content 10% back has a high minimum. After buying Trine 2, I tried to find and use my "10% back" and found out that every time you spend $50 you can need to go to a website to get a "code" for $5 to use in the estore. It might take me 6 months to spend $50 on little games and bonus content. And the process is pretty restrictive, almost like mailing in a rebate form. Nintendo doesn't want it to be that easy for you to use your credit. I was hoping the $2.00 cash back from buying Trine 2 would just appear as a credit in my account 24 hours later, but no. Shame shame, Nintendo.
Ok now that I'm done complaining...
Your decision matrix:
1) If you still like playing on your Wii, and you have the money to spend, buy a Wii U and sell your Wii. You'll enjoy it.
2) If you are considering between an Xbox+Kinect and a Wii U, I think its a tough call. I really like the "second screen" gaming, it really opens up a lot of possibilities. But most of the wii U stuff looks really juvenile. The kid down the street told me he still wanted an Xbox because the Xbox has games for teenagers. I said "whatev."
3) As a side note, every kid who has seen and played our Wii U in the last two weeks has put this as the top item on the Christmas list. Its the "next big thing" for them and you can be sure that the little things that I complain about in this review won't matter to them. Not at all.
I rate this item 3 stars out of 5 because three stars means "it's ok". I really like it, but I think there is a lot of room for improvement as noted above. I can see myself increasing this review to 4 stars in about 6 months after Nintendo works out the kinks.
I think most people would want to wait for a price drop, we all know its coming. But if you want to have happy kids at Christmas, by a Wii U. And install the updates before Christmas day arrives.
We've become "heavy users" of the Wii U. My wife, who always preferred the Kinect, has started to warm up to the Wii U. But I think its because my son is converting her, I sure couldn't.
Big negative: CRADLE and battery have limitations: The kids play the Wii U a lot. The cradle isn't used very much, because they unplug the cable from the cradle, and plug the video controller directly into the wall. The kids do this so they can play while it charges. So usually the charge cable for the video cable is lying in the middle of the floor and the cradle is knocked into a corner. The cradle is not a benefit for the Wii U Deluxe in my opinion. In the evening, the video controller is usually dead or low battery, so using the nice TVii features doesn't work out so good. In reality, using the video controller for all your TV experiences doesn't work because the battery only lasts 3 hours. So the video controller usually is plugged into the wall and the charger is not used very much.
DOWNLOADS: I had more problems with downloads. I have kids ranging from 4 to 17, and discs take a beating in our house. So i've been going against my better judgement and buying digital content, knowing full well I can't sell the game when I'm done. Nor will I be swapping games with friends. Truth is our discs were never in mint condition when I went to sell them, and usually in bad shape. The nice thing about buying the digital copies is that they become another button on the wii u video controller screen, and the kids can switch games without ever touching a disc. Definitely worth considering in my house. But Super Mario and Rabbids took about 3 hours to download each, and i have a fast fiber optic internet connection. And the Wii U console kept turning off during the download process because "no one was playing on it at that time". Ok, that's just dumb. Stay on until the download completes, and then auto-install the software, and then shut off automatically when thats all done (probably at 2am). Thats "digital distribution 101", Nintendo. You can push a button that says "keep console on until its done downloading" but guess what - it locks your console and you can't use it for anything else. So lets say you buy something, and then play some other game for 20 mintues, then you have to go back to the download screen and hit the button which prevents it from shutting off and this locks your console. I sure hope they streamline that process in the next few months.
Digital Purchase Promotion: I took advantage of the digital purchase promotion yesterday. First, you need to wait 24 hours after your purchase for the credit to shop up. Then you need to log in with your username, which is not your email address, and of course your nintendo password you likely set up when you set up your wii U. If you forgot either, you have to use your Wii U to reset your password, which will then be sent to your email. Once I logged in, the $5 coupon codes were just sitting there waiting for me. I had to click once on a big box, then a second time on "get activation code" and then write them down on a notepad. Just like in the download and install process, Nintendo never settles for one click when they could have you click 3 times. The codes are good until 2015. The codes remain on that website even after you've used them, they don't disappear. Then I went back to my Wii U, and went into the eShop and typed them in. Once you do that, there is no expiration date. I now have $10 waiting happily for me in the account. Overall, the process takes about 5 minutes. I wish the credit would just pop into my account without visiting the website, but, just like any rebate you have to be inconvenienced a little I guess.