Nintendo Wii U: The Kotaku Review

Nintendo Wii U: The Kotaku Review

The Wii U is the first new video game console in six years and the sixth console Nintendo has ever made. It comes freighted with heavy expectations. It more or less starts the next generation of consoles, one that will see a new Xbox and PlayStation late next year, and therefore it needs to seem like some sort of a leap forward. It needs to signal whether it will likely be another phenomenon like the Wii or just a passable role-player like the Nintendo GameCube.

Nintendo isn’t going anywhere, but the question is how far the next Wii can go.

Here is a machine that is as powerful as an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 and introduces a radical new way to play home console games: with or even simply on a twin-stick, motion-sensitive, camera-enabled controller that contains a 6.2-inch touchscreen.

At the very least, we’ve got a bold new player on the scene.

Consoles are hard to judge on their launch day. Developers usually need a lot of time to get used to the hardware before they can make their best games on it. The machine you can get on day one is therefore a vessel of potential, but seldom the conveyor of an instant masterpiece. Consoles are also no longer static. They evolve through firmware updates, gaining new functionality by the month and year. The Wii U is a product of these factors. It has a strong but not stunning launch line-up and it starts its cycle with the instant blemish of one promised feature — the vaunted Nintendo TVii service — not being available on day one.

What to make of this thing?


The Wii U is no Wii

The Wii was, from the start, a glorified peripheral for one of the most popular and immediately appealing games of all time: Wii Sports. This was a game that earned the average person’s instant affection. At launch, the Wii U lacks a game that has similar magnetism (believe me, we tried its games on gamers and non-gamers; we sometimes even taped the results). It also has no game that exhibits the historic excellence of the great justifier of first-day Nintendo 64 purchases, Super Mario 64.

There are certainly bright lights in the Wii U’s launch line-up, but nothing that frees the new console from being judged on its own merits as a machine, independent of the games placed inside it.

The Wii U is a better piece of hardware than the Wii, the GameCube or any other Nintendo home console.

The Wii U is a capable machine. For once, we have a Nintendo console that doesn’t feel like it is pocked with omissions. Gone is the era of GameCube controllers with three shoulder buttons when the completion has four. Gone is the era of the Wii that couldn’t send HD graphics to an HD TV. Gone are most of the excuses and exceptions that placed new Nintendo consoles immediately out of step with other game consoles.

With the Wii U, Nintendo finally complements its innovations with industry standards.

With the Wii U, Nintendo finally complements its innovations with industry standards. Around that unusual screen on its GamePad controller are clickable twin analogue sticks, a d-pad, four face buttons and the quartet of shoulder buttons and triggers that the players of everything from a Call of Duty to a Ninja Gaiden might expect. The Wii U supports optional, Xbox-style Pro Controllers, outputs graphics in HD and essentially gives the new Nintendo console the technological foundation that should, on paper, ensure that it can do anything that its rival consoles can do this side of Microsoft’s Kinect sensor. It plays games that run on modern graphics engines such as Unreal Engine 3 and the in-house tech powering Activison’s and Ubisoft’s newest Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed games.

The Wii U meets the standards of modern console gaming, while also supporting Wii Remotes and therefore serving as an HD version of the Wii. It does all of these things and introduces some well-realized new features to modern console gaming.

Finally, a Nintendo console that isn’t marred with trade-offs.**

**The console requires two asterisks on its list of current capabilities: 1) its internal storage, in either the 8GB or 32 GB models (neither of which really offer that much space) is simply too small to support the post-release content offered by most major video games from the likes of EA, Activision or Take Two; 2) support for peripherals, specifically voice-chat headsets is, initially, limited. Regarding the storage problem, Nintendo offers support for external drives and certainly has the capacity to release future Wii Us with bigger storage. The peripherals issues may also sort themselves out as peripheral manufacturers work more closely with Nintendo.

Make that… almost no trade-offs.


Having a big screen in a controller is a great idea

The Wii didn’t invent motion control, and the Wii U doesn’t invent the concept of putting a second screen in the hands of a person who is using a television. Like the Wii, the Wii U simply takes a tested idea and commits to doing it very well. Its second-screen innovation should thrill any passionate console gamersThe Wii U supports optional, Xbox-style Pro Controllers and outputs graphics in HD. These features essentially give the new Nintendo console the technological foundation that should, on paper, ensure that it can do anything, this side of Microsoft’s Kinect sensor, that its rival consoles can do. It makes gaming better.

There is little to fear about the Wii U GamePad’s controller screen. It doesn’t make the controller too heavy. It isn’t distracting. It drains itself of power within two to three hours but is packed with an eight-foot cable that, at worst, requires it to be used as a wired controller.

There is much to enjoy thanks to the controller’s screen, which adds a lot of unexpected conveniences to console gaming:

