A fond farewell to the Wii U
It's likely that the Wii U won't be remembered by very many people. Nintendo's predecessor to the Switch didn't sell very well, didn't have a vast library, and was hardly utilized to its fullest potential. Its name confused the casual consumer who thought it was merely an extension of the Wii, and Nintendo just didn't support it as well as it should have. The Wii U was simply a transitional platform—a bridge between the Wii and Switch. But, man, it was an awesome little machine.
No, the Wii U may not have left a big mark on gaming as a whole, but for folks such as myself, it was a worthwhile device that helped create some great moments and memories.
Not My Best Console Buddy, But A Good Acquaintance
We all have those relationships that are brief but enjoyable. Maybe it's a high school or college classmate. Perhaps it's someone you met at a job with whom you really hit it off. Maybe that brief friendship ended the moment you were out of there, but your memories of it are largely positive. I liken my time with the Wii U to moments like those. We had a fun, if brief, time together.
Sure, I wish I had a steadier stream of games to choose from when I got my Wii U back in 2012. At the same time, ZombiU was pretty damn rad and one of my favorite games on the console. I also got a chance to revisit my favorite Legend of Zelda adventure, The Wind Waker, in stunning HD. Oh, and I can't overlook EarthBound, my favorite RPG of all time, which got some much-deserved love on the eShop.
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Super Mario 3D World, Bayonetta 2 – the list … well, it doesn't go on and on. In fact, it's a very brief list. But in a way, it's all the more significant because of its brevity. I remember pretty much every single game that I enjoyed playing on the Wii U. I also remember the games I didn't like very much — The Wonderful 101 and NintendoLand are two examples — but let's not focus on the negatives.
The Wii U, for all of its failed potential and missed opportunities, delivered some truly magnificent gaming experiences, and that's what I'll remember fondly about it. I won't dwell on the fact that the GamePad's touchscreen wasn't used in creative ways for the majority of the system's library. I'll also try and look past the fact that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild doesn't feature ZombiU-like inventory management.
Instead, I'll think about how much fun it was to be able to revisit EarthBound and Super Mario 64. I'll remember how awesome it was to play a new Bayonetta game. I'll go back and play…Um, okay, I guess I’ve pretty much covered all the games I enjoyed on the Wii U. It really wasn’t an extensive library! Still, the games that I did enjoy were great. Like an old acquaintance at school, there may not be too many memories, but the good ones are worth looking back on fondly.
One Last Hurrah
The Wii U is a weird console. Nintendo launched its then-new system as the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 were making their exits to make way for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It was a mid-gen console that was met with massive skepticism. After release, it went largely ignored for a while, with only its core fan base caring about any new game releases.
Of course, Breath of the Wild brought eyes back to the Wii U when it was playable at E3 2016. It was one of my favorite games at the show, and even though I didn't have an appointment with Nintendo, standing in line for five hours just to get a 60-minute demo session was well worth it. It's possible that Breath of the Wild wouldn't have been a system seller had Nintendo launched the game exclusively on the Wii U, but who knows what impact it could've had on the platform?
We'll never know since the majority of people playing Breath of the Wild are doing so on the Switch. That said, the game is so good — on either platform — that it's a fitting swan song for the Wii U. Breath of the Wild is an outstanding last hurrah for the underappreciated, underrated, underutilized Nintendo console.
I really hope the Switch isn't destined to suffer the same fate as the system that preceded it. Despite its slow launch, I hope it can bounce back like the 3DS rather than fade into obscurity like the Wii U. But even if the Switch becomes a niche product that only a select few individuals fall in love with, here's hoping it can get a solid enough collection of worthy titles so that its fans can have some great gaming moments.
I didn't know what to expect when I purchased my Wii U one cloudy morning in 2012. All I remember is walking into GameStop, being told they were out of stock, and then getting a call minutes later from the store manager who excitedly told me, "We got one, man!" I ran to my car, drove to the store, and brought home the console along with a copy of ZombiU. It was a great day, a great moment. One I won't forget.