Letter from America: Is Wii U worth buying?

Plus the least glamorous launch night ever.

Greetings all.

Last week it was all about the PS4. This week, it was the turn of the big black box from Redmond. Of course, in Europe you'll have to wait another week before the entire next generation kicks off proper, but at this point I think everybody probably knows everything they need to know about both systems and their games. Which are you getting? Or are you holding off until the dust has settled and there are a few more decent games available?

I needed to get both for work, and was delighted when my PS4 magically appeared on my doorstep thanks to the ease and convenience of Amazon. However, acquiring an Xbox One turned into a funny old night.

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Ah! The pulse-pounding excitement of launch night. I lined up to get an Xbox One at a somewhat dismal Best Buy in a town where the dead outnumber the living by more than a thousand to one.

Rather than go to one of the glitzy launch events, I thought I'd keep it real, yo, and camp out at the Bay Area's least glamorous Best Buy. It turned out to be an utterly mundane, yet strangely enjoyable experience, and I thought I'd write about it. Just be warned, this is a very personal take on perhaps the dullest video game launch I've experienced: in many respects the antithesis of all the DJ-spinnin', buildings-all-lit-up-with-logos, sports-cars-on-display, guest-celebs-ahoy, hype-o-rama events we normally report from.

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Now this is a little more like a launch party. The Xbox One London event was just a tad more glam than where I was.

Like the PS4, Xbox One's launch line-up is a mixed bag. Forza 5 is one of the best, and a great demonstration of the system. Ryse: Son of Rome is also a great technical showcase, but unfortunately its content and challenge are distinctly lacking. All show, no go, as they like to say - and odds-on favourite as the first launch game to be re-released on Platinum Hits, or whatever the Xbox One budget label will be called. Killer Instinct seems to be a fairly solid fighting game, and Dead Rising 3 provides an entertaining and enjoyable, but not quite spectacular zombie shamble. The rest of the good stuff is the same as the PS4 good stuff: AC, COD, BF, NFS, FIFA and other such multimillion-dollar franchise acronyms.

With all the Xbox One and PS4 bruhaha, poor old Wii U has been completely overshadowed of late. But it grabbed some attention this week with the release of Super Mario 3D World. Unsurprisingly, it's absolutely terrific. But is it a system seller? We talked about that in a feature named, Should I buy a Wii U? I said no - but with a huge caveat. Several of the others said yes, but also with caveats.

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I was hoping Ryse would be a winner, but unfortunately it's not. Absolutely fabulous cinematics, but its gameplay rapidly becomes hum-drum.

Keeping the Nintendo theme, Jeremy wrote one of his specials - this time on the connection between the 15-year-old Ocarina of Time and the brand new Link Between Worlds. If you have any interest in the franchise, it's absolutely essential reading.

Another great read was one of our list features - this time a simple, straight-up 15 Best iOS Games of 2013. I'm not sure how many of you game on your phone, but many of these are well, well worth a gander.

But my favourite feature this week was the one we had to split into three parts due to its immense amount of screenshots. It's basically a look at the graphical differences between games from the beginning and end of each generation, and the difference between the last games of a generation and those of the next. We started with 8- and 16-bit machines, then moved to fifth and sixth generation, and finished up with the outgoing generation and the next. Be warned - they're all chunky pages, but some of the comparisons are really interesting.

And there ends this week's Letter. A bit shorter than usual, I'm afraid, but after weeks of cranking out coverage, and some very, very late nights, I need some rest!

See you next week.

Jaz Rignall is editorial director of USgamer.net, Eurogamer's rootin' tootin' six-iron shootin' American cousin.

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