  • It expands and magnifies a player’s viewable screen space, moving some games’ maps or inventory onto a secondary display that allows those elements to be displayed bigger and more legibly. This provides utility and comfort. Yes, a player might now have to look down to see a mini-map in, say, Assassin’s Creed III but that map is now larger and therefore more useful. The same goes for the always-available power wheel on the GamePad screen in Mass Effect. These elements of modern games used to have to be squeezed into a corner of the TV screen or hidden behind a pause menu. On the Wii U, thanks to a second screen, they are now more accessible.
  • It lets you use your console when your TV is off or being used by someone else. Games such as Madden NFL 13, Call of Duty: Black Ops II and New Super Mario Bros. U can be played right off the GamePad’s screen. Because the GamePad is wireless and works up to a range of about 26 feet (your experience may vary), these “off-TV” games can even be played in rooms that lack a Wii U or a TV. The games play fine on the GamePad, thanks to the GamePad having all the standard sticks and buttons of the average game controller. Suddenly, console gaming isn’t dependent on a TV. Mark this down as a luxury few people asked for but that turns out to be wonderful to have. This feature is startling at first, and many a new Wii U owner will find themselves momentarily confused and then, likely, delighted when they turn off their TV one day and realise that their Wii U isn’t just still on but is still displaying its start-up interface on the GamePad controller. You can use this console after you turned your TV off. That is very, very new.
  • It gives you a touch interface for console games. Driven by either a stylus or a fingertip, the GamePad screen can emulate the bottom half of a Nintendo DS-style game or simply be used to swiftly drag and rearrange elements of a player’s inventory in ZombiU. The light version of Nintendo’s real-time-strategy game Pikmin, which is part of the launch game Nintendo Land, hints at how a stylus on a controller can make strategy gaming work better on a console. The system’s launch Madden game lets the player draw knew plays on the fly with mere strokes of the stylus on what momentarily is a virtual sketchpad in the player’s hands.
  • It enables local multiplayer with private screens, letting two players play a game together in one room without having to split a TV screen in two.
  • It allows a controller to be reconfigured, adding new virtual buttons if a game needs an expanded interface.
  • Combined with the GamePad’s gyro sensors, it can let a player use the screen-enabled controller as motion-controlled viewfinder to a virtual world that seems to exist around the controller. This effect is used in ZombiU and Nintendo Land‘s Zelda game, allowing the GamePad player who sees the game world on their screen to lift and tilt their controller up and see the game world’s sky, lower it and see the ground or pan around and see the game world around them. A TV screen may create the illusion that it is a portal to a virtual world behind it. The gyro-enabled GamePad creates the effect that a virtual world surrounds the player. It offers an exciting taste of virtual reality, to the player willing to stand up, spin around their room and indulge.

Some will have hoped for a multitouch screen or a capacitive one that reacted to fingers as well as the resistive one on the Wii U reacts to a stylus. Support for multi-finger gestures would have been nice, but the size of the screen makes finger-tapping more responsive than it was on the scrunched resistive screens on the original non-XL models of the DS and 3DS.

The resolution of the GamePad screen, while inferior to an HD TV or an iPad, still presents game graphics exceedingly well. Mario looked just as vibrant and was just as playable on the GamePad screen as it was on the TV. Madden transferred fine. Nintendo Land‘s Pikmin and Zelda games looked technically better on the GamePad screen than any console games in their respective series ever looked on televisions. Graphically, visually, the GamePad holds its own.

The connection between screen controller and console is superb. The GamePad screen’s ability to stay in constant sync with the TV screen is as welcome as it was necessary for the Wii U version of multi-screen gaming to work. The GamePad’s ability to swap images with the TV screen or to take over being the primary screen from the TV is Nintendo’s best new technological trick. It happens in an eye-blink.

Nintendo might not be the only company offering two-screen experiences that involve a TV, but what they’re offering they’re doing very well.


Some of this stuff is just too early to judge

A firmware update on the eve of the system’s release suddenly activated most of the system’s online-connected features. I’ve had too little time with them to give them a fair assessment, but, more importantly, their quality will only be proven by how they work with a live community.

In theory, the system’s new Miiverse social network, which is overlaid on top of a free online Nintendo Network service, will allow people to share messages with each other and develop a sense of happy, helpful community around various games. Already, Wii U users can check out social hubs dedicated to major launch game and scribble messages, via the GamePad, to that group’s message board. Some games, such as New Super Mario Bros. U will let users leave tips within games, but that’s not a feature I’ve been able to test.

If Nintendo can develop a happier, less venomous and immature online community among gamers, more power to them.

Nintendo is trying to encourage “empathy” among its players and is encouraging them to keep things clean and free of spoilers. If they can develop a happier, less venomous and immature online community among gamers, more power to them. If this works, it will make the Wii U the most pleasant online platform on which to play games. It’s just not something that can be assessed right now.

Similarly, the system’s backwards compatibility with most Wii games, which required a firmware update, was just enabled a few hours before launch. I’ve been able to transfer my Wii data to the Wii U, and while the animation for that may go down in history as the world’s most adorable progress bar (we’ll post video later), I just can’t say how well the Wii U, when it goes into Wii mode, holds up. It should work fine, but it’s untested.

What I have tested and am downright puzzled by is why it takes 15-20 seconds to move from the Wii U’s main menu to any of the system’s apps, even the basic system settings one. It’s bizarre and inconsistent with the otherwise swift operations of the system’s GamePad-to-TV graphics transfer or its various pause-menu functions. Backing out of the system setting app or, say, the log of a user’s play time forces another 15-20 second load. There’s something going wrong on the system menu level. It mars an otherwise smooth user experience.


The games are good, but there are no instant classics

The highlights of the Wii U’s launch are Nintendo’s own New Super Mario Bros. U and Nintendo Land. The former is a solid successor in a stories series. The latter is a 12-games-in-one showcase of how the Wii U controller can change the way we play single-player and multiplayer. Both are good games, but the latter comes just three months after the previous Mario sidescroller on the 3DS (irrelevant if you don’t have that machine, of course). The latter is stuffed with content but still feels like something that will be put aside for all but its party games once meatier, full-sized Pikmin, Zelda or Metroid games are released. (Read our reviews of Mario and Nintendo Land.)

The Wii U’s other stand-out may well be Ubisoft’s ZombiU the horror first-person shooter with an interesting perma-death system (player-character die and then become a zombie enemy in the player’s next attempt at a play-through) and elaborate use of the GamePad. We’ll have a review of that game tomorrow.

