Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Look at the Wii-U Launch Lineup

A succinct, unbiased roundup of every single day-one retail launch title available for Nintendo’s new console

In case you haven’t heard, there’s this new gaming machine out called the “Wii U.” It’s the first of what many folks are calling the “next generation” of home consoles, despite boasting hardware that’s LESS powerful than its two competitors from last generation’s console cycle. And uh, try to overlook the fact that almost half of the launch library consists of 360 and PS3 ports, and DEFINITELY try to overlook all of those storage problems and ESPECIALLY that, um, less than consistent, online integration.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, let me tell you kids something: there is a pervasive, as in, ENTRENCHED to the roots, Nintendo bias in the gaming media. Video game history has been practically whitewashed by the supposed custodians of gaming lore to make it seem as if video gaming was shit until Nintendo came along, and that virtually everything the Big N has done since the NES has been a rousing success while everything Sega, Atari and SNK did in the 1990s was utter crap. Yeah, Nintendo has released a lot of great games over the years, but it seems as if they get free passes ALL THE DAMN time for whoring out franchises and providing gloriously inadequate online services while virtually every other publisher and developer on the planet gets continually shat on by IGN and Destructoid and all those other lame-ass sites that have about as much credibility as a handshake from a Lehman Brothers associate for the exact same things. You’re not going to hear a lot of negative press about the Wii U anywhere else, so let me be the first - and perhaps, only - honest voice on the matter:

The Wii U, to put it briefly, blows. Like, Free Willy with sinuses blows, amigos and amigas.

The hardware is indisputably underpowered. The online integration remains hardly on par with what Microsoft was giving gamers on the ORIGINAL Xbox a decade ago. The gimmick this time around adds about as much to the experience of gaming as a scratch-and-sniff card, and to top it off? The battery life on the newfangled Wii U pad is about as lengthy as a box of sealed doughnuts at a Jenny Craig meeting. And with those afore-mentioned storage problems, good luck turning your Wii-U into an all-in-wonder media leviathan that the next wave Xboxes and Playstations will assuredly be.

Granted, it’s not hardware that makes a gaming station worthwhile, but its library, and to be perfectly blunt, I am not too impressed with what I’ve seen from the day one offerings. Yeah, there are a few good (but not GREAT) games to be found, but by and large, the crap outweighs the cream, and absolutely NOTHING available at retail currently justifies dropping  that $350.00 USD.

As a public service, I’ve decided to take it upon myself to review all 28 day one launch games available for retail on Nintendo’s new unit. A brief summary is attached at the very tail end of the article, but if you’re really pressed for time, here’s the Wii U launch in just 21 syllables: “some good, a sizable amount of bad and a whole lot of mediocre in between.”

I haven't seen this many shoddy ports since my last trip to New Orleans!

Assassin’s Creed III

It’s a lot like the PS3 and 360 versions, only blurrier, slower and with additional bugs. In other words, it’s like every other port you’ll find on the system.

Score: 6 / 10

Batman: Arkham City: Armored Edition

A solid game, although it’s not exactly an improvement over the older console iterations. The Wii-U features are so tacked-on, you can almost smell the Elmer’s on your control pad.

Score: 7 / 10

Ben 10: Omniverse

You know, it says a LOT about  the hardware when a day one launch game has a buggier online interface than  “Phantasy Star Online.” You know, that DREAMCAST GAME THAT CAME OUT MORE THAN 10 YEARS AGO.

Score: 2 / 10

Call of Duty: Black Ops II

A solid port of the hyper-popular FPS, albeit with a whole lot more technical hiccups than you’ll find on the PS3 or Xbox360. And let’s not even get started regarding the gimpy online play here…

Score: 6 / 10

Darksiders II

An action-adventure platformer that tries REAL hard to imitate “God of War” and “Prince of Persia,” but it just doesn’t have enough juice to compete with either genre titans. The control pad, by the way, adds virtually nothing to the experience, either.

Score: 6 / 10

Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two

As a plus, the game has pretty decent graphics, and it implements the controller a lot better than most of the other launch games. The down size is, the game frequently suffers from slowdown and other technical glitches…not that a developer would EVER rush a game into stores for the holiday season.

Score: 6 / 10

ESPN Sports Connection

A lot of people will tell you that this game is nothing more than a brazen, half-hearted imitation of “Wii Sports,” but you know what? They’re right.

Score: 3 /10

FIFA Soccer 13

It’s a solid footy game, and some of the touchpad controls make for a few hours of fun, but it’s certainly no match for its PS3 and 360 cousins. That, and it’s missing a ton of features, too.

Score: 7 / 10

Game Party Champions

This game is a lot like “Wii Sports,” only with more options. And all of those options, I assure you, suck.

Score: 3 / 10

And if your family actually spends more than an hour a week playing "Nintendo Land," congratulations on being the whitest people in history. 

Just Dance 4

If your idea of a good time is pretending to have an epileptic seizure with a MacBook in your hand, then this is surely a day one pick up for you. For everybody else, however, it’s probably best to keep on a walkin’ if you see this one on store shelves.

Score: 4 / 10

Madden NFL 13

For what it’s worth, it isn’t a bad port. I’d say you’re better off with the 360 and PS3 version, but all in all, it’s probably one of the better at-launch games at your disposal

Score: 7 / 10

Mass Effect 3 (Special Edition)

The control setup here isn’t as bad as you’d think, but it’s clear that the new pad isn’t the most conducive in the world for precision-heavy shooters. A decent enough port, but nothing that you haven’t already played before - and more enjoyably - on other consoles.

Score: 7 / 10

NBA 2K13

It’s got some interface problems - hell, there are some menus that the game WON’T let you back out of without having to reset your system - but as a basketball sim, it’s pretty damned outstanding. It’s probably on par with the PS3 and Xbox360 versions, and if you’re a hardcore NBA fan, it’s something that’s definitely (James?) worthy of your attention.

