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Wii U Console Review

Nintendo's latest console, the Wii U, is very hard to describe: on one hand, it's the result of the best of the Wii and the DS put together and on the other, it's both a standard console experience with joysticks and buttons but with a humongous twist. There's a considerable amount of solid technology and great ideas behind the Wii U, but its one biggest fault lies with the people who are going to spend their hard-earned cash on this machine rather than the console itself.

Immediately you're greeted with a sleek black box: the Wii U itself. It's a relatively simple piece of machinery but it's not where the Wii U's genius lies at all: that's in the Game Pad but we'll get to that in a moment. The console is much more powerful than its old Wii and is therefore Nintendo's first foray into the HD generation, allowing you to play games in glorious High-Definition with brighter colours and sharper textures. For the most part, it all runs smoothly and how the frame-rate is just depends on the game that is being played: on some it's perfectly fine and on others, not so much. The machine itself is nice and thin and stands easily on the two platforms included with the box. Despite this, the console itself looks a bit too simple but it's easy to see where Nintendo's efforts in the designing department went to: Nintendo's gaming version of the iPad.

Wii U

The Wii U effectively ditches the standard Wii controllers for this new behemoth. The Game Pad is no larger than a standard tablet, but its importance with the Wii U is crucial. Everything you do in every game purchased for this new console is done on the Game Pad's bright, nicely-sized screen, giving Nintendo and other developers the perfect opportunity to experiment with these two platforms. Alongside controlling the games using the various assortments of buttons and the joysticks, players will be using the included stylus to tap away at the screen, almost like a larger version of the DS. It feels strange at first to be controlling a console in this fashion but after time it feels fantastic and is unlike anything else out there.

However, the battery life on the Game Pad is far from perfect. The fact it lasts up to 4 hours may not sound too bad, but when compared to regular tablets (because that's all it is, really) it's not up there in terms of greatness. And the fact that you need a separate cable to charge the Game Pad up, as there's no way to connect it to the Wii U itself, could prove to be a big problem for some.

Looking at the Wii U Game Pad on its own, there's a great feeling as if this is the ultimate Nintendo console as all of the technology contained within it has come from both the Wii, the DS and the newer 3DS, almost as if everything that Nintendo has done before has been leading up to this. The touch-screen originated on the DS, the motion aspect of it from the Wii and the way the Game Pad responds to be moving around by moving the camera accordingly first appeared on the 3DS. Everything before the Wii U feels like an experiment, an attempt to get things right. And with the Wii U, it seems as if Nintendo have succeeded.

Wii U

There's also a wealth of features on the Wii U itself that mark Nintendo's first attempt at them. Included is a useful and surprisingly good Internet Browser (GameGrin looks especially great on it, of course), a YouTube app which is good for the most part but is rather confusing to use and a form of social networking called the MiiVerse, which allows players to form communities based around certain games where photos can be shared and advice can be given regarding certain levels and bosses. They all work to a degree and it's nice to see a fully-functioning Internet Browser on a console that isn't handheld as, let's face it, the one on the PlayStation 3 isn't really that great. MiiVerse is a breeze to use and it's certainly nice to see communities building around your favourite titles (how long it stays family-friendly though remains to be seen). YouTube, however, is a bit of a pain to operate as the Game Pad is rather limited with what it can and cannot do, but using it for long periods of time can help players get used to it. Overall, Nintendo pulls off these new additions with flare and it's exciting to see where they can go from here.

But, like all things, the Wii U isn't perfect and, like previously mentioned, its problems lie not just with the console itself but with the audience that will be buying it. The fact it has the word "Wii" in the title makes the whole product misleading. Those expecting an updated, revamped and next-generation of Nintendo's mega-selling product could be very easily disappointed. I spent hours on end playing on the console and only one of these games forced me to stand up and do anything other than move my arms (although playing a fitness title may be interesting sitting down). It feels as if the WiiU is a more solitary experience, too, as only one person can use the Game Pad when playing with multiple people, making the multiplayer experience seem a little tacked on. Don't get me wrong, the WiiU is great fun but the family-based jump-around experience that the Wii was this isn't.
The WiiU also features a peculiar form of backwards compatibility. The Wii games can be played on it but at a price: transferring old save data is far from easy and you can't access this data, should you have downloaded any games from the store, on the Wii U menu. Users must switch from the Wii U menu to the Wii menu then access them from there, but to get to this menu, the console needs to be rebooted. This may not sound like too much of a problem but if you're constantly switching from one game to the next then it easily becomes a bore.

Wii U

The Wii U undoubtedly has some great ideas surrounding it. The integration of a tablet is a fantastic idea and really sets the console out from the rest and with the amount of games available for it increasingly rapidly, it could quickly become the console to own. However, it isn't without its faults and if you can overlook these and buy the Wii U for what it actually is not what you think it is, then there's a lot of fun to be had with Nintendo's latest.

Pros:

  • A brilliant idea that is almost completely successful
  • A nice new interface
  • The Game Pad is awesome!
  • Sleek design
  • Runs smoothly
  • Internet Browser, YouTube (sort of ) and the MiiVerse
  • The culmination of a lot of hard work and tested formulas from Nintendo

Cons:

  • Game Pad has a bad battery life
  • YouTube is a bit of a pain
  • Peculiar backwards compatibility
  • Misleading title as it hardly requires a lot of moving around
  • A more solitary experience

Interface: 7/10
Usability: 8/10
Build Quality: 9/10
Durability: 8/10
Overall: 8/10

Adam2208 | 13th December, 2012
Kaostic's picture
Great review Adam. I've never been a huge fan of Nintendo and this review hasn't changed that but I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who have been on the fence. I expect this will be under a lot of trees this Christmas.
Thanks
I'm not a huge fan either as this type of gaming isn't really for me. Despite that, I do admire and am interested in the way Nintendo takes "typical" gaming and alters it around: touch screens, motion controls. Whilst I prefer a pad and a good darn time over jumping around the living room, I would never say that what Nintendo is doing with modern technology is nothing short of astounding.

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