In addition the system has a stack of other third-party games. An armload of them makes the Wii launch line-up look mighty fine. There’s Assassin’s Creed III, Mass Effect 3, Madden NFL 13, Skylanders Giants, Black Ops II Disney’s Epic Mickey 2, Rabbids Land, Just Dance 4, Scribblenauts Unlimited, Batman: Arkham City, Ninja Gaiden 3 and more.

Nintendo promised a lot of games. They promised third-party support. They’ve delivered. Many of these games even make limited but promising use of the GamePad and the potential graphical flaws in the ports are potentially excusable as the standard results of porting games to new consoles.

The line-up just doesn’t have a game that has the sparkle of a Wii Sports or Mario 64, a bar Nintendo’s competitors aren’t expected to clear for their console launches, but one which Nintendo may well be expected to surpass. That they don’t is understandable but mildly disappointing. That they’ve wound up with a launch line-up that is full of games available on other HD consoles — some of them like Batman and Mass Effect for many months-weakens the impressiveness of the offering. For someone who only had a Wii, there are many gems here. For anyone who has a 360 or a PS3, there’s a lot of re-runs.


Compared to an Xbox or a PlayStation…It’s better on day one

It’s been six years since anyone has had a chance to review a new console and, frankly, it isn’t just the gaming scene that has changed but the reviewing scene as well. Kotaku didn’t run regular reviews six years ago. Nor did I. In retrospect, however, it’s clear that there was a big difference between the quality of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 at their launch and now.

Gone are most of the excuses and exceptions that placed new Nintendo consoles immediately out of step with other game consoles.

The highlight of the 360 launch, for me, was not the disappointing Perfect Dark Zero or The Condemned but the downloadable Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved (I’ll grant that for some, Call of Duty 2 was a delight). Oblivion helped the console along a few months after release, but it took a year for me to begin to feel like the machine was delivering on its potential. The PS3, which launched with Genji and Resistance: Fall of Man, took even longer to feel like a console worth regular use. Both machines are now more functional and loaded with excellent games.

It’s easy to argue that the Wii U’s launch line-up is more impressive and that the second-screen tech alone is a more interesting hardware addition to console gaming than anything the 360 or PS3 had. But to say it is the best-debuting HD console would be to ignore the seven and six year gaps between the Wii U and those consoles. The Wii U benefits from the generation-long maturation of game development that allows the EAs, Ubisofts and Activisions of the world to make the vast, complex blockbuster games they now create.

A new generation of Xboxes and PlayStations is set to be released next year. Publishers and developers are already making games for them. This leaves the Wii U either launching at a really good time that enables it to seem well-stocked with good games right away-or it leaves the Wii U arriving so late that it might be back in the situation the Wii has been for the last couple of years: so under-powered and unloved by the development and publishing community that most blockbuster games aren’t even developed for it. It’s hard to say, but it’s impossible not to note this dark lining around the silver cloud of a healthy launch line-up for the console.


There Are Many Unknowns…

Buying a new console is an investment in the future of a machine moreso than it tends to be an investment in the present. At launch we can take stock of what a console has, but there will inevitably be some blank spots, some questions that need to be answered in the months and years to come. To best judge the Wii U, answers to the following will be important:

  • How successful with the Nintendo Network and the MiiVerse support online gaming and social interaction?
  • How capable is the Wii U graphically and will, in the months after the understandably rough-edged launch ports are released, we see that multiplatform games on Wii U look better or worse than they do on Xbox 360 and PS3?
  • Will the Wii U’s online shop and Nintendo’s newfound zeal for consumers to download full-size games make the Wii U’s eShop feel like a modern digital-centric platform, a la Steam or iTunes? Or will it lag?
  • Will the Wii U have the faith and support of major publishers? EA’s support at launch is decent, Ubisoft has promised a lot, but Take Two has announced little for Wii U and the omissions of both BioShock Infinite and Grand Theft Auto V — two of the most anticipated games of next year — from the Wii U release calendar are glaring. And what happens when publishers start releasing games for the next PlayStation and Xbox as soon as a year from now-will they bring those same games to Wii U? Can they, given the expectedly large horsepower differential?
  • Will the Wii U’s support for one-eventually two-GamePads focus development on the console or limit it?
  • Will the Wii U’s palette of options — which includes the GamePad’s sticks, buttons, camera, and gyro sensor, as well as Wii Remotes, Nunchuks, Pro Controllers and who knows what else — prove too confusing and convoluted? Especially when compared to the simplicity offered by the carefully parceled out signature experiences of Wii Sports, Mario Kart Wii (it came with its wheel), and Wii Fit (it came with its board)?
  • Is the Wii U equipped to survive what comes next? Will it need to support free-to-play games or thrive ON selling one-dollar downloadable games?

The Wii U is the right console for this moment in history

Regardless of its future, the Wii U does feel like a machine of the moment. A year and a half ago, I first saw the Wii U and didn’t understand it. It struck me as a solution in search of a problem. We’ve been playing console games just fine without a second screen. The GamePad doesn’t make gaming less intimidating. Who needed this thing? More importantly, who could even play it?

The Wii U is for any of us who, even when we are together, are off in our own worlds.

I was puzzled, but when I started asking questions, a top Nintendo designer asked me if I’d ever glanced at my mobile phone while watching TV. Of course I had. Then I played some Wii U multiplayer games and had the odd experience of sharing a TV with a few other co-op gamers while a rival gamer in the same room played his part of the same game via his private screen on the GamePad controller. That’s when I got it.

The Wii was a machine designed to focus a family or a group of friends on one thing they could enjoy doing together.

