Nintendo's new console sure is great, but it's not quite perfect. We check out why...
We’ve been pretty glowing in our coverage of the Wii U so far, mainly because it’s a fantastic little machine with tons of potential, however we’ve got to admit that there are a few things that need to be changed if it’s really going to have any chance of staying ahead of the pack. We take a look at five issues that have been causing us varying degrees of frustration this week:
The Wii U isn’t alone when it comes to necessary installation following the download of purchased games, however the install times here make the PS3 seem instantaneous. As we noted in our review earlier this morning, we downloaded Sonic & All Stars Racing: Transformed to test out the Wii U’s eShop functionality, which worked quite well aside from a slightly disappointing download speed. However, this morning when we set about installing the download we were faced with a simply ridiculous 45 minute wait while the system did its thing.
This is, quite simply, unacceptable. That’s about as long as it should have taken to download the bloody thing to begin with. Nintendo really needs to improve this side of the Wii U’s functionality immediately or it’s going to put a lot of people off from using the system’s digital distribution facilities.
We’ve established that the Wii U looks fantastic, so wouldn’t it be great if it could become the central focal point of your entertainment hub? Of course it would! Unfortunately that’s not an option right now unless you rely solely on Netflix for your entertainment. There are other services coming, but how about some local streaming capabilities Nintendo? The damn thing doesn’t even play DVDs! Hopefully we’ll see some form of local network streaming application launched in the months ahead. Perhaps Nintendo TVii has this functionality already – we’ll find out next month we suppose.
That Goddamn Menu Music
You shouldn’t have to mute your TV when you’re browsing around your console’s interface, but that’s what we’re finding ourselves doing lately. Nintendo’s shocking choice of elevator music for the system menus shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that it’s the next logical progression from the original Wii’s menu “soundtrack”, but it doesn’t half grate as time goes by. Okay, so this isn’t the biggest gripe in the world, but trust us, it will really get on your nerves after a few hours of prolonged exposure.
Menu Loading Times
The only genuinely frustrating part of the day to day usage of the Wii U so far for us has been the inexplicably long loading times between screens. Let’s say you want to make a change to your system settings, for example. You hit the settings tab in the menu expecting the instantaneous display of your options, but end up sitting there with nothing happening for just over twenty seconds before the page loads. TWENTY SECONDS. That’s, quite simply, an unacceptably long delay and it needs to be fixed ASAP. Even exiting back out to the main menu takes another 18 seconds by our count. That’s 38 seconds of your life wasted if you accidentally tap an icon on the screen you didn’t mean to. Not good enough.
We’re not software technicians, but surely the obligatory system update, necessary to unlock so much of the console’s functionality, could have been just a touch smaller? We’re lucky enough to have relatively fast (by Canadian standards anyway) 25MB unlimited broadband here in the office, and an hour from start to finish wasn’t completely over the top, but we genuinely feel sorry for those who have a slower connection and metered bandwidth use. Imagine picking up your 8GB console to learn that there’s a double-whammy of not having enough storage space to download most games in the eShop, and having to wait around for three or four hours while it updates, or going over your monthly bandwidth allowance because of it and having to essentially pay to access the majority of the system’s functionality. Extreme examples, yes, but we’ll bet it’ll happen more than Nintendo would care to admit come Christmas morning.
These concerns aside though, we are genuinely impressed with the system – just be aware that you’re going to have a handful of issues to contend with if you’re an early adopter!