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In-depth Review Of The Wii U By Our Gaming Expert

I consider myself an avid fan of the original Nintendo Wii, when the platform first launched back in 2004 I was blow away by its innovative new game play and I wrote the console an overwhelmingly positive review. So imagine my delight when I was invited to attend a hands-on demonstration of the new Nintendo Wii U GamePad at the September 13 Nintendo press conference in New York. What is the Nintendo Wii U GamePad, you ask? Wii U is the new console from Nintendo, and the Wii U GamePad is an accompanying new controller that looks like a small tablet bordered by joysticks and selectors.

 

Wii U GamePad Review

It has a screen that measures 6.2 inches in the center that can be used to display games you’re playing on TV, maps of games your playing, or even a game that’s not being displayed on the screen. That’s right; you will be able to play a game on the controller, even if some one’s watching a TV show! The touchscreen can be used with your finger or a stylus, and it does come with the stylus, which is nice. The stylus makes it a lot easier to write on the screen, especially for some one with large fingers like myself.
 

On the left side of the touchscreen is a depressible joystick and the plus symbol control pad for use in navigation as well as game play. To the right of the touchscreen is another depressible joystick. Below the right joystick are the classic button suite: A button, B button, X button, and Y button. Below the screen are some other buttons, including Home and TV; the latter is used to control your TV in order to adjust sound, picture, and the like. The Wii U GamePad also has trigger buttons on the underside and the outer edge. Above the touchscreen is a camera and microphone, using which you can engage in video and voice chatting with friends. It’s got a stereo speakers, as well as a headphone jack.
 

Technical Specifications Of The Wii U GamePad

For the inner workings of the Wii U GamePad, it has both an accelerometer and a gyroscope, as well as a geomagnetic sensor. These are used for motion control of games, as well as other functions. The GamePad also has the rumble feature, a standard of Nintendo controllers as far back as the Nintendo 64 console. This, of course, is used to give feedback to the user, based on action in the game. Wii U utilizes internal flash memory. The Basic Set will have 8 GB, while the Deluxe Set will have 32 GB. The computer processing unit, or CPU, is based on an IBM Power chip, in the form of a multi core processor. The graphics processing unit, or GPU, is based on an AMD Radeon HD chip. There are 2 GB of RAM; one GB for system memory, and one GB for game memory. This results in 20 times the memory than that of the original Wii. The Wii U console will be available in two iterations: a Basic Set white version, and a Deluxe Set black version. Both have AC adapters for the the console and the GamePad, as well as the sensor bar and an HDMI cable. The latter has a cradle charger for the GamePad and a stand, while the Basic White version does not. The stand makes it possible to set up the GamePad vertically on a flat surface like a table.
 

Functionality Of The Wii U GamePad

The functionality of the Nintendo Wii U GamePad goes beyond normal game play. For instance, the TVii function allows the user to search for and watch movies, TV shows, and sports. You can use the Wii U GamePad to look for shows on a guide similar to the channel guide on cable or satellite. You can then choose to view the current program, or set it to record on your TiVo DVR. You can search programming on your TV provider, as well as On Demand in HuluPlus, Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube; or even shows you’ve already recorded on your DVR. You can watch on your Wii U GamePad what is being displayed on your TV, or you can view adjunct programming related to what your watching. For example, say you are watching a football game on TV. You can also watch it on the Wii U GamePad, or you can view a diagram of the plays. You can check out current scores of other games or stats of certain players for your fantasy football league. If you want to communicate with friends while you’re watching, you can use the Wii U GamePad’s virtual keyboard to type messages, and then send them directly to your friends via email, Twitter, and other social networking. Another great thing about the Wii U is its backward compatibility. Almost all of the games that currently exist for Wii do play on the new Wii U console. Furthermore, the existing remotes, including the Wii Remote, the Wii Remote Plus, the Nunckuk, and the Wii Balance Board are all compatible with the Wii U unit. Making the Wii U a must buy!
 

