The Wii U is now on the market and the video game media has been flooded with coverage, focusing on what the system has to offer and the various pros and cons. At RipTen, we have provided first-hand coverage of how the system works out of the box, including hardware impressions, the Gamepad’s range and functionality and some of the other features. As expected, reactions from other games has been mixed, with some people loving the new system while others are finding endless faults. Such is the nature of system launches. One of the most interesting aspects is the introduction of the Nintendo Network, the new online interface from Nintendo that effectively streamlines the online experience for their first HD console. The best aspect is the static Network ID, which replaces the archaic Friend Code system of old, however there are two limitations that could potentially be drawbacks for some people.
The Wii U system is the first platform to utilize the Nintendo Network IDs, so you should expect developments and improvements to be deployed on an ongoing basis. For the time being, Nintendo has confirmed that your Network ID will be linked only to the console that you currently own, and it cannot be transferred or accessed on any other hardware. This differs from how your Xbox Live and PlayStation Network accounts work, as those as web-based and can be reactivated on a new console if your old one happens to break down. What this means for Wii U owners is that, should you experience hardware death, you would theoretically have to start over from the beginning. This is due to the fact that your MiiVerse profile, game progress and digital downloads are tied to that specific console, so you can’t just buy a new system and reclaim everything by logging into your Nintendo Network account. It is too early to say that the failure rate on the Wii U will be, but this could turn out to be a serious design flaw.
The other, perhaps more interesting, news concerns how parents can establish Nintendo Network IDs for gamers under 13 years of age. One of the family-friendly appeals of the Wii console was a more tightly-controlled online environment, something that the Wii U is less likely to have. To ensure parental consent, a one-time credit card verification process has been put into place, resulting in a nonrefundable $0.50 fee being charged for the first account set up for someone under 13. This charge will not be applied to subsequent accounts being set up. This is a move supposedly to keep Nintendo in compliance with the Child Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), though the charging of a nonrefundable fee seems a bit suspect. To offset any privacy concerns, Nintendo has stated that they will not store credit card information on the system or the network, effectively mitigating the risk of youe card information being stolen (or your child going on a shopping spree in the eShop).
This news accompanies several reports of problems with the Wii U console, including some serious issues with consoles being bricked as a result of the massive day-one patch. The important thing to keep in perspective is that no console launch is without problems, and Nintendo is certainly not the first to experience these kinds of difficulties. For the limitations on the Network ID, Nintendo will likely correct this over time and allow for transferable data. One can hope that this will also be rolled onto the 3DS at some point, allowing for some kind of cross-functionality. As Nintendo works to iron out the wrinkles in their new console, we can take some comfort in the fact that the launch games have been generally well-received. Wii U exclusives such as New Super Mario Bros U, Scribblenauts Unlimited and Nintendo Land have received aggregated scores in the high-70′s to mid-80′s on Metacritic. The quality of the games are what makes or breaks the system, so in that respect, Nintendo seems to have hit the ground running.