Gaming Crossroads: Is The Wii U The Next Dreamcast?

Gaming Crossroads Logo

Author’s Note: This article was originally published in September 2015 on another website. It has been brought over to Skirmish Frogs for your viewing pleasure.

The Wii U has, in terms of sales, not been the most successful console, but has not been the worst selling console, either. Anyone who has owned a Wii U during the time it has been out has generally loved the system. I was a day one adopter of the system, and I have no regrets purchasing it even with its bad launch and the tendency for the console to freeze early on in its life. As I look at my Wii U, I begin to notice some similar patterns with it that began from another console that tried to be different and innovative: the SEGA Dreamcast. I ask the ultimate question today on Gaming Crossroads: Is the Wii U the next Dreamcast?

As one of my college professors once said, “History never repeats itself precisely.” Both the Dreamcast and Wii U were released under different situations. However, the two consoles have some similarities and differences between them.

Both have a second screen — Outside of the Nintendo DS family, second screens for video game consoles have not been popular among players. The Dreamcast introduced the VMU, or Visual Memory Unit, to the world. This memory card not only stored save data, but it also had a screen, a D-pad, and two buttons. Certain games had additional minigames that could be played on the VMU. One of the best examples was Pinta’s Quest, a VMU game for Skies of Arcadia, which allowed players to gain items and money while they were not playing the main game and transfer the results to their save file. Some games, such as the NFL 2K series of games, had unique VMU features, such as the ability to call plays from the VMU so your opponent is always guessing your next play.

The Wii U took the concepts from the VMU and expanded upon them to create the GamePad. Some find the GamePad to not be a great concept while others love it. I am in the camp that finds the GamePad to be great. I will admit it has never been used to its full potential, but the games that have successfully used the GamePad are fun and engaging. The best feature of the GamePad is the off-TV play feature to allow people to play games solely on the peripheral’s screen without the TV. For someone who is single and lives alone, I can understand off-TV play not being an appealing feature. But, to families and households with multiple people, off-TV is a blessing. If someone wants to watch their favorite show on the television, the GamePad can be used to continue the game without having to turn off the console. I believe this feature will be seen in the future as being ahead of its time, just like the Dreamcast’s online capabilities predating Xbox Live and PSN.

Gaming Crossroads | Wii U Gamepad

The Gamepad shares some similarities with the VMU. Someday, it will be respected more than it is now.

Both consoles have strong first-party support — First-party support played a significant role for both consoles by force, as third-party support was not strong for either console in comparison to their competition. The Dreamcast and the Wii U both have a good, strong first-party lineup. I would argue the Wii U’s first-party lineup is much stronger than the Dreamcast’s, but that’s just me. Either way, this is another common trait I have seen with the Wii U.

Good exclusives — Both systems were propelled to some extent by a number of good exclusives. The Dreamcast had Sonic Adventure 1 and 2, Grandia II, Skies of Arcadia, Jet Set Radio, Space Channel 5, and some great exclusive sports games for the time. As I will explain shortly, the system also had good exclusive arcade and fighting games back in the late 90s and early 2000s. The Wii U has Mario Kart 8, Super Mario 3D World, Super Smash Bros., Bayonetta 2, Super Mario Maker,Pikmin 3, The Wonderful 101, and other yet-to-be-released exclusives slated for this year and next. When the console is replaced by Project NX, these exclusive titles will be remembered for years to come.

Gaming Crossroads | Bayonetta 2

Sure, there have only been a few third party exclusives on the Wii U, but they have been pretty good.

While the Wii U has the above mentioned similarities, there are some key differences between its life cycle and the Dreamcast’s.

The Mastering of Genres — The Dreamcast was home to the best arcade and fighting games back when it was out in the market. There was Power Stone 1 and2, Marvel vs. Capcom 1 and 2, Crazy Taxi 1 and 2, Hydro Thunder, Soul Calibur,Dead or Alive 2, and Daytona USA. And the list goes on. Fans of either genre will think they went up to heaven. Sure, there were other popular genres on the Dreamcast, but there wasn’t the high quality of praised titles. Meanwhile, the Wii U has been the best console for fans of the platforming genre. Whether it is platformers from Nintendo themselves or from other parties, the best-selling games in the genre have generally been on Nintendo consoles.

Gaming Crossroads | Sega Dreamcast

The Dreamcast was not respected back in its day, but it is now respected for being ahead of its time.

