Well, Thanksgiving at my brother’s house went very well. As predicted, the kids were very happy with their uncle’s somewhat extravagant gift of a Wii U Basic, and we had a lot of fun playing Super Mario Bros for the Wii U. What I really liked about the game were the mini games that involved both the Wii remote and the GamePad which introduced a whole new level of cooperation to game playing. It was cool watching my older brother and my little nephew bonding by working together to achieve goals and then celebrating when they completed them.
The surprise hit of the evening was Just Dance 4, which I’d rented from GameFly. It turns out all the grown-ups in the room had a blast playing it (with participants ranging in age from about 35 to 65). The kids at first felt a little self-conscious playing with the adults, but when we unlocked “Puppet Master Mode” they had a blast controlling the grown-up’s every move (I’ll be posting a full review of Just Dance 4 for Wii U shortly).
Since my nephew and second niece both have a DS, they took to the GamePad almost immediately. We did encounter the bug that many people are reporting with the Wii U taking a ridiculously long time to load menus (particularly the Wii U menu). More on this below, as I’m encountering the same problem multiple times on the Deluxe to the point of ridiculousness.
So, about the Deluxe. I’d placed a pre-order at Wal-Mart a few weeks ago and it finally arrived on the Friday after Thanksgiving. The box looks identical except for the obvious difference in the colors of the units pictured on the box, as well as two stickers in the corner, one that says that the NintendoLand game is bundled in the box, and the other with a URL to something called “Deluxe Digital Promotion” at ddp.nintendo.com. I found out later that this was a promotion where buyers of the Wii U Deluxe can earn 10% of their digital purchases on the Nintendo eShop back in the form of points that can be used to make other digital purchases.
Opening the box revealed the same impeccably packaging as the Basic.
For those of you wondering, only a few parts pictured below (plus an additional 24 GB of internal memory and the aforementioned 10% discount on digital downloads) mark the only differences between the $349 Deluxe and the $299 Basic. As you can see below, this includes the NintendoLand game, a charging cradle for the GamePad, a stand for the GamePad (for when you don’t want to charge it), and two cheap pieces of plastic which they’re calling the “Wii U Console Stand” which lets you stand the console on its edge without worrying too much about it tipping over.
Since the system is pretty much identical to the Wii U Basic, I won’t talk through through the entire setup process again. In short, once again I found the hardware to be impressive both in technology and design (the black console looks especially sleek). But once again, the process of setting up the system was painful, if not in complexity then in sheer time. Again, it took me over an hour on a fairly fast Internet connection to download the update.
This time I did do two things that I skipped the last time. The first thing I did was to set up TV control during setup. This step was ridiculously smooth, at least for me. It just asked me to type in the make of my TV (Westinghouse), and then test out a few buttons to make sure they worked. They did for me on the first try.
Voila, suddenly the GamePad could turn my TV on and off and adjust the volume.
The second thing I did was to convert my data from my Wii to my Wii U. This was a long and arduous process, so I’ll dedicate a future post to it.
I’ll be posting reviews for Just Dance 4, Your Shape 2013, and ESPN Sports Connection for the Wii U shortly. And not to worry fans of the original Wii, I’ll still be posting reviews of Wii fitness games and maintaining the Wii top 10 separately from the Wii U top 10. And don’t worry fans of the original Wii–as fitness and exercise games become available, I’ll still be writing reviews. In fact, one of the great things about the Wii U coming out is that Wii’s are going to get a lot cheaper to buy; in some cases I’m seeing them for under $90 for a whole set. A Wii and an old TV set would make a great addition to any exercise room.
By the way, the elusive Wii U is still hard to find, but not impossible. GameStop has had fresh stocks of Wii U Basics and Wii U Deluxes the past few days. And word is that my mid-December, a whole new shipment will be coming in. So don’t panic and pay a ridiculous amount for yours at Amazon or eBay.