The Wii U is for a new way we live. It’s for the era of four people going to dinner, theoretically being together, but all also being off in their own worlds via the cell phones they keep checking. It’s for the husband who watches TV and has his iPad nearby while the wife is on her laptop in the same room. It’s for the teenagers who text in the movie theatre. It’s for any of us who, even when we are together, are off in our own worlds. That is how you play the most interesting Wii U multiplayer games. You get together with someone in the same room. You theoretically play the same game, but the Wii U’s two screens let you dive into your worlds separately and — this is important and makes this more than a LAN party — lets you interact through your two portals with different sets of controls, doing different things.

Look at New Super Mario Bros. U: four people are looking at the TV, running across a sidescrolling landscape using Wii Remotes held sideways. They are jumping on platforms and crushing enemies. They are four people at a dinner party talking about the same thing. The fifth player is on the GamePad. They control no characters. They press no buttons. They just watch the same game world scroll by and tap the screen to create blocks that catch any TV players who are falling and that make staircases for any of those TV players who need a leg up. The GamePad player is at the same dinner party, but they’re not really listening. They’re on their cell phone. This is our world right now. The Wii U is a perfect video game console realisation of that. Its timeliness is exciting.


With games, we review the game and imagine we are asked if a game is worth playing — not buying. We answer with a Yes, a No or a Not Yet. We don’t presume to tell you whether to buy or to rent or to borrow a friend’s. We don’t know what the value of a dollar is to you.

With a new console, we must imagine that you would wonder if a machine is worth getting. We still cannot know the impact on you of a $430 expenditure on a deluxe Wii U bundle (packaged with Nintendo Land) or of a $350 expenditure on a basic Wii U plus one game. We can’t know whether this would be your only console or if you get them all.

We can only say that for those who only have a Wii, the Wii U is everything the Wii was and more. We can’t, however, say that it demands the immediate attention the Wii did. We can’t say its games right now are the games you have to play this season. If you get a Wii U, you’ll likely be at least as content as the people who bought an Xbox 360 on day one were. You’ll have than the launch-day PS3 people had.

But if you are on the fence, if you are wondering if it’s time to get a Wii U, we can guess with you that Nintendo is going nowhere, that excellent games from Nintendo are surely on the horizon, and that firmware updates may give the system all of the features it was supposed to have at launch maybe as soon as early December. Having played a batches of games on the Wii U and having had the system in my home for nearly a week, I can confirm that it is a good machine that makes one’s console gaming life surprisingly more convenient and luxurious. I just can’t tell you that you have to have one now.

Is it time for a gamer to get a Wii U? Is it a must-have?


Give it a month or three. Wait until the “launch window” closes at the end of March and the likes of Pikmin 3, Lego City Undercover and a slew of interesting download-only games are available.

With any new console you might be wisest to give it a year, especially if you want to be able to compare it to what Sony and Microsoft have coming next. And if they don’t put screens in their controllers, know right now that Nintendo will have at least that excellent advantage over them.


  • Its fair to come to that conclusion, ZombiU reviews have been average, some ports like ME3 have been done poorly, so far and no killer app, thats not to say its not worth it to get yet, there are plenty the Wii U does offer now. But this is launch, the best is yet to come.

    Secondly its really interesting that Kotaku has been heavily hinting the next xbox and playstation is coming some time next year, and im sure that they have sources that i wont be privy to. But one thing that bugs me – they didnt have any information in 2012 E3. So when will the announcement be, considering you said both will be out next year? Early first quarter? If so why not drop the bombshell now – take away some of Nintendos launch thunder keeping people on the sidelines and giving them a full year to hype it up. Since this hasnt happened throw that theory out

    The next option is e3 2013 but that leaves them a few months to hype the system up which would more then likely launch during the holiday period to maximise sales. This is unlike the Wii U that was announced in e3 2011 – thus giving it 2 e3’s to hype up the console and give it alot of coverage. Which brings up the question why would they only leave themselves a few months to hype up such an important event in a new consoles life?

    I dont know if you know for a fact or your trying to spread seeds of doubt to keep people from buying Wii U’s.

    • I would be very surprised if both Sony and Micro-Soft has released new consoles in Australia by the end of next year, maybe in the US for MS and Japan for Sony but I doubt over here.
      It is not uncommon for consoles to be delayed or only produced in small numbers and reports of MS having low yields on chips destined for the next Xbox.
      I see a March/April release if they are released overseas late next year.

      • I still dont see a next year release, i could be wrong but no news or even snippets to build up hype up till now seems to me that some time in 2014 is the likely launch date. Problem is that Kotaku has been hinting heavily that its next year and by a source, but its really strange if this happened IMO.

        • I agree. Typically they would have announced it around E3 this year for a 2013 Christmas launch. They haven’t done that, so unless they’re doing a super sneaky surprise launch, forget a 2013 release. And the chances of them doing a sneaky launch is next to none, with the hype they need to create.

    • Personally I will be surprised if both consoles are out within 2 years. There is usually a decent gap between PS and MS for their consoles and neither seem that motivated to push on to the next gen. I think a lot will be determined in how they interpret WiiU’s reception and whether or not they see it as a loss of potential sales or confirmation that people don’t need a new gen yet.

    • I wouldn’t expect an announcement a year out. They wouldn’t have begun manufacturing yet, so there is risk of a blow out.

      I think the fact that some developers have test kits for both the next MS and Sony machines suggests they will be out by Christmas next year. I also think they’ll aim for a Christmas release window, so waiting till 2014 would give the WiiU a two year head start. Thats a pretty massive lead to chase.

    • I dont know if you know for a fact or your trying to spread seeds of doubt to keep people from buying Wii U’s.

      Oh, come on, dude.

