My eight-year-old son Gavin has loved video games since he was old enough to hold a controller. He grew up gaming on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Vita, and Xbox One. It wasn’t until fairly recently he discovered his love for the misunderstood and often forgotten machine that is the Wii U.
The Wii U console had been sitting behind our living room TV collecting dust for most of Gavin’s life. I even sold it to a friend for a couple of years, but it somehow found a way back to my living room. However, to clear up space for the new consoles last November, I moved the Wii U into Gavin’s room and hooked it up, not thinking much of it.
Gavin already had a PS4, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch in his room, and he would play them often. But I started to notice something. Despite getting my hand-me-down PS4 and Xbox consoles and a brand new shiny Switch for Christmas, he was choosing to play the Wii U (what!?). More and more I started noticing it. Needless to say, I was shocked. Why the Wii U? Why now? I have an idea about what it could be.
Back in 2004 gamers were blessed with a nifty little device called Nintendo DS. It was a game-changing handheld that offered “dual-screen gaming,” a feature that the Wii U adopted with its tablet controller. Sure, “dual-screen gaming” may have been a gimmick that has since lost its luster, but for a kid like Gavin who has grown up with all the latest gaming tech, dual-screen gaming was something new and exciting. The nuance is there for him. The Wii U and its silly Fisher-Price controller found a new fan, and I decided to help him get the best Wii U experience possible.
The Wii U thrives in one area the Switch doesn’t even match — Virtual Console titles. Retro games on a bunch of platforms like NES, SNES, Nintendo 64, Game Boy Advance, DS, and Wii. It’s a bevy of Nintendo’s history all in one machine. So, as any sane parent would do, I downloaded a bunch of classics I loved as a kid.
It’s 2021, my son is surrounded by the latest gaming consoles, but he’s spending his time playing games like F-Zero X, Runbow, and Mario Kart DS on his Wii U. He doesn’t have a grasp on what is old and what is really old. He’s just enjoying these titles for what they are on a machine the world chewed up and spit out. Gavin plays his Wii U more than Switch, Xbox, & PlayStation, and it’s kinda beautiful.