Nintendo and its games consoles have been a part of our lives for some considerable time with the Game Boy, Game Cube, DS, Wii and 3DS all trotting through our house as the years have rolled on by. I’ve been happy to give them house room with their family friendly games and the children’s childhoods were happily spent in the company of Mario, Luigi and Zelda. It was no surprise then that when I was asked if we would like to write a review of the new Wii U, I wasn’t allowed to say no!
I’ve chosen to review with the expert help of my two older boys as they can explain it all better than I can (my daughter could too but, as she has been in rehearsals for two different theatre shows every night for the last two weeks, she hasn’t had much chance to play on it yet!) T is 17, O is nearly 16 and I am 46 – here are our thoughts!
Wii U Nintendo Land Premium Pack Review (and a couple of extras)
We were sent the Nintendo Land Premium Pack which includes a 32gb black Wii U console, the black game pad and all the accessories you need to get it hooked up along with a copy of Nintendo Land.
We also looked at 2 other games.
Nintendo land is a collection of small single and multi-player games designed to show what the Wii U and its controller can do which is new and different.
T: Most of the games are very, very good, especially the multi-player ones. All of these are eminently playable regardless of skill level so it is entirely possible to play with young children or old parents.
O: A few simple games designed to show how the system works, Nintendo Land is great fun for everyone, with games ranging from shooting robot aliens to playing hide and seek with Mario. The more people the better.
Me: Old parents? How rude! Nice and simple though and lots of fun – there was a lot of laughter.
Wii Party U
Wii Party U is a collection of multi-player minigames tied together within different frameworks depending upon the game mode; we particularly enjoyed the “board” game!
T: Although the gamepad is mostly shunned in favour of traditional Wii remotes for most minigames the games are all very accessible for anyone regardless of age.
O: A board game with added hilarity, Wii Party U is great for people who aren’t very good at games and entertaining for those who are. Mum beat me! I didn’t even know that was possible. You move forwards more depending on how well you do in the competitive mini games, but several things, such as squares that allow you to help the person in last to move up or gates to slow down the people in first, allow for a well-balanced game.
Me: Age mentioned AGAIN…this time because, despite my lagging way behind throughout the game we were playing I stormed ahead with my triumphant completion of the knitting stage – KNITTING on the Wii U?! Genius! It was while we were playing this game that I became a total convert, not just because I WON, but because I realised that four of us aged from 46 down to 7 were all happily playing a board game together where none of us were penalised due to our age (young OR old) and that we were interacting just as we would with a traditional board game laid out on the floor or table. Did I mention that I WON?
New Super Mario Bros U
T: It’s a Mario Bros game. So it’s very, very good as is to be expected. The multi-player in particular is very enjoyable, although it can get pretty hectic and frustrating at times with more than two people playing. Although it isn’t massively difficult playing multi-player with someone of a different skill level it can be a bit more so than in the other games. Thankfully there is no real penalty for someone else’s failure. It’s fun, it’s good, it’s well designed, pretty and varied – thoroughly recommended.
O: It’s Mario. There isn’t really much more to say; Jump on the heads of grumpy mushrooms and get to the end of the level. By far the best feature is the co-op play, in which two to four players play on the same screen and try not to accidentally knock each other down bottomless pits. Thankfully death isn’t a huge problem, and the levels are very well designed, so don’t expect anything unreasonable.
Me: I didn’t win. T did give up on me when we were all playing together though, lifted me onto his virtual shoulders and carried me at speed through the levels because I was holding them all up. I like the social aspect of multi player games, we were all chatting, urging each other on and laughing – a lot!
Off TV Play
T: Thanks to the Wii U’s unique controller it is possible to access most of its features using only the controller’s built in screen without needing to even turn on the television. This is ideal if using a shared television set, allowing the user to continue playing while someone else watches something on television. It works very well with no real noticeable lag, so long as you don’t stray too far from the console itself.
