Wii U Vs. Switch – How did the Nintendo hardware trailers compare?

Photo: Nintendo Live

With the Wii U turning 10 (crikey, us truly (starting to feel old now), it’s only natural to find ourselves looking back at a console that has graciously given so much of its previously exclusive software to its successor. Where did things really go wrong? What did we like about it? What did we not like?

For a lot of people, the fears really started with a first-time trailer. An official reveal never left us scratching our heads as to Nintendo’s new console it was actually. Gamers around the world were left scratching their heads as to what exactly Nintendo was going for with the Wii U. Was it a peripheral for its previous platform, or an entirely new console?

Obviously, looking back now, it didn’t take long for dedicated gamers to understand it, but the initial sense of confusion among fans was undeniable at the time, and many casual gamers who had a Wii under their TV didn’t properly grasp the concept of the Wii. U GamePad. It’s safe to assume that this contributed significantly to the console’s commercial failure, along with a debilitating lack of third-party support, of course.

We’d have loved to be a fly on the wall at Nintendo in the wake of the Wii U’s reveal, because for many, it was the first nail in the console’s coffin. It’s true proof of how powerful first impressions can be; For the Wii U, the debut trailer brought skepticism and confusion, while its successor, the Switch, debuted tangible excitement.

But were the two revelations really that different? in many ways, yes, but looking back, we were also surprised by some similarities. So we thought it might be fun to look through both trailers and really dig into what each of them did to showcase their consoles.

So first, let’s look at both segments in action:

Wii U Reveal Trailer Show – *The parrot sings the Super Mario Bros. theme. *

Detection Switch Promo – Ha-ha-ha-ha, yeah


How similar are those opening scenes? There’s no doubt that the Wii U’s functionality has evolved and informed how the Switch will perform, but seeing both side by side makes this an interesting head-to-head comparison. However, it also highlights just how much Nintendo dropped the ball with an initial trailer for the Wii U.

But explore both in more detail and find out why…

deja vu ..?

Starting with the Wii U trailer first, we get a first-person view of some guy walking into a room to interrupt his friend/brother/roommate/partner/child, who happens to be playing New Super Mario Bros. Ultimate. U on the new console. “Hey, time to watch baseball.”He says in a completely normal voice.

We watch the Wii U TV screen turn off in favor of sports, while on the desk the Wii U gamepad now displays New Super Mario Bros. Ultimate. U, just like it used to be on TV. The trailer then clearly states, Switching from TV to new console.

Switch what..? What an interesting concept! But wait… “new controller”? I see some Miis and Wii Sports… Uh, so here’s a new console for the Wii.

Meanwhile, in the Switch trailer, we see a gentleman playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on TV, with the Switch’s Joy-Con controllers attached to the grip accessory. The gentleman’s dog barks at him (translation: “Stop playing that darn game and take me for a walk!”), so he proceeds to remove the Joy-Con from the handle, insert it into the console itself, and Hello soonBreath of the Wild was immediately ported from TV to console.

The main difference here, of course, is that the Wii U GamePad can’t be taken on the go — or at least not outside of the console’s relatively short wireless range. With the switch, on the other hand, the console he is Handheld system. The roles have basically been reversed, and as we all know, you can take the little miracle with you wherever you want.

Still, it’s amazing how similar these opening scenes are, isn’t it?

different strokes

Back on the Wii U, the trailer now tells us we can count on the Wii U gamepad, because who needs paper? We get a closer look at a somewhat talented individual who draws an imaginary portrait of Link from The Legend of Zelda, with the illustration playing on the TV. A cool feature, perhaps, but it hardly appeals to potential customers who were hoping to return to a more “gamer-centric” experience after the Wii.

On the Switch trailer, it doubles down on the idea that you can play this thing wherever you want. Look, we’re at an airport! See someone else playing on Switch? What a great conversation opener! And no TV in sight. It’s like we’re playing a 3DS, however betterindeed..?

The trailer clearly keeps things simple and straightforward. No pointless drawing apps here, thank you very much.

Then, the Wii U trailer delves into the new console’s unique capabilities, including the touch screen, motion controls, unique viewpoints, and the Wii Fit U functionality. Yay..? There’s a lot going on and the trailer arguably bombards the viewer with information without actually answering the most important question of all: What exactly is this thing?

“Only play on the new controller”, “Use motion to control with the new controller”, “Get new offers with the new controller”, “Keep fit with the new controller” – continues, and all without proof that this new console comes with a new one, by the way. Besides all the Miis and Wii on display, it’s no wonder people didn’t realize that the white system visible next to the TV in a few shots was, in fact, a “new console” and not the old Wii.

