Yeah, I'm normally a pretty logical, rational human being, but Nintendo just brings out the dumb**** kid in me, for better or for worse. Never giving Nintendo World money again, I'll say that much. Well, not that I ever have before, since they never have sales.
The staff was kinda dickish to me recently before, too. I was playing the NSMBWU demo, and idly decided to press the "Home" button just to see what would happen. I figured all other functions would be locked out (as they are on the other demo kiosks) but much to my surprise I was able to access a menu with links to the e-manual, the home screen, etc. Next thing I knew some guy came running over with keys to unlock the kiosk to reset the console, scolding me super condescendingly about how I was pressing "the wrong buttons" and how I should "only touch A, B, X, Y, and the stick. Nothing else. Don't touch ANYTHING else. You got that?" I was like, dude, how was I supposed to know? There was no sign or any other sort of cue that I was never to touch the home button or I would release the vengeful demon of Retail Rage.
Anyway, I'm a little surprised my experience yesterday (and part of the day before) didn't color my perception of the console once I got it home, but well, I guess I was pretty brain-dead at that point anyway.
But as for general impressions, after basically spending all day playing:
-LOVE the hardware. Much more than I thought I would. The Gamepad is light, comfortable, responsive, and does almost everything I can imagine wanting a controller to do. The screen is vibrant and I can barely tell it's not HD. I think it might be the most comfortable controller I've ever held, which is funny since it's so massive. And I've already kind of fallen in love with being able to pick it up, turn it on, mess with settings, etc. for a while before even bothering to turn on the TV. For everyone skeptical of the appeal -- I sure was -- give it a chance. I'm betting after you put in some time with it, you will start to understand the potential here. This is the controller I want forever.
-I am, however, deeply disappointed that the Gamepad stops working when I take it into the bathroom (or my bedroom). It's almost like it knows where I'm taking it and decides to fake a coma instead. I was expecting to get better distance, as I live in a small apartment, but I've long suspected I have some sort of signal-blocking crap in my walls. You may experience better results.
-I cannot understate how great it is seeing Miis and Nintendo properties in HD, finally.
-Can I just say how awful it feels to turn on a new Nintendo system and be greeted by an hour-plus firmware update? Welcome to the modern gaming era, Nintendo!
-The Wii-to-Wii U transfer is mildly confusing at first, but plays a cute as **** and wholly unnecessarily intricate Pikmin animation as it works. Such a Nintendo-like touch.
-Unfortunately, and there is no nice way to say this, the OS is a goddamn mess -- it's slow as molasses (emphasis on "ass"), clunky and unintuitive. It feels like little is where it should be and once you actually figure out where it is you can expect 10-15 seconds of loading time to get there. (It seems Internet connectivity functions are responsible for much of the slowness--Miiverse could take almost 30 seconds to boot up, at least before it went down completely.) Your friends list? Nowhere on the home menu. Nowhere on Warawara plaza. Nope, it's tucked away in the secondary menu that comes up when you press the home button. Audio settings? Under the "TV settings" (of course!) subsection of the Settings menu. Hey, Warawara Plaza looks neat! Too bad you can't actually interact with it at all unless you display it on the Gamepad or pull out a Wiimote! Another example: Warawara has a zoom function labeled with "-" and "+" buttons, and hey, you'd think the "-" and "+" buttons on the Gamepad might control that, but nope, pressing those buttons instead does...nothing. The whole thing is just riddled with terrible, nonsensical design decisions.
-The Gamepad cannot control your AV receiver. In any way whatsoever. Sorry. It paired remarkably easily with my cable box and TV, however -- of course, I'll never use those functions now, since doing so would just get in the way of using my Harmony.
-Nintendoland: Fun, with lots of creativity and charm, with some real gems in there, but man, it is no Wii Sports. You know how with Wii Sports the whole idea was that you could basically pick up this weird new one-handed controller and be like, "Hey, a tennis ball onscreen, I wonder if I swing the controller like a raquet...hey it worked! This is awesome, let's buy this immediately!" Well, Nintendoland replaces that feeling with miles and miles of tutorials and instructional lectures via an annoying and frankly creepy anthropomorphized monitor before each of the minigames. That, right there, is emblematic on why I think the Wii U will be a tough sell to the general public. This is not to say that Nintendoland is a bad game--Metroid Blast is awesome, and I want a full-scale Metroid game like it immediately; Balloon Fight and F-Zero are my other favorites right now -- I just think it's bad at its job of being a gateway drug. I think it will be a massive hit with kids, though.
-Oh, and by the way, it turns out your Nintendo ID is linked to your specific hardware, which I don't particularly care about personally, but is definitely that classic bit of "Baby you said you'd change" Nintendo magic.
Summing up, I think the system has TONS of potential, but is a pretty big mess right now. That's not uncommon for a new hardware launch, but the sheer awfulness of the OS and the fact that the original Wii arguably never quite lived up to its massive early potential make me less optimistic. Still, I bought this basically expecting a Mario and Zelda machine, except now in HD, so I'm pretty satisfied -- I just wonder how many other people will be. So as a dork and a man-child and a weird Nintendo fan, I'm happy I got it, but when friends and family ask me about it I tell them not to bother...yet.