The Wii U launched Sunday and after a few days of testing it out, many critics have voiced their initial opinions on the system.
From a general standpoint, it looks like the console did not astound anyone too much. While some critics buzzed about the potential, most felt that the hardware was underwhelming and that the gameplay possibilities were untapped.
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IGN's Nic Vargus remarked on the ability to obtain new experiences using the two screens and stated that ". Using it as a second display for solo experiences wowed me far less frequently than when I used it for asymmetrical local multiplayer. Games like Nintendo Land's Luigi's Mansion, in which one player can see things on the GamePad others cannot, makes fun use of this dynamic."
The Verge's David Pierce was also fascinated by the GamePad and stated that "The Wii U is close - tantalizingly close - to being a portable console. So close, in fact, that I found myself wondering constantly why the GamePad wasn't the console, and the TV-connected piece a peripheral."
CNET's Jeff Baklar added that there was a great deal of potential in "off-TV" play.."This promising features place-shifts all the action to the GamePad controller. It essentially gives you Wii U graphics and performance in a tablet-size form factor, eliminating the need for a TV altogether," added Baklar.
Kotaku's Steven Totilo adds that "The resolution of the GamePad screen, while inferior to an HDTV or an iPad, still presents game graphics exceedingly well. Mario looked just as vibrant and was just as playable on the GamePad screen as it was on the TV. Madden transferred fine. Nintendo Land's Pikmin and Zelda games looked technically better on the GamePad screen than any console games in their respective series ever looked on televisions. Graphically, visually, the GamePad holds its own."
However, most critics remarked that the title was still very much a work in progress and stated that Wii U's launch failed to deliver the next-gen gaming everyone was hoping for. IGN complained about not knowing how many cores in the processor, thus making it impossible to know the true potential of the console's power. The publication also felt that the GamePad felt cheap and that its resolution (158ppi) was not state of the art. Loading screens were also a concern for IGN. The publication gave the console a mediocre score of 7.6.
Endgadget's Ben Gilbert was even more direct and stated that the GamePad felt like a toy and that "the four main buttons resemble aspirin pills and aren't of the polish we expect from modern game consoles; glossy plus / minus buttons accentuate this tragedy even further. Shallow, squishy shoulder buttons akin to those on Sony's DualShock 3 compare poorly to those found on the current Xbox 360 controller as well as competent third-party equivalents. And the convex analog sticks had our thumbs easily slipping during long Mario sessions."
Gamespot was even less complimentary and dedicated an entire piece on the console's shortcomings. Editor Peter Brown lamented the misuse of hardware space, a "bloated operating system," and the poor options to connect with external drives. The Wii U has USB 2,0 drives, which according to the publication are three years outdated.
Complaints also arose over poor use of the dual screen with IGN stating that "But, at least for now, genuinely new experiences are the exceptions, not the rule. Few single player experiences utilize the GamePad quite as ingeniously."
The Verge writer Pierce adds, "Every game implements the GamePad differently, and most don't do it very well. Some of the games in Nintendo Land take place almost entirely on the GamePad, so all you see on your TV is 'Look at the GamePad!' Others are mirrored, so you're seeing exactly the same thing on the TV and on the GamePad - it's distracting to see things happening on both screens, and I wound up constantly shifting my gaze because I'd see some movement out of the corner of my eye." The publication ultimately gave the console a 7.0 rating.
All of the publications complained about the poor battery life of the Wii U controller.
All of these reviews are obviously initial impressions since most console rarely come out running in their initial months. The true consensus can only be made when the system has some new titles and some years of experience, but initial responses from the critics clearly indicate that Nintendo has some serious work to do.