It's popular to bash Nintendo's console-related decisions nowadays. And really, it's with good reason. The Wii went out with a whimper and the Wii U, after a decent start, has been crawling along for about 8 or 9 months now.
What I'd like to talk about today is a possible different direction Nintendo could have taken: the Super Wii.
Or the Wii 2.
Or the Wiiwii.
Or the Uss.
Imagine this: Nintendo releases an HD system in late 2012 with specs similar to the Wii U's. However, instead of coming bundled with the new GamePad, it comes bundled with a Wiimote Plus and Nunchuck.
What advantages would this give Nintendo? Well, for one, it would make the system cheaper. The GamePad is estimated to cost about about $100, compared to the roughly $50 of the Wiimote/Nunchuck combo. Therefore, the Super Wii could have launched at a price of $250/$300 with similar specs, with maybe even a $350 model with a decent amount of internal memory.
The Wii U is backwards compatible with Wii controllers, and so would the Super Wii. People who owned a Wii and tucked it away in a closet back in 2010 would be able to play all the latest games with their old controllers. People interested in local multiplayer would likely consider a $250 Super Wii a reasonable purchase in comparison to a similarly priced PS3 or 360 if they already own a Wii library and controllers.
What effects would not having the GamePad have on Nintendo games? Not much really. New Super Mario Bros U can already be played with just the Wiimote. NintendoLand requires the GamePad for only some of its minigames, and it was made specifically for the controller! Pikmin 3 is already played without the GamePad by a lot of people, Super Mario 3D World and Donkey Kong Country Returns are also Wiimote-only playable games, and games like Wii Party U and Wii Fit U could easily have been made differently. Unlike the Wiimote in 2006 and 2007, the GamePad is not necessarily required for the Nintendo games of 2013.
What effects would not having the GamePad have on 3rd party games? Not much, except the Super Wii would have to make due without some Ubisoft and Warner Bros ports that aren't selling well anyway. It's not as if 3rd parties are supporting the Wii U even with its traditional controls.
Keeping the WiiMote and Nunchuck as a standard control scheme offers its own possibilities. Neno uld easily take advantage of the Super Wii's larger discs and make HD versions of Wii games. Imagine Super Mario Galaxy Complete Edition in even 720p, just so the 3D Mario team gets some practice with the system before making 3D World. Or imagine an HD version of Twilight Princess or Skyward Sword instead of Wind Waker, maybe with both games bundled on one disc? Or maybe you could sell the console with Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort or whatever built into the system, taking advantage of MotionPlus controls, HD, and Miiverse?
What do you think? Would Nintendo have been better off sticking with the WiiMote instead of the GamePad?
I personally don't think so. I love my Wii U. But I was wondering.