Friday, 27 March 2015

Nintendo Wii U

Nintendo Wii U, Mario Brothers, perfect console for parties

Lately I've been on a chill out mode, and have even started playing video games more frequently, which I haven't done for over 5 years. We've just been too caught up with the children and everything else. Playing games doesn't mean I have less time to spend with the kids though, as there are many games that we can play together as a family.

We have had a Nintendo Wii since Abby was born, and the colourful and cute Nintendo designed games has always appealed to her. They are harmless for children to play, and are even educational in ways.

We didn't upgrade ours when Nintendo released Wii U, as we didn't think we would be missing out. Then our Nintendo 2DS and 3DScame along, and have kept us so happy that we almost forgot about Wii U. However, after testing out the Wii U, kindly sent to us by Nintendo UK for review purpose, I have to admit that I was wrong. We did miss out, and have been for quite a long time!

Nintendo Wii U, Mario Brothers, perfect console for parties

Nintendo Wii U, Mario Brothers, perfect console for parties

Nintendo Wii U (£249.99 - £299.99, depending on package) generally comes with

Wii U console
Wii U Gamepad
Sensor Bar
Gamepad charging dock and charger
Gamepad dock
Wii U console holder (x2)
HDMI cable
AC Adapter
32GB memory
Assorted documents

and anything extra that comes with the pack you chose. Ours came with the Super Mario Bros. U and Super Luigi.U games.

Any download will happen in the background. Status can be checked by clicking the last icon as shown in picture

This was the first time I've set up a console on my own. Is it always this easy? I can actually put it together without the need of a technical person! The system update and set up on the otherhand, takes a bit longer (at least a year worth of updates after all hehe), but it is worth the time, to make sure that things goes smoothly. I do recommend doing this part when the kids are at school or asleep though!

You can set up different accounts as well with different setup to apply to the account, so you can set up an account that allows you to play pegi 18 games and go on the Internet, with another set with pegi 7 and offline only.

While creating the accounts, I imported our Mii characters from my 3DS through the Nintendo network ID, and use them as our account avatar. It was really cool seeing my Mii character's clone (so you can still have them on your DS, of course) jumped out from the 3DS screen and appeared straight after on the TV! Both Wii U and 3DS were synced perfectly without a sense of delay at all.

Nintendo Wii U, Mario Brothers, perfect console for parties

Nintendo Wii U, Mario Brothers, perfect console for parties
Size comparison
Nintendo Wii U, Mario Brothers, perfect console for parties

Gamepad is propped in a way so that it will lie flat

- Why it is needed
Unlike other consoles that comes with a game controller, Wii U came with a Gamepad, which is technically a combination of a game controller and a tablet. A lot of people wondered why a console needed a tablet to go with it. Unless you've played a game or two, and had interruption in between your gaming session, it is a bit hard to understand this. But when you had encountered both situation, you will be wondering why other companies haven't thought about it!

Take Mario Party 10 for example (please see my next blog post for the full review), where the Gamepad is used as:
  • the amiibo dock (similar to Skylanders and Disney Infinity) in the amiibo party mode, with amiibo character information shown on the Gamepad screen instead of the TV screen (and hence not cutting the party screen off)
  • a private screen for the player playing as Bowser in Bowser Party mode. It shows "Bowser" more details of the map they are playing on, for example, what treasure is hidden in each treasure chests, where as the TV screen is only showing the treasure chests (it's down to "Bowser" to mislead other players to pick the wrong chest)
  • Bowser's prison in Mario Party mode, where it shows Bowser locked up behind the bars (will be unlocked) and players can check the status off (TV) screen.
Also, during our Mario Kart 8 session, we had to pause to webcam our family, so the TV has been hijacked while the game is still running in the background. Then I realised that the kids were doing something with the Gamepad. Apparently they were continuing the race there!

You can also log onto the Internet (depending on your system setting) to check for something (walkthrough/ cheats?!) without the need to switch out from the game. I know that a smartphone can do that, but when you are told not to touch your phone during a gathering, and the computer screen is much further away from your TV screen, it really is a very handy gadget to use, and I believe that we'll be discovering more uses for it.

- Touchscreen and Stylus
The touchscreen of the Gamepad is perfect. It's sensitive enough to respond at the right time and pressure. We hardly need to use the Stylus pen, but I would prefer it to be a bit bigger.

The only real problem I had with the Gamepad was that it can't lie flat on its back, so when we use it as an amiibo dock, the person will have to touch their character on the amiibo touchpad and hold onto it so it won't fall off, or improvise to make it lie flat. Not really a big deal as saving data doesn't take long at all.

The red one is a Wii Motionplus controller. Obviously mine
Wii Controllers
Initially I thought that the Gamepad is the Wii U controller, and we needed one each to play the games (the kids were and still are always fighting over it!). The truth is, Nintendo had no intentions in making customers own more than one Gamepad. In fact, they have said that they have no plans for creating a game that requires 2 Gamepad to play, although the idea is interesting. At the moment, if you want another Gamepad for any reason, you'll have to contact Nintendo for it. The kids will just have to learn how to share.

So, for additional controllers, you can either get
  • a Wii U Pro Controller for rrp £39.99, which has an 80 hours battery life (perfect for hardcore players!) and is shaped in a more familiar shape to many players, or 
  • the old Wii controllers (original or motionplus), which is fully compatible with Wii U. We already have 2 so that was fantastic news! We did need another 2 as the Gamepad isn't always available as a controller (eg the amiibo mode in Mario Party 10), and to be honest, it's more fun to use a Wii controller with steering wheel holder to play Mario Kart 8 than using the Gamepad, which can also be a bit too heavy for long time use.

Sensor Bar
According to the Internet, the Wii sensor bar and Wii U sensor bar is more or less the same, apart from the colour. But for some reason, I still find it respond much better than the old one. Maybe it's because there is more space in our living room now.

Graphics and Sound
I can't really compare the graphics quality of the Wii U and Wii, as we have changed our TV from a normal one then to a Smart HD TV now, so everything is obviously much sharper and brighter. But I do love the light effects in games, it's like real sparkles! 

I also think that the sound quality is amazing, and the tones they used for the system is absolutely beautiful and serene. I can listen to them all day!

We are really glad to be given the opportunity to review the Nintendo Wii U. We think that, after testing it out for a month, it's the perfect console for family and party entertainment. The children are always asking us to play together now, and we are more than happy to as well. The game sessions are always filled with laughter, and the children are learning about team work, fun over winning, choices and consequences etc skills too. When their grandparents come over to visit, I bet they can even get them to play as well! 

Apart from it being children and family friendly, Nintendo also do more mature games, and other games have Wii U versions too, so don't start thinking that Nintendo Wii U is only good for party and kiddy games!