Score: 8 / 10

New Super Mario Bros. U

You know, I could seriously criticize the game for its lack of originality - really, it’s the same thing we’ve been playing for the last 20 years, albeit with a tablet computer in lieu of a controller - but at the end of the day? It’s still a fun game, and one very much worth trying if you decide to drop a full $350 on your brand new gaming rig.

Score: 8 / 10

Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge

By and large, Ninja Gaiden 3 was a pretty disappointing game on the 360. Rest assured, this Wii U iteration remains a faithful port of that utterly unremarkable experience.

Score: 5 /10

Nintendo Land

A mini-game collection, featuring all sorts of referential Nintendo humor. Fun in short spurts, but nothing that will keep you gaming into the wee (Wii?) hours of the night.

Score: 6 /10

The future of video gaming / pawn shop surplus.

Rabbids Land

A gimped out mini-game collection, because god knows, Nintendo needs more of those on their platforms. For the most casual of causal gamers only.

Score: 4 / 10

Scribblenauts Unlimited

The “Scribblenauts” franchise is a pretty enjoyable little series on the DS. Unfortunately, the Wii-U is not, indeed, the DS, and a lot of the bite-sized fun just doesn’t make it in the translation to the big screen.

Score: 6 /10

Skylanders Giants

If you’re not familiar with the “Skylanders” shtick, it’s this amazing racketeering job in which the developer shamelessly require parents to purchase these specially-designed action figures so kids can access certain content within the game. And if you purchase this abomination, just remind yourself that you’re killing both “video gaming” and the prospects of your child ever becoming a non consumer-culture obsessed retard in one fell swoop.

Score: 0 / 10

SING Party

Nothing says “living it up” like singing Carly Rae Jepsen songs in front of your friends. No wait, pretty much ANYTHING other than that is “living it up” by comparison.

Score: 4 /10

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed

The single biggest surprise at launch, this game is a downright awesome Sega love-in that serves as one of the best kart-racing games to come down the pipe in quite some time. Seriously, how could you not have a blast playing a game that allows you to race against Danica Patrick, Wreck-It Ralph and a goddamned Sega Dreamcast VMU?

Score: 8 / 10


A visually underpowered party game that tries to be one part “Worms!” and one part “Chu-Chu-Rocket.” And odds are, you won’t want either part.

Score: 4 / 10

Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Wii U Edition

A lot of people had issues with the version of the game released on the 360 and PS3, and this one doesn’t necessarily remedy any of them. Add an extra point if you’re playing it using the pro controller.

Score: 5 /10

Transformers Prime: The Game

This one may appeal to nostalgic men-children of the 1980s, but as an action-adventure game, it is severely stunted. If that wasn’t enough, the visuals and audio are both pretty lackluster, too.

Score: 4 / 10

Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper

Since every single console launch is required by law to include some sort of “Dynasty Warriors” game, the Wii U gets this formulaic, glitch-eaten re-release of a franchise that’s been re-hashed more times than Tommy Chong’s water pipes. For fans of super-repetitive hack and slash games ONLY.

Score: 4 / 10

Wipeout 3

Much to my surprise there seems to be a huge market out there for anti-game, tech demonstrations like this. If I have to tell you not to pick this one up, you’ve got bigger problems than choosing which software to squander your disposable income on, amigo.

Score: 3 / 10

Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2013

Your girlfriend may like it, but come on, folks. Your money and effort would be better spent on a stair-stepper.

Score: 4 / 10


Nothing says “killer app” quite like awful combat, piss-poor graphics and completely needless gimmick controls. It’s playable, but the quasi-broken gameplay will certainly ensure more frustration that satisfaction.

Score: 5 / 10


The Wii-U launches with a half dozen games, and exactly ONE console exclusive title that I would consider worth purchasing (that being the new Mario game - not that I didn’t have a few problems with that one, of course.) Granted, there’s quite a bit of games available that fluctuate from mildly above average to almost, almost worthy of a purchase, but even with those titles in mind, you have to take two things into consideration:

1.) Virtually every game we’re talking about here is something that’s already been released on “last-gen” consoles and, much, MUCH more damningly…

2.) Said games were technically superior, in terms of controls, gameplay, graphics audio and especially online integration, on those last generation of consoles.

As a general rule, it’s sort of hard to hype a new gaming rig as the “console of the future” when you’re basically hawking consumers a big, fat plate of warmed over, half-eaten entrees that taste better on the machines they already own. As far as exclusive games go, we’ll probably be seeing a few great games from the Big N down the line, and pretty much Jack dookie from any third party developers until at least two or three years into the product’s life cycle.

For Nintendo to succeed, they’re going to have to give us a 3DS style-turnaround, not only in quality of available titles but also pricing. The fact that this thing is going for 350 smackers is just an affront to capitalism as a practice, and I suspect that, in less than a year, the console will be selling for AT LEAST $100.00 less (if not being retailed at $200.00 by Christmas 2013.)

As far as the future of the console is concerned, there is some promising stuff on the forefront, but whether or not Super Tekken Bros. or The Legend of Zelda: The Tablet of Ganondorf will be enough to seduce would-be gamers away from the Xbox 720 or PS4 is still up in the air. The price point was a huge factor in the success of the Wii, and unless the next two consoles from Sony and Microsoft are twice as expensive as the Wii-U, I wouldn’t count on that marketing strategy proving successful twice in a row.

Needless to say, I wasn’t too enthralled by what I saw from the House Mario Built earlier this month. Granted, they have plenty of time to right the wrongs between now and next holiday season, but as far as Christmas 2012 goes?

Sorry, but the console you’re looking for appears to STILL be in another castle...

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