Friday, November 09, 2012

Wii U Demo Station Impressions

I've had a chance to try out the Wii U (my first time seeing a unit in person) with the demo stations finally arriving at my local Best Buy and FutureShop here in Canada.

The Good
  • The controller is very comfortable to hold and surprisingly light
  • The size of the controller seems bigger than I had expected, but in a strange way, it looks less bulky than the forced perspective shot of the GamePad on the Wii U marketing materials
  • I've heard a few commentators disparaging the resolution of the GamePad, but my impression is that it looks quite bright and sharp and very comparable to a smartphone screen.  And it is certainly quite comparable to iPad 1 and most laptop/notebook screens.  I have a hard time seeing how a casual user is going to know it's not retina or hold that against the product in a significant way.  This seems more like a tech geek issue that only exists for people living in a bubble.
The Bad
  • Similar the early demo units at the Nintendo World Store in New York, these Canadian demo units only have Rayman Legends as a playable game.  Irony 101 - As I walked up to a demo unit, a father of 2 was fiddling with the GamePad and looking at Rayman Legends.   Next to him was a copy of Rayman Origins for the 360 that he was about to purchase.
  • The resistive touch screen does in deep feel a bit cheap if you're expecting to feel glass on what is very clearly a tablet looking GamePad.  The surface is plastic, similar to every Nintendo DS and 3DS device.
  • The menu is sparse but does include a video previewing Wii U accesories, the Wii U and the GamePad.   On-line features,  Miiverse and NintendoTVii are conspiciously missing.  This feels like a missed opportunity here for Nintendo to rope in casual users who might be interest in features.
The Ugly
  • While I don't doubt Rayman Legends is a good game to interest a segment of the core gamer set, every other game including marquee titles are in video form.  Worse, titles like ZombiU and Assasin's Creed III start with a slide show video.  I'm not sure if the slide show gives way to a full on video demo, I didn't stick around for it, but it just feels so... wrong to be treated to a slide show with a demo station.
While I walked away impressed and reassured the hardware, and especially the GamePad is a great product with a more than acceptable screen,  I can't help but feel Nintendo dropped the ball with planning their demo content.

Apparently, these units can get updates overnight via the Internet.   I would highly recommend Nintendo roll out more and better content for these units as soon as possible.   Rayman Legends is not going to sell Wii U to the public.  

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