The lights are on
The Wii U is not without its shortcomings, but I have already found a lot to love.
I spent a lot of time getting the Wii U updated and transferring over my Wii data, as most Wii U owners did on its first day of life. Just as I was ready to jump in, my wife’s parents arrived to stay with us during the Thanksgiving break. I shut everything down to greet my relatives and listen to them marvel at how adorable the baby had become since the last time they saw her.
Shortly after everyone got settled in, I got a text from Bryan Vore asking me to add him on his Wii U friends list. I drafted a text to send back to him that I couldn’t at the moment because I had family over. I didn’t want to be rude and turn on the TV and start playing video games after they had driven approximately 1,300 miles to come visit us. Before I hit send, however, I realized that turning on the TV to play a console video game was now a thing of the past. I stealthily turned on the GamePad, added Bryan to my friends list, and turned the system off without even exiting the conversation, and no one was the wiser. It helped that there was a cute baby distracting everyone with her recently mastered walking skills.
Later that night, when we were looking for things to entertain ourselves, I suggested checking out the new Wii U. My father-in-law and I each grabbed Wii Remotes, and I gave my one-year-old toddler the GamePad as an experiment. She’s young, but she has at least a small understanding of the mechanics of touch screens. I used to hand her my iPhone, but I can’t do that anymore now that she has mastered the unlock and has a penchant for rearranging my applications. Under my wife and mother-in-law’s watchful eyes, the baby gripped the stylus in a stabbing motion and began attacking the screen, randomly placing blocks for Mario and Luigi to jump on. She didn’t provide any real help (and was mostly a hindrance, in fact) and though she didn’t understand what she was doing, I still feel like I played my first cooperative video game with my daughter.
Pictured above: Not my daughter's hands.
Beyond the advantages of having a Wii U in the house with toddler, like being able to play Call of Duty without displaying a montage of violence on the giant glowing screen for my daughter to absorb, I have been enjoying the Miiverse. Before the Wii U was set to release, I knew next to nothing about the Miiverse. I assumed it would fall under the same umbrella of the Wii’s online features that sounded cool on paper, but never really met fruition. Very quickly though, I found myself absorbed in what the service had to offer. It’s like a Twitter devoted entirely to video games with the added advantage of drawings, without the crassness of an online community. The best part about it is that it presents itself with very little need for active participation.
I love seeing the impressive drawings that accompany random communities. I laughed out loud when I saw a detailed drawing of Hank Hill from King of the Hill in the Netflix community proudly proclaiming, “King of the Hill and Netflix? Awesome!” It’s all so random and weird, and I get a taste of it just by turning on my system.
There are even gameplay implications that I can’t wait to see grow. I booted up Batman: Arkham City, and jumped in the community just to see what was going on, and someone posted the following image on the board:
The code worked, and I ran around Arkham City as Batman from The Dark Knight Returns for a few hours without ever having to jump online to look up the code.
None of the Wii U’s games have jumped out at me as required ownership or reasons to buy the system, but for the type of gamer I am, in the household I live in, the Wii U is exactly what I want. It’s a system that allows me to play console games without interrupting what is currently happening on the television, and without exposing my daughter to the adult games I want to be playing, but don’t think she is ready for quite yet. Also, it plays Nintendo games, which tend to be quite good.
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