      You can’t possibly be seriously suggesting that Kotaku are on the take and trying to make the WiiU crash or encourage people not to buy the damn thing. There’s fanboyism, and then there’s fanboyism.

      There’s a lot of valid criticism of the WiiU that even Ninty-tinted glasses can’t keep out – launch game problems, graphics issues, the major differences in graphics quality in Batman between the Xbox and WiiU versions, a 5GB “firmware patch” on day one, and their online network being hacked on day one.

      The only bias here would be if Kotaku didn’t report on these – and even then, you’d have to be completely ignoring the five days of continual shining articles about all aspects of the WiiU prior to launch. There’s even an article about the camera on the pad.

      Seriously: chill. Nintendo’s been around for a while, it probably doesn’t need people like yourself jumping on every single sentence that may be less than glowing for our glorious Nintendo overlords. Save the excitement for launch day!

      • Ive not defended Every problem with the Wii U. Did i say the massive system update is ok? No did i say that ZombiU is the greatest game? No. Have i bought a Nintendo game for 3 years? No. Am i excited about the Wii U? Yes

        Massive announcements like console releases and even price drops are exactly that – massive. They can affect a persons decision to choose a to buy a console or not. However nothing is official regarding these consoles so i dont see its appropriate to talk about consoles that we may or may not be getting next year. Yes we are gonna see new consoles from sony and microsoft – my point is lets wait till its official before we can say for sure they will be available next year and be a realistic alternative to Wii U. They can talk up those consoles once everything is official (the launch date) all the want.

        If the next xbox or playstation are launched in 2014 why should gamers be expected to wait so long when a new generation of console is available now?

        • Because the wii u is not next gen, its a the wii beefed up to a 360 witha game pad.

          The reason they haven’t announced a new console is because when companies do, sales for the current models stall significantly and they make less money. This way they have nothing announced and they can make a killing this christmas.

          Then they can announce the console at E3 next year and have 5 months to hype and have it out before christmas. That’s more than enough time to do any and all advertising needed. Stop being so closed mined you are only seeing what you want to, your not nearly as “unbiased” as you would try and have people believe.

  • I think that Sony and Microsoft will continue to support the ps3 and 360 after they launch their new consoles… like Sony did for the ps2. Microsoft will have seen how much money the ps2 continued to bring in after the ps3 came out… and they’ll want a piece of that.

    If they do, it gives Nintendo the opportunity to harvest those games too.

    • I seem to remember Micr-Soft dropping the original Xbox like a hot potato at the launch of the 360, no new games except kiddie movie tie-ins and clearing out all console stock for $99.

      • Yes, they did drop the original quickly but i think that was more to do with the fact it came out 2 years after the PS2 and it had a huge disadvantage in regards to home install base. MS realised supporting a new, HD console before Sony they would end up with a massive head start, even with Blu ray and some other things the PS3 does better, the 360 was still arguably a more successful console than than the PS3.
        Simply due to how large the 360’s install base is seems to indicate MS would support it for much longer than the original console. I’ve got a feeling they still like money… 😉

        • Add to that the way they’ve been leveraging it as a home media device rather than a games console and it will continue to be effective.

  • As eager as I am for a new shiny console and I think this will be the only new console for 12-18 months, a 2D Mario and the decidedly mixed reviews of Zombi-U aren’t enough to convince me.
    By E3 next year there will be a better idea of the upcoming games for WiiU and hopefully what and when to expect from Sont/MS, and hopefully a WiiU price cut by then.

  • Although this review mentions it briefly, I’d like to know more about the touch screen. I’ve read probably ten reviews on a number of games, and almost all of them say the touch screen isn’t working – i.e. makes menus difficult to navigate because its not responsive enough. What I can’t tell from those reviews if its a problem with the controller, or with the implementation in each of the games.

  • “Nintendo is going nowhere”

    I just realised that this phrase is ambiguous. I interpreted it to mean “Nintendo isn’t doing well”, when the author meant “Nintendo isn’t going to die.”

  • “They’re” all saying its to early to tell but I am thankful for Stephens revealing “I get the game-pad.”
    So I actually don’t need to buy a TV to play this thing?

  • Problem is, Wii U will be horribly underpowered once the new Xbox and Playstation arrive. So 3rd parties will ignore it again with a couple of years.

    It’s barely more powerful (if at all) than the 7 year old 360 and 6 year old PS3.

    Still though, Nintendo game sin HD, I’m happy.

  • I surprised at how positive this review is. It seems to me everyone is all doe eyed for this ridiculous 2nd screen that as far as I can tell has no real benefits to a game.

    The whole thing is a hindrance on game play and it makes no sense what so ever. Bringing up ANY kind of map menu or otherwise on the controller is taking you away from the main screen, WHICH IS THE SAME as navigating a menu/map or anything else on the main screen. Both are “pausing” what you are doing, its even a disadvantage since some games allow you to bring up maps an move at the same time (Attempting the same thing for the game pad would use excessive amounts of resources).

    “It drains itself of power within two to three hours”, this is quite frankly ridiculous 2-3 hours what a joke. Most hardcore gamers have sittings longer than that (since wii u is more “hardcore orientated) it may as well have been wired and no one wants a sodding wired tablet.

    I could go on how not a single game i have ever played was “Better” for using ANY form of touch wiggle waggling or point, literally NONE. Every game plays better with simply using normal buttons. You even go on to say “you could add buttons to the touch screen”,by Kotaku’s own admissions the tablet is “difficult to hold with 1 hand” so any sort of on-screen button would be difficult and awkward to use making it 100% inferior to a normal button choice.

