Release Date: 11/18/12
Basic MSRP: $299.99
Deluxe MSRP: $349.99
The Wii U is a system I swore up and down I would never get. My girlfriend brings one home and I’m standing there looking at the thing like after you had an awkward fight. There’s Injustice: Gods Among Us sitting there in its tantalizing glory waiting for me to play it. I pull open the box and hook it up. Setting up systems is a nice feeling and doesn’t happen very often.
After setting it all up, I realize that the first feature to really get me to like the console is the TV remote feature. It’s really neat and not something that has ever been implemented into a console before. After I create my Nintendo account and pop in Injustice I start liking the system. The gamepad is easy to hold and super light. This was key to be sure that long periods of playtime didn’t cramp your hands. The dual analog sticks are very nice and the button layout is perfect. The ergonomics of the gamepad are just spot on. Anyone in doubt, even hardcore haters, just know that this is one of my favorite controllers. The DSi XL stylus comes out and that even surprised me. The triggers and bumpers in the back are laid out perfectly. I applaud Nintendo for getting this right. It’s so useful! There are so many possibilities with this thing, but the system is only 6 months old.
I then notice that the game is playing on the screen. Even if you hate Nintendo it will make you giddy. It’s a really cool thing to see. You can take the gamepad, plug in headphones, and play while someone’s doing something else on the TV. Why wasn’t this around 20 years ago?! This is only for games that don’t use the gamepad for much though. My only major complaint is the battery life. Nintendo made this huge oversight and it needs to be fixed.
The Wii U was designed for people who already own a Wii, that’s obvious. It comes with a Wii sensor bar but no Wiimotes? Pretty stupid actually. I do like that it emulates the Wii menu and you can still use the Wii shop channel. It’s nice to see Wii games upscaled into HD, not as crisp as the Wii U games, but still nice.
This is also Nintendo’s first HD console. They are behind in times (they always are) but the Wii U looks razor-sharp on my 50″ 1080p plasma. The colors are rich and vibrant, and some of the games look pretty good. The only issue is that the Wii U has weaker hardware than current-gen consoles when it comes to processing power. Nintendo fanboys can scream all they want that it’s a next-gen console, but in terms of power, it isn’t. This is what the Wii should have been.
The Wii U has a tri-core 1.24 GHz “Expresso” CPU. Sad. I think Nintendo was trying to keep down costs, but the gamepad seems to have cost them more than the unit itself because it seems like two systems in one. The Wii U has a 550 Mhz GPU “Latte” that is AMD-based and totally custom-made. Combined the Wii U is about 4x as powerful as the PS3, but that’s not that big of a jump. The GPU has a slightly faster clock and BUS speeds. The Xbox 360 has a tri-core 3.2 GHz CPU while the PS3 has an 8-core CPU (1 PPE 7 SPEs) so right now the Wii U is only about 4x as powerful as the current-gen consoles. It’s not the big jump that everyone expects. It’s like from the GameCube to the Wii (the Wii was only 4x as powerful as the GameCube). It isn’t nearly as powerful (about a fraction) as the top PC rigs and Xbox One and PS4. The big disappointment is that the Wii U doesn’t support DirectX 11 architecture like the Xbox One and PS4 do. Don’t expect to see Crysis 3 or any other DX11 game on the Wii U. The Wii U has 4GB of DDR3 RAM at 1600Mhz which is about slightly above the average RAM speed that people use in PCs. 1GB is held off for system stuff so developers still only have 3GB to work with. Still better than the 256MB that’s on current-gen consoles, so this is the only leg up the Wii U has. It’s still 10x as powerful as the Wii, but that’s not saying much.
In the end, it comes down to games, right now the Wii U is lacking. There are quite a few high-budget ports, but they’re ports. These games people have played on other consoles. Thankfully there’s a huge Wii library out there you can play while you wait, but even the eShop is pretty much empty. I’m impressed with the hardware, but not so much the software. All we can do is wait and see.