Introducing… Wii U!

I know what you’re thinking here – it’s barely been six months since we got our PS3, and now it’s all in with another console? And not just any console, a modern console. Slow down and get me off this crazy train, am I right? All I can say is thank God we didn’t go ahead and officially name this blog “Very Very Gaming 1995-2010”. That would’ve made this post so much more awkward. Even so, clearly between the Wii U and PS3, the remit of Very Very Gaming is expanding into new-er territory; I hope no one will mind. And anyway, it was a birthday present!

The Wii U is not the most intuitive console to understand controller-wise...

Welcome, plastic crap!

The Wii U makes a good first impression. The Gamepad works great as a controller/tablet hybrid, and the system’s interface is very nice. I haven’t had any onerous updates or anything that brings the experience to a screeching halt when trying to play a game or get something done (GTA V install, I’m looking at you). There are plenty of options and features to fiddle with on Wii U, but not so many that it feels overwhelming; unlike PS3, you won’t find “Printer Settings” in the Wii U options, no sirree! The online shop is a step up from Sony’s too. The interface is uncluttered and user friendly.

Really, the only downside so far – and this isn’t anything to do with the hardware – is how difficult it is to find Wii U games in shops. I know a lot of people make comparisons with the Dreamcast software library, but in terms of software availability and shelf space at games retailers the comparison that springs to mind is with PS Vita – not the sort of comparison any games company wants to hear.

I buy one Wii U games and the shelves are left looking like this?!

I buy one Wii U game and the shelf is left looking like this?!

Anyway I’ve had a bit of time with the system now, so I’ll give some first impressions of games, starting with…

Star Fox Zero

star fox zero wii u 1

I heard the complaints back when this game came out back in April this year: that it’s too short, too faithful to the N64 game, that it’s “just” a rail shooter, that the controls are too unconventional. But even then, when I had no intention of playing the game any time soon, I just knew this game was for me. And so far that hunch has been borne out, mostly. I’ve beaten the initial main game which takes only a couple of hours, but I only just feel now like I’m starting to get the hang of the controls. I can see why that would be divisive, but as someone who really enjoys getting to grips with unconventional control methods – here’s looking at you, Odama – Star Fox Zero is a treat.

Crucially, the controls may be odd but the game is built around them and their unique capabilities. To see that, you need only look at the climactic Star Wolf fight, which has you dogfighting with four members of Star Wolf all on your lonesome. Thanks to the addition of precision aiming with the gamepad, the developers were able to make this battle more intense and frantic than anything found in previous Star Fox games.

Super Mario 3D World

super mario 3d world wii u 1

This game oozes charm, it’s undeniable. As someone who wasn’t a big fan of New Super Mario Bros Wii but really enjoyed the Super Mario Galaxy games, 3D World feels like a solid compromise between the two series. Classic power-ups like the Fire Flower and Super Mushroom sit well alongside new additions like the Cat Suit and Double Cherry, and the same new/old balance is evident in the game’s mixture of 2D and 3D level design.

The multiplayer is a lot of fun, with a nice balance of co-operation and competitive fun. The way the game ranks you after each level and gives the “winner” a crown which other players can steal is reminiscent of the multiplayer in Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures for Gamecube. But, thank goodness, I’m now a few worlds in and friends and family are still on speaking terms with me, so 3D World can’t be that dangerous. Four Swords Adventures was some sick, twisted, mad scientist concocted social experiment designed to throw the world into utter chaos – frankly we should all be thankful for Nintendo relegating this game to obscurity with GC-GBA connectivity. Otherwise our world would look very different today…

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

donkey kong country tropical freeze wii u

Where did I get the impression that Tropical Freeze was widely considered to be one of the finest 2D platformers ever? I blame my fellow bloggers for giving me this false sense of a consensus. The reality seems to be a lot of mixed reactions to this game, and I can understand it, if only because of a glut of 2D platformers on Nintendo systems (and elsewhere too with indie games). The 2D platformer space is crowded these days, with Tropical Freeze facing stiff competition and lacking its own unique hook or gimmick.

Of course Tropical Freeze may turn out to be the best platformer ever, I’m not deep enough in to say. But, as good as Tropical Freeze is so far, it hasn’t immediately leapt out at me in the same way as, say, Rayman Legends. I really like the original Donkey Kong Country games, but Returns on Wii was a huge letdown and did nothing for me. I’m pleased to report that so far that Tropical Freeze is closer to the quality of the SNES games in my eyes, but right now I doubt it will surpass them.

That’s all for Wii U introductions. As well as these four games I’ve also played a TON of Xenoblade Chronicles X, but that is for another time.

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14 comments

  1. Matt

    I am glad you like Star Fox Zero. It is a great game that is wrongly dismissed by many.

    At the same time, it is a shame you are not getting into Tropical Freeze. To me it is indeed among the finest platformers ever.

    • veryverygaming

      Star Fox Zero is really cool! I can completely understand why someone else would dislike it though – the controls are uncompromising to say the least. The divisive response reminds me a bit of Metroid Other M in that regard. Anyway it paid off (for me anyway) so hats off to Nintendo/Platinum doing something different. As for Tropical Freeze, I am reserving judgment. I’m currently three worlds in, so still have plenty more to see!

  2. hungrygoriya

    I know about that funny feeling you described pertaining to playing games on a “new generation” console after doing the retro thing for a long time. I felt that way when I bought my WiiU a few years ago, but I’ve grown to love it. Super Mario 3D World is lots of fun, and as a bit of a completionist, I enjoy it for the replayability of each level. I couldn’t personally get into Tropical Breeze either. It’s too hard! I didn’t grow up playing the earlier installments in that series, but the music and graphics are pretty fantastic. I would highly recommend Mario Kart 8 and Super Mario Maker. They are some of my favourite games on the system, especially SMM. I find making levels in the skins of some of my favourite games to be a really interesting adaptation on something I’ve played to death. I’m glad you’re enjoying your wonderful gift!

