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Wii U review



Our Score


User Score


  • Wii U Pad is ingenious and versatile
  • Well-designed, quiet and unobtrusive hardware
  • Intruiging online features
  • Some excellent exclusive games
  • Cheaper than Xbox One and PS4


  • Slow firmware and poor Wii U Pad battery life
  • Missing key cross-platform titles

Best Deals

Review Price £250.00

Two years on - Is the Nintendo's Wii U worth owning?

Re-reviewed by Damien McFerran

When Nintendo launched the Wii U at the end of 2012 it had plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the system's chances. The console took the most notable feature of its forerunner the Wii - motion controls - and added more powerful hardware and a unique, tablet-like controller which looked set to tap into the consumer frenzy over products like the Apple iPad. Having won the last-gen war with the Wii, Nintendo could have been forgiven for assuming that its next machine would continue that trailblazing commercial success - but sadly, that hasn't been the case.

Total worldwide sales of the Wii U currently stand at around 8 million. In contrast, the PS4 - which has been on the market a full year less than the Wii U - has recently blasted past the 18 million units sold marker. Nintendo's marketing for the Wii U has at best sporadic and at worst totally counter-productive, leaving many confused punters to incorrectly assume that the console is merely a controller upgrade for the existing Wii - a system which most people have relegated to the back of their cupboards after their fixation with Wii Fit and "waggle control" has waned. Sluggish sales have resulted in many big-name third party publishers abandoning the console and consequently software releases have been reduced to a trickle, with Nintendo's own output being subtly augmented by digital download releases via the console's eShop platform.

Wii U

Taking all of this into account, you might assume that the Wii U is dead in the water and that there's no good reason to pick one up now - and you'd be wrong. While it has singularly failed to achieve the same prestigious sales as its forerunner and it may not be getting the big third party AAA franchises like Assassin's Creed, Grand Theft Auto and FIFA, the Wii U is nevertheless one of the finest gaming systems money can buy at this moment in time - and that's largely thanks to the fact that when it comes to designing addictive and appealing experiences, Nintendo is quite simply in a class all its own.

Before we get onto software however, it's worth taking a look at how the Wii U has changed since it launched back in 2012. Like Sony and Microsoft, Nintendo has constantly been tinkering with the firmware on its console and has added a raft of improvements in the past couple of years. The most notable is a general increase in boot speed, with the console now loading a lot faster from a standing start. A new quick-start menu has also been added to the Wii U GamePad, allowing you to jump right into recent games or applications without having to go through the main menu screen. Downloads can also be applied while the console is in standby mode, and you can organise games and apps in folders to keep things tidy. These are little enhancements which actually go a long way when you're using the Wii U on a daily basis.

See also: Best Wii U Games 2015

Wii U Quick Start

In addition to improving the basic functionality of the console, Nintendo has introduced some new content via its eShop platform. Sitting alongside the usual indie eShop releases we have retro-themed "Virtual Console" content. Wii owners will recall being able to play classic games from the NES, SNES and Mega Drive era, and while Nintendo has been annoyingly slow to push these same games to the Wii U, there's still more than enough to be getting on with. Sega fans will be disappointed to learn that Mega Drive titles haven't made the jump to Wii U as yet, but in their place we do have Game Boy Advance, Wii and DS games - the latter of which take advantage of the console's unique controller to totally replicate the dual-screen experience.

For all of these changes and upgrades, the Wii U's biggest gains have been made in pure gaming software. Unlike Sony and Microsoft - who are both hell-bent on turning their respective systems into your living room "input one" via movie download services and TV connectivity, Nintendo has kept the Wii U resolutely focused on gaming - although it should be noted that the likes of Netflix and YouTube have dedicated Wii U applications.

See also: PS4 vs Xbox One

Super Mario 3D World

Since the release of the machine in 2012 we've seen some amazing titles, mostly from Nintendo itself. Super Mario 3D World is a masterpiece, while Mario Kart 8 is arguably the highpoint of what is already a solid gold racing franchise. More recently, we've seen Super Smash Bros. for Wii U bring classic cartoon combat to the platform, along with support for Nintendo's take on the "toys to life" concept, known as amiibo. These must-have games have been backed up by an equally enjoyable slew of releases which includes Hyrule Warriors, the fantastic Bayonetta 2, Pikmin 3, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, the fairly average Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze and excellent remake Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD. The Wii U's library hasn't grown as quickly as that of the PS4 and Xbox One - thanks largely to a distinct lack of third-party support - but it has seen some truly amazing titles, many of which are worth buying the console for on their own.

In 2015 that library is only going to get better, with a new, open-world Zelda adventure being perhaps the highlight. RPG fans will also have system exclusive Xenoblade Chronicles X to look forward to, while action addicts have a brand new Star Fox entry and Splatoon - Nintendo's predictably brilliant take on squad-based online shooters - to keep them happy.

