A few months ago I decided that my kids needed a new gaming system. They had had a Nintendo Wii for many years and used it a bit as it was loaded with little kid games (the only thing at all good on that platform.) So to make it easier to keep playing those and to have access to some newer games I decided to get them a Wii U since it has HDMI output and supports 1080p for video so that it can be used for Netflix and such. Our assumption was that even if there were very few games for it that with the cool touchscreen remote that it would make a good media center.
Now having used the system for months I can honestly say that the Wii U is the worst console ever made. It is generations behind the competition, which is nothing new as the GameCube and the Wii were pathetic atrocities to video gaming. The Wii U, however, is worse for its time frame. And that is really saying something because the Wii was amazingly bad.
The first thing is the game lineup. Never have I seen any console with fewer games worth playing. The Wii U that we chose came with Wind Waker HD which is good for a Zelda game with without the obvious caveat of "for a Zelda game" it's not a good game really. The story is boring, the graphics are updated but far from impressive, the gameplay is just sad and if my kids did not want to see me finish it, I would have stopped playing it long ago as it is not entertaining at all.
Beyond the included game, the only game that we have purchased is Mario Kart 8 which is good, but little more than yet another copy of the last several Mario Kart releases. That's not necessarily bad, it just isn't special in any way. This is quite literally the only game that we have bought for the system and there is not a single additional game in which we have any interest. It is as if everyone has given up on the platform already. It appears to be dead. Not even any anticipated games of any value announced or rumoured. It's just, dead.
The controller does not help the situation. It is awful. Huge and bulky it is effectively impossible to use for gaming. It actually makes the N64 controller seem like a good idea. Nintendo has built their reputation on not understanding how to make a good controller but this really takes the cake. It costs nearly $200 to replace and all you really want to do is throw it out of the window. The battery doesn't last long enough to do anything and using the controller is completely uncomfortable and annoying. Having a touchscreen in your lap is not a good thing, it means that things are happening outside of your field of vision and you have to check it from time to time to try to figure out if you have been missing something. It's bad. I have yet to have found any benefit to it. And it makes the whole system ridiculously expensive without adding any value to it. It is so poorly implemented.
So, then given that this might be the relatively worst gaming console every make, it is great for media usage, right? With a touch screen it must make watching Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and Amazon VOD a pleasure, right? Oh heck no. It's the worst media platform I have ever used. Mostly this is because the Wii U does not have the horsepower to run the touch interface on the controller (which is required to do anything) so you have to press buttons over and over again (partially because some interface components actually require this and others just take ten seconds or more to respond to the button press so you have no feedback as to whether or not you've successfully used the flaky touch interface) and then it often starts playing movies that it never displayed and never ends up bringing up the application interfaces at all. Pausing a movie often takes three or more presses even when everything is working properly and similar to restart a show.
Starting up an application like Netflix or Amazon is downright painful. You have to go through too many steps and the Wii U is quite simple slow. It is ridiculous that a product made in the last decade is this slow. I have no idea how they got it to be so unresponsive. This had to take some effort.
To make things worse, the media applications that are available on the Wii U (which do not include DLNA for no good reason) have their interfaces altered so that, even with the huge touch screen input device, they are crippled and useless compared to their PS3 counterparts. Finding a show on the Wii U is much harder than on older devices and selecting a show is harder still because the touch interface is so bad that you can never tell what you have or have not selected or how it is going to behave or if the thing that you touched is the thing that the Wii U thinks is on the screen. And to make matters worse, half of the interface is in your hands and half is on the main screen so you are constantly looking at the wrong one for the action you are taking and trying to figure out why there is no response. If you can't see both the screen in your hands and the big screen at the same time it doesn't work as intended. It is one of the worst interface designs ever.
The bottom line is that the Wii U does very little and everything that it does do it does horribly. It is an overpriced, underpowered, gameless disaster of a system. It's useless as a gaming system and useless as a media system. Skip it.