I remember how stoked I was when I first played the Wii back in 2006. The excitement of motion controls and new gameplay experiences seemed so much more appealing than HD graphics paired with conventional gameplay. Unfortunately, in 2011, it's clear that the Wii didn't live up to its amazing potential. Plagued with on-rails shooters, mini-game collections and so-called "ground-up" ports that offered shallow gameplay in comparison to their HD cousins, the Wii offered a few magical games (Super Mario Galaxy, Punch-Out!! and other Nintendo games) and a whole lot of junk. Nintendo's hoping to rectify that with the Wii U, an HD console with motion capability ... and a second, tablet screen. Hit the jump to see why I think this console has the potential to turn around the Wii brand.
Nintendo has already announced some strong third-party support for the Wii U, including Darksiders II, Batman: Arkham City, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Online and more. But there's a catch here: many of the announced games are ports of games that are slated for release this year, well before the Wii U's mid-2012 launch. Still, there's something that the Wii U offers that the Sony and Microsoft don't yet have. With the addition of the tablet controller, these games could end up offering entirely new experiences on the Wii U.
The tablet controller has endless potential. It could function as an interface, eliminating the need for an on-screen HUD, a map screen, a talking, fictional companion, and much, much more. The most exciting use of the controller so far for me was the Chase Mii demo, in which four players use the Wii Remote to control their Mii while one player uses the controller to run around the level avoiding the other players. It becomes a sort of virtual hide-and-seek, and gives each player something different to do. I find it so exciting that one game could offer two totally different play styles for different players at the same time.
There's still some need for concern. Nintendo has not been too forthcoming about the Wii U's online service and functionality, which could really make or break certain games. There's also the inevitability of some developers slapping a map screen on the tablet controller and calling it a day. Too many rushed ports do not a successful system make. I'm also concerned that some developers will see the Wii U as more of a companion piece to the the Xbox 360 and PS3, which could result in another shallow library. At the same time, with companies like Ubisoft and EA promising strong support for the Wii U, it's clear that Nintendo is aiming for a more "hardcore" audience.
What do you guys think? Will you be buying a Wii U next year? I know I will.