See also: Best Games 2015

Legend of Zelda

The Wii U has also seen its fair share of amazing download-only titles, with the likes of Tengami, Shovel Knight, Art of Balance, The Swapper, Child of Light, Thomas Was Alone, Stealth Inc 2: A Game of Clones, Teslagrad and Steamworld Dig all proving that small-scale indie titles can provide just as much entertainment as big-budget retail releases.

The thing that really seals the deal is that the Wii U is now cheaper than it has ever been. You can get a Wii U console complete with Mario Kart 8 for £250, but shopping around usually yields even better deals, with many UK retailers throwing in additional games for even less cash.

Out of the three next-gen systems the Wii U may be the least powerful, but it's also the cheapest - and it has to be said, the gulf in graphical quality between Nintendo's console and the PS4 and Xbox One isn't as pronounced as you might expect, especially when looking at some of Nintendo's own games. Super Mario 3D World is watching a cartoon in motion, and it all runs at a silky-smooth 60fps, arguably matching anything Sony and Microsoft's machines can deliver when it comes to sheer aesthetic brilliance.

The Verdict - Two years on

The Wii U is most definitely worth a look even if you've already committed to either Sony or Microsoft's camp. In fact, this is the one respect where it follows perfectly in the footsteps of its predecessor; the Wii was seen by many gamers as their "second system", sitting neatly alongside either the Xbox 360 or PS3.

The Wii U is almost identical in this regard; while it's easy to argue that there's little point in owning both a PS4 and Xbox One due to the high volume of shared third-party titles between them, the Wii U is unique in that you can't play its best games anywhere else - Nintendo's output is exclusive to its own hardware, and you won't be able to enjoy the likes of Zelda or Mario elsewhere. Nintendo's system may not be selling as robustly as the original Wii, but in our opinion it's still a highly recommended purchase.

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Matt GB

October 1, 2012, 1:26 am

I'm just not convinced by this new Nintendo console. The tech is dated even before it is released.

I bought the Wii and unlike my Game Cube it spent most of its time gathering dust in my loft. Other than the Nintendo exclusives there seems very little to attract gamers to Nintendo's consoles nowadays.


December 2, 2012, 7:44 pm

Hey guys, could you please correct your misleading info about adding memory with SD cards? The fact is, you cannot use the extra space for Wii U content, only content meant for the original Wii software, Virtual Console, etc.

Also, the review says next to nothing about the infrared TV remote capabilities. You might want to update the review with that. It might be interesting to note how the web browser handles online content, videos on youtube, facebook...

Last but not least, you forgot to mention that the HD era Nintento is bringing is not always full HD. Many games run natively only at 720p and are upscaled in a similar fashion XBOX360 games are to 1080p.


December 20, 2012, 2:36 pm

Zomibi u?


December 25, 2012, 1:09 am

Was not convinced by reviews to buy one, but as always I couldnt go without, let me put it this way the console isn't bad, I like the handheld game pad and the game are as the Wii should have been, I think the console has a lot to offer in the future, the verdicts still out as we need to see whats coming next from Sony and Microsoft, as it stands the Wii U isnt a bad machine, but maybe more expensive than what were used to from Nintendo, but I think the next gen from Sony and Microsoft are going to be £100 more.

So if you are looking for to replace your Wii and you want more but better then the Wii U has got what you are looking for.



December 31, 2012, 8:14 pm

I bought the deluxe set on 12-2-12. I've had no end of weird little issues with it, along with the several hours of updates just to get going out of the box. I am not impressed; it appears to me that the system was rushed out the door before it was completely stable. 1/10


January 1, 2013, 1:56 am

I kinda like this console the only reason I would not buy one is because of the CPU but the gamepad games and mobility makes me like it.


January 1, 2013, 5:18 pm

You may be right, but you obviously didn't think much of the original Wii either and that ended up becoming the most successful console of its generation.

Jerome M Hobart

January 11, 2013, 9:29 pm

I have had the same results. It takes 9 minutes to load Mario every time I want to play it. I have an 8 year old, nothing says grumpy like a kid that has to wait to play! Who tested this in the factory an eighty year old in no hurry?


February 1, 2013, 3:27 am

the wii was succesful only because everyone wanted one...once they all had one they ALL collected dust


March 30, 2013, 11:33 pm

We like our Wii. The only reason it sometimes collects dust is because there aren't enough great games for it and we get sick of the ones we've had for years.


November 15, 2013, 3:15 am

Sorry I wasted 350.00 on this. regular Wii much more fun. Not enough games at all

Matthew Bunton

November 21, 2013, 7:47 pm

I really liked the Hardware especially the controller but mine suffered from multiple game freezes and system crashes even after all the patches and updates. Sadly I had to return 3 of them all with this issue. Maybe I will pick up one again in the future.

