COLUMN: Aaron’s Backstage Pass: Nintendo’s Wii U Review

Created: 12/07/2012 11:04 AM KSTP.com By: Aaron Chalich

Last week I got the chance to finally buy a Wii U. When I first heard about it, I knew I had to get one right away.

When the Wii came out it was really hard to get one, because they were in such high demand and there had never been a system like it before.

However, it seems like this time Nintendo sent out enough Wii U systems so just about everyone could get one.

There are two systems that you can buy. You can get a basic Wii U system which is white and it comes with the game pad, HDMI cable and it has 8GB of memory. There is also a deluxe system that comes with a game (Nintendo Land), game pad charger, HDMI cable, game pad stand, system stand, and it has 32GB of memory. 

I went with the deluxe model.

After spending a lot of time with the Wii U, I can honestly say that it is an awesome system and gamers are really going to enjoy it.

The Wii U comes with an HDMI cable and can play game in 1080p resolution. That’s a huge improvement from the Wii, because on the Wii you could only play games in about 720p. The graphics on the Wii were great, but not as good as some games on the other competitor’s systems. 

I have seen trailers for a lot of Wii U games and they look amazing. “Batman Arkham City: Armored Edition” and Assassin’s Creed 3” look fabulous and even better than on the other systems.

One really nice feature is that, you can play all of your Wii games on the Wii U and also all of your eshop games that you had previously downloaded. There is an icon on the main menu of the Wii U that you can click on and that takes you to another menu that looks a lot like the Wii menu.  

To transfer files, you need to connect your Wii to the Wii U. If you don’t have your Wii, you cannot copy your Wii files. I transferred my files to an SD card and I was able to transfer saved game files, but not actual games that I downloaded from the eshop.

For this review I really don’t know where to start, because there are so many things to talk about and I don’t want to ramble on and on.

Let’s start with the game pad. It’s pretty good sized and you have two analog sticks, a directional pad, right and left upper buttons, right and left trigger buttons, start, select, A,B,X,Y, and home. 

There are so many buttons, but I don’t think it’s too difficult to figure out. There is also a stylus that you can use on the touch screen or you can just use your finger. There is a built in camera that takes pretty decent pictures. There is also a microphone. The game pad is pretty amazing and I felt that it fits nicely in your hand.

You can also use your Wii controllers with the Wii U. There are games like Nintendo Land that you need the Wii controllers for, because you can play multiplayer. One person uses the game pad and the other players use the Wii controllers. You can have five players play at one time in some games and that is pretty cool.

Another really cool thing about the game pad is that you can use it as a universal remote.  You can set it up, so it controls your television and cable receiver. It took seconds to set up and it works great. The only thing I have to figure out is how to record shows with my DVR on it. I don’t know if that’s even possible, but I will find out.

I have not seen this yet, but apparently, if someone wants to watch television and you want to play a game, you can play the game on the game pad while the other person watches television.  

I think that this is great and I can’t wait to try it.

The Wii U’s menu is pretty easy to navigate through. It’s set up like the Wii and Nintendo 3DS’s menu. There are icons and you can click on them when you want to access something like Netflix, play a game or browse the web.

You actually see the menu that’s like the Wii on the game pad, but if you look at the television it looks different. There are icons and tons of Mii characters. If you use the Wii controller you can select one of the icons on the upper screen.

The Mii characters are back. For those of you who are not familiar with the Mii characters, they are little avatars that you can create. You can take a picture of yourself and the computer creates a character that looks like you, or you can create one from scratch.

By creating a Mii character, this lets your Wii U know who the user is and it remembers all of your settings and saved material. You can set up multiple users and the Wii U will remember all of them.

You can go into different Mii forums and talk about games you are playing and can give each other hints. You can write messages and draw pictures and send them to your friends or post them on message boards. I really like this a lot.

I have a few friends on there and it’s fun to send messages back and forth bragging about accomplishments on Nintendo Land.

The one thing that I want to let all parents know is that if you get this for your kids for a Christmas present set it up before you give it to them. It takes about 2.5 – 3 hours to charge the game pad the first time you use it and you have to do a system upgrade that takes a while depending on your internet connection. It took me about 4-5 hours to actually start playing a game. However, it is worth the wait.

NintendoLand

The deluxe Wii U comes with NintendoLand and it is a blast to play. There are twelve different mini games that are based on very popular Nintendo games. You can play some of the games with just one player or you can play some of the games with up to five players.

NintendoLand is a virtual theme park where you can walk around, play the mini games, communicate with other players from around the world, and win prizes to make your theme park look cool. There are so many neat things that can happen and to do.

The controls for all of the games are very easy to learn and you can go through a short tutorial before each mini game to learn them. The tutorials are very detailed and in order for you to advance through them, you have to do the moves correctly. However you can skip the tutorials once you learn how to play the mini game.

If you play multiplayer, one player uses the game pad and the other players use the Wii controllers. The person using the game pad looks at the game pad when playing the game and the person using the Wii controller looks at the television.

Both screens are different and I really liked that a lot, because the screen was not split and you had your own private view of the games. In some of the games, the person using the game pad could have live video of their facial expression show up on the television. I thought that this was pretty neat. You have the option of turning that off and on when you are playing the game.

As you play the different games, you can gain coins that can be used in another game that reminded me of “Plinko” on the Prices Right. You drop your coins and have to try and light up these different targets. If you light all of them up, then you gain a prize. 

The prizes are things that make your theme park more attractive, such as statues, or you can change the music playing in the game.

You can also gain stamps by completing different tasks in each of the different mini games. 

At the beginning of each game, you can see what you need to do earn a stamp. Some of them are really challenging, so that’s good.

The mini games are a lot of fun and the graphics are amazing. I know that I will be playing this game a lot. Here is the list of the mini games that you can play in NintendoLand.

I have played all of these games many times and my favorite is “The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest.”

I am a huge fan of the series and you can choose to either use a bow or your sword. You go through a bunch of levels battling different enemies and there are some really fun bosses that you have to beat.

To be fair though, all of the mini games are very unique in their own way and are a ton of fun. I feel like I am a broken record saying how fun this game is, but it is. It really shows off the capabilities of the Wii U.

Overall, I am extremely impressed with the Wii U. I know that people have been waiting a long time for this system and it was worth the wait. The games for the Wii U look amazing and can now be played in 1080p HD. 

Plus, there are quite a few games that are available now for the Wii U that you can buy. The game pad is fun and adds so much to the experience of playing games on the Wii U. There are so many things you can do with it and it is very unique. 

The Wii U is such an innovative system that I think it’s going to be the hottest thing that gamers are going to want this Christmas. 

For more information on Nintendo and their products go to www.nintendo.com.

Aaron Chalich is a columnist for KSTP.com blogging about the latest entertainment news.