Other than Breath of the Wild and a port of Stardew Valley, the Wii U is already settling in for an early retirement. Having only sold 13 million units it was never going to put up a challenge to the Wii – that’s like replacing Hulk Hogan as your champ with Roman Reigns. Depending on Nintendo’s strategy next year, the Wii U could end up with a lifespan that only marginally eclipses that of the Sega Saturn.
People sneered at the Wii U from its initial release, and it’s been an uphill struggle, but come the end of the eighth generation – which may never end with Sony and Microsoft’s strategy – the Wii U can, and should hold its head high, because it never wanted anything to do with those oversized book holders in the first place.
Now sure, Nintendo finally had a console that supported HD graphics, and people thought that ZombiU could be a launch day killer app (spoiler: it wasn’t). But those of sound reason knew that this was just another weird little console by Nintendo – only this one would let us play Mass Effect 3 around the house when mum wanted to watch Eastenders. Ok, so we thought we’d be playing it on the bus, but that was our own eager imaginations getting ahead – with a little bit of Nintendo not being particularly clear in their messaging.
Sure, it does seem Nintendo never had a clear vision of what the Wii U was meant to be, certainly in comparison to the vision and overwhelming success of the Wii. In some ways it has a closer resemblance to the Dreamcast: an odd little soul of a machine that we were far too ignorant to appreciate at the time, but like the Dreamcast, the Wii U is home to a number of the best games of this generation that we all just want Nintendo to port across; their archaic attempt at online play for the likes of Mario Kart 8 is frustrating, and by God would I love to see Splatoon running on the PS4. Yes, third-party content went out the window almost immediately, but if you look at the absolute bangers the Wii U has pumped out; Super Mario Maker, Mario Kart 8, Splatoon, Bayonetta 2, Smash Bros, Xenoblade Chronicles X, Captain Toad: Treasure Road, they’ve either developed, published, or in someway financed their way into a solid back catalogue of games that the Xbox One still struggles to identify.
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