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Nintendo's Wii U: what's in a name?

By Josh Wallen
On September 30, 2012

At the risk of sounding like a raging fanboy and earning the ire of anyone who liked "Bayoetta," but wasn't planning on essentially buying its sequel a wedding ring for the right to play it, let me just say this.
I can not wait to get my hands on the Wii U.
For anyone out of the loop ... or anyone who wasn't maddeningly refreshing a gaming blog during Nintendo's press conference, despite the fact that it happened during one of their classes ... the Wii U is Nintendo's next gaming console.
It'll launch on Nov. 18, it'll cost $299 for a basic model or $349 for one with more storage space and a copy of "Nintendo Land," and it comes packaged with a controller that's basically a modern-day tablet sandwiched right in the middle of your standard game pad.
If you decide you want one now, it's going to be a struggle. Retailers sold out of pre-orders within FOUR DAYS. You might be able to secure one by camping out at a place that's not doing pre-orders, but it'll be an endeavor.
I could rattle off all the specs (this time, it's four Gamecubes duct-taped together!) and go into better detail, but honestly, there are better, more in-depth sources for that than The Geek Critique.
I want to try out the tablet controller. I want to post comments to my friends over the Miiverse. I want to totally screw over my aforementioned friends by removing platforms at a critical moment in "New Super Mario Bros. Wii" using the aforementioned tablet controller.
Most of all, I want to play all the new first-party Nintendo games that the Wii U is going to serve as the gateway to.
Suffice to say, I'm really looking forward to it. There's just one thing that I'm wondering about.
What kind of a stupid, boneheaded name is the "Wii U?"
Oh sure, we went through a similar rigamorole with this six years ago when the Wii was announced.
I vividly recall building up all kinds of comical tension before informing my best friend that what we'd called the "Nintendo Revolution" (its development code name) would now be known by the same word that a discerning parent might use to describe their child's urine.
But we got used to it. And ultimately, that's not why I think "Wii U" is at best a misleading name, and at worst one that's going to turn consumers away from the console.
No, the problem with "Wii U" is that, to the uninformed consumer, to the gargantuan casual gamer audience that made up such a large chunk of the Wii's market success, the "Wii U" sounds like an accessory or a new design, rather than a new console.
Let's say I'm not a life-long hardcore gamer, that I'm not someone who sits in class avidly reading every detail of Nintendo's press conference. To me, the Wii U may well seem like yet another expensive perhipheral for my Wii, a tablet controller.
Nintendo's marketing doesn't help the disconnect. The Wii U even looks quite a lot like the current design of the Wii and is always shown with the new pad, reinforcing the false notion that the tablet controller and the Wii U are one in the same.
While Sony and Microsoft's consoles have each gone through similar iterative naming schemes, the situation is a bit different for them.
Brand recognition says that the Xbox and PlayStation are gaming consoles, and Sony and Microsoft do lots of other things.
But Nintendo's brand name is synonymous with video games.
Not to say this is a deal-breaker for the Big N. The 3DS had similar identity problems, with some casual consumers thinking it to be yet another upgrade of the DS, and it's finding plenty of success after a rocky start.
I'd have been amazed with the "Nintendo Revolution." I'd have been OK with the "Nintendo Go."
But instead, I'll once again have to get used to the "Wii U."
Now then, when it comes out, who wants to play some "Super Smash Bros. Universe?"
OMG I can't wait.


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