Nintendo’s New Gaming Community Miiversse

Nintendo has also introduced a new gaming community called Miiverse, which is directly built into the Wii U console. Through this you can talk about games and content with game players from around the world. Utilizing your Mii character in the Miiverse, you can find applications, entertainment content, or games that you have viewed recently, or have indicated that you want to learn more about. You can ask your friends to play together, or you can make queries about an arduous level in a game, or even find new aspects of games you never knew about. If you want to share something, you can pause the application or game, and post in the Miiverse community.
 

Thoughts From A Gammer

Now you know what the Nintendo Wii U GamePad is, so I’ll tell you what I thought of it in my Wii U Review. First, the GamePad is diminutive enough for the hands of a child, and it feels pretty light. It comes in at around 1.1 pounds. The plastic construction feels a little thin, and less substantial than I expected. The analog joy sticks enabled me to more accurately aim for first person action games, as opposed to the more difficult control of some of the traditional Wii shooter games. I like the ability to play games solely on the GamePad, but this feature only works with some of the games on the new system. The reason is some of the new games utilize the screen on the GamePad for maps and other information in the game. I am also curious about the cost of a second GamePad, because Nintendo has said that two GamePads would be supported by Wii U. However, there has been no mention of what the cost would be for a second GamePad. Just to note, a stand alone GamePad has been priced at $170 in Japan.

 
I also wonder about DVD and Blu-Ray support. Wii U discs can contain as much as 25 GB of data, much like a Blu-Ray. However, Nintendo has made no mention of support for DVD and Blu-Ray, so it remains to be seen whether this support will remain. The list of approximately 25 games that are rumored to be available at the launch does look impressive, including Aliens: Colonial Marines, Assassin’s Creed, Batman: Arkham City, Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Ghost Recon Online, Marvel Avengers: Battle For Earth, Splinter Cell 5, Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2013, and New Super Mario Brothers Wii U. One game I played that I really liked is ZombieU. It was one of the more violence themed games made for any console at E3 2012. It is a first person shooter that uses the touchscreen as a scope for aiming, as well as a tool for investigation throughout the game. This is one of those games that will not have the ability to play on the GamePad alone. Nintendo states that more games will be available during the launch window from November 18, 2012 to March 31, 2013. These include NBA 2k13, Madden NFL 13, Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper, Wii Fit U, Just Dance 4, Zumba Fitness Core, Rise of The Guardians: The Video Game, 007 Legends, and Transformers Prime. All in all, it is a pretty impressive array of games and fitness software.
 

In conclusion, I like the way the GamePad feels in my hands. It is lighter than I thought it would be, but the workmanship feels solid nonetheless. The joysticks are both very easily accessible, and the triggers are in the perfect place. The location of the A, B, X, and Y buttons feels good, being just below the right joystick. The action on the joysticks is very smooth and precise. Because the stylus is stored on the back of the GamePad, it is out of the way, but never far when you need it. The display seems big, but not overly so. There was no lag time between images displayed on the TV, and those on the GamePad. As big as the GamePad is, it never felt unwieldy, even when I used it in one hand when I played New Super Mario Brothers Wii U. Will I buy Wii U? I am ready to order Wii U online right now, so as soon as they have Wii U in stock on November 18, they can ship me my Nintendo Wii U!!
 

Bellow I encourage others to post their experiences and feed-back on the exciting new Wii U consoles and GamePad device.

  1. Brice R Walters [Stockton,CA] says
    Dec 11, 2012 | Reply

    I am not a big time gamer at all. I have never really been into the real hardcore games like Halo, or Call of duty. My thing has always been the more casual stuff like mario bros, mario cart, and some shooter games like Raymond. I ordered a wii U last week on a whim. I own an original Wii and figured an update was long over due. I was also really intrigued by the new Tvii and how it integrates with my flat screen and the possibility of getting rid of my cable bill.