    Have you ever heard someone say “this game would be better with touch controls?? No, but I bet you’ve heard 100’s of times, “this game was ruined by touch controls” or “I wish they didn’t use touch/motion controls”

    The other glaring problems like lack of storage( most people, especially the tech illiterate people wont set up their own hard drive) no voice chat headset support and other IMPORTANT things are sidelined by a grey hard to read ***

    Finally it doesn’t matter how graphically capable the console is, right now its the same as or slightly better than whats on the market. What that means is its only going to get inferior ports whit shitty touch stuff added on, because even if its capable or more its going to be horribly optimised especially with the added game pad screen and by the time that changes the new sony/microsoft offering will be here and it will be the same as the wii, running horrible ports or not getting them at all with the gamepad being poorly used or not at all because its not worth the development costs.

    The only and i do mean only benefit is the ability to play games while someone else is using the tv, which is cool sure but its not a system selling capability for the vast majority.

    While this may be seen as overly negative, it is all true so in conclusion I can’t see any reason to get one unless you desperately want Nintendo’s exclusives.

    • a second screen has so far benefited the DS and 3DS to out sell the single screen psp – so why cant that happen on a home console?

      No you dont have to pause the game whilst interacting with the Gamepads touch screen, you can quickly look down and tap which onscreen menu option or action you want and off you go playing, if anything it will make it quicker and easier to interact with menus, maps, inventory. On top of that they can add gameplay elements that make clever use of the touch screen. As for system resources required for the gamepad the console was designed for use with the gamepad as well as the TV screen, im sure it has enough power to do both.

      The battery life of the gamepad is a concern, however it has its own seperate charger which for some is a better choice, or since it appears the battery is accessible extended batteries should theoretically be possible. With all the things happening on the Gamepad – touch screen, analog controls, buttons, motion controls, Camera,NFC there had to be some compromises to keep such a feature packed controller light. For me i will try to upgrade its battery pack when it becomes available.

      I agree that touch screen controls on tablet or phones are passable at best, but there are many things that touch screens can do better then analog control sticks and buttons. Its just the way it is. Each interface has there pros and cons, and combining them means you get the best of both worlds.

      The 360 or ps3 didnt show off its full potential at launch so dont expect the Wii U to either. Ports have plagued every launch of every console, lets not get up in arms its happening on Nintendos latest console. Its to be expected.

      For me i want a console that cant do things my PC cant, and with the Gamepad the Wii U does that and more.

      • For starters i dont believe the 2nd screens on Nintendo’s hand helds have anything to do with how successful they were, hell the gameboy was always good without one and I and most people I know dont like the 2nd screens. Not to mention the key difference is that I cant look at both screens simultaneously you can’t do that with the wii u.

        I could also add its not nearly as fast as you think it is when doing something on the tablet, unless you have memorised the exact location of all the on screen touch functions it will still take you longer than anything else would. If your talking a simple weapon change on say mass effect 3 it far quick (1/4 of a second) to hit to appropriate button. Doing teh same thing with touch is a waste of time and would take 2-5 seconds easily. If you are talking about anything more complicated your going to have to look down, find what you doing use a couple touch commands (which are iffy and un responsive from most sources) and you’ve wasted a good 10 seconds.

        During this time you can have hit start and done the same thing on a single screen, it offer no advantage what so ever.

        I also love how you have given 0 examples for any of your points such as “but there are many things that touch screens can do better then analog control sticks and buttons.” Because apart for gimmicky things designed for touch controls i dont believe there are any ways at all in which touch is superior.

        “On top of that they can add gameplay elements that make clever use of the touch screen” Im so sick of hearing this bullshit statement from people, they always say it but never in my life have a seen a BENEFICIAL reason to use touch in any game I have played. GIVE me an example of these awesome new ways, we have had touch controls for many years on tons of devices and yet still no one has made a use for them that exceeds standard buttons.

        Finally the full potential at launch IS a problem, we aren’t talking a new gen console here we are talking the same power as current ones which have been out for 6 years and are already fully optimized. This means the ports are GUARANTEED to be worse due to optimization when directly compared to the 360/ps3 counter parts, doubly so when you have to add in wasted power for the touch pads gimmicky “extras”.

        If the Wii U launched same time as 360 my point wouldn’t be valid, but it didn’t so game port optimization is most definatly a concern, more so when the next MS/sony consoles come out and the wii u will have barely caught up to current tech.

        • If the second screen is Not important why did they ditch the single screen Gameboy brand which was still big at the time and change over to the DS? Your kidding right? The WHOLE reason for the DS is TWO screens, its called the DS after all – DUAL SCREEN. Sure the problem with the Wii U is the gamepad is not as close to the TV as the DS’s 2 screens but as i’ve mentioned before its not that hard to get used to if you seriously want a new way to play games, for those that want to play the same way you’ve been playing then go, wait for the next xbox or playstation. No one says you have to buy it. For me i like the new gameplay elements etc thats possible.

          You want me to list ways a touch screen is better? You only had to ask

          – Really easy here, imagine 50 menu options and you have to go to one how do you do it on a standard controller? Thats right you have to move the cursor to that exact location which could be in the (middle of many other options) just to get to the option. This is cumbersome, and is as a result of having to use a control scheme not designed for that purpose. For a mouse and keyboard its easy, point and click. Tablets the same, point your finger and touch the screen on the appropriate option, its that easy. Same for Wii U. Its just a better option. You cant tell me that analog controls are the best way of interacting with menus if you’ve ever used a tablet. The difference is like night and day. Touch screen interface is better

          – No more tiny little corner screen maps for Wii U, now you can get a full size map thats always available and whats more fully interactive. Thats right, no need to stop your game to interact with a map like current systems. You can look and interact with it on the fly. Set waypoint for team mates, see objectives on the maps more clearly and easily all while in the middle of the action. Perfect for online Multi when theres no pausing allowed.

