The Wii U: Less a Virtual Boy, More a Dreamcast?

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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The Wii U: Less a Virtual Boy, More a Dreamcast?

Over the weekend I saw a great report from Ars Technica that did a post-mortem of sorts on the Wii U, which will soon be Nintendo's last generation console model thanks to the release of the Switch. This is a console that had a lot of problems, almost from day one, but there are those that believe this needs to be ranked more among the "good failures" like Dreamcast rather than the "bad failures" like the Virtual Boy. I find myself eagerly agreeing.

There were indeed many problems from the beginning. The Wii U tried valiantly to be innovative, a development that would have been hard coming off the Wii, a system also referred to by some as the "It Prints Money" system for its popularity and potential for fun. Sure, it had graphics that would have looked out of place on the systems before it--an original PlayStation had the edge on the Wii graphically in some cases--but considering how many people made a Wii part of a fitness regimen, it wasn't such a bad idea.

The Wii U, however, innovated in what turned out to be less than desirable directions. The system was comparatively underpowered, making console ports a challenge or an outright impossibility. While the few games that the system actually had were commonly considered fun by their players--games like Bayonetta 2 delivered on the game's established over-the-top nature and games like Captain Toad's Treasure Tracker delivered an unusual mix of puzzle and action that delighted many--there were still so few of them that it just didn't make much impact.

There's also a chance of a kind of Wii U revival, as the Switch will likely draw on the comparatively limited legacy of Wii U titles to produce at least some of its launch titles. Kind of a cannibalistic way to approach things, but it'd do the job.

No, the Wii U wasn't really a bad system. It tried to do something new in the field and for that it should be duly applauded. It just didn't do something new that people actually wanted, and that was the problem. It made mistakes. It dropped the ball. It lost the market as a result. This is all right; look how many failed light bulbs Edison went through.

Hopefully the Switch can deliver where the Wii U failed going forward, and if it can, that may well get Nintendo back up into a place as the third front in the console wars.

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