Why now is the best time to buy a Wii U
Nintendo has announced that its NX console will debut in March 2017, effectively killing the Wii U at a stroke. Here’s why you should buy one anyway.
The hype around Nintendo’s next generation console, the NX, reached fever pitch late yesterday when the Japanese gaming giant announced that it would release the NX in March 2017. All we’ll see at E3 this year from Nintendo will be Zelda U, and we won’t see that title this year at all; instead it will launch simultaneously for the Wii U and NX, presumably with the NX version being an extended version of the game depending on control and system specifics.
That means that Nintendo’s hype focus will be on getting consumers hyped up about the NX, while quietly chugging along with the Wii U and a diminishing number of titles. There will still be a few "new" Wii U games in the next 12 months, but not all that many to speak of. It’s safe to bet that third parties, unless they’re already well along the development path, won’t be betting the farm on any new IPs on the Wii U platform.
So that’s it for the Wii U, then, right? In a direct sales sense, maybe, but the upside there is that this makes right now just about the ideal time to pick up a Wii U console from your local retailer.
No, I’m not kidding. If you’re a keen gamer, the time is ripe to dive into the Wii U’s library of games before it gets much harder to do so.
- It’s a different gaming experience: Nintendo (as is its wont) went down a different path to its competitors this generation. It wasn’t a huge hit with consumers -- there’s no doubt it wouldn’t be pushing the NX this early if it was -- but the reality is that the Wii U gamepad does offer different gaming inputs to the more standard PS4/Xbox One controller design.
- The consoles will get cheaper, but much harder to find: The Wii U was never the smash hit that the Wii was, which meant that retailer inventories of the console have always been on the lower side. Yes, as the NX launch date nears there will be some decent specials to be had on Wii U hardware, but with an ever-diminishing number of available units. Picking up a console now means you’ve definitely got one now, whereas waiting for a bargain that might never come, or come in such low numbers that you can’t actually find a unit at the cheapest asking price could leave you wanting
- The games are also cheap: Right now, there’s a Humble Bundle offering a slew of Wii U and 3DS games that includes compatibility for US, Europe and Australian eStores. It’s a bargain even at the top $13 tier, but even beyond that, most Wii U games are discounted too. True, you can play Zombi on other platforms, but there’s something quite special about Zombi U on the Wii U gamepad that isn’t replicated elsewhere, and it’s a title that’s almost embarrassingly cheap now. Even Nintendo's own AAA efforts can be had at knock-down prices without too much effort at the moment.
- It’s about the games: The Wii U didn’t attract an extensive range of absolute knockout third party titles, and often its ports of cross-platform titles were a little weaker than its PS4/Xbox One counterparts. That being said, there are games available for the Wii U that neither Sony or Microsoft have been able to match in any way. Want to really think about level design? There’s nothing quite like Mario Maker. Want epic adventures? Play The Legend Of Zelda in its many variations, including the virtual console versions. There’s nothing to beat (or even match) Super Smash Bros Wii U in the hectic multiplayer fighting arena, with Sony’s sole effort being notably weak. Like your gaming retro style? NES Remix. I could go on, but I think you get the point.
- Cheap (good) games won’t last: The shovelware games will no doubt be on store shelves five years from now with pathetic "only $10" stickers flapping weakly off them, but while the quality games are nicely affordable right now, the reality is that the top notch titles for the Wii U will become more coveted and more rare over time. Nintendo may go down the Virtual Console path for Wii U titles, but it’s yet to do so for the Wii U’s predecessor, which means you could be waiting quite some time for coveted titles -- or paying too much on eBay for them in years to come.
I purchased a Wii U at launch, although to be entirely frank that was as much for journalistic reasons as gamer ones. Still, I’ve had just as much gaming fun, and in many cases more than with the "leading" consoles of this generation, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. I don’t regret that purchase one bit, but if when I go home I discover the Wii U leaking blue smoke, I’d have no hesitation in going out and buying another one -- and that’s something you should consider too.