          – Just like menus, having too much inventory will tax the analog controls, especially for RPGs. Lets see you need to pause a game to access your inventory and use clunky controls to get what you need. With a touch screen its simple and easy to get what you want, and with a second screen you dont have to pause the game just to access your inventory. It can be always available to you.

          This is just common knowledge. Touch screen keyboard being vastly better option then using analog controls to ‘move’ your way to each key.

          Thats before gameplay elements.

          I could list a few but to keep my comment short please visit this link –

          also read the comments, the ideas from people with real imagination are quite interesting. The possibilities are there for people willing to see them. Its obvious your not so its no surprise you see nothing. Thats fine, you dont like it, stick with the next playstation or xbox. Im not trying to convince you to buy it, but when you sit here and tell me theres NOTHING a touch screen can do to improve gaming, well your head is well an truly buried in the sand. If it wasnt so important a feature why do we have smartglass? Why do we have ps3/vita connectivity?

          Its always funny how people keep forgetting that the Wii U is powering 2 screens simultaneously. ps3 or 360 CANNOT DO THIS. Also powering the second screen doesnt come for free, this is done on the same CPU/GPU that renders your TV screen. If the Wii U was simply outputting on one screen it would easily out perform any console currently available. But like some here people are easy to forget facts so they can maintain the lies they tell them selves.

          As for ports being poorly optimized, lets see its a launch so theres a time limit, and they have to implement Gamepad functionality, something most developers havent done before. Its not hard to imagine this translating into poorly coded games to meet deadlines. Besides, when have launch Ports ever shown off the potential of a new system – how about never.

          For a launch its been ok so far, not amazing but still solid, and plenty of room for improvement. I’d like to add what has being so powerful gotten the 360 and ps3? 2nd and 3rd place in the console wars, sold less hardware and software, racked massive debts which they are only slowly paying off and 10 year lifecycles which when you think of the product cycle of tablets and phones is a joke. Nintendo has got it right, keep it 6 years, keep it affordable, and keep it different.

          • Sigh i had a whole thing typed out and bumped my refresh button and lost it all so this will be brief.

            This is my problem with touch, it has potential yes but never has it ever been done well.

            There is a word for what you did there, take a ridiculous example and blow it out of proportion to suit your needs. No game has had such a stupid amount of menus and in most cases it wouldn’t make a difference, the only benefit would for for say codex/journal entries to be open on tablet so you don’ have to keep flipping through something in say an rpg.

            No you are wrong please read my comments, either way you are STILL NOT LOOKING AT YOUR SCREEN. Specifically in a multilayer match your still not watching the action, in fact is a disadvantage since most maps in that regard are semi see through and allow use of peripheral vision to at least get some vision of what’s happening. Though drawing on the map could be useful, though still inferior to voice chat.

            Same as menu, though specifically in any kind of rpg you are (almost)never allowed to change equipment during a battle, meaning the game is paused either way. Sure it might be nice but its not a significant improvement. And again same as the maps your still taking your eyes off the main screen it makes no difference if you scrolling through your inventory on the tablet or your tv BOTH ways your still not playing the game.

            Please for the love of god stop saying an analog stick is clunky, it is anything but in menu that only goes up or down and can scroll at 10+ “notches” a second its very fast very accurate

            You are joking right ?? Accurate typing on a touch device bwahahahahah, no. Infact i can type faster on my mini keyboard on my 360 controller than most people can type on a real keyboard so again that’s inferior addition.

            “Its always funny how people keep forgetting that the Wii U is powering 2 screens simultaneously.
            As for ports being poorly optimized, lets see its a launch so theres a time limit, and they have to implement Gamepad functionality, something most developers havent done before. Its not hard to imagine this translating into poorly coded games to meet deadlines. Besides, when have launch Ports ever shown off the potential of a new system – how about never.”

            That is precisesly why it will be graphically inferior, im not attacking it because its not optimised, every new console goes through that. Im attacking it because its going up against the FULLY optimised 360 and ps3 AND has to power that tablet, so it has no chance of performing up to par, maybe in a year or so it will but by then it will be eclipsed by the real next gen consoles in terms of “graphics” even in their un-optimized states.

            “I’d like to add what has being so powerful gotten the 360 and ps3? 2nd and 3rd place in the console wars, sold less hardware and software, racked massive debts which they are only slowly paying off and 10 year lifecycles which when you think of the product cycle of tablets and phones is a joke.”

            This is the part that angers me, you are flat out wrong, microsoft always had the highest attach rate in history. People who make games for the 360 make a profit, where as all those 3rd party nintendo games did poorly the only sales are mario zelda metroid and so on, that is the mark of a poor console.

            Finally i read that article and it was sensationalist bollocks, not a single thing there would revolutionize anything, its all tacked on “wank” if you will. I can bring up an instant score board in 1/4 a second in halo and have it down just as quick, without ever taking my eyes ofd the action like looking down at a tablet would.

            Some of those things might be cool but they will NEVER happen and that is the basis of my point, how long has touch crap been out? How many of these awesome ideas have ever come to frutiton and blown peoples minds? None? i thought so. So excuse me if i dont the tablet is anything but a waste of space as a controller.

