While much of the internet is all too eager to tell you about whether or not you need a Nintendo Switch, or how the Nintendo Switch handles various types of disassembly and probably illegal reverse-engineering, it’s still a good time to consider a Wii U purchase if you don’t have one already, and while they’re still available in stores. Here are a couple of reasons why.
1. Free (and secure) Online Play
First and most importantly, let’s address Nintendo Network. It should be common knowledge by now that Nintendo is the only console-maker with any interest in running an online structure seriously. Nintendo’s is currently the only such network that doesn’t give away its customers’ identities and credit card numbers to every hacker that comes knocking. Nintendo has announced that Wii U online play will remain free, while Nintendo Switch will require a paid subscription. This is not surprising after certain audiences defended their consoles’ paywalls to the point where it looks like business-suicide to make a new console with online features and not charge its consumers extra to use it. Wii U may very well be the final generation where a console exists with all of its online features being completely free to use, and still be completely secure.
Even the first console to feature its own Online RPG, the Sega Dreamcast with Phantasy Star Online, required a subscription fee in the form of “hunter licenses”. It was only Nintendo that was able to offer fully-featured online play and services without requiring a subscription imposed on their consumers in this latest generation. One can certainly hope that the Nintendo Switch subscription fee will cover any costs to allow and sustain future Monster Hunter-, Dragon Quest-, and Phantasy Star online-titles on it, but at this time, that’s just speculation.
Currently, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is a better experience, and a better online experience, than its 3DS sequels. Games like Splatoon and the improved Ninja Gaiden 3 Razor’s Edge wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the Wii U, and they are worth experiencing online via Wii U, especially since they won’t be available via Nintendo Switch (the sequel, Splatoon 2, leaves arenas, weapons, modes, super-moves, and a story mode exclusive to the first game, replacing them with all-new content).
“Virtual Console online” will be a Nintendo Switch feature to keep an eye on in the future, but until that rolls out (along with enough and sufficiently-varied online Switch titles to match the comparatively robust Wii U library) the Wii U has you covered while you wait.
2. Controller options
Left-handers thrived with the Wii Remote and Nunchuck. Some gamers prefer having both sticks above the digital controls. Some preferred to use the Wii Classic Controller, or Classic Controller Pro. Some even played their Virtual Console games with the NES Classic Mini controller. Millions of dedicated game enthusiasts gave the Wii U GamePad a fair shake and ultimately fell in love with having a 2nd-screen and touch-screen on a home-console. And then there’s the Wii U Pro Controller a.k.a. the most ergonomic game controller that the human species has ever conceived.
When you buy the Switch, you’ll have two choices. First, the included Joy Cons and their associated grip. If you want more Joy Con options, you’ll have to wait for them to first get announced, and then to roll out to stores. Second and finally, the Switch Pro Controller, which looks like a step back from the Wii U Pro Controller, both design- and ergonomics-wise. Whichever your choice, you’re stuck rolling back to a Gamecube-esque layout with the sticks alternating between high and low positions. This might not be a problem for some gamers, but it is still a sharp drop in control-options compared to the Wii U.
3. Game Selection
Where to even begin? How about with the launch titles? Ninja Gaiden 3 Razor’s Edge, Darksiders 2, New Super Mario Bros. U, are good choices depending on what kind of game piques your interest. Nintendoland scratched some itches for local multi-player shooting, fighting, and adventuring. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Wii U Edition has claimed a good chunk of my play time. And for anyone who wants to play a Musou/Warriors game online, even today I’ll recommend Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper for Wii U, over Hyrule Warriors.
How about the Indie offerings such as UnEpic, Nano Assault Neo, Runbow, and Freedom Planet? The Wii U eShop is the place where great indies get their games known; Freedom Planet in particular was so well-received that it outsold Splatoon during its launch month on the Wii U eShop sales charts. Even at the time of this post, various indie studios are clamouring to declare their upcoming title as “the last Wii U game” while making sure that it looks impressive. We’ll get back to that.
Capcom has been putting the best of their portfolio in all categories of game on the Wii U eShop, with Mega Man Zero/Battle Network on Virtual Console, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate in retail, and Dungeons and Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara on the digital storefront, among other titles. Those aforementioned series are multi-hundred hour affairs if you want to see all the content or show off impressive skills. In the case of Monster Hunter, I’ve easily crossed 1000 hours of play across my multiple save files and characters on the Wii U alone.
How about having genuine backwards compatibility with countless award-winning Wii games, up-scaling them to HD without any extra charge? That is something that is only available on the Wii U.
