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Why Wii U Is Next-Gen Whether You Like It Or Not

Posted on Sunday, December 2 @ 10:46:25 PST by Jonathan_Leack
Zelda HD, need I say more?

The next generation of consoles began exactly two weeks ago, and to a lot of people it’s been a difficult reality. Yes, the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 are now last-gen. No, that doesn’t mean you have to stop playing them. It has been a long time coming, but instead of many greeting the eighth generation with open arms, they’ve been quick to attack the Wii U for not raising the bar… or so they say. The truth is it certainly has, and here are a few reasons why it’s next-gen whether you like it or not.

Welcome to the Eighth Generation

First and foremost, the Wii U is next-gen simply because of its release date. The GameCube participated in the sixth generation against the Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, and Xbox. Similarly, the Wii competed in the seventh generation against the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The Wii U succeeds the Wii and by definition is next-gen. There’s no arguing with this.

Don’t underestimate the hardware

Okay, so the CPU is clocked at 1.2GHz. So what? Anyone who understands computer hardware is aware that efficiency is far more important than clock speeds. Funny enough, rumors state that the next Xbox will only have 1.6GHz per core, so what does that tell you? Even if the CPU were only as good as the Xbox 360s or PlayStation 3s, which is unlikely, you still have the GPGPU and 2GB of memory.

The GPGPU is a dramatic step up from what last generation consoles had, but nobody is talking about that. Instead they harp on the CPU without even understanding it. The memory is a necessary upgrade from previous generations which struggled to multitask, run A.I., and draw large-resolution textures. The Wii U is able to load a browser and other applications in-game without a hitch, but nobody is talking about that. If you’re on the side that sincerely believes the Wii U is less powerful than the last generation then you're in for a rude awakening once developers optimize development on the console, so prepare to eat crow.

Check out this GamePad

A lot of people are throwing mud around by saying the GamePad is a gimmick, but one thing I’ve noticed is most people saying that haven’t even used a Wii U. Unlike the constraints of motion gaming, the GamePad has a wide range of practical uses, some valuable and others merely convenient. In the case of games like New Super Mario Bros. U and Assassin’s Creed III, you can opt to play completely from the GamePad as long as you stay within 10 meters of the console. You’re probably assuming that you’d never use such a feature since you prefer playing on your television… until you try it out. Playing full AAA console experiences from the ergonomic GamePad is something everyone can find value in.

In addition, you have the unique experiences that the GamePad provides. In Nintendo Land, each of its six multiplayer mini-games shows how asymmetrical gameplay is a crowd winner. With the challenging environment of ZombiU, the GamePad becomes your survival kit where you manage your inventory and interact with your surroundings under stressful situations. As we’ve seen in the past, as time goes on the full potential of the technology will be taken advantage of, but as far as I’m concerned it’s already proven its validity.

Miiverse, a social universe within a console

After using Miiverse for a week or two, it’s difficult to go back to the isolation of the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. The moment you turn your Wii U on the social-plane comes to life with dozens of Miis, all of which can be individually selected and top comments shown. You can choose to head into the application where you’ll find discussions, impressive drawings, and even users helping each other in challenging games. It’s a huge step up from the anti-social systems of the last generation, especially for Nintendo. Given that it’s offered without a yearly fee, Microsoft should really take some notes. Nintendo has struck gold here.

Have fun without the aggravation

The Wii U corrects a lot of little nuances that appeared last generation. For one, it’s extremely quiet. You don’t have to let the turbine engine sounds of the Xbox 360 destroy your Assassin’s Creed III experiences. Also, the hardware has a very low heat footprint, so an episode of Red Ring of Death Season 2 has been averted. Lastly, if you’re like me you missed out on a lot of killer apps on the Wii such as Super Mario Galaxy 2, Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, and Xenoblade Chronicles. The Wii U has full backward compatibility and even includes a sensor bar for good measure. The jump to playing some of the highest-rated games of the last-gen is simple.

Instead of trying to find reasons why the Wii U isn’t next-gen, gamers should be glad that Nintendo breathed life into a stagnant industry that held onto average hardware for seven years. Instead of attacking the CPU for its 1.2GHz, they should go play Nintendo Land with a friend and see why the Wii U has the potential to be the best local multiplayer system in history. There’s a lot to like about the console, and once gamers get a chance to experience it for themselves, they'll realize why the Wii U belongs in the eighth generation.
Tags:   Wii U, Nintendo

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