If you don’t have a new gen console yet, Nintendo’s Wii U is worth a punt this Christmas.
Two years on from its initial release and the Wii U has had something of a rocky history. Nintendo’s new gen console received a mixed reception when it was first unveiled at E3 in 2011; its touchscreen gamepad was judged unwieldy by media pundits and the new features it boasted – HD graphics, better connectivity and Blu Ray disc drive – had been offered by the competition for ages. Launch sales were fairly strong, but they dipped significantly in the following months. At the time of this writing, the Wii U has sold around 41.5m units worldwide – a figure that both the Xbox One and PS4 smashed within a few months of their release.
This may have something to do with the fact that the Wii U’s games library has been pretty uninspiring for a rather lengthy period. While the likes of Nintendo Land and New Super Mario Bros U scratched an itch for Nintendo fans at the Wii U’s launch, most second and third party published titles were ports of games that had been available on both the Xbox 360 and PS3 – Batman: Arkham City, Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Assassin’s Creed 3 among them – so many gamers probably didn’t feel the need to splurge on a new console.
See also: Best Wii U games 2014
The dearth of new IP coupled with several peccadilloes (inability to buy adult content during the day, limited control battery life and a lack of industry standard online features) has clearly held the Wii U back. A price cut in a couple of regions has helped, but the Wii U’s sales haven’t exactly set the world on fire in the wake of this. Right now, the idea that Nintendo’s console could ever hope to compete sales-wise with Sony’s and Microsoft’s gaming platforms seems impossible.
And this is precisely why buying a Wii U this Christmas is a good idea.
The Nintendo Wii U has taken a couple of knocks, sure, but this is actually good news if you’re in the market for a new console. For a kick-off, the Wii U is the cheapest new gen option on the market at the moment. A Wii U 32GB Premium Pack bundled with a copy of Mario Kart 8 costs just £235.00 on Amazon at present, and that’s over £50 quid cheaper than the PS4 and over £100 less than an Xbox One (without a Kinect peripheral). The 8GB console is under £200 at the time of this writing, but we’d suggest plumping for the 32GB console, mainly because it looks as though the Wii U’s gaming line-up drought is just about over.
See also: Best Nintendo 3DS Games 2014
Head over to any gaming retailer and you’ll find that the Wii U’s catalogue has positively ballooned. Sure, that’s because it’s has a headstart on both the PS4 and the Xbox One, but that shouldn’t deter anyone in the market for a line up of decent, fun games – most of which are dirt cheap at present. Along with the aforementioned launch titles, new Wii U owners can pick up the likes of Pikmin 3 – a barmy RTS set on a surreal planet populated by adorable aliens – ZombieU – Ubisoft’s white-knuckled survival horror – or The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD – one of the best new gen remakes of recent memory.
Nintendo has also released a slew of fantastic titles starring its iconic portly plumber mascot. This year saw the release of both Mario Kart 8 – arguably the best entry in Nintendo’s Kart racing series – and the Super Smash Bros., Nintendo’s whacky fighter that offered cross platform support on both the Wii U and the Nintendo 3DS. Of course, it would be remiss of us also not to mention Super Mario 3D Land, a sublime platform adventure that burns through ideas at a rate of knots, continually keeping the core experience fresh and fun.
See also: New Nintendo 3DS review
The Wii U also offers some drool-worthy exclusives that are sure to appeal to core gamers too. Platinum Games – the hyper-talented studio responsible for the likes of MadWorld and Metal Gear Solid: Revengeance – has produced two titles in the last year. The Wonderful 101 is a colourful beat-‘em-up in which players control a small army of superheroes, who are able to fuse together to perform giant-sized attacks. Last month, Platinum also tossed out Bayonetta 2, one of the most critically acclaimed games of 2014. If platforming is more your speed, we suggest picking up Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, a delightful adventure that also happens to be eye-wateringly hard to boot.
Of course, there's also the fact there's a new Zelda game glittering on the horizon. Hopefully it's pencilled in for a 2015 release, so you'll definitely want to get your paws on a Wii U before then in order to get in on the open world Zelda action.
See also: Nintendo 2DS vs 3DS vs 3DS XL
It’s taken the Wii U a fair while to become this appealing. It’s obviously not the most powerful console in the market and it still bears some of Nintendo’s traditionally fiddly aspects. But if you’re in the market for a new gen console with an impressive and varied library of games coupled with some decent feature, which also happens to be rather inexpensive, it’s worth plonking a Wii U under the tree this Christmas.