The best and worst thing about the Wii U is that you can’t quite figure out just what, precisely, Nintendo’s new console is trying to accomplish. The Wii had a clear-cut gimmick that became a revolution: Motion sensors and Wii Sports contributed to 97 million units shipped. Off-brand pretenders like the Kinect (a legitimate step forward by Microsoft) and the Move (an embarrassing step sideways by Sony) appeared just in time for motion gaming to look passé.
The Wii U is very different. It’s central innovation — the idea that your controller can also be a console unto itself — feels like an attempt to crossbreed two very different strains of videogame culture: The TV-based console games industry (which is ailing) and the smartphone/tablet/handheld-based mobile games industry (which is booming). New Super Mario Bros. U is a game that works equally well on your big HD TV screen or on your GamePad’s touchscreen. That is an impressive achievement, which would be even more impressive if the size of the screen could make New Super Mario Bros. U anything more than helplessly mediocre. READ FULL STORY »