    • veryverygaming

      It’s just so weird being semi-current after being stuck firmly in the past for so long! Then again I think it’s good to not be strict about what console/era I “should” be playing. Preferences are OK, but to say “I only play old games” and adopt that as a label is just silly with a hobby like gaming.

      I can definitely see 3D World being fun for a completionist, those green stars are pretty cool. I love how the overworld is a cross between the previous 3D Mario games that use stars to make progress, and the 2D Mario games with beating the level to open the path style. Really sums up this game perfectly. I’m sorry you couldn’t get into Tropical Freeze – I’m a masochist when it comes to tough games, love a good challenge so excited to continue with that!

      Also, thanks for the recommendations. I’m tempted to get both of those games, I got to sample a bit of Mario Maker at a videogame museum a few months ago and walked away impressed. Mario Kart sounds good too!

  3. Mr. Panda

    I liked reading through your impressions! I’m excited for you! We’re at the end of the Wii U’s life cycle, and you get to experience all of these amazing games for Wii U at once! It was hard for a lot of us with the sparse release schedule of titles. But when you’re able to look at the entire Wii U library like you have the opportunity to, you’ll find that there were plenty of top-quality games from Nintendo’s biggest (and smaller like Star Fox or Xenoblade Chronicles X) titles. You’re in for a treat with this system!

    • veryverygaming

      Thank you, and yes, you’re right about coming in late. At the start of this year, I had the choice between getting a Wii U or a PS3, and the PS3 won out mainly because it had been out for so long and built up such a large library of games. Of course the Wii U seems to have many great games, but the library is undeniably small and has built up at a slower pace than other systems with strong third-party support.

      There are pros and cons for picking up a system early in its life, but now with everything being online there are benefits that didn’t exist before. For example, I’m considering picking up Splatoon, but the online competition is probably very advanced by now, making it hard to get into. Still, I don’t exactly envy Wii U early adopters!

  4. moresleepneeded

    I have not played the Wii U. What is the Wii U like? Is it a handheld console? Or is it a console connected to a TV?
    I always thought Star Fox Zero would be very popular, if it closely resembled Lylat Wars due to the popularity of that game. I thought Star Fox Adventures stopped the developers considering making a game in the series that wasn’t a rail shooter. What is Super Mario 3D World? Is it like a usual Mario game, but with an isometric perspective? I actually enjoyed Donkey Kong Country Returns. I found the gameplay hilariously challenging due to the constant movement. How is Tropical Freeze different?
    One of the games I found interesting on the Wii U was a game called James Bond Legend. It seems to resemble an idea of a game that sounded interesting when Goldeneye was released, a shooter that allowed the player to replay levels from all the James Bond films.

    • veryverygaming

      Well, it’s a traditional console, but the controller has a touch screen built in. Many games let you move the screen between the TV and the small screen at will so you can play it like a handheld if you like (you have to be in the same room as the Wii U though basically so it’s not like a proper portable system). The idea is that if someone else in the household wants to watch TV or whatever, you can swap screens and continue playing your game while someone else uses the TV. It’s pretty nifty!

      Yeah, Star Fox Zero seems to have sold fairly well, but not great. It’s weirdly faithful to the N64 game in some ways, but also not in others… very strange mishmash, but also a pretty good game! Super Mario 3D World is exactly as you say, a Mario game with an isometric perspective. It’s a simplified 3D that feels closer to the New Super Mario Bros series than Mario 64, Sunshine or the Galaxy games. As for Tropical Freeze, it’s extremely similar to Returns except with more traditional controls. After playing some more I can safely say it’s a great game, up there with the SNES Donkey Kong Country games for me. I’ve not played 007 Legends but I do have Goldeneye on the Wii – I’ve only played a bit of multiplayer so far but that seemed fun. Have you played that game?

      • moresleepneeded

        I have not played the 007 Legends game, I just thought it seems like a game I have wanted to play since completing the Aztec level on Goldeneye. I have played the Goldeneye game on the Wii though, it seems to symbolise how games have changed between the release of the original and remake.

  5. ambigaming

    Congrats (?) on acquiring the WiiU! I’m still saving up my pennies for it, now that it’s later in its life and I can see the games that are available all at once. Like you, when pressed I chose the PS3 over the newest Wii. It seemed a little iffy at the beginning with the slow release schedule and not a whole lot of YouTube coverage because of all that copyright/licensing nonsense. To be honest, I’ve still be wavering on whether I should get a WiiU or not, with new consoles on the horizon, but you might have convinced me!

    • veryverygaming

      Thanks for commenting! I didn’t intend to convince anyone with this post, but now I’ve played more of the Wii U I can definitely say that, provided there are games you’re interested in it’s a really good system! Certainly there are some of the very best iterations of Nintendo’s classic franchises – recently I’ve been playing Smash Bros and Mario Kart 8 and both are top quality games, plus the more I played DK: Tropical Freeze the more I see how good it is too. My co-writer Maya has also been loving Hyrule Warriors – she’s a Dynasty Warriors fan already but this goes way beyond it thanks to the way it incorporates the Zelda universe.

      • ambigaming

        Thanks for your reply! That’s great, I’ll have to check those out if I take the plunge. I love Donkey Kong and have been a Zelda fan since the NES days; I’ve actually never played Dynasty Warriors but it sounds like something I should check out. Thanks!

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