The Wii U launched this past weekend and as SPACE's self appointed video game writer and a long time Nintendo enthusiast, I thought I'd give a rundown on what to expect from the new console, plus a list of promising games available now (or very soon).
A note to shoppers: After the terrible (read: months long) time I had trying to buy a Wii back when the console first came out, I was discouraged from getting too excited about running out to get a Wii U this time around. My fears were unfounded, however, as it seems that finding a Wii U to buy will be not be as much less of a challenge. (I spotted a couple lurking at a downtown drugstore just the other night.)
If you do decide to make the purchase, the Wii U comes loaded with many of the features you might consider standard at this point for a modern console. It has an internet browser, a digital download games shop with new and retro content, and an online community (known as the Miiverse). There's even a Skype-like software called Wii U Chat that uses the built-in camera and microphone on the GamePad to allow voice and video chat with other Wii U owners. Also planned for the console release is a video streaming service known as TVii, which also functions as the coveted buzzword/feature "second screen" (social functions and bonus material to tie into whatever you're watching - a big deal these days). Sadly, TVii didn't quite make it across the finish line, and Wii U owners are being forced to wait until next month to get their Netflix on.
Now for the games. This is a completely unscientific list of a few games that look like a good time to me and are available during the incredibly vague timeline Nintendo likes to call the “launch window.”
November 18, 2012
Perhaps the most intriguing Wii U launch title, Ubisoft's ZombiU makes use of the GamePad to up the undead tension. The game never actually pauses. Instead, players are forced to find a safe area, hunker down, and quickly run through any inventory management or map checking before zombies stumble across their vulnerable character (and, yes, zombies do stumble and shamble in this game—Left 4 Dead this ain't). Another major threat to your character is infection, because in ZombiU it only takes one bite to kill—permanently. Not to worry though, you get a new character with which you make your way back to your old body—which could very well be undead—and kill it to reclaim your items. Sounds like the makings for a tense, exciting game.
November 18, 2012
If you're not familiar with the Scribblenauts series, here are the basics: use your imagination and type in words, which will spawn items into levels to solve puzzles. For example, there might be an upset child you need to calm down. Do you type in "teddy bear," "mother," or "blanket?” All of these would likely solve the puzzle, as the developers have built in an absolute plethora of items to work with. Scribblenauts Unlimited is the first console version of the popular puzzler, and also includes a few Nintendo licensed characters and items for fans to discover. Why type "plumber" when you can type "Mario?”
The release date is a bit vague, but Nintendo assures us this game will be available during the launch window... whatever that means. Still, that does nothing to dampen my enthusiasm for this long-awaited sequel. Commanding your very own army of Pikmin to do your every bidding is very satisfying, and Pikmin in HD looks bloody gorgeous. This game is the one doing the best job at convincing me to buy a Wii U. Throw a Zelda game on there and I'm sold (wink wink, Nintendo).
This "date" is possibly less vague than the last, but here's hoping it means Spring 2013. The predecessor to this game (Rayman Origins) is possibly the most fun I've ever had in a platforming game (sorry, Mario). The sequel is more of the same, but with new levels, new playable characters, and the ability to add a fifth person playing exclusively on the GamePad. They can fly around the level blocking enemies and helping Rayman and friends reach new heights!