What the Wii U Needs to be Successful

You all may have noticed that I’ve been writing about Nintendo a lot. Well, I’ve been logging like 6 hours a day on the Wii since I got GoldenEye and the Metroid Prime Trilogy, so gimme a break.

I mentioned earlier about the state of Nintendo now and my hopes for its revival. Well, I want to be a bit more specific and outline 5 things that I think Nintendo needs to do in order to make the Wii U truly successful.

1. Robust Online Support

If they fix this, this will be reason enough to get one. The online support for the Wii was lackluster at best. Nintendo Wi-Fi connection, in my mind, is on par with maybe the Dreamcast’s support. It’s not even comparable to Xbox Live. Thankfully, they’re getting rid of friend codes; but the service needs to be fast, fluid, and seamless to add friends in order for it to really take off. It’s 2012. The Internet is everywhere. Nintendo needs to leverage the interconnectedness of our world to their advantage. Oh, and we want achievements too. The Metroid Prime series gives a great example of how these can work in-game. Let’s see how the Nintendo Network will fare.

2. Ship with the Pro Controller

Pack-Ins can really make or break a system. WiiSports are really what caused the Wii to take off, and Super Mario World did the same for the SNES. The Wii originally shipped with a Wiimote and Nunchuk, and that really got people on board to the configurability of the system’s control power. I believe that the Wii U should ship with both a GamePad and a Pro controller. While this is slightly redundant and may drive up costs a bit, it ensures that every player is exposed to one. While this undermines the GamePad, it also reinforces Nintendo’s devotion to hardcore gamers—which is one of the main foci of the Wii U.

3. Get all major games cross-platform (and add in some exclusivity)

No matter what else happens, it really comes down to the games. That’s what sets Nintendo apart. But it also sets them apart in a bad way. Heard of Skyrim? Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3? Wii U needs those games. If you look at the top 20 games on Wii, seventeen of them are first party titles. One of them is Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games, which is a stretch. The other two? Just Dance and Just Dance 2 by Ubisoft. That’s ridiculous. Of those 18, Mario is in 8 of them. Great for Nintendo, bad for everyone else who develops games for the system.

The Xbox 360 and PS3, on the other hand, have a much more varied list amongst first and third party titles. Call of Duty is a regular occurrence. Wii U needs to have Call of Duty. And it needs to be as good or better that the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions. They can add in some extra value by putting in some Nintendo-franchise exclusivity. An example:

SoulCalibur II was an excellent fighting game released for Xbox, PS2, and GameCube. It got an average of 91% for reviews. What was the best-selling version? The GameCube version, because it had Link from The Legend of Zelda. Give us more like that Nintendo, and we’ll reward you with our hard-earned money.

Now the Wii U does have some standard games coming, like Madden NFL ’13. But it’s also getting some games late, like Batman: Arkham City [Armored Edition], Ninja Gaiden III [Razor’s Edge], and Darksiders II. But while it’s understandable that we’ll be getting these late, we can’t always be on the back burner. We need them on time and well-executed.

4. Bring back classic Nintendo series

If you look at the character roster in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, half in the game don’t even have a game on Wii: Star Fox, F-Zero, Ice Climber, EarthBound, Pikmin, Kid Icarus. I’ll add in Metal Gear because, well, he needs a good Nintendo game for a modern console. I’ve  played games from most of the aforementioned list, and they’re great fun. Now, bring them back. Series like Ice Climbers and Kid Icarus are understandable for not having a game made since the NES days. Series like Star Fox and F-Zero have no such excuse. Bring them back in full force. I promise, we’ll buy them. (I, for one, want to play an F-Zero game. I was too young to play the GameCube one from ’03).

5. Integrate well with our existing devices

iPads. iPhones. App Stores. Web Browsers. These items are a huge part of our daily lives. As Nintendo faces increased competition for our attention from these devices, it needs to have a very real and physical (ha!) presence on these devices. Give us apps to log in and check the status of our towns in Animal Crossing, or real-life happenings in the world of Zelda. By giving us these, you increase your mindshare amongst your users. And that’s exactly what they need. Thankfully, it looks like they already have something planned in this space. It just needs to be good.

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