    Here is a list of what I liked about the New Wii U
    – The new Full HD Graphics
    – Games are really fun! Especially Mario Bros and Nintendo Land
    – Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix work great much better than the my samsung smart TV interface, and much faster too.
    – The new controller looks like due to its large size it would be uncomfortable to hold. But so far I have been able to operate it with ease. I like that my wife can watch her shows and I can sit and play Mario Brothers on the controller just like it was a portable device.

    Some things I didn’t like.
    – Setting up the TVii app has been a real pain in the butt. I was told it would integrate with my DVR, and it is one of the options when trying to set up, but i haven’t been able to get this to work.
    – I have not been able to use my amazon prime account to watch free videos through the Wii U.
    – The set up when I first hooked up the Wii U took way too long. It was at least 30 minutes from the time it was plugged in until I was able to play a game. The majority of time was a system update. The download too forever! This seemed excessive. PS3 updates are typically no more than a couple of minutes.

    Overall, I really like this system and look forward seeing how new games utilize the tablet screen on the control in game play.


  2. Chi town Billy [Chicago,IL] says
    Dec 8, 2012 | Reply

    Once I realized that the Wii U was now available for sale, I started to look at which Wii U games I wanted to purchase along with the console. I read about Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 here at the Wii U Depot, and I decided that sounded like a game for me I have played and really enjoyed earlier versions of Call of Duty on my Xbox, so I ordered it along with the unit.

    Oh man, I am really digging playing it! I can play online split screen multiplayer and I don’t have to split the screens. I like to use the GamePad as my second screen. I can change my class without having to enter the start screen, plus I can use the GamePad as a minimap, while still using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk that I’m used to. These are huge improvements over the game play on the Xbox or PS3. And now that the Wii U is full HD even the hardcore gamers should buy the Wii U!


  3. Reality Check [Gallup,NM] says
    Dec 5, 2012 | Reply

    The Good –
    I have always loved my original Wii, with the one exception that the 480p graphics just don’t compare to other gaming systems. My qualm has now been put to rest with the 1080p HD graphics on the Wii U. The improved graphics are absolutely brilliant!! I wasted not time finding my Wii U in stock.

    The GamePad controller ads a really cool new dimension to game play. My girlfriend can watch as much Dancing With The Stars and Nashville as she wants to on our big screen TV, while I sit right next to her in comfort playing New Super Mario Bros. U on my GamePad. How did Nintendo think of this?!

    The Bad –
    I have always enjoyed playing sports on video gaming consoles, but Madden NFL 13 isn’t as fun on the Wii U as it could have been. The reason is that the Wii U version has removed the Infinity Engine. Anyone who has played the latest Madden NFL on PS3 or Xbox 360 know what I’m talking about. When players collide, the Infinity Engine would make a new animation for each collision, based on how the players hit. The Wii U, however, uses canned animation. Something to know before you consider buying the Madden Wii U game.


  4. Wayne Randall [Memphis,TN] says
    Dec 4, 2012 | Reply

    Assassins Creed III for Nintendos Wii U is a mixed bag of good and bad. I do like the fantastic scenery, and the time period is very interesting. The idea of a crazy time traveling assassin fighting in the revolutionary war is pretty Fing cool! But what I dont like about it is they’ve taken out a lot of the great fighting moves from Assassin’s Creed II. Plus it seems to be very buggy to me. Not sure if this is only happening on the Wii U but I hope they fix the bugs soon. All in in its still a great game and a lot of fun to play!


