Friday, June 17, 2011

Sorry, Wii only allows U one controller

Recently, it seems the more that gets revealed about the Wii U, the less appealing it looks to me as a hardcore gamer. First, despite Nintendo's claims that this is a fully realized next-gen HD console, we see that the Wii U seems to lack an internal harddisk. Of course, the next ringer is that Nintendo says the Wii U won't play Blu-ray or DVD discs, because they don't feel the need to pay for the licenses required to do so -; and since the Wii U doesn't play back media files, you didn't really need that harddisk anyway. How convenient.

Now, we get further information that the Wii U will only support one Wii U controller - Hello. According to Nintendo CEO Iwata, while it is technically feasible to support multiple Wii U controllers, cost is the main issue. Of course, cost seems to be the main issue with everything related to Nintendo's decisions lately. I find this a bit disingenuous to say the least, because Nintendo is also the only console player to make big profits on their hardware. So who is all this cost cutting for... the consumers or Nintendo's bottom line?

Now this probably wouldn't have raised my hackles if Nintendo's online gaming capabilities were more in line with what Microsoft or Sony provide. But I sometimes have problems remembering friends' phone numbers, much less their friend codes. For better or worse, the Wii was a social gaming machine that you played together with people in the same room. Due as much for the lack of online multiplayer as for the casual party games that made up a large percentage of its content.

Now it is true that the Wii U will also work with Wii-motes. But that means most social gaming on the Wii U will be done from the standpoint of dissimilar competition. One person will have the Wii U controller, and their goals will be different from everyone else who is playing against him or her with Wii-motes. As casual party games go, this is ok. But do you see a problem with this picture?

Ostensibly, the Wii U is aimed at a more hardcore market and shooters are standard fare. How do you play split screen co-op or multiplayer with dissimilar controls? The answer is, you don't. And in the case of shooters, you really need two analog sticks which Wii-motes most certainly lack. So unless Nintendo allows more than one Wii U controller to be connected or gives the Wii U a total networking overhaul, you're not going to be playing co-op multiplayer with any of your friends, either together in the same room or online. What a friggin' mess!

Maybe it's because Nintendo has spent too much time making casual party games and not enough time with real hardcore, multiplayer titles; but I get the distinct feeling that none of this has been particularly well thought out. And all the stuff that's been coming out of Mr. Iwata's mouth lately is doing nothing to convince the hardcore gaming audience of the Wii U's credibility to go up against Microsoft's Xbox or Sony's PS3 anytime soon.

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