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Forget Xbox One and PS4 - the smart choice for Xmas is Wii U

OPINION: Though greatness awaits for Sony and Microsoft, now's not the time to jump in, writes Rob Crossley

Finally, some new consoles! So maybe you'll think it's ungrateful to suggest it's the worst time to buy them. I believe it's merely logical though: Right now the Xbox One and PS4 are hosting the fewest games, all at their highest price (some digital downloads are, indefensibly, sold for £63 ), while the non-game services are threadbare for now.

The HD remake of Wind Waker impressed critics

I don't deny the magic and majesty of unboxing a new games console in front of your flat-screen TV - I don't refute the excitement of booting a new system, filling your house with menu music that will hang in the air for a decade, and getting a new understanding of what the system can do. What I'm saying is, even after seven years, now's not quite the perfect time to do that.

Yes, the Xbox One and PS4 are infant ecosystems that will eventually be populated with sensational, beautiful, wondrous, life-changing games and applications. But for now, look at it this way: There are more TV apps on the Xbox 360 than the Xbox One, and far better games on the PS3 than the PS4. What a next-gen sourpuss I am, though £500 better off.

Having played through most of the launch games now in some form or other, I've not been truly inspired by anything. Killzone Shadow Fall is just as unremarkable at its middling Metacritic score suggests, if you ask me, and I suspect Forza 5 will eventually be remembered as a low-point for the series. Resogun is probably the best next-gen game I've played, but it's not quite on the same level as Geometry Wars.

So when people ask me what console they should get for Christmas, my response is always Nintendo's Wii U. It's significantly cheaper than the Xbox One and PS4, you won't have to queue in line to get one (seriously, no one is buying them), and most importantly, it already has a collection of excellent games to play.

While the overall catalogue is disappointingly thin, there are several fantastic games, from Pikmin 3 to Wind Waker HD to the standout best version of Rayman Legends. I'm willing to bet you'll be as pleased with these as much as you'd be disappointed by Knack or Crimson Dragon or Ryse or Lego Marvel Super Heroes.


Review: Super Mario 3D World brings star quality to Wii U

Does Mario still have the knack? Or do we have another Knack?

Then there's the plumber. A true contender for the best game this year is Super Mario 3D World, which scored a ten on CVG. I've not had a chance to play it yet - though my colleagues at Official Nintendo Magazine have been playing it on a massive plasma screen, right in front of my desk, for weeks on end.

One cannot go through life as a games enthusiast and not, at some point, be drawn in by the gravitational pull of Mario's magnificence. For me it was Mario World on the SNES, then Mario 64, then Galaxy on the Wii. These were all perfect, and I've seen enough unbelievably distracting footage of 3D World to convince me that the Wii U's flagship game will match the standards of Nintendo's most garlanded series.

Bayonetta 2 is due for 2014

Though it's a matter of time before Sony and Microsoft catch up, I'm not certain the tables will turn completely over the next twelve months. Xbox One and PS4 will get a Titanfall here and a DriveClub there, but Nintendo is arguably offering more promising titles - it has already confirmed Mario Kart 8, Bayonetta 2, the new Smash Bros and Monolith's X for release in 2014.

True, the Wii U is performing woefully (Xbox One has nearly outsold it in the UK after just three days since launch), but this is not a recommendation out of pity or anything else. It's merely because, quite predictably when you think about it, the Wii U has a far better catalogue of games than the PS4 and Xbox One, each sold roughly a third cheaper. What's not to like?