Wii U review – What we think of the new Wii


By Geoffrey Tim on Tuesday, December 11, 2012
"Buy one. Buy one now. Right now. Go on. What are you waiting for?"

When Nintendo released the Wii, they targeted the thing at people who hadn’t really played games before, nearly cornering that casual games market that hadn’t really existed. The unfortunate thing for them is that in doing so, they pushed away the “core” gamers that helped them become the behemoth they are. With their new console, the Wii U, they seem to be making a bold attempt at recapturing that segment, while at the same time trying to maintain that mass-market momentum.

WiiU7

It’s a hard sell. Coupled with their oddly confusing marketing messages, the casual crowd aren’t sure the Wii U is for them, while traditional gamers, burnt by experiences with Nintendo’s older motion-controlled system aren’t keen on taking the financial plunge just to play Mario games and have taken it upon themselves to become vitriolic, fervent naysayers.

Nintendo’s got a pretty tough time ahead. Many see it as little more than a Wii in HD – a little system that offers little more than the current crop of consoles. HD’s not even the system’s biggest selling point; that honour goes to the new tablet-styled controller.

We’ve been impressed with the console in the numerous times we’ve managed to get hands on before the console’s release. We’ve now had our very own unit for just a little over a week. Here’s what we think of what Nintendo’s new system offers.

So…what’s in the box, should you decide to get one? Well, that’s entirely dependent on which one you get. The system is available in 3 different configurations, tailored to different markets. For the more casual or perhaps terminally broke market segment, there’s the basic model, priced at R3,999 which comes in white and packs a measly 8GB of storage, the bulk of which is reserved for system using, leaving just 3GB available to the user.

The more discerning gamer is more likely to pick up the R4599 black premium model, which packs in a few neat extras, in addition to a more useable 32GB of flash storage. The extras include a very handy (and necessary!) charging cradle for the tablet GamePad, a largely pointless stand for the thing, some feet so your can mount your console vertically and a bundled copy of a Nintendo back-catalogue themed mini-game collection Nintendo Land.

On top of that there’s the limited ZombiU Premium Edition, retailing at R4999, that eschews Nintendo Land for ZombiU, and throws in a Gamepad Pro; a no-frills traditional controller that looks and feels a heck of a lot like the 360’s controller. WiiU8

Wii U contents

Basic model:

  • 1 x Wii U console
  • 1 x Wii U GamePad
  • 1 x AC adapter
  • 1 x GamePad charging AC adapter
  • 1 x HDMI cable
  • 1 x Wii sensor bar

Premium model extras:

  • 1 x Wii U GamePad charger
  • 1 x Wii U GamePad stand
  • 1 x Wii U console stand feet
  • 1 x copy of Nintendo Land

ZombiU Premium model extras:

  • 1 x Wii U GamePad charger
  • 1 x Wii U GamePad stand
  • 1 x Wii U console stand feet
  • 1 x copy of ZombiU
  • 1 x Gamepad Pro
  • 1 x USB charging cable

WiiU10

The console itself is rather minimalist, made of a glossy, cheap feeling finger-print prone plastic that belies the system’s sturdiness. In fact, it really just looks like a much larger Wii. On the back you’ll find two USB ports to accompany the two on the front, a port for the Wii sensor bar, an HDMI out and an AV port, allowing you to use the old Wii component cables. There’s a rather curious omission of any sort of optical or coaxial 

The Wii U’s games come on new, curiously round-edged 25GB optical discs, though the machine still reads and runs all of your old Wii titles even upscaling them to HD (more on that later). Unfortunately, Gamecube support has gone out the window – but given the general scarcity of Gamecube titles in South Africa, you’ll probably not notice.

It’s a little tricky to recommend the Basic version, because the price difference covers Nintendo Land alone – and that paltry 3GB you’re left with is barely enough space to download a game. It’s worth noting that the system supports external USB drives  of up to 2 terabytes – but you’ll need an external powered drive if you plan to run any games off the thing.

Like the Wii was focused on those blasted Wii motes, the Wii U’s entire experience is centred around the tablet GamePad controller, equipped with al the inputs you’d want – including face buttons, analogue sticks and of course, the 6.2 inch, 16:9 ratio touch-screen.

Before you even turn the console on, you’ll notice just how light (about 500g) and surprisingly damned comfortable the controller is. Much larger than any other controller you’ve held – yes, even bigger than the Old Duke controllers from the original Xbox (only much, much more confortable) – you’ll probably find your hands wrapping rather perfectly around the thing, allowing your hands to rest naturally and comfortably. Unfortunately, and this is especially true of the black models, it’s made of the same shiny plastic as the console itself, meaning you’ll spend nearly as much time wiping off the fingerprints as you will playing games.

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Author:Geoffrey Tim

I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.


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