It’s all too much but not enough, and it’s not what Nintendo fans really want to see. Did Don Mattrick have a hand in this?

Back on Switch, the trailer continues on its theme “Yes, you can truly Play this thing anywhere,” It shows a rather handsome chap playing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim via tabletop mode on a commercial flight, before returning home and popping the Switch back into the dock to play in TV mode with the Pro Controller. It was an affirmation that, yeah, it wasn’t just a boom Skyrim Coming to Switch, but you can also play it away, and you certainly can’t say the same for PS4 or Xbox One.

Parrots and carrens

The trailer for Wii U showcases several unique gameplay ideas for the GamePad, including using a shotgun accessory and shooting shurikens from the touchscreen to the TV, before moving on to the next “big” feature: video calls. Good Allah.

It’s honestly a totally bizarre way to showcase a new video game console, and the way an actor acts stroking Viewing a video of a dog makes you think there might be some cool software out there that understands a dog’s presence on the screen and does…a Nintendogs-y thing, perhaps? But no, it’s just someone pretending to stroke their dog through a screen.

We also take a good look at surfing the web, because that’s something everyone wants on their new and shiny console, right? Look, you can flip the gamepad vertically – Isn’t that great? For context, the iPhone had been around for five years by this point, so browsing the information superhighway on a touch screen wasn’t a new idea.

It was about this point that this writer fully examined. Oh, and there is a singing parrot, of course there is.

On the contrary, the Switch trailer gives us a good look at the social side of the new console, including the straightforward ability to play with multiplayer using Joy-Con controllers and the undeniably tempting prospect of interrupting a rooftop party to show everyone how Fabulous Super Mario Odyssey. Damn it, Karen!

You can also play Mario Kart 8 Deluxe in the car and NBA 2K18 instead of playing it truly Basketball; And what else do you want?

Again, it is basic, and they show gamers what we really want to see: new gameplay, intuitive mechanics, and meaningful social implementation. Not bloody Surf the InternetFor God’s sake.

finish high

The Wii U reveal ends on an admittedly high note, showcasing a very nice tech demo of The Legend of Zelda, as Link fights a giant spider and shows off the Wii U’s improved graphical power. Sadly, the concept never materialized as an actual game (although what we got It in the end was debatable Even better) but it at least assuaged some concerns that this “new console” was just an elaborate peripheral for the Wii.

Or was it? Was it somehow adding processing power to the old console in addition to this second screen? Everyone left with questions. What amazing tractor.

As for the Switch reveal, it ends by tapping into the tougher gaming market by showing a team of professional gamers entering a high-stakes Splatoon 2 tournament complete with particle crowd. It’s apt evidence that Nintendo takes this console seriously as a platform for gamers and not something you can call your Gran phone on; Parrots don’t sing here, people! Just a bunch of passionate guys doing what they do best.

It’s a solid ending to a trailer that successfully shows what the Switch is all about without any unnecessary fluff. The only real question he raises is a good one regarding Nintendo: When can I get my hands on one of these things!?

And also: What is this catchy tone?


When the Wii U trailer first came out, fans were pretty skeptical at the time, but looking at it now – especially in tandem with the Switch trailer – it’s honestly amazing how poorly pitched it was. Despite the surprising similarities between the two trailers, particularly in the opening moments, what Nintendo did with the Wii U reveal was so confusing, it’s a wonder how it passed though the many stages of approval it must have gone through.

At the very least, there was an absolute need to get a sneak peek at the console itself, if only at the end, along with demos of the launch lineup. Where was ZombiU? Where was Nintendo Land? Instead, we got a slew of Wii Sports and a video of a parrot commenting on the Super Mario Bros. theme. Confusing.

On the other hand, the Switch trailer is simply that Fabulous. Perhaps more so than any other trailer in recent memory, Nintendo’s messaging here is near-flawless. Its proposition is clear: this is a console you can play at home or on the go. This is it. That’s all you need. No web surfing, no drawing apps, no video calls. Just games that you can play wherever you want.

It’s really a shame how Nintendo dropped the ball with the Wii U reveal, because while things are going, it still has a lot of promise – and we’ll be publishing a feature reminiscent of the first Holding hands Impressions soon. There are some really excellent games available for the system (most of them have since been awarded to the Switch, granted), and their Virtual Console lineup is quite impressive.

But first impressions matter a lot, and unfortunately, so was the gaming public’s first impression of the Wii U Ho, wut?

We love to hear your thoughts. What do you think of both trailers? Are you surprised how similar the opening scenes are? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


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