7 Reasons the Wii U Isn’t as Bad as Everyone Thinks

A scene from New Super Mario Bros. Wii U with a giant Mario breaking pipes and scaring goombas.

Source: Nintendo

The Wii U is one of Nintendo’s biggest, most expensive failures. Nintendo went with a bold design for the system, what with that chunky GamePad controller, but it struggled to get people interested. Most gamers took a pass on it, opting for the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One instead. Now Nintendo has shifted its attention on its next console, while leaving Wii U owners with virtually nothing to play for the rest of 2016.

But just because the Wii U didn’t become a smashing success for Nintendo doesn’t mean it’s a worthless system. Nintendo made some smart decisions with the Wii U, so let’s take a look at seven things the Wii U got right.

1. First-party Wii U games

The cornerstone of any Nintendo console is the library of excellent games the developers at Nintendo make themselves. Without them, we would have no Mario, Metroid, or Zelda games. We’d have no Animal Crossing, Fire Emblem, or Pokémon games. These are some of the most seminal works in video game history, and they only exist because Nintendo dreamed them up and honed them to near perfection.

The Wii U didn’t have as many great games as most previous Nintendo consoles, but it had its share of winners. Super Mario 3D World is a joy to play. Super Mario Maker offers an endless supply of levels, and lets you create your own — which turns out to be really fun. Mario Kart 8 is one of the best party games of all time, and so is Super Smash Bros. The Wii U may not have had much in the way of third-party games, and it may not have gotten all the Nintendo games we would have liked, but many of the ones it did get are modern classics.

Link aims a bow and arrow to fire in The Legend of Zelda.

Source: Nintendo

2. Remote play

Sure, the GamePad controller is ungainly and large, and wholly unnecessary for most Wii U games. But it does provide one very useful function: It lets you use the Wii U without hogging the TV. For most games, you can play the entire thing on nothing but the GamePad’s built-in screen. That’s a major boon for anyone whose family or roommates find themselves fighting over the television night after night. Simply boot up the Wii U from the GamePad, and you’re good to go.

3. High definition

Nintendo was roughly seven years late to the HD party, thanks to the original Wii’s lack of graphical power. But the Wii U is fully HD, and Mario and company look fantastic on big new televisions. Games like Super Mario 3D World and Mario Kart 8 look nearly as good as Xbox One and PS4 games, despite the system’s weaker specs. The colors pop, the images are crisp and clear, and the fantastical Nintendo worlds look like places you want to explore. Once you play a Nintendo game in HD, you definitely don’t want to go back.

4. Backward compatibility

The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 both lacked backwards compatibility at launch, and the PS4 still doesn’t have it. Meanwhile, the Wii U comes with a full backwards compatibility mode that lets you play any of your Wii games without missing a beat. That means you can put your Wii console in storage (or sell it for its going rate of about $5 nowadays), and still be able to play all of your favorite Wii games. Ditching your Wii frees up a valuable spot in your entertainment stand, making your life a little less cluttered.

A Wii U and GamePad with Super Mario 3D World playing on it.

Source: Nintendo

5. The Virtual Console is retro heaven

On a similar note is the Wii U’s Virtual Console. Basically, it’s a digital store that lets you buy retro Nintendo games for just a few bucks apiece. Whether you want to play the original Super Mario Bros. or The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, the Virtual Console has you covered.

Say what you will about the limitations of the VC — including that you have to re-buy all of your games on each new Nintendo system you own — but it has a selection of classic games that’s second-to-none. With all of the video game history on display here, you might not even care that the Wii U isn’t getting much in the way of new games.

6. TV control

Maintaining a mountain of remote controls is one of the many inconveniences of modern life. Thankfully, the Wii U’s GamePad controller can act as a TV remote, so you never have to check under the couch cushions to locate your lost clicker. All you have to do is go through a simple set-up process, and you can use the GamePad to turn the TV on and off, switch inputs, change the channel, and adjust the volume. It’s as simple as it is convenient.

7. External hard drives

The Wii U comes with a pathetic amount of storage (32 GB max), and in this digital age it’s easy to blow through it and then some. Thankfully, you can connect an external hard drive to your Wii U, so you can stock up on all the games you want. Better yet, you can wait for a great sale on an external hard drive, so it’ll cost you much less than one from Nintendo probably would. Not a bad deal.

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