 

Past results brought in different expectations — The Wii U and Dreamcast had different expectations placed in front of them. After the failure of the SEGA Saturn internationally and its decent run in Japan, SEGA had one last shot to make up for the losses the company suffered from when the SEGA CD, 32X, and Saturn were created and to make up for their third-place position against the Nintendo 64 and Sony PlayStation. The Wii U had to live up to the Wii’s high successful sales, even when its older brother suffered at the end of its lifecycle. As we have all seen, the Wii U is not going to see the same success as the Wii or even outsell the Xbox One or PlayStation 4. It could possibly have, at best, moderate success, but we will see what the final results are when the ninth generation of consoles walk into the party.

Gaming Crossroads | Wii U

 

Is the Wii U the next Dreamcast? Only time will tell. I know it’s a cliché answer, but it’s the honest truth. We do know that the Wii U will differentiate itself from the Dreamcast as Nintendo is going to be releasing Project NX in the future, whereas the Dreamcast was the last console for SEGA. As things stand now, I see the Wii U becoming more popular in 10 years and looked upon favorably for having quality over quantity and maybe being ahead of its time in one to two aspects like the Dreamcast. Yes, I know some of you are going to call me crazy for making such a statement. For all I know, my predictions could end up being way off the mark. But I want to ask all of you this one question: For the eighth generation of consoles, if you can own two consoles, which two would you choose? If you happen to play games on PC more than consoles, which one of the current three consoles do you think pairs up well with the PC? I invite you to share your answers to those two questions in the comments below.

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About JDobbs

Jacob is currently a member of Skrimish Frogs. He began his gaming days with the Atari 2600 and eventually the Nintendo 64. He is the author of his own monthly series: Gaming Crossroads. Pokemon's popularity in the late 90s influenced him. Platformers, RPGS, and Racing games are his specialty, but he also enjoys other video game genres. He has a passion for Video Game History and loves retro games, but also enjoys modern titles. When he is not using technology, he loves to spend time outdoors and enjoy nature tech free. Some people refer to him as a walking encyclopedia.

3 Comments

  1. The Wii U will never reach the awesome power that is the Sega Dreamcast.

    But more on a serious note, it is strange how the Wii U has been kind of left behind either due to Nintendo’s work to do so or just by the gaming community.

    I still see the Wii as an alternate dimension console. Sony and Microsoft progressed along with their Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, yet the Wii U came through as the answer to that generation and not the current one.

    What seemed like Nintendo was ahead of releasing their consoles before the others, now seems like Nintendo is stuck a generation behind. When (or if) the Xbox 1+1 and PS5 are released, the NX will feel more like last year’s gaming console than a new generation.

    • Perhaps, but again, remember that Nintendo hasn’t tried to compete directly with the other players in a long time. Sure, the N64 was a competitor in terms of sheer power, but it wasn’t about the types of games that we saw on the PlayStation, or even the Saturn. The GameCube, though it had some good 3rd party cross-platform games, and a few exclusives, again showed Nintendo focusing on their own thing, rather than being the opposite side of the same coin, much like the PS2 and Xbox were in many ways. And again, the Wii’s focus was on doing something unique. I’m with Jacob here – I’m a loud, proud Wii U owner, and have zero regrets purchasing it over the other 2 current gen consoles. I’ve had tons of fun with mine, and while I know it’s not for everyone, it’s currently at a price point (and point in its life cycle) that it’s a good time to jump on the Wii U train, given all the great games out for it now.

  2. Problem with the Wii U, is that Nintendo due to their laziness and lack of advertising, and PISS POOR name choice, never told the consumers what the Wii U was and why it was a good choice. Us gamers, geeks, techies, etc. are not the ones that count for most of any type of electronic sales; it is parents and such that buy these games or other consumer/gamers that never read gaming news. They only see what is in the store. Again my friend told me he saw a couple in Toys R Us and they asked “Is the Wii U an add on for the Wii?” see, without putting the commercials out and EXPLAINING the damn machine, it is hard for normal consumers. Then that name, seriously add one stinking letter to the Wii name? Ugh. Not trying to throw hate but Nintendo caused the Wii U issues, that is why in the NX news we see the interviews they are saying “we are not doing a console like the Wii and Wii U” (paraphrasing) as they KNOW they messed up. Plus after all this time the Wii U is $300? Uh no, it should be a $200 system, you can get a powerful console in Xbox One or PS4 for $300. I was thinking of getting a Wii U, but I won’t pay the prices.

    I hope Nintendo and the NX do well, I do alot of YouTube vids on it (wink) and I am actually EXCITED for it; a new approach, “industry leading chips” and maybe Nintendo will do much better. If it looks good, sign me up for an NX.

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