Starting with the Nintendo Entertainment System, or NES, back in 1985, Nintendo has made itself the console for the entire family. Whether it was taking blood out of Mortal Kombat or having games that were meant for everyone to enjoy, the whole family could surround the television and enjoy what Nintendo had to offer. This family tradition continued over the years as Nintendo would release the Super Nintendo, the Nintendo 64, the GameCube, the Nintendo Wii and most recently the Wii U.
As a fan of Nintendo consoles and video games in general, I always find myself loving the Nintendo consoles as they would release because it always brought something new to the world of video games. Whether it was the 64 bit graphics on the Nintendo 64, or the motion control in the Wii, everyone knew Nintendo had something revolutionary up their sleeve when planning a new console.
That all changed with the Wii U. When the Wii U was released back in 2012, people were excited because of the new touchscreen gamepad that would let you play the game on your controller and have a second screen for maps and extra info. The hopes for the Nintendo Wii U were set high, just like every Nintendo console. Those hopes crashed quickly. That is because of two things: Games and Hardware.
If you were to look back at the past Nintendo console generations, there would always be a handful of games that you would consider a classic and maybe one of your all-time favorites. For me, Super Mario 64 was my favorite on the Nintendo 64, Super Mario Sunshine was my favorite on the GameCube and Mario Kart Wii was my favorite on the Wii.
With every Nintendo console release, we expect the same three games. First, we expect some sort of Super Mario Bros. Second, we always get a new edition of Mario Kart. Finally, we get a new version of Super Smash Brothers. A little down the line we get a Legend of Zelda game. This is to be expected. The Wii U release did give us these games, but that's pretty much it.
Early into the Wii U's life in our homes, EA, one of the biggest game software companies, came out saying that they wouldn't make games for the console because of the poor console sales. The CFO of EA, Blake Jorgensen, said:
That was a huge blow to Nintendo Wii U. EA's game library includes their sports franchises like Madden NFL, Fifa and NBA Live. The rest of their catalog includes the Need for Speed franchise, Battlefield, Sims, Mass Effect and Dragon Age. Those are a lot of games that could possibly bring attention and gamers to the Wii U console.
When I moved last year, I brought all my gaming consoles with me. My Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Wii U and even my gaming PC. Three of those four were played extensively because I had the urge to play them. One was left in the box. That one was the Wii U. I owned Smash Brothers Wii U and Mario Kart 8 and still didn't have the urge to play either of them.
I recently got rid of my Wii U because I still didn't play it. As I look back at the games for the Wii U that I would want to play in 15 years when this console is considered 'retro', I can't think of any. Besides the main 3 in Smash, Kart and Mario Bros, there are no other titles that I would say was a great game. Some people might say Splatoon was a great game and I did enjoy it but it didn't give me the urge to keep playing it.
Look at a list of all the games that have come out or will come out in 2016. Out of ALL the games, 19 of them are being released on the Wii U. In 2015, there were 43 and in 2014, there were 67. How does the amount of games for a system drop 24 over the course of the year than get split in half the next? The Wii U lacked those big games to make this a console worth remembering.
We were promised a Legend of Zelda game for the Wii U. The first trailer was showcasing its beautiful graphics and we were in awe and couldn't wait to get our hands on this game in 2016. 2016 comes and Nintendo says it's been delayed, and guess what, it is also coming out on our next generation console, the NX, next year! While I was excited for the Legend of Zelda game, I will be ready to play it on the NX next year instead of the Wii U. It is supposed to be a launch title for the new system so I'm sure most gamers will grab it on the NX when they pick up their system in March of 2017.
The other problem for the Wii U was the hardware. At first people thought it was cool to have a touchpad as your controller and have that second screen experience. The problem with the gamepad controller was that no one really knew what to use it for. One of the first games that I thought was cool to play with the gamepad was Zombi U. Holding the tablet up in front of the sensor to see if there were any zombies around was amazing and it made me feel that every game would be like this one (and it isn't even a first party game). They weren't. Most games would just use the gamepad to showcase the map or the pause menu.
Let's talk about the gamepad for a second. The gamepad had a built in camera on the front but was never really used for anything. It has the NFC spot on it to support the Amiibo product line that could enhance your skills in games like Smash. The most confusing part of the controller was the port on the bottom. That port could've been used for an extra accessory, but there was never a product or game that needed to use that port.
The gamepad started to lose the flair that it had when we first saw it. In Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze, you don't even need the gamepad. The screen is dark while you play the game. The gamepad seems to be one of those ideas that's amazing in your head, but in practice it's kind of like owning a bar, or starting a band with your friends. You think it's a great idea and wonder why you never thought of it before. When you actually think about it, you realize that it was a stupid idea and you laugh about it. That's what the gamepad is.
Even legendary designer Shigeru Miyamoto said that the gamepad wasn't a success. In an interview with Fortune he said,
Nintendo games were always my favorite. Recently I bought the Nintendo 64 again just so I can play Super Mario 64 using that funky controller. Nintendo games leave a strong memory when you play them. Whether it's with friends, family or by yourself, you could always count on Nintendo to bring the most enjoyable gaming experience to you. It worked on the NES, SNES, N64, GameCube, and the Wii. But I am sad to say, it did not work on the Wii U. That's why I consider the Wii U to be a huge failure.