O: Using the Gamepad tablet without the TV basically just lets someone else use the TV without kicking you off the game, as was an issue with the old Wii. Over the years I’ve had to replay loads that I lost from getting switched off by Dad (or I just refused to get off – either worked). Most new games work with the Gamepad’s screen, and it even has a headphone jack.
Me: This is the special bit, the thing which marks out the Wii U as something a bit different and it’s the thing which means that the whole family can be in the same room doing different things but still together. I’d rather my teens were sprawled all over the furniture in the same room as me than isolated on screens in their bedrooms. This is why I am a little bit in love with this gadget.
T: This is Nintendo’s own social network. It provides boards upon which users can communicate about the games they play through drawing pictures and small Twitter style text messages. The communities all revolve around games. Astonishingly Nintendo has managed to ensure that these communities are 100% safe for children; it is impossible to post swears, rude pictures or anything offensive at all. Consequently it is one of the safest and most pleasant forums for online interaction I think I’ve ever used.
O: Imagine a version of Facebook, but without the trolls and risk of viral pictures of you with jokes written on them. Miiverse is a game focussed social network with great moderation and no ability to post photos, so your kids are much safer. I’ve used it a bit, and no one is ever rude, and I’ve heard that anything rude that does get on gets taken down incredibly quickly. Also, you can just ban your kids from it in the parental controls settings if you would rather they didn’t use it.
Me: It really is as nice as it sounds, it adds a level of safe social interaction which we would be happy for Bonus Boy to use if he wanted to.
T: Digital content is becoming more and more prevalent and, thankfully, Nintendo has created a simple and sensible digital store from which to purchase games as downloads. Many of the games are priced to compete with their retail counterparts and, much like the Wii and 3DS, their virtual console service allows users to purchase and play games from their previous systems. My only complaint would be that at present these older titles are somewhat lacking in quantity especially when compared to the Wii’s enormous retro game library.
O: Nintendo have had an online shop since the original Wii, but this one is actually fast and easy to use, although the downloads can take a while. The list of games on there is fairly large, and if you had a favourite game from the NES or SNES back in the 80s or 90s, it may be on there for a reasonably low price. A fair few new games can also be downloaded in the same way. Just bear in mind that the Wii U doesn’t come with a huge amount of digital storage space so you may want to buy some large memory sticks for it if you want to download full retail titles regularly.
Me: I have nothing more to add!
T: As a service Netflix needs no introduction and on the Wii U it is as intuitive and quick as one could hope for. The Wii U does, unfortunately, lack an ethernet port so if you have a slow wireless connection it may not be as whizzy as you might hope, but over our relatively slow connection it ran just fine. The menus are quick and easy to navigate with the controller and the interface is only really rivalled by mouse input on a computer when it comes to skipping. It is also entirely possible to watch anything on the controller in off TV play, which is as great as it sounds!
O: A while back, Dad bought a Blu-ray player, which he now uses exclusively for Netflix. It was a great idea to get onto the Netflix service, but when we tested the Wii U version, we found that it was loads better for using it than the Blu-ray player. It also isn’t that much more expensive, and it plays games. The only downside is it doesn’t play Blu-rays, but we only have about 3 anyway, so that isn’t a problem.
Me: We’ve had Netflix for a while watching it through our BluRay player – it works substantially faster on the Wii U which means I don’t have to grumble at the load times nearly as much which makes for a calmer TV watching experience!
Extra Points to Note
- All the old Wii remotes and most of the accessories (eg the balance board) are compatible with the console – old remotes are therefore very desirable if you want to play multi player games as remotes are not included in the package
- Old Wii games are compatible
- It’s Nintendo but with pretty HD graphics, very easy on the eyes, it’s fab!
- It’s suitable for all the family!
Wii U Nintendo Land Premium Pack retails at £249.99, would we recommend it as a Christmas present? Yes, we would.
Disclosure: We were sent the Wii U Nintendo Land Premium Pack plus the extra games to review. This makes me very popular in this Nintendo mad household. All words, opinions and images are our own. We really enjoyed playing the games and writing this review together!