So after my first weekend what are the overall impressions?
Horrible, just horrible. Started at ~10:30pm last Thursday. Failed to connect to my Virgin Media Super Hub - took an hour to work out it needed a static IP etc. Then once going it took 10-15 attempts to start the system update, which fail once whilst running and eventually took ~1 hour on a 60Mb line. There were then further updates to Nintendo Land, Mario, Netflix etc. Fairly shocking for a Nintendo console out the box.
Once it was up and running in general use it's just lovely. The GamePad is generally really well used and integration is well thought out and useful. Being able to do things like turn on, access tools, downloads and even some games without turning on or taking over the TV is great.
Utilities out the box are decent. Browser, Netflix, Lovefilm and Youtube all useful additions. Browser I thought was surprisingly quick and lack of multi-touch is not so bad once you get used to using the sticks. No HTML5 video support though. YouTube looked very nice aesthetically but wasn't well designed in terms of using the two screens. You can't use the app by itself on just the gamepad and they could have done a lot more with the second screen when playing on the main screen.
Switching apps, or bringing up friends lists etc takes too long, something they should be able to improve with updates.
Nice to hold and use. Good finish and solid enough. Screen is ok to look at - not sure there are any controls for brightness etc though? Maybe hidden in the options.
I found the resistive screen poor to start with as I'm used to very sensitive capacitive screens. It's still not great but I'm getting used to it. It's best to use the stylus where you want a bit more precision and can afford to use it (browsing for example).
Battery life has been ok with reasonable use. I stick it in the charging cradle when not in use and that works well for me so far.
Game - Mario
Not played a Mario for some time properly, so familiarity of it all is not something I'm well placed to comment on. It's a nice looking game and great fun to play though. Good set of extra challenges and things to keep you going outside the main game too.
As you might expect lots of nice little touches and polish to the game keep you smiling throughout too.
A game that can also be played purely on the gamepad too - which works very well and looks great.
Game - Nintendo Land
I thought this would be an ok diversion and perhaps a bit of a laugh couch multiplayer. Didn't think it would be worth a £40 entry fee if outside the Premium bundle.
I'm really enjoying this one though. A lot more content than meets the eye and a lot which can be enjoyed single player too. As with Mario lots of nice touches and polish which complete the package.
Really for me the surprise was the Attraction Mode couch multiplayer game. It works really well and has a well thought through structure. Select number of players and rough amount of time you want to play for. Each round the gamepad switches to a different player and they get a random selection to choose a games to play - either vs. all the other players or against a specific player. Anyone not playing that round gets a chance to bet on who will win and get points that way. The game balances the opponents you can chose for a one on one so it's fair too.
Game - Zombi-U
Just got to play this round a friends place. Really liked the pace, atmosphere and integration of the gamepad - it adds a lot. The Zombi-Me bit it does with the gamepad camera is lots of fun too.
Other - eShop
Seems quite well structured and has a decent amount of content in terms of screens, video and full games / wii-u-ware(?). Very low on demos though - just FIFA. They should have had demos of all the wii-u-ware stuff (make it mandatory) - and the Nintendo titles at least.
Prices were generally too high - particularly retail titles. RRP is not what retail sells it for and that should be reflected. The 8% (about 10% if you want to deceptively round up) points rebate for premium owners is not enough.
Demos once downloaded also then need to be installed. That's rubbish. The 360 has been doing this how it should be done since it's launch. No excuse for this not having been designed better.
Other - MiiVerse
From the outside it looks like this is just a forum built in to the OS, which by itself is nice enough. Bring the community into the system and don't pollute other social networks. However the extension directly into games brings about something more substantial. Things like Mario encouraging you to comment on achievements in game and those messages not just appearing in the forum of the game, but also in friends world map directly in the game is really quite nice. Extending that to allow drawings and screen grabs as standard is also very useful.
It's not a killer app as such, but it is a differentiator and a nice Nintendo take on this sort of integration.
As a system the Wii-U is a pleasure to use. In a lot of ways very well thought out and designed. The OS set-up of being able to customise the appearance and location of utilities and games is what should be standard these days. It does this well whilst using the other screen for supplementary info or a secondary view.
The second screen is very natural for the majority of use and play. Only bad design in a particular application (YouTube for example) being outside that. It does add to games and general use significantly - however there isn't a single magic bullet with this like WiiSports was for the Wii. That's a good thing in the long term I think. It doesn't force a particular way of play onto games like motion control did. It does offer flexibility and freedom to use or not use as appropriate though.
The system and it's games are fun - that's the bottom line. Whatever happens with third party support post PS4/NextBox you can near guarantee some quality releases for years to come from Nintendo.