1/9/14: Setting Up a Wii U, & Wind Waker HD
With the help of gift cards I’d received as holiday gifts, my last major purchase of 2013 was a Wii U. This wasn’t an impulse buy: I had much of the price already covered and had been considering buying a Wii U since its release. (I’ve believed in the console from the beginning but other expenses kept pulling me further away from the purchase.)
It was “off-TV” play that appealed most (being able to play the game on the GamePad only, away from the TV), combined with the fact it will play the Nintendo franchises I love as well as many of the third-party games I would typically buy for my PS3 (with off-screen play included on many Of those titles). I could have simply purchased a Playstation Vita for (some) cross-save compatibility with my PS3, or a Vita & a PS4 for off-screen play via the Vita, however, a Vita + PS3 meant not having access to Nintendo games and GamePad integration (which some Wii U games use very well), and a Vita + PS4 meant the same thing with the added problem of having to pay a lot more money that I’m not yet ready to spend. So I went with the Wii U, and I’m happy with that decision so far.
I bought the Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD Wii U bundle. Wind Waker comes as a digital download, and I was worried the download time would be too much of a delay in my being able to actually play a game on the system, but it downloaded surprisingly quickly—especially when compared to a Playstation Network download. This is partly due to the size of the game (2+ gb, as opposed to PSN’s approximately 5–20 gb full games) and Nintendo’s network (which has less active users at the moment). I didn’t know it yet, but I could have downloaded it with the system off. Instead, I left the download status bar screen on the Wii U GamePad and checked on it here and there until it was done. Had I shut the system off, what’s normally a red “off” light would have been yellow to indicate it was downloading or updating in the background.
I should backtrack, though; before I downloaded Wind Waker I had to go through the mandatory new console setup: this included putting in my wifi network password, setting up a Mii to go with my user login, and doing a system update before it was allowed to go online. (In retrospect, I like that last bit since it ensures you are fully updated before you do anything besides play a disc-based game. This is good because early instances of people transferring their Wii data to their Wii U caused some problems—sometimes irreversible—and being fully updated ensures that whatever bug fixes that are available are also fixed on your system.) I was able to transfer my Mii from my 3DS (though you could always create a temporary Mii and link a different Mii to your account later) and, after the system update, link my account to the NintendoID I had recently created for my 3DS.
It was all pretty easy.
The GamePad controller turned out to be much more comfortable than I’d imagined. It’s lighter than an iPad (probably because the actual processing power is happening on the console itself), has a rechargeable battery (something the Wii never included on controllers by default), and functions much the way you would expect an iPad Mini with a controller attachment to function. In many ways it feels like an enhanced DS, and in my opinion, that’s why it works. It’s a way of playing—moving your attention between two screens—that many current Nintendo fans are familiar with via the DS and 3DS, so bringing that same idea to a more powerful at-home console just makes sense. Plus, the ability to send many games to the GamePad screen so you can play in another room, away from the TV, is a sweet enhancement. But I digress.
You can add friends to your friends list, post screenshots to Miiverse (Nintendo’s GameFAQS-lite-style per-game forum), access an Opera-based browser that moves pretty quickly, and visit the eShop all via the home screen. (For those who have never used a Wii U or 3DS: the home screen is a system menu that suspends the game you’re playing and allows you to quit out of it or access certain other apps that can run at the same time.)
And all this was fine and expected—I’d done my research; I’d used a friend’s system a couple of times. But it wasn’t until I loaded Wind Waker HD that I realized just how much I’m going to enjoy the Wii U. I’d played Wind Waker on GameCube, and it became one of my top Zelda games, but I’d never replayed it. The game is the right balance of story, humor, and exploration, and the HD version improves on it: it looks incredible, and the menus have been relegated to the GamePad screen so you don’t have to pause and cycle through the once-clunky menus to find the item or song notes you want to play. You can still pause to check those things (and you need to if you’re playing on the GamePad instead of the TV), but you can also switch items on the fly or leave your map open for an easy glance down to the GamePad if you need to get your bearings. You can also aim your items using the accelerometer in the GamePad—much like Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword allowed—though if you don’t orient the GamePad properly before selecting the item, your aim can get massively screwy.
I won’t go into detail about the game’s charm, vivid color scheme, and once-controversial art design—it’s all been talked about to death—but I will say that the game is even better than I remember, and I’m glad Nintendo brought the game back into circulation for players who have never experienced it.
I also played a few demos: ZombiU makes good use of the GamePad by integrating it as a device your character also has. It includes a live, digital map, lets you organize your inventory, and you can hold it up and move it around to scan the in-game environment. The Sonic Lost World demo was kind of fun, but it mostly felt like a stiffer Super Mario Galaxy. The GamePad integration seemed minimal from what the demo showed, though it does let you play off-screen and your progress carries over to the main game (I love when demos work that way).
All in all, I’m happy with my Wii U purchase and I can’t wait to play highly rated games on it like Super Mario 3D World, New Super Mario Bros U, Pikmin 3, Rayman Legends, The Wonderful 101, and maybe Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (I haven’t decided which system to get it on). I’m excited for the gaming that lies ahead.
HYLIAN BANK NOTES
I guess if you save the kingdom enough times, it’d make sense that your face would be on the currency, at least that’s what deviantARTist Ash envisions.
Each bank note was designed based on what Ash thought would be appropriate for a modern day Hyrule. If you like these notes and want to see more, be sure to comment on Ash’s deviantART page. He’s contemplating a $100 note and will make one if enough people are interested.
Recreations of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time are nothing new — devoted fans of the game made this impressive to-scale Minecraft version of the game just recently — but how about a pixel-by-pixel work of art that turns the 3D title into a 2D map?
Hehe. SNES-looking version of Zelda: OoT’s map.