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Wii U review

By Stuart Andrews


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Review Price £250.00

The Wii U - Interface and Firmware

The Wii U GamePad also doubles as the main interface to the Wii U, with the TV screen occupied by crowds of Miis and floating icons, and the Pad screen hosting a grid of fifteen icons, plus shortcuts to the MiiVerse (more later), Nintendo’s eShop, the built-in Web browser, Nintendo TVii and Notifications. UK models seem to come with Netflix and Lovefilm pre-installed, with Netflix usable in either a standard or family-friendly mode, with all the adult content hidden away.

These apps give a glimpse of what a good media-oriented console the Wii U might eventually become. Netflix has a Wii U specific interface, with the Wii U Pad and TV screen displaying the current category, and the next available at a tap. Lovefilm goes one better with a catalogue of movies on the TV screen, and either a search panel with virtual keyboard or an info page on the Wii U Pad. In both cases streaming quality is very good – up to the standards of the PS3 – and you get the added advantage of being able to switch displays from the TV to the Wii U Pad for private viewing. All in all, it makes the quiet-running Wii U a great little platform for streaming media, provided it gets the services it deserved.

Nintendo is being proactive here. At some point in 2013 it will release its TVii app and service over here. In the US this is set to offer a mix of live TV channels, movie-streaming services and catch-up TV services like Hulu. At the moment we can only speculate on what a UK version might include, but if Nintendo could strike deals with the BBC, iTV, Channel 4 and/or Channel Five, then the Wii U would be an even better media device than it is at present.

Nintendo Wii U Interface

The MiiVerse is probably the most interesting bit; a typically madcap take on an online community, complete with forums devoted to the various games where players can quickly post hints, comments and their own fan artwork, lovingly scrawled with the stylus on the touchscreen. There’s still a sense that Nintendo’s online services aren’t as sophisticated or fully-featured as Microsoft or Sony’s, but you can see that they’re beginning to develop their own character, and the integration of MiiVerse with games is already quite intriguing. Load up New Super Mario Bros U, for example, and you can opt to see comments posted on the in-game map, or even add your own smug boasts or desperate pleas for help.

Nintendo Wii U Interface

It’s possible to import existing Miis from your old Wii (as part of a protracted file transfer option) or a 3DS, while the Mii Maker app has been updated so that it now resembles the 3DS version, complete with the option to have your Mii made semi-automatically from a photo captured with the front-facing camera. This works roughly as well as it did on the 3DS, producing results that usually need a lot of tweaking. Personally, we’d rather do it the old-fashioned way. The front-facing camera is also used in the Video Chat app, though we haven’t yet found anyone to try this with at the time of writing.

The Wii’s UI is clean and easy to navigate, but it has two flaws. One is that there are lengthy delays when doing just about anything, from launching Netflix to playing a game to changing simple settings. The other is the way Wii games are handled. Kudos to Nintendo for maintaining backwards compatibility, but to play a Wii game you have to sit and wait while the Wii U switches into its version of the old Wii menu, then ditch the Wii U Pad and use an old Wii remote to navigate the interface. Of course, you need the Wii remote to play the game anyway, but it still feels a bit cumbersome and old-fashioned, and note that there’s no upscaling of the visuals, either.

The Games

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: consoles don’t sell on their specifications, their potential, or even on the bundled services: they sell on their games. Now, how you take the Wii U’s launch line-up will depend on your own interests and expectations. If you’re looking for showcases of next-gen power, you’re not going to find them here. The Wii U is launching with credible versions of some of the biggest and/or best games of the last twelve to eighteen months, including Batman: Arkham City, Assassin’s Creed 3, Mass Effect 3, Trine 2, Darksiders II, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and Sonic All-Stars Racing Transformed, but the quality of the ports varies, and in any case the Wii U-specific features aren’t enough to justify buying the new versions over any versions you have for existing consoles.

Mass Effect 3

We’ll leave detailed frame-by-frame comparisons for another time, but having played the Wii U versions of Batman: Arkham City, Assassin’s Creed 3 and Mass Effect 3, we’d have to say that frame rates occasionally struggle in comparison to the Xbox 360 versions, though not to the extent that they seriously compromise the experience. If you came to Wii U from the Wii, then there’s a good chance you’ll be wowed by the change in visual quality; these are good-looking games, and they look fantastic on Wii U. If, however, you have a PS3 or 360, then it’s doubtful that the lure of a few extra touchscreen control options will encourage you to play them on the Wii U. You’re not getting a second-best version, but there are trade-offs to be seen.

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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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