It's no secret around Destructoid that I'm a Nintendo fan. Their games and consoles just resonate with me. I like their outlook on gaming, and support them everywhere I can. But at the same time they aren't perfect, and if I don't call them out when they make a bad decision, how can I ever expect them to improve? So I thought I'd throw my thoughts out on what could be improved upon in both the hardware end, and software end. Now I would like to point out in this particular blog when I am talking about the software, I mean the operating system and firmware, not the actual games.
Let me say that as far as basic navigation I am a fan of the GUI. It's easy to navigate, easy to understand, and has some basic customization options. At the same time though, I feel Nintendo could implement new features without sacrificing said advantages.
For example, the friend code system is still in effect on 3DS. Granted there is an account system now, and if your friends happen to be around you can beam them your NNID info which is nice, but still the fact that these friend codes still exist today is asinine. Nintendo has already proven that they are unnecessary on Wii U, why are they still being used on 3DS? They also need to unify the accounts here as well, that already works for the eShop, but my 3DS and Wii U friends are kept separately for some reason. Communication is a problem too, I have almost no messaging options and even less for directly chatting. Everyone seems to give Nintendo a free pass on communication options, it's high time they addressed this.
Secondarily, I would like a few more customization options. Being able to change the colors of the menus, or use my stored photos as a wallpaper would be great. The addition of folders to keep things organized was a nice first step, hopefully it's not their last.
Historically, Nintendo's hardware has been known for outstanding build quality. Look at the Game Boy in the Smithsonian that survived the Gulf War. But I've always felt the DS line is a step back for them. Every DS I've ever owned (with the exception of the 3DS XL I just recently bought) has had the shoulder buttons fail on me. Actually, it's been an issue since the GBA SP. They just stop responding. The only thing you can really do is blow into the buttons to get them to work again temporarily. I could also complain specifically about how the natural oils from my fingers absorb into the plastic around the buttons and the hinge that gives way, but honestly the whole thing needs better materials. Whatever Sony used to make the PSP would do nicely. The PSP just felt like a nice piece of hardware in my hands. The same could be said of Apple and Samsung devices. For a device that sees the kind of abuse it does, it needs a heavier body.
While we're at it a few other things need updating. There's still the issue of the camera's, they are only 0.3 megapixels. No that isn't a typo, it's a 1/3 of a single megapixel. Need I remind you that today's smartphones have 8 megapixel cameras built in and can take some pretty impressive pictures. Yes, I realize it's a gaming device, but perhaps something that doesn't make everything look pixelated and doesn't have trouble pulling in ambient light would be in order?
The battery life isn't fantastic either. Surely we can make some of these graphics chips and sound chips a little more energy efficient after 3 years? Maybe on the next iteration.
Finally, it could use some more RAM. Yes, I realize the problem with that statement, none of the games could use that RAM but it would be used for faster multitasking. Imagine Miiverse being just as fast on 3DS as it is Wii U. Just throwing it out there...
If I have one gripe with the Wii U's GUI it's that the Wii aspect is completely segregated from the rest of the system. It kills me that I have to go offline, load up the old Wii menu, and then boot my games. What makes this even more of a pain in the ass is that digital games a separated this way too. I have to load up the old Wii Shop channel to browse software separate from the Wii U eshop. I could easily spend $8 on Mario World for Wii, then turn around and upgrade to the Wii U version for $1.50 on the eShop. Then if things weren't stupid enough, I can only use 512 MB of memory (as it was on the original Wii ) to store Wii software. If you need more space like I did, you will need an SD card. This is asinine as well, I have 25GB of free space on the system, why can't I use that? Facepalm.
I could somewhat understand if that was a day 1 patch to get the ball rolling, but we're approaching the 2 year mark and it's still not integrated like the 3DS did for the DS on day 1. I'm not expecting for my Pro Controllers to function as classic controllers, or enabling me to play Wii games on the gamepad (although it does also need to happen). I just don't want what feels like a hack job.
Multimedia functionality. Yes, again, I know it's a console, but even blu ray players can play MP3, and show jpeg files. The fact of the matter is Wii U is being marketed as a family console, and that's something families do that the Wii U should be able to accommodate to. They even showed people doing this very thing at the E3 reveal, but again nigh 2 years later and nothing. How cool would it be to be able to plug in a flash drive and use the gamepad to control a slide show on the TV?
And finally, same deal as 3DS. Some more customization options would be most welcome, colors, themes, backgrounds, that kind of thing. I also would like to be able to take my data with me If I want to play on another Wii U, I don't think that's asking much.
I'm perfectly fine with having to purchase and install my own memory (as opposed to being forced into buying a hard drive that I know I will have to replace like on other systems) but why does it have to be external? That's too clunky and more expensive. The worst part of this is the Wii U uses USB 2.0 and limits the power given to those ports so you need a Y adapter or a powered drive. Again, facepalm. I don't take issue with the fact that I can use external memory, it's the fact that I have to. Imagine if you bought a PC like this. I know Nintendo doesn't like us getting into the nuts and bolts of the system but a simple bay to expand the internal memory would be great. Maybe with the next redesign we could see something like this.
The only other feature that I would really want it better battery life on the gamepad. It's functional and it's usually enough for me, so I haven't made a point to upgrading, but I don't feel I should have to either. The fact is it's pretty obvious they planned on fitting a bigger battery in there by the space left over. With the 3DS I somewhat understand because there are space restraints and 3 screens, but that's something I feel like could be done now with minimal impact.
So there you have it. My complaints on my 2 favorite current gen systems. See I told you I wasn't a total fanboy.