Y'know, when the Gamecube launched, I had a little bit of enthusiasm for it. The Xbox broke my trepidation on buying a console as a gaming machine (PC GAMES FOREVER YO) and the thought of playing a new Mario game and Eternal Darkness
was a pretty interesting draw. The console didn't do fantastic and Nintendo lost more of their stead against the competition following the disappointing Nintendo 64. I skipped the Wii, but Nintendo seems to be trying its best to lure me back with games like ZombiU, but why isn't it working?
The Mixed Scores
It seems odd to attach a number score to a console at launch when its legacy is how it'll be best remembered. Everyone remembers the failing Xbox 360s, but all the games they played on their third or fourth console. Everyone remembers their NES and how they needed to blow out their cartridges for games to work properly. No one remembers playing the PS2 online. Still, while we don't have any hardware in-house yet, the reaction around the internet is that the Wii U is a million things and none of them particularly great. From a gamepad that features more gadgets than a Swiss Army knife to control schemes that seem more convoluted than ever, it seems like Nintendo's playing the shotgun role and just doing anything in their power to try and keep up.
Dealing With Nintendo's Nonsense
Are you really interested in setting up Miis and dealing with Nintendo's little idiosyncracies? Nintendo seems to be fine with that. They seem to be fine with the fact that they had no strong title to launch their system (see: Gamecube, Wii), third-party support is still incredibly weak and will probably always be overshadowed by Nintendo's offerings, and there are three standard controllers, only one of which comes with the console. What.
It's Not A Next-Gen System
Nintendo's trying to beat Microsoft and Sony to the punch by bringing out new hardware, but they may just Dreamcast themselves by releasing less-than-stellar hardware ahead of competitors that have better momentum coming into next year's launch. The Wii U is matching what six and seven year old consoles can do, but new offerings from Microsoft and Sony appear to be posting modern equipment in their boxes that will not only allow for purdy graphics, but some incredible experiences that we haven't even imagined yet, ones only possible with a lot more transistors buzzing inside. I imagine it won't be quite the jarring experience if you were picking up an Xbox 360 this year for the first time, but when the engines really start roaring next year, the Wii U's going to look unfashionable in no time flat, even as it's gaining momentum.
We're Probably Wrong
In fact, we're probably all wrong. Forget all that stuff I just wrote. We wrote off the Wii when it dove straight for casual appeal in 2006 and while they lost credibility with a lot of core gamers in the process, they proceeded to sell millions of consoles, their inventory popping off store shelves as soon as they were stocked, and then promptly forgot to give a f**k. If the Wii U isn't the runaway success that the Wii was, investors and industry watchers are going to be miffed, but for at least this holiday, they're going to sell every console they ship out. Even if they do so at a loss, it's a big first win for Nintendo.