Another major issue with this console was the HDMI's colour the gamma is way too high and often games had a blue hue and blacks looked washed out.

No name

November 30, 2013, 9:30 am

No you sould have given it 9.8/10. PS4 and xboxone are rubbish compared to it. it is the best console to date and can people just stop giving it a bad time cause its nintendo.


December 3, 2013, 2:39 pm

I just got WiiU yesterday, first Nintendo system in decades. i have to say i am very impressed, especially with the controller and its features. Bravo Nintendo, cannot wait for the big hits in 2014


December 11, 2013, 8:31 pm

I just got a Wii U two days ago, as an early xmas present from my girlfriend, for me and my 4 year old daughter. My daughter is just starting to really be able to grasp some of the simpler video games i own, and she has taking a real liking to Super Mario Galaxy 2 the past few weeks, she loves playing as player 2 and helping me collect stuff and kill the baddies. i am extremely impressed by the Wii U so far.. This review talks about lag in the interface and stuff, but i have not experienced any of that.. i think they may have patched it since release. It runs smooth as butter, and the graphics on Super Mario 3d world are absolutely beautiful.. I am really looking forward to all the nintendo staples on this new console, HD Zelda? Yes please.


December 15, 2013, 9:02 pm

Just wait until Smash comes out. I'll buy a $300 console just to play it and I bet a lot of other people will to.

David John Leach

January 1, 2014, 4:11 pm

I just ordered the Wii U 32GB Deluxe. Waiting for it in the mail. This will be my first console since the Sega Genesis! From what I read it looks good but we will see. I have a 46 inch LED 1080P TV and so I hope it looks good...


January 11, 2014, 9:28 am

Tell it to Nintendo. Mine was corrupted a bit and they returned it with Earthbound pre-installed ^.^


January 31, 2014, 4:03 pm

Video games is something I've grown up with and have no problems letting my kids enjoy. Unfortunately it seems as though all the other consoles offer is adult titles. I can't in good conscious (I think I'm in the minority in this one) just let my kids play Assassins Creed or COD or Grand Theft Auto. Nintendo has always done a great job offering a variety of kid friendly titles in addition to the adult titles. The parental features are great, still allows me to enjoy the titles meant for older crowds without worrying about the kids getting into them. Even the Nintendo store can be locked down so that only kid friendly content can be seen. I'm sure the other consoles have these capabilities and I know they are superior pieces of hardware. I just feel like Nintendo always goes out of there way to accommodate a wider audience. We've had the Wii U now for over a year and I'm really impressed with all the features it offers. Great system, solid as a rock, quiet a great addition to any home entertainment system, I encourage any family who is looking for a gaming system to seriously consider the Wii U.

Juss Sheena

May 29, 2014, 12:52 pm

The wii u sucks. Have had mine for 3 months exactly and the game pad dies while my kids aren't even touching it while watching netflix. The gamepad alone costs 189 bucks. Thankfully I have a warranty. PS the xbox 360 is great and a great buy. Dont waste your money on a wii u.

Juss Sheena

May 29, 2014, 12:54 pm

Hope you bought a warranty. You will get to enjoy 3 months of game play before the game pad dies. PS dont invest in a lot of games


June 8, 2014, 6:31 am

I've had my gamepad for a year and it works fine and I get roughly 3 hours out of it. You cannot purchase another gamepad at retail for $189 so I'm not sure what you're talking about. Also, no game requires the use of a second game pad, and the cost of the gamepad is factored into the console package. If your gamepad died, then it should be under warranty and get them to replace it. The Wii U is the best console out at the moment compared to the PS4 & XBOX1 which both have few exclusive titles and not many quality games to choose from. If you want an entertainment hub, get an xbox or PS4. If you want a games console, get a Wii U (especially if you have kids).

Zakk Kaye

July 21, 2014, 10:43 am

Don't be so narrow minded! Just because your unit broke quickly does not mean every single wii u in existence will. In fact the vast majority of them won't! David can do whatever without some woman he probably doesn't know dictating what he does.

Miyako O'Conner

October 23, 2014, 12:48 pm

Thanks for the article Stuart. Just want to inform all folks who live outside US that Nintendo Wii is a great media Player. If you want to access Netflix and other streaming stations on your Nintendo Wii you can use UnoTelly as I do to get around the geo block.


January 29, 2015, 5:56 pm

I totally agree actually; I'm only in my 20s myself and even I think that a lot of games these days are being far too serious and realistic for their own good. I'm so sick of the number of FPSs, zombie post-apocalyptic setting games and such that have been released lately, cos they're all pretty much the same as each other anyway. It made me ask the question: what do we play games for? For fun? Or to be so serious? It's why I went for the Wii and will go for the Wii U soon, cos the games on there, while colourful, look so much fun while still deceptively challenging.

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