How about the Virtual Console service that has improved so much since its inception that it deserves its own section in this article? Virtual Console and Backwards Compatibility only exist on the Wii U, and although Virtual Console is planned for Nintendo Switch, backwards compatibility is limited to controllers, and that’s only if there’s enough demand for it. Get these on the Wii U while you still have the chance.
4. Bayonetta 2 and The Wonderful 101
These games gets their own section because they are just that good. The Wonderful 101 was originally pitched as a Nintendo All-Stars franchise like Super Smash Bros; Platinum was just that confident that their game would be worthwhile. Platinum didn’t disappoint. TW101 shows off that the Wii U is a much more powerful system than anyone was willing to admit; animating a hundred allies, enemies and background objects and mixing them all up in a classic Saturday-morning-cartoon super hero atmosphere. While not a replacement for Platinum’s single-protag action games, TW101 certainly supplements and builds on Platinum’s portfolio. The hashtag #Wonderful101 proves that Platinum can make unique games that are just as compelling as their usual fare.
Bayonetta, the game that floundered under the so-called “Triple-A High Definition Cinematic Experiences” on other systems, took the gaming world by storm when the sequel was announced exclusively for the Wii U. Though threats of violence from the loyalists of competing consoles could ultimately cow some developers away from Wii U, Platinum Games was unfazed. Bayonetta 2 released to perfect- and near-perfect scores from enough reviewers that the general consensus around Bayonetta 2 is that it’s the best action game of the 8th Generation, hands down.
5. Virtual Console
Nintendo created the Virtual Console service as a way of preserving classic games forever. Older titles from consoles ranging from the NES and SEGA Genesis, to the Turbo Duo, to as recent as the Wii, is available on the eShop at a price much lower than you’d pay a collector, and tested rigorously to run as closely to the original hardware as possible. Want to own Chrono Trigger? Pay 2400 dollars for a pristine cartridge on ebay, or pay Nintendo 8 bucks. Either way, you have your very own legit copy, brand new. Other console manufacturers have taken advantage of their easily-confused audiences by making only their own console’s previous iterations available on their digital storefronts, and labelling that as “Backwards Compatibility”, but Nintendo’s Virtual Console service encompasses SEGA consoles such as the Genesis and 32X, consoles of the Atari series, Hudson’s Turbo consoles, SNK’s Neo Geo, arcade-hardware, &c.
6. Developers competing to make the “Last great Wii U game”
After Breath of the Wild was announced by Nintendo to be the “Last First Party Wii U Game”, third parties and indies started one-upping each other, calling their Wii U project the “Last 3rd Party Wii U Game”, “Last Indie Wii U Game” or straight up “The Last Wii U Game” altogether. Titles that had been kickstarted like Hive Jump and Soul Saga, or one-person dev-teams such as that behind Glass Wing Retold, or even completed games with DLC still on the way such as Shovel Knight and Shantae. Developers of all kinds came out of the shadows to announce their Wii U projects as still on track to be the latest and greatest, and the Wii U’s last hurrah. Whichever title ends up being so, the Wii U has a lot of “last hurrahs” to look forward to.
7. Superset functionality
The Wii U has some important game-play features that will be lost, possibly forever, once the Switch reaches full momentum. Dual-screens and touch-screen most notably, being able to enjoy the Nintendo DS gaming experience in HD and with Surround Sound. The Nintendo Switch’s emphasis on portability forces out many of these options, or at least enables developers to use the excuse that they were developing with portability in mind, not to develop for those options. Darksiders 2 on the Wii U is a great example of Wii U functionality that can never be realized on other consoles: Environmental sounds occur all around the player, but Death’s voice always emanates from the GamePad’s speakers, making all the dialogue sequences more immersive.
8. You can still play your downloaded digital games even when your Wii U is disconnected from the internet.
Live in an area with poor internet connectivity? Do you just prefer your consoles to stay offline? The Wii U is the only 8th Generation console designed around the consumer owning the games they paid for, and thus allows you to play your games whether you’re online or not. While other consoles were designed around the assumption that the user would want a corporation monitoring their every action and monetizing everything they could get away with, Nintendo did what they always do, by designing purely around the video game experience.
Every gamer owes it to themselves to own the Wii U, whether they plan on getting the Nintendo Switch or not. At the time of this post, the Wii U is still available for purchase from any reputable retailer, and if you can’t find any in your area, then store.nintendo.com offers refurbished systems under the same warranty as brand new.
I’ll likely be crossing my 2000th hour of play in Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate during much of the first year of the Nintendo Switch. Maybe I’ll see you there.