  5. Luck 4 MVP [Indianapolis,IN] says
    Dec 4, 2012 | Reply

    I think one of the most fun Wii U games is Nintendo Land. It’s set up like an amusement park with 12 attractions. Some are similar to puzzles, like Donkey Kong’s Crash Course and Yoshi’s Fruit Cart Others are more action oriented games, like Takamaru’s Ninja Castle, in which you use the GamePad’s touchscreen to flick ninja stars toward your TV. It’s fun for the whole family! I’m very glad I decided to buy Wii U. It differentially lives up to the hype and I can not wait to see how Nintendo will start to integrate the GamePad screen into more and more games on the Wii U :mrgreen:


  6. Confused in Tacoma [Tacoma,WA] says
    Dec 1, 2012 | Reply

    Before I order the Wii U, I want to figure something out. I don’t understand the purpose of the GamePad. Why would I look at the small screen on the GamePad if I can watch the game play on my big screen television? I mean, it’s not like a portable version of the game, because I need a connection to the console in order to make the GamePad work. It’s kind of cool that I can play only using the GamePad; it just doesn’t seem very practical. Most of the reviews I have read say in order to use the system properly you will need to purchase a pro-controller. That is a turn off for me. Can anyone on here shed some light on this. Will I need to buy another control to play the games?


    • Suck My Wii Wii [Ventura,CA] says
      Dec 4, 2012 | Reply

      No, you can play all the games with either the GamePad or any of the controllers from the first generation Wii. More intense games such as Batman and Madden are a whole lot more fun on the pro controller though. If you are looking to get the most out of your Wii U, do yourself a favor and buy the pro controller when you buy Wii U


  7. Vote For Mario! [KansasCity,KS] says
    Nov 30, 2012 | Reply

    Its been just about a week now since I have owned the Wii U

    I remember for a long time Nintendo was under a large amount of criticism for not offering a true HD unit, one that used HDMI cables. There is no double people have been waiting for this upgrade for a long time. Rather than coming out with a update to the existing Wii which used HDMI’s like Xbox did years ago Nintendo waiting to release the upgrade with its totally revamped unit, and I must say IT WAS WELL WORTH THE WAIT. The Wii U is awesome!

    The main new features are:
    1) The Wii U Is now full HD, it is now par with the Xbox 360 and PS3 in this regards
    2) The new GamePad controller. This new device offers a world of new ops both in game and out. You can now continue to play your gam while others watch TV. It can also be used as a TV remote.
    3) You can now use the Wii U as your central entertainment hub for your TV. Nintendo calls this the TVii. Here you can stream netflix watch Hulu and even check out a TV guide. I hear soon it will even offer an instant reply feature which will allow you to watch stuff like a sports reply right on the GamePad. How cool is that!

    To summarize- The main appeal of the new Wii U is the full HD, new GamePad controller, the new dimension you get controlling your other entertainment devices, and the TVii application.


  8. Marsha Lipton [Bluefield,WV] says
    Nov 30, 2012 | Reply

    Once again, Nintendo leads the way, while the others just try to copy them. The original Wii took the video gamer out of their seat, and put them in motion in front of the console. They did something that no other home video game had done before. It was an innovation like no other, and put Nintendo a step above all other video game companies. Then what happened? Microsoft created the Xbox 360 Kinect, and Playstation soon followed with Playstation Move. Now, Nintendo has made a new advancement: the Gamepad. Watch for Xbox and Playstation to follow Nintendo’s lead. I simply love the ability to play games both on my TV and right on the Gamepad. I give the Wii U a perfect 5 star review!


  9. Wii U Convert [Belmont,MA] says
    Nov 29, 2012 | Reply

    I am a dyed in the wool PlayStation guy, and I play my PS3 on a daily basis. However, I do keep up on all of the latest news and announcements regarding new gaming consoles. I found so much promise in the Wii U console, that I decided to order Wii U and give it a try. I know that I can always return it if I don’t like it. I have to tell you, that this console is not going back. I’m in love with the Wii U! The graphics are even sharper than the PS3, and the GamePad is an innovation that the PS3 just can’t compete with. I purchased Assassin’s creed 3 for the Wii U (already had it for the PS3) comparing the game on both systems:

    Wii U
    – Better graphics. I could not believe Nintendo came out with a console that offers graphics as good as Sony let alone better!
    – I found the price for the game to actually be cheaper on the Wii U than the PS3!
    – Loading time, the game loads and starts up faster on the Wii U
    – Audio, this was close but it did seem to me that the Dobby surround sound was a little better with the Nintendo

    PS3
    – Game play, this is the only area I like the PS3 better. I dont have the Wii U pro controller (yet), and playing the game on the older controller or GamePad SUCKS!


