As much as I love my Dragon Age's, my Skyrims, my Mass Effects... There's something about Nintendo that is just different. In the best way possible.
I've spent the last week or so plodding my way through a game that has been out for a few months now - Toad's Treasure Tracker. At it's base, it is a simple puzzle game without much real difficulty - but it is so much more than that.
Right from the very beginning, the game surprises you by jumping straight in and teaching you the play mechanics. A single loading screen, then BAM, you're playing. The very first scene sets the rest of the game up with a single motion, showing you what you need to do to proceed in the game without saying a word. The proof is in the pudding with how brilliant this game design is - there are no spoken words in the game at all. Not even any written text interactions between characters. The characters simply make noises indicating their thoughts and feelings, with the only text being a few helpful hints that pop up on screen if the game thinks you are stuck.
Oh, and did I mention - it's cute as f***?
This game in particular, I think, is the game equivalent to what the Wii U represents - pure fun. From the very moment you turn the console on, the screen lights up with a whole horde of Mii's running towards your own lone Mii, grouping around little icons that pop up around the edge. If you have your Nintendo ID set up (which you totally should) these icons will consist of some of the most popular games for your region, and the little Mii's underneath will be actual people's Mii's. Little messages pop up around the place over random Mii's, letting everyone know what this person is playing right now. I think this opening screen might be one of the best of any console, period.
If you can't even wait to get back into the game you've been enjoying so much already however, you don't even need to go to the main screen - just power up the game pad, hit the icon and you're playing. Just like that. I find this particular feature to be fantastic; if I want to grab the gamepad and play a few levels of Toad's Treasure Tracker while my girlfriend watches TV, its that easy - I don't even need to change channels to set it up.
"But what about the games? Isn't there barely any, as there isn't much in the way of 3rd party support?" I hear you say. Well, I'm glad you asked. Here is a list of games that I have been playing (or have already played) on the Wii U so far:
Super Mario 3D World
Toad's Treasure Tracker
Mario Kart 8
Super Smash Bros for Wii U
Here is a list of the games I still want to play on the Wii U:
New Super Mario Bros U
The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD
Mario vs Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars
Affordable Space Adventures
Aanndd games still to come out on the Wii U, coming soon:
Kirby & the Rainbow Curse
Yoshi's Woolly World
Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem
Rodea the Sky Soldier
Xenoblade Chronicles X
If you're just jumping on the Wii U bandwagon now, that is a ton of great games right there. That's not even including other heavy hitters, such as Mario Party 10, Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze and upcoming Zelda / Star Fox games.
While a decent chunk of the best games on the Wii U are first party titles - I'm seeing a lot of Marzeloshby up there - Nintendo are also playing host to some interesting indie darlings, such as Affordable Space Adventures. Not to mention Shantae and the Pirates Curse, Steamworld Dig, Shovel Knight... the eShop has become a fantastic place to find some sweet games.
Speaking of, Nintendo's virtual console hardware is starting to beef up - Super Mario 64, Donkey Kong 64, Pandora's Tower, a massive array of NES and SNES games... you are never not going to have anything to play with the WIi U.
Sure, Nintendo doesn't have the 3rd party support of games like Assassins Creed, Call of Duty, or The Witcher. But lets be honest here - would you actually play these games on Nintendo hardware anyway? Even in the last generation, those game franchises were always better served on the PC/Xbox 360/PS3. You don't go to Nintendo for games that you can get on Steam - Nintendo is for it's exclusive titles. Interesting games that don't fit elsewhere. Titles that play best on their hardware.
I'm not saying you should buy a Wii U instead of other "next gen" consoles. I'm saying if you want to actually have fun when you sit down to game... Well, you already know the answer.