Wii U Release Details

Yesterday, Nintendo released the majority of the details surrounding the launch of their sixth home console, the Wii U. Nintendo’s new system promises HD graphics and the integration of a new tablet controller. As the Stew Over editor who is easliy the most excited about these developments, I’m here to bring you the highlights.

Price and Release Date

First things first, the release date. You can pick up the Wii U on Sunday, November 18th

Next, price. There are two different bundles, but for all intents and purposes, the price is $350. Here are the other details:

Only moms will be fooled into “saving” $50 on the basic set.

There is a “Basic” system that you can technically buy for $300, but as you’ll see there’s no reason to do this. In the basic bundle you only get the system, the controller, an AC adapter (is this really a feature?) and an HDMI cable. Essentially just the system. Oh, and you only get 8GB of memory.

For $50 more, you get everything in the basic bundle as well as an upgrade to 32 GB of memory, some stands for your system and controller, a 2 year Nintendo Network Premium Subscription (basically like Playstation Plus you save money on digital purchases), and most importantly, Nintendo Land. The one game that comes closest to provide a true proof of concept for the console.

The Launch Games

Oddly, Nintendo didn’t annouce the exact games that will launch with the system in North America. Instead they provided a long list of games that will appear during the launch “window” which lasts until next March. They did annouce the launch games in Europe so the guess is that it will look pretty similar in North America. Below are teh games I’m hoping to pick up at launch.

Nintendo Land

Let’s start with Nintendo Land, the 12 game minigame collection that shows off some of the basic concepts behind the Wii U Tablet controller. I’ll be honest, there’s nothing here that has the true “wow” factor of Wii Sports and for Nintendo, this is a problem. In order to convince gamers who aren’t Nintendo fanboys they’ll need a game that truly shows off the tablet controller. Nintendo Land has some cool concepts, and I truly believe that the tablet controller offers more exciting options for gamers than motion controls ever did, but the games that do so simply haven’t been developed yet.

Still, Nintendo Land looks fun enough and as a pack in it will show off some of the potential of the controller. I thought that having the game as a pack-in was as much of a no-brainer as Wii Sports with the Wii was and I’m glad that Nintendo decided to go this way.

New Super Mario Bros. U

Mario in HD? Sold.

We won’t spend a bunch of time on this as it’s basically New Super Mario Bros. Wii but in HD. Almost as important as having a game that shows off the new controller is having a Mario game at launch. Ideally, like Super Mario Bros. 64, the Mario game will be the game that proves the need for the controller, however, that isn’t the case here. I think Nintendo is missing a big opportunity but I’m still more than happy to be able to play Mario in HD.

Rayman Legends

Rayman Origins was one of the biggest surprises of this current generation of games. I loved that game and it showed off some new play mechanics that I would love to see in Mario games. The demo for Rayman Legends has done a good job of showing off the near field communication (NFC) device in the tablet. You can see players placing items on the tablet controller and then they appear in the game. There’s a lot of potential here for cool gameplay. Even if that falls flat if the game plays anything like Origins, it will be a lot of fun.

ZombiU

ZombiU shows a ton of promise.

Ubisoft’s Wii U exclusive has, in my opinion, shown some of the coolest aspects of the tablet controller. Here’s what I said about it during Nintendo’s E3 conference. “Despite it’s absolutely terrible title, the game itself looks pretty decent. Apparently if you get bit once you die which is a pretty hardcore mode in and of itself. Also, I did like some of the innovations the new controller provided. You could scan areas, your HUD was taken off the main screen and put on the gamepad (which prevents you from pausing to switch weapons in tense moments), and you can use the gamepad to zoom in, and use it to hack doors. ”

I’m not 100% sold on picking it up at launch, but ZombiU is certainly a game I’ll keep my eye on.

Launch Window Titles

Besides the games above that I’ll more than likely be picking up day one, Nintendo annouced that at least 50 games will release by March. Some of these are ports of old games that I have no interest in: Mass Effect 3, Darksiders 2, etc… Some of these are games that if I pick them up it will be on another system (Black Ops 2), and some of them are just crap (Just Dance 4). There are others that will sell boatloads of copies that I’m just not interested in (Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate comes to mind). There are a couple, however, that peaked my interest.

Pikmin 3

Please release before Christmas!

I’m was really hoping Pikmin would make launch or at least make it out by the end of the year, but the lack of information regarding it’s release date is concerning. My guess at this point is that it will be delayed to give Nintendo a big name title to release early next year. I’m hope I’m wrong, but I doubt it.

The Wonderful 101

A Pikmin-esque game that has the player controlling a large number of superheroes to protect a city. The gameplay involves you combining the smaller superheroes into a more powerful character. Honestly, they had me at Pikmin-esque as I feel like real time strategy games can be successful if the tablet controller is implemented correctly.

Questions Remain

As is typical with Nintendo, despite all the information we received, questions remain. I was hoping to see information on another big name Nintendo game (Zelda, Metroid, Smash Bros., etc…) We still don’t know exactly how the network will work for online gaming, and I would really appreciate a release date for Pikmin 3.

Yes, I would like to play this game right now.

I think Nintendo getting to a sub-$400 price point was important and I think the Wii U will be a hot item this Christmas. The biggest question, however, will be whether Nintendo or one of the third parties can create a game that truly unlocks the potential of the table controller. Gamers who currently have a 360 or a PS3 that may feel jadded by their Wii purchase will need to see a must own game that cannot be played on another console and the only way that can happen is with the new controller. That game doesn’t currently exist.

Regardless, I’m not terribly concerned with that at the moment as that’s Nintendo’s long term concern. I’m hopeful they have a number of games in the works that will use the tablet controller to creat new gaming experiences never seen before. I’m excited for the Wii U and combine that with the fact that my most anticipated games on 360 were all delayed to 2013, and my holiday this year (like so many in the past) will be spent playing a Nintendo console. There are four games I’m excited to play at launch and that was enough for me to put in my pre-order.

 So what do you think? Are you excited about the Wii U or are you waiting for that must own title? Do you think Nintendo will continue to be successful or will the Wii U be the last home console the company makes? Let us know in the comments!

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