The Nintendo Wii U ushers in a new wave of “next generation” video game console systems with expanded functions and convenient backward-compatible functions stemming from a sleek rectangular console and portable GamePad with screen.
The Wii U had an original launch window between March 2012 and December 2012 and eventually debuted on November 18, 2012, so gamers experienced a predictable pre-order frenzy for the holiday season.
The impressive high-definition graphics make a winning combination with Nintendo’s vibrantly colorful games while the lightweight GamePad with separate screen offers great gameplay/viewing options.
The Wii U is currently available in the following two versions:
- A white colored basic set (8 GB internal storage), Wii U GamePad controller, GamePad stylus, sensor bar, console AC adapter, GamePad AC adapter, and HDMI cable for $299.99.
- A black colored deluxe set (32 GB storage), Wii U GamePad controller, GamePad stylus, sensor bar, console AC adapter, GamePad AC adapter, HDMI cable, Nintendo Land game, GamePad Stand, GamePad Cradle, console stand, and digital promotion eligibility for $349.99.
The Wii U is backward-compatible with Wii games as well as the Wii remotes, Wii MotionPlus remote, classic controller, and balance board. The Wii menu appears separately when loading Wii game discs.
The Wii U is not backward-compatible with GameCube games, which diminishes use of your existing game library, but work well on the developer side so they can develop an experience that cooperates with existing systems instead of trying to replace them.
Setup works very well with matching color cords for power (yellow), HDMI, and the sensor bar (orange) plus a separate cord for GamePad similar to the Wii U power cord. The GamePad cord is not the same as the Nintendo DS/DSi/3DS handheld console power/battery charging cord. The GamePad cord plug is just a bit bigger and wider.
Next follow the quick start guide to establish your Nintendo Network ID and internet connection settings (maximum of six). Up to 12 users are available with unique parental controls for each. Users can perform a transfer from the Nintendo Wii to the Wii U where both systems are connected to a television.
Players can transfer Miis to the Wii U from the Nintendo Wii and/or Nintendo 3DS. Like the Wii transfer the process gets fairly detailed.
The Wii U has 1080p support and wireless (IEEE 802.11b/g/n) connection. The Wii U supports SD memory cards (port in front) and external USB storage with four ports (two in front and two in back).
Power buttons on the GamePad and console can be turned off when held for at least one second. The Wii U has activates an automatic power off feature after one hour of inactive use. The console and GamePad have impressive, reflective finishes that make cleaning relatively easily.
Wii U console weighs about 3.5 pounds and is capable of supporting two Wii U GamePad controllers, up to four Wii Remote (or Wii Remote Motion Plus) controllers or Wii U Pro Controllers plus Wii accessories such as the Nunchuk, Classic Controller and Wii Balance Board.
A separate battery hatch on the front right contains a lithium coin cell battery (CR2032) that needs replaced when the console clock stops functioning.
Users can sync up to 10 controllers – my “dream team” would be two GamePads, four Motion Plus remotes, and four Wii U Pro Controllers (perfect for games like Call of Duty: Black Ops II). GamePads are scheduled to be sold separately in early 2013.
The Wii U Pro Controller (sold separately from the Wii U) charges for 4.5 hours and lasts approximately 80 hours. It has a replaceable battery (similar procedure as GamePad).
The new GamePad must be synced or paired with the Wii U console – a similar process for existing Wii controllers except the press console sync button twice then press sync on GamePad.
Pre-installed electronic manuals are also included for convenience and contain helpful web links. As with the Wii, avoid radio frequency interference so the synched remotes work properly and no issues arise for the near-field communication used in the GamePad.
The lightweight, 1.1 pound Wii U GamePad becomes the biggest game controller while offering other options similar to a computer tablet. One GamePad is included with every console.
The 10.5-inch wide GamePad includes a touchpad screen, two analog sticks, microphone, and separate speaker system and volume control with headphone jack. The sound is surprisingly strong and often has different sounds than the television and other entertaining effects.
The removable and rechargeable GamePad battery lasts about three to five hours after charging for approximately 2.5 hours. The Wii U Pro Controller offers a nice backup option for prolonged Wii U use while other third party options (e.g. Nyko’s U Boost) will release to prolong GamePad battery life.
The battery charging port on the GamePad is located at the top left while the bottom center also allows battery charging on the GamePad stand with the adapter plugging into the back.
When placed on a stand the GamePad should be in the horizontal position only, but gameplay incorporates the GamePad in several orientations include vertically and horizontally.
The touch screen on the GamePad controller measures 6.2 inches and acts as a second console when others want to use the television – a defining feature for the Wii U. This unique two screen (a.k.a. “asymmetric”) feature allows for individual experiences (e.g. television viewing, Wii U games, etc.) within the same shared viewing.
The GamePad screen has a 16:9 aspect ratio LCD touch screen plus motion control capabilities using an accelerometer, gyro sensor and magnetic sensor.
The Gamepad can also be used as a television remote control even while the Wii U console is turned off.
Traditional GamePad button controls include the directional pad, dual analog sticks, stick buttons, A/B/X/Y buttons, power button, home, select, start, +/ and directional pad. The design fits well and the lightweight structure fits the palms nicely.
The ZL/ZR button and L/R button orientation will take some adjustment. Users have a nicely contoured bar behind the GamePad where they can alternate buttons using their index fingers or use their index fingers for L/R buttons and middle finger for the ZL/ZR buttons.
Players can also push down on the dual analog sticks similar to L3 and R3 buttons on PlayStation 3.
The front-facing camera offers nice capabilities for video chats and other functions. Since the camera faces forward it would be great to eventually get a facial detection options where the system would automatically pause when someone is not in view. Another helpful energy-saving feature.
A white colored indicator light displays when there is a disc still inside the Wii U.
Open source code users can try out open source software “distributed under the terms of various open source licenses, including the GNU Library General Public License 2.0, the GNU Lesser General Public license 2.1, the Mozilla Public License Version 1.1, and the Mini-XML License (collectively, the “OSS Licenses”).” as stated on Nintendo’s website.
Enjoy your Wii U experience as you enter the main (WaraWara) plaza. Look for an additional Wii U review here covering more applications, features, collaborations, and special functions as they expand in the future.
Review: Wii U
Where to Buy: Best Buy, GameStop, Kmart, Sears, Target, Toys R Us, and Wal-Mart.
Price: $299.99 for white colored basic set / $349.99 for black colored deluxe set
What I Like: unique two screen/“asymmetric” feature allows for individual experiences within the same shared viewing, genuine all ages fun, easy setup, mobile and lightweight GamePad options, large GamePad display, high promise/potential for future features, pre-installed electronic manuals, touch screen interface blends well with motion control actions, strong sound options
What Needs Improvement: no backwards capability for GameCube games, cannot play DVDs or Blu-ray video discs, a more simple system transfer process, use the same Nintendo DS battery charging cord for GamePad instead of a different one
Source: personal console