Wii U: The Secret Powerhouse

Wii U

Since the release of Wii U back in 2012, the console has been struggling with sales, game developers, and tepid reviews. While some of the issues stem from the game developers themselves, the entertainment system has just recently outsold the Xbox 360 in its home country of Japan.  Additionally, reviews are beginning to look much more favorable, with a number of reviewers indicating that the Wii U is not underpowered as previously reported but is, in fact, a secret powerhouse.

Consumers are currently buying between 8,000 and 9,000 Wii U consoles each week in Japan.  These totals far outperform Microsoft’s system which sells only a couple of hundred units each week.  With lifetime sales currently only reaching 1.6 million units, the Wii U still has some catching up to do to outperform the lifetime sales of either the PlayStation Vita at 2.5 million or the powerhouse sales from the PlayStation 3 at 9.8 million consoles sold.

The Wii U is not just looking toward powerhouse sales numbers; the unit also packs quite a secret punch.  While previous reviews of the system indicated that the unit was underpowered and equivalent to last-gen hardware, Retro Studios, has recently given credit to the powerful capabilities it hides. Until now, the view has been of a machine with lackluster performance.  The CEO of GameSpot, Michael Kelbaugh, disagrees with this assessment.  He says the console is not only more than adequate but is a powerhouse.

A team at GameSpot worked on the Wii U making the game Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze.  Kelbaugh indicates that the team had a good time cracking the system and learning HD techniques.  They discovered the Wii U had much more horsepower than expected and that the artists could basically go crazy and make as many polygons as they wanted.

The Wii U will most likely continue to have issues with third party publishers. Airtight Games and Square Enix considered doing a version for the Wii U of Murdered: Soul Suspect but decided that it was not worth their effort since they simply couldn’t make do with a lazy shovelware port. Other companies such as Retro Studios agree that they are not done working with the Wii U and hint of a new Metroid game which may shortly appear.

Other titles to look for include Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze.  This game follows through with the storyline from the Wii title Donkey Kong Country Returns while attempting to improve on it.  Tropical Freeze will showcase some a new playable character along with sharp HD graphics, and what is hailed as the most important aspect, Viking penguins.  2014 will also bring out two new installments of the ever popular Mario-related series.  May should see the release of Mario Kart 8 which will not only have the classic features expected but will introduce some new items such as anti-gravity karts.  Additionally, though with no date currently set for release, the Wii U version of Super Smash Bros. will be making an appearance.  Of course, with the new version, new fighters such as Mega Man and the Wii Fit Trainer will appear.

Many other games, including a new Yoshi solo game will be released in 2014.  Those interested in RPGs should keep watch for X which will be released from Monolith Soft.  There will be a plethora of downloadable exclusive titles such as Scram Kitty and his Buddy on Rails and Tengami.  There has also been an announcement from the president of Nintendo, Satoru Iwata, that this year there will be an update to the virtual console which will add titles from their substantial back catalog of DS games.

In the face of poor past reviews and determinations that the Wii U just does not have any power behind it, it appears that the year 2014 may be the year in which the negative assessors are proven wrong.  From current reviews and analysts, the new consensus is that the Wii U packs a previously unknown and rather secret powerhouse.

By Dee Mueller

Nintendo Insider
Gaming Blend
The Signal