  10. Jack Johnson [Denver,CO] says
    Nov 28, 2012 | Reply

    I wanted to get my Wii U as soon as it came out on November 18, so I looked it up at Best Buy, and i was pleased to see that not only was the Wii U in stock, but I could buy Wii U and pick it up in the store, so I didn’t have to wait for it to be shipped. I went to the store near my house, got my Wii U, and have been enjoying it ever since! Similar to what I have read from the other reviews, the controller situation is a little annoying. The GamePad does not allow for proper game play with all the games, the the controllers from the original Wii are pretty limited as well. The system should really have come with a pro controller rather than charging separate for it.

    Over all the games I have tested all live up to Nintendo’s standards, and the improved HD graphics is a real plus. There is no doubt you can tell the difference compared to the Wii U’s predecessors. All in all the system is a winner and I would recommend it to not only Nintendo fans but any gamer looking to upgrade.


  11. Go Irish! [Bridgeport,IN] says
    Nov 28, 2012 | Reply

    Nintendo has impressed me again! I’ve had the black Wii U deluxe now since Friday and my 3 year old son and I love playing Nintendoland together. Nintendo really gets it right, they understand games are about having fun, and players of all ages should be able to enjoy them. Whether or not this system is as powerful as its competitors does not matter. The game system is fun to play and that is the bottom line! With the added GamePad you have even more options with the new Wii U. You can now continue to play your game no matter where you are in the house. I really dig this new feature! I have not played any games yet that really utilize the GamePad as an in game tool, but I’m sure they are out there!

    My only gripe with the system was the required update. I was really eager to start playing however as soon as I plugged it in I had to wait while it when though a system update process that lasted almost 10mins. In short I am really happy I purchased the Wii U initially my plan was to wait for Christmas to open it but as you have ready I am pretty impatient.


  12. Free Ceasar [Melbourne,FL] says
    Nov 25, 2012 | Reply

    This is the first time I can remember Nintendo has released a 2d version of Mario with the launch of a new console. Maybe its just nostalgia taking over but I am sold on the new Wii U! I was lucky enough to find the Wii U instock on black Friday at target. I have been playing Mario non-stop since! One thing that I did find annoying was the start up time when you plug they system in. You have to go through a pretty tedious process to set up an account for their on-line features. I am a 25 year old man and I could hardly bare it. I can only image how a young kid would react. All in all I highly recommend the Wii U and especially the Mario Brothers game


  13. Kai [Kona,HI] says
    Nov 25, 2012 | Reply

    I consider myself a Nintendo person. I have owned every console from the original 1985 Nintendo to now the Wii U. What I love most about Nintendo is they always produce the most innovative and fun games. The Wii U is no different. If you are a Nintendo fan you will love the Wii U! :Smile:


  14. 1 & 1/2 Thumbs Up [Dallas,TX] says
    Nov 24, 2012 | Reply

    Over all the new wii U is pretty good, and the games I have played so far (Nintendo Land, Mario & ZombiU) are fun. If you are a Nintendo person I am sure you will like the new Wii U. What did disappoint me though was the controller situation. To play most of the games you are going to need to also buy the pro controller to really get the most out of them. And of course it only comes with the classic controller and the gamePad. Out of every system I have ever owned, the Wii U is the first that does not come with the controller you need to play the games. If you are looking into purchasing a Wii U do yourself a favor and buy the Nintendo pro controller at the same time and save yourself the frustration I encountered.

    Other than the controller issue, The system itself is imaginative and I do not have buyers remorse at all!


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