Let's focus on those details. There are a ton of things about my first day with the Wii U that made me smile.
The very first thing I noticed was the system music. I had already spoiled myself a bit by listening to some YouTube samples earlier in the week, because I am a bad man. But the experience on the system proper is totally different. You know how there were a lot of Nintendo-developed Wii games where sound effects would migrate between your sound system and the tinny little speaker in the Wii Remote? Well that's what goes on for pretty much all of the WiI U's system music, and it sounds amazing. Your sound system will play the more ambient musical tracks for a song, and the melody or percussion will come out of the Wii U GamePad's speakers. It gives a whole new meaning to the concept of multi-channel sound, with your own personal pair of speakers in your lap. I had a lot of fun sliding the GamePad volume off to see which tracks were really coming from where.
When creating my user account, I experienced my next little "ehe" at how easy it was to migrate over my 3DS Mii. Load up the 3DS Mii Maker, a few taps, and whammo, my Mii's on my TV, in all his HD glory. The interoperability is nothing like the archaic systems of hardware past—waiting for things to connect, interminable progress bars, blah blah blah. This was responsive and satisfying, and is just the beginnings of Nintendo's grand unification that's starting with the Nintendo Network ID.
After finishing up the user accounts for me and my wife it was off to lunch with my in-laws and niece, which was perfect timing—one of the first things you'll be doing on your Wii U is downloading a 1GB+ system update, and the time flies if you're not there watching the progress bar. So I shut off the TV, plopped the Wii U GamePad in its little charging cradle I have sitting on my front right speaker, and was positively tickled by how it offered a portal into the console experience even with the TV off. It was my first real sense of how independent the console can be—I felt the future there.
Call the thing "wife mode" if you're feeling particularly misogynistic—I downloaded Nano Assault Neo later in the day and gave it a few pokes, all while the TV was otherwise occupied by my significant other. After my first Nintendo Land session, I messed around in Miiverse for a while, again having relinquished the big screen. We watched Sunshine with dinner (pretty swell movie bros), and then I wanted to try out New Super Mario Bros. U, but it was The Next Iron Chef time. What would usually be a case of video game blue balls instead became euphoric release, as I booted straight to the GamePad and played through World 1 while the TV did its own thing.
Now I wouldn't go so far as to say I don't want any games that use the TV and GamePad in a synergistic way that makes off-screen play impossible, but gosh it's made some crazy changes to my routine. It's kinda funny, since half the draw of the Wii U is seein' those Nintendo fat-defs on your big screen TV, and yet here I am, spending most of my time on this oversized Game Boy Advance. If anything is "next gen" about the Wii U it's this, and I'm Lovin It™.
There are ton of other little details that caught my attention: the dedicated number pad to the right of the on screen keyboard in certain situations, since the controller is so wide; the "disc" light on the front of the system that lights up while the system is powered down, to let you know something's still in there; the smooth rounded edges on the discs themselves. But I think the item that made the greatest impression on me was Miiverse.
It's not even the specific feature-set of Nintendo's foray into gaming social networking that speaks to me—it's the tone. Chalk it up to heavy moderation, or maybe just really excited launch-day goobers, but Miiverse feels nothing like "the Internet." It's not an acerbic series of hateful and bitter posts that tear down everything under the sun. It's just people havin' a good time. You can see it in the description for the NSMBU community: "Come here to discuss anything you like about New Super Mario Bros. U!" It's not about analysis, it's not about critique, it's just for the sharing of good feels. Brag about your accomplishments, draw silly little pictures, and say Yeah Yeah Yeah! It's everything I love about video games. Nintendo's done it before, with Iwata Asks and Nintendo Direct. Miiverse is just the next step in their total obsolescence of the Internet and its traditional modes of gamer jibba jabba.
And hey, more power to 'em. I've been a part of the web's remorseless hate-engine for long enough, and I'm a fan of the alternative I'm being shown here. It's just one of the many smile-inducing deets I've started to embrace here on day one. Maybe on day two I'll spend more time actually "playing games" ha ha ha