Obviously Nintendo is not well-liked on here by some, and my own comments often defending them even less so. I've heard every complaint, valid and petty, that suggests that the Wii U is a disappointing system with a disappointing launch lineup and overall disappointing performance. Some of these assertions are completely correct while I feel others are just nitpicking.
It's not often that I find myself critical of Nintendo (or at least to the same degree as some of the users here) so I thought I would try to bring to light the things Nintendo SHOULD focus on to improve the Wii U or perhaps their followup console.
I should warn you, if you want to hear me complain about things like specs, controllers or mature software content, you'd better look elsewhere. Things like that do not matter to me in the grand scheme and I don't believe Nintendo should waste time on matters of that kind of trivial nature. This will be a blog focusing primarily on issues regarding network features.
Let's talk about Online Infrastructure
This is the first and foremost complaint I've had since the Wii. When I heard of the Wii U's predecessor's online capabilities (such as playing online games, downloading Virtual Console games and receiving messages and other content from Nintendo, I was ecstatic. It all seemed like brand new ground to tread in the industry. In some respects it was cool... for about two weeks.
Downloads were slow, messages were infrequent, and games like Super Smash Bros. Brawl had abysmal online functionality. To make matters worse, there was almost no way to directly interact with other users unless you factored in the (sigh...) dreaded friend codes; the largest of the numerous Achilles' heels of WiiConnect24.
A sixteen digit code to be able trade messages and Miis between consoles and an additional twelve digit code for EVERY. SINGLE. GAME. You wanted to play together. Especially when compared to the account systems set in place on the then newborn PSN and the more fleshed out Xbox Live, Nintendo's methods of gamer communication was nothing short of horrendous; a grand mistake that could never be afforded to be made again. Thankfully with the 3DS, friend codes were retooled into a system far more acceptable, though frustratingly still present. Finally with the Wii U, as long as you are above the age of eighteen, the friend codes were completely abolished and users are free to friend each other as desired.
So in some respects, Nintendo learned their lesson. Now onto what they didn't learn from...
Tying games to an account is a miraculous idea, allowing gamers to access their games as long as they have their account at the ready (albeit usually requiring an additional download). This has worked very well on PSN, Xbox Live and Steam. Even on the Wii U, the account system in place has not yet fixed this issue. Games are tied to your console, making it nothing short of hazardous to your wallet should your Wii U brick, get physically damaged or be stolen. After an entire generation of this nonsense, it's completely unacceptable. If there's one thing that needs to be changed it's this.
And I'm not saying this issue is the end-all-be-all, mind you. Club Nintendo obviously reduces the risk due to the service keeping track of the games you have downloaded. However this hasn't always proven successful and to make matters worse it's not a mandatory setup, leaving many Wii/Wii U owners in the dark and at risk of potentially losing dozens to hundreds of dollars worth of digital content.
Just as frustrating as this issue, Nintendo still remains hesitant on online console gaming. It begs the question as to why considering that their online efforts on the 3DS have actually been very stellar by their standards. Mario Kart 7 has the best online system on a Nintendo game/platform I've ever seen. The online is virtually lagless, it has a "join" system for friends, and even a robust communities mechanic that makes it very easy for friends to play games together. Even Luigi's Mansion 2's multiplayer (which is good despite being a couple of steps away from feeling shoe-horned), possesses a competent online mode that works well and is fun to use.
The big question is as follows; Why in the hell were New Super Mario Bros. U and Nintendo Land not developed with online playability in mind? Both games, what with Miiverse integration, were absolutely PERFECT for new online ventures. The plaza in Nintendo Land comes off as a hub for an MMO; Miis who are and have also played the game venture around and you can see their stats and progress but can in almost no way, outside of Miiverse, interact with them. Miyamoto was once asked why New Super Mario Bros. Wii was not online and his answer was "The Wii system was not powerful enough." So what the hell is the excuse now? Boost mode? To hell with that; an extra mode like that could not have been so complex to develop that online needed to be omitted.
Keep in mind, local multiplayer is a fantastic thing that many of us more 'core' gamers take for granted every now and again. I get together with friends every now and again to play multiplayer games of different brands and genres and they are almost always more fun than when played online. But it is absolutely not something worth omitting online gaming, which for some is the only way they can play with friends who are too far away. There's absolutely no excuse and I'm honestly shocked no one ever bothered to point it out sooner.
Taking in that Nintendo's online ventures on the 3DS are now stronger than anything they have done in previous years, it begs the question why Nintendo did not prepare such needed advancements for Wii U. And wouldn't you know, I'm not even done yet...
This may come off as the smallest complaint I have, but it's high time Nintendo fixed up the chat issue. I'm not even talking about headsets here; the Wii U is fitted to work with wireless headsets at some point in the future, so it's 'okay' in that regard. But why there is no dedicated party chat feature makes little sense. The only real chatting you can do is through Miiverse messaging and the Wii U Chat app which 1) cannot be used while playing a game and 2) only supports a single pair of users right now. This needs to be updated and pronto. Wii U Chat should not be strictly limited to two people in video chat. It's a great app for that specific feature, but it is capable of so damn much more it's nothing short of exasperating why it was not structured more like the party chat feature used on Xbox Live.
And that's a wrap. Let it never be said that I've never said a critical word about my favorite game company. I do (and probably always will) love what they accomplish. But these sorts of issues are the kinds of issues that absolutely need to be rectified in my eyes. While others may complain about "too much Mario" or "underpowered specs" my issues typically fall inline with the network problems that have been plaguing these guys since before the Wii's culmination.
The biggest irony in all of this? Nintendo was at one point ahead of their time, as the NES/Famicom were capable of online gaming. Pretty crazy, no?
EDIT: I forgot to mention, I left out a section involving other practical issues plaguing the Wii U such as its software lineup or marketing because those issues have been addressed in a previous blog or two. I wanted to focus on the network problems since they are the ones I feel most strongly should be fixed.