First Impressions: Nintendo Wii U and PlayStation Vita

Looks like the Xbox 360 and the Wii had a kid...

Nintendo’s Wii U, so far, seems like a must have console. While it isn’t as innovative as the Wii, it still seems to be packed with interesting features that Nintendo is known and loved for. Though we only know about the controller at the moment, it seems to be full of cool features. The controller’s most notable aspect is the screen in the center, reminiscent of the VMU for the Dreamcast. This screen is able to do things such as show a different image that runs concurrent with the game, or even play the game itself while the TV is off. Perfect for a variety of different situations. Being able to use the controller as a separate screen immediately made me think of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, a fun game released back on the Gamecube that I sunk many hours into with three other buddies. While the interface left much to be desired (owning a GBA and a GC to GBA cable was not very common), it provided the grounds for a fun type of game that can now be created without having to use extra devices. Of course, this isn’t the the most original example, but it shows what one can do with the controller.

Aside from the controller, the Wii U boasts a ton of improvements. Nintendo, wanting to step up their technical game, is adding in 1080p support, and promises a much better online experience. I don’t want to make myself sound like someone who cares too much about the visuals, but this should win back people who think the Wii became “too casual.” The Wii U also has some strong third party support, what with launch titles such as Ninja Gaiden 3 (though as to how they’re gonna do this without Itagaki, your guess is as good as mine), Tekken, Ghost Recon, Battlefield 3, and Batman Arkham City. Additionally, with Nintendo’s always very strong first party titles, should prove to be a fantastic console with a ton of quality games.

The PS Vita, on the other hand, looks pretty sleek. The easiest way to describe it is if you took an iPhone and combined it with a PSP, you’d get the Vita. The Vita, just like the 3DS and the Wii U, isn’t a completely different console so much as an upgrade; I can’t say the Vita is very innovative. The Vita does, however, improve on some of the PSP’s weaker elements. At first glance, the second analogic stick (yes, they’re sticks this time, no more nubs and their tendency fall off) will make playing certain games, such as the entire FPS genre, much easier. The graphics of the system have increased quite a bit, approaching (though not quite reaching) PS3 levels. Additionally, the Vita’s screen is a touch screen, which will likely be used in ways similar to the touchscreen found on the DS. The back of the Vita is also a touchpad.

At the moment, it doesn’t seem there was a lot of games taking advantage of these two, as the most celebrated game, Uncharted, only used the two as a replacement for tasks such as fighting and climbing. Wipeout 2048, however, seemed to be doing a better job with all these new additions. By mapping all of the controls to the touchscreen/touchpad/tilting, the possibility of a smoother racing game arises. Though given the frantic nature of the Wipeout series, I can’t say the controls is the best of ideas, given the twitch reactions needed to succeed, and the gimmicky nature of tilt steering in general. In fact, for most of the games shown, I’d say the new methods of control seem more gimmicky than seamless, but then again, many said the same about the DS. One thing that impresses me is the level of integration with the PS3: Ruin showed the ability to turn off the game and immediately resume playing on the PS3. The Vita, in general, seems like it’s filled to the brim with social features, including StreetPass a passive information sharing system, and an Xbox Live chat and party system. I’m not entirely sure what the point of these social features are, so I can’t say much about them. However, for the rest of the system, I’m seeing a system that mirrors the DS in a way, but without being the first to implement many of these features; unlike the “innovative” DS, the Vita will be seen as just another copy if it fails. Gimmicky nature of some of the new features also leaves me rather skeptical, but if Sony can deliver good, solid games, the Vita could turn out to be a good portable device.

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A mad scientist who's so cool!

Laevatein

A mad scientist who's so cool!

2 Comments:

  1. I skipped the Wii not because I dislike motion controls but because of its lackluster library other than their trademark excellent exclusives (Other M notwithstanding). I look forward to playing Skyward Sword and Xenoblade once I get my hands on a Wii-U next year.

    • Agreed, the Wii was really lacking in captivating titles. However, I suspect that third parties didn't really develop for the Wii for a few reasons out of Nintendo's control. Microsoft had a huge grip on the console market this generation, since in most instances, developers work mostly on the 360, and wind up porting their games to the PS3/PC later (probably has something to do with the 360 being the easiest to develop for and having the largest player base, but I wouldn't be surprised if there was a lot of foul play going on, as well). It's the reason we see lackluster PS3 versions and PC games that very much feel like console games. I guess developing for the Wii probably requires the most effort, since the control scheme is very much different from the norm. Of course, there are a number of reasons, a few of which being Nintendo's fault (not to rag on them for not implementing HD capability in the Wii, but that probably deterred many a developer from working with their system). I sure hope the Wii U stands a better chance, since I don't see another generation of strong first party titles, weak third party titles helping Nintendo much at all.

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