The Wii U! It happened! I didn't get one! Did anyone?
It seems odd and maybe even a little sad to be so disinterested in a brand new Nintendo console. I feel like this is something I should be excited for, it should be one of those event things. I should have been stressing over my preorder, wondering if I should go to one of the midnight launch things, organizing what games I'll pick up in what order. Instead I'm looking at Wii U stuff online and can't drum up a single reason why I should care. More worrying, at least anecdotally, it seems I'm not the only person who doesn't care about the Wii U.
I was shopping last Friday, which even in Canada is a terrible idea, an awful thing to do to yourself and your family. We Canadians seem to have contracted America's post turkey zeal for buying shit, a functional holiday of spending formed out of a spirit of "well, it looked like fun when they were doing it." Even in that maelstrom of shoppers trampling each other and human centipede-esq lines though, I was able to find Wii Us ready and available for purchase. I could just walk up to sales associates, inquire if they had any in stock, and be asked which model I wanted them to pull out of the back, 8 gig or the real one? (Then awkwardly explain that I was only asking out of a rubber-necking sense of curiosity "sorry, I don't actually want one, I'm just trying to get a better view of Nintendo pinned under that overturned semi truck.")
It put a pit in my stomach. It's weird. I'm not invested in the Wii U at all. I haven't been championing it, I'm not trying to defend my pre-order or validate some nonsensical side in a console war. I haven't bought into Nintendo since the 64. But geez, I don't want to see them actually fail.
This isn't a launch that lacks a little heat, it's damn cold to the touch. This is Nintendo's UNCONTESTED CHRISTMAS LAUNCH, if they can't sell this thing when they are the only next-gen console on the market during the season of purchasing, what chance to they have a year from now? What will they milk out of their tablet and up-to-current par hardware to compete with Microsoft and Sony if they aren't making a huge install base right now? They're stuck with a goofy system that demands special developer attention to utilize its gimmick, won't be able to handle any cross system ports for long, and doesn't seem to have an audience. Is this the blunder that is going to finally kill Nintendo? This thing is an touch screen Albatross.
- Touch-Screen-Albatross is going to be the name of my prog rock album.
It looks bad, but I'll walk my doom crying back a bit. Rewind the tape and you'll probably find me slinging similar Bad News Bears about the original Wii, the 3DS, and the Gamecube, and the DS, and the Virtual Boy, and the.... Well, the point is I've been wrong in the past. Nintendo has a way of upsetting expectations and turning what look like catastrophes into successes, and a Wolverine-like ability to soak a gaping wound of a failure and regenerate like nothing happened. Nintendo has deep pockets, a huge war-chest from their runaway success with the original Wii, and yes, they will still be able to crutch on their 1st party properties (although I think the shine is coming off some of those apples).
Oddly enough, the most interesting thing on the Wii U right now isn't a Nintendo first party hit. The only game that has been giving me cause to reconsider passing on the Wii U right now is ZombiU.
Of all the games at launch, who would have thought that the Ubisoft Zombie game would be the one doing the most interesting things with the Wii Us hardware and online network? I remember writing it off during last E3 as a poor man's L4D, how wrong I was.
When reviewers start throwing around terms like "rougelike" "Dark Souls-esq" and "real survival horror" I'm going to take notice. This game looks insane. Tough as nails gameplay, a real sense of terror, Dark Souls like messaging between players (in the form of graffiti tags), meaningful consequences for death. I can't believe this thing is a launch game!
We always say that new system launches are the time to take risks and try something different, so it's nice to see Ubisoft really go for it. I hope it does well and encourages other studios to take some risks. If the Wii U is going to carve itself out a spot in the market, its going to be by providing experiences you can't get anywhere else.