Just what is the Nintendo Wii U?
So what is the Wii U then?
The Wii U is Nintendo’s new console; a follow-up to the original Wii that you all loved for the first week and then packed away into the cupboard.
That’s right, my Wii is still there behind the broken vacuum cleaner and the stack of newspapers, shall I list it on eBay?
You can, but I doubt you’ll get much for it now. Nintendo have dropped the ball and the last year of the Wii’s life has seen hardly any new games come out. It’s basically dead, I’m sorry to say. I’ll still keep my Wii though, someday I want my own gaming museum, maybe when I retire.
Err… is Wii U very different from Wii then?
Yes. You recall that the initial Wii craze centered around the exciting motion controlled Wii Sports games such as Tennis and Bowling? This time, motion has taken a bit of a back seat because Nintendo now think that their new controller, with its own dedicated screen, is the new way to game.
New controller? Dedicated screen? WTF?
Confused already? Okay, I’ll explain. Wii U comes with a very interesting new controller called the GamePad and it has an 6 inch LCD touchscreen in its center. It’s a little bit like the bottom screen on a Nintendo DS but inside a regular joypad. The idea is that you can interact with the game on your TV in a new way because different content can be on both screens at the same time. However, there are even more features, here’s a little list:
- Bluetooth Wireless
- Wireless Video Streaming
- Gyroscopic Motion Sensing
- Front Facing Camera
- Infrared TV remote ability
- Two analogue sticks, DPad, Triggers etc
- Built in rechargeable battery
I thought you said Motion Controls has taken a back seat?
That’s correct but nowhere did I say that they had gone completely. Motion controls are nothing new and I personally hope that developers will be subtle in its use. I don’t want to have to swing my new and very delicate controller around the room like a maniac and risk smashing it into a wall, my girlfriend, or worse, the HDTV screen.
You say that different content will be on the screen in my hand to that on the tv. Any examples?
You know how many games have item boxes and maps that clutter the TV screen? Well, the Wii U GamePad can potentially have these cumbersome things on its screen and leave more room on the TV for pretty action graphics. But because it can display lag free DVD quality video, you could easily have something like an extra camera angle. I personally can imagine the new screen being used as a rear view mirror in the next Mario Kart title.
What is NFC?
NFC is a technology commonly found in smartphones and credit cards for wireless data transfer and wireless payment. Expect the controller to be able to interact with new toy figurines like Skylanders, and the ability to pay for DLC without having to enter your credit card details.
Is the Wii U powerful? I remember the Wii not being HD so it looked crap on my big TV.
Nintendo has not released detailed specifications for the system yet but by all accounts it will be the first ‘new next gen’ console on the market. Everything suggests that graphical capabilities of the system to be greater than that of the Microsoft Xbox 360 and the Sony PlayStation 3. There is no doubt in my mind that the ‘720’ and ‘PS4’ will be even more powerful when they eventually launch, but there is always a game of cat and mouse when it comes to new technology.
Are you telling me that Nintendo are going to have the most powerful system for a change?
That’s how it’s looking and if so, when Wii U launches it will finally be Nintendo’s first time at the front of the power race for eleven years.
Have you got a list of specifications for the geek inside me?
- IBM Power7 multi-core processor with rumours suggesting it will be a tri or quad-core chip running between 2.4Ghz-3.00Ghz
- AMD Radeon HD GPU. (There are too many different rumours about this chip to judge how powerful it may be)
- 1-2 Gigabytes of RAM
- HDMI 1.4a support for 3D output
- 8 Gigabytes of onboard flash storage
- 25 Gigabyte DVD’s
- Built in Wireless G/N
- USB Hard Disk support
- SD Card support
That is a very geeky looking list of specs, can you put it into English?
Sure, I’ve got nothing better to do. In my mind, there is no question that the Wii U is more powerful in real terms than the XBox 360 and PlayStation 3. It is very unlikely that brand new CPU and GPU designs can be anything less than more advanced than those chosen for systems developed in 2005 and 2006.
So those rumours about the Wii U being less powerful than the others were lies?
What we need to bear in mind is that Wii U has been developed to generate two totally different video outputs, one for the TV and one for the controller. In effect, the Wii U console is producing 120 frames of video per second, (60 for the TV and a seperate 60 for the Gamepad). Step back for a moment and think that Battlefield 3 on 360 was locked at 30fps, what does that tell you?
Here’s a question; is it possible for developers to turn off the controller display and use the full power of the CPU and GPU for ultra high quality gaming on the TV?
Wow, that is a very good question. We don’t know if the screen can actually be turned off while the Wii U is running but it’s up to the developers to decide what appears on the extra screen. The less graphic intensive it is would suggest that more power would be available for the content being shown on the TV. Perhaps we will see some games, such as Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, forget all about the touchscreen and instead pump all the power into a smoother and better looking TV experience. I hope that Nintendo has given developers the freedom to use the Wii U power in whatever way they want, I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
This has all been pretty positive so far, you must have some reservations right?
I do have one concern about Wii U and that is the lack of a dedicated hard disk. Many 360 and PS3 games install content onto a hard drive for ultra quick access, thereby reducing load times.
The new Wii U online store promises to have full retail games to download as well as traditional DLC. By not having large built-in storage I can see potential issues such as users wanting to buy a new DLC package for Call of Duty and not having enough room on their system or SD Card. Nintendo may alleviate this a little by including a 32 Gigabyte SD card with the system, however this will only be able to store four or five full games on it before becoming full.
Nintendo are supporting external USB hard drives and i think that is important, just by not being with the system from the start it means a segmentation of the owning audience. This can lead to consumer confusion and disappointment, as well as developers who ‘play it safe’ and end up having to support the lowest common denominator. This could mean removing features from their games that require hard drive support, or worse, not publish their game on Wii U at all.
That is worrying, can you cheer me up by telling me some of the games that have been announced?
There are too many to list here but I’m looking forward to playing:
- New Super Mario Brothers U
- Aliens Colonial Marines
- Pikmin 3
- Smash Bros U
- Darksiders II
- Nintendo Land
You can head over to this Wikipedia page for a growing list of Wii U games in development .
When can I get my grubby hands on Wii U and is it really expensive?
So far there isn’t an exact date yet but I expect that Wii U is launching Worldwide between October and December this year. The price is still unknown but word on the web says it will probably be around $249/£229.
Why are you answering your own questions?
Because I’m mad and don’t have any friends.