When the Wii U first launched two years ago, no one was sure what to make of it. Lots of people thought it was simply an expansion to the Wii. The Wii U’s high-definition graphics were viewed by many as Nintendo merely catching up to Sony and Microsoft’s previous generation. Sales were much lower than expected, and the grumbling about Nintendo’s entire future began in earnest—and continues to this day.
Flash forward to this holiday season and the Wii U is suddenly one of the hottest items around. An attractive price point, a modest but high-quality library of games, and the unique touchscreen controller make the Wii U the most interesting console on the market. In addition, Nintendo’s primary focus on family-friendly entertainment and software continues unchallenged.
If you still need some convincing, here are five reasons to get a Wii U this holiday season.
1. It’s the Games, Stupid
When Bill Clinton ran for president in the early 1990s, one of his major campaign slogans was, “It’s the economy, stupid.” When choosing a new console, it’s all about the games. Easily the most important reason to get a Wii U (and every Nintendo console each generation) is Nintendo’s own first-party games. While some major franchises and exclusives still exist among Microsoft and Sony, more and more big name developers are releasing multi-platform games. For the most part you can get away with owning only one of the consoles or a PC and play nearly every game available—except Nintendo games.
You simply can’t play Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Pikmin, or Pokémon anywhere else, and it’s not a stretch to declare Nintendo as the keeper of the most beloved franchises in gaming. While a few exclusive third party titles may sneak in there, such as the well-received but very mature Bayonetta 2, for the most part you’re buying a Nintendo console for Nintendo games.
After two years, there are now plenty of really great games exclusive to the Wii U, including New Super Mario Bros. U, Pikmin 3, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD, Super Mario 3D World, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, and Mario Kart 8.
The recently released and hotly anticipated Super Smash Bros. is the biggest system seller in Nintendo’s arsenal. What began as a fun “What If” arena fighting game starring Nintendo’s biggest names has spawned a series of popular sequels. Each generation has had progressively larger rosters. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U (not the most elegant title) has been widely hailed as the best entry yet and its massive appeal, insane amount of content, and solid fighting mechanics easily justify the purchase of a Wii U for any Nintendo fan.
2. Playing Together
Since the early days of Xbox Live, consoles have been connecting everyone online, offering many advantages to those with scattered friends and family. These days there are few games that bother with split-screen or same-screen cooperative modes—what has been affectionately dubbed “couch co-op.”
For younger gamers and those with nearby friends, local co-op remains one of the most rewarding gaming experiences, and Nintendo has become the king of couch co-op. Most of their major marquis titles from Super Mario 3D World to Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. (as well as others like Skylanders Trap Team) offer super-friendly local cooperative and competitive modes. Super Smash Bros. even has an insanely awesome eight-player mode specifically for local players. If you’ve got multiple gamers in the house (parents included), the Wii U is a no-brainer.
3. Family-Friendly Gaming
When I say “family-friendly,” I don’t necessarily mean that Nintendo’s games are primarily cutesy cartoon characters with minimal violence (although they are that). Family-friendly also refers to how the console incorporates its unique gamepad.
Picture this scenario: You’re busying unlocking new characters in Super Smash Bros. when your little one notices the time and asks to watch TV. You know playing games is better than watching TV, but she’s got her favorite shows and you’re not in the mood for a battle of wills. The gamepad allows you to switch your game from the TV screen to the embedded touchscreen on the gamepad, essentially turning your controller into a portable gaming device. For families where the TV is prime real estate this concept is revolutionary and incredibly welcome.
4. Most Bang for Your Buck
A big part of the Wii U bursting out of its initial sales slump last year was a lovely $50 price drop. The Wii U was already the cheapest of the new consoles and now it’s significantly cheaper than an Xbox One or Playstation 4 at just $300 for the basic model.
Because of the aforementioned amazing first-party titles, the Wii U also has some of the best bundle deals around—especially to coincide with holiday sales. Most Wii U bundles come with the excellent Super Mario 3D World. There are also Wii U consoles that come packaged with Mario Kart 8, Skylanders, or New Super Mario Bros. U, allowing you to get a nice jump start on your library before you even start looking at additional games.
When you consider all of these aspects, the Wii U is a great console to buy this holiday season.