            PS no gamer gives a toss about smart glass, touch technology is rubbish for gaming and always will be. So is motion control (untill the tehcnology is there for 100% accuracy at all times in all lighting, sized rooms and everything else)

          • Your completely in denial. The only reason why menus arent as complex is because they have to bury crap in sub menus to compensate for the clunkiness of analog controls. Try a game built for a console and PC – like Dungeon Defenders on steam. You see this is a good example because i have a 360 controller for the game as well (i play coop on it). When i use the menu system with a mouse and keyboard its so damn easy point and click, then i use the 360 controller the menu system becomes trickier. Sure with constant use it can be overcome but compared to a mouse and also by virtue a touch screen touching the option you want compared to scrolling it with an analog control is like night and day. But you keep believing what ever facts you want to make up.

            You dont have to look at your gamepad ALL THE TIME. Must you be told everything? Its like you cant multitask or something. I have a touch screen gps built into my car and i use and look at that every now and then for driving. Its not that hard. Some people might not be able to do it so i understand the confusion, but with practice its quite easy. Of course when the action is intense you dont ever look at the gamepad, just as you dont take you eyes off the road. You look at the gamepad when you have a few seconds to spare. You say you can look on the map on screen but its small and if you get a superimposed map that might distract you, and voice is great if people know what your talking about, but in games i’ve played unless the players are seasoned veterans that know the maps inside out telling friends where to ‘go’ isnt as easy as your making it out. Whats more easier then quickly looking at the touch screen map and tapping exactly where you want them to go. Easy. Also this can be used on single player games too not just multi, i dont think voice recog has gotten good enough for you to tell AI allies to achieve way points etc.

            Um who said the Wii U has to be paused to use the gamepad? Your confusion is that current consoles have this problem, however thanks to the Wii U’s gamepad this problem does not exist. Sure your attention needs to be on one screen at a time, but when you do need to interact with the touch screen its for quicker and easier interactions. And YES analog controls in this instance are clunky. Considering all you need to choose the item, menu option is a mere touch of the touch screen compared to scrolling with an analog stick the touch screen option is far superior. If you want to believe other wise sure, but let me put it this way would you rather navigate your PC with a console controller (to go through all the menus etc) or a mouse and keyboard/touch? After all microsoft has full 360 controller support why dont they allow the option to use one for a desktop PC if they are so great and dealing with menus? I arrest my case

            Typing? are you serious? you had to buy a device to make it better, i was talking about the built in on screen keyboard compared to touch screen keyboard on the Wii U – Both which come AS STANDARD – not requiring a separate purchase. Your argument is so fail its not funny. Who was arguing a physical keyboard wasnt better then a touch screen? No one. Why bring it up?

            Again your already saying the Wii U is incapable of anything better then launch – and thats why your argument fails. Im not gonna argue with a person that believes the absolute limits of a console is set by launch titles. The Wii U was designed for the Gamepad, it sure as hell wont run out of puff using it, what utter nonsense are you coming up with? If your so blind you convince yourself that the Wii U can improve over time then your beyond reason and logic.

            Wow another retard that loves attach rates. Another xbot that sucks up microsoft PR. If Attach rates are a great measure of success then in no way can it misrepresent the facts right? Um WRONG. I will do this again for the dummies. Console A sold ONE console but TWENTY games, Console B sold TWO HUNDRED CONSOLES and TWO HUNDRED GAMES. Ok so who sold more? If you had a brain – Console B, 200 consoles and 200 software. But to Attach rate suckers console A sold better because it has an attach rate of 20 compared to consoles B’s attach rate of 1. See its easy to manipulate the data to make your console looks better – so its a failed metric that only the dumbest fanboys believe in. The fact is Wii sold more hardware AND software, go look it up. Wii sold about 90 million consoles and 800million units of software, compared to the 360s 70 million consoles and 600 million units of software. So who sold better? Dont answer that i know what your delusional answer is.

            I dont care if you dont see the potential. Its not hard to believe considering your not a fan of Nintendo. You can ignore it all you want. Thats fine. But atleast your consistent – you dont care for smartglass or motion controls so i’ll give you that. its not your thing. But whats wrong with trying different? There are plenty of options for the same gaming experience your used to why bitch when Nintendo want to try something new? you arent forced to buy it. Get a grip

          • I see you can’t argue points without personal attacks thats cool, you clearly lack reading comprehension so you need to have something to draw attention from your bad points.

            But since you have miss-interpreted again what i have said. I’ll do it in cave man speak.
            If typing was important to anyone on a console they would have the gamepad like i do. Its superior to touch, doesn’t matter if its an add on for the controller, the game pad is better at typing, don’t argue semantics.

            The point i made is i have a controller and gamepad, if i then got a wii u tablet it would be a slower way to type, the fact that i bought the gamepad separately isn’t the point.

            While you are right that the menus aren’t complex its because menus don’t need to be, if you have 50 options on a console game your doing something horribly wrong. If you want a menu system that big go play some bloated pc game, it will never happen on a console.

            Again you dont seem to understand my point about looking at the tablet screen. Anytime you look at it, your taking your eyes off the main screen, which is the same as pausing and going into the menus on say the 360. It would in fact be faster for a select few minor things, but on the whole it wouldn’t make a significant difference. At least not for any game currently on the market.

            On the terms of power yes i am in fact 100% correct and you are wrong you small minded imbecile. As i stated Almost all the games on the wii u are ports, these ports are worse than the 360 p3 versions because it is an un optimized console that has to use power for its touch screen (other consoles do not). This is fact, and we wont see the wii u surpass the current gen, unless a game is specifically made and optimized from the ground up for it and wont be a cross console game and even then it is highly unlikely to surpass the 360/ps3 graphically. Just look at the difference between gears of war 1 and gears of war 3. That is the difference im talking, the wii u will not reach its potential until well after the next gen consoles arrive and by then it will look like the wii next the the 360/ps3 all over again. Again this is fact, stop denying it.

            Finally your random statistic #99 with made up numbers about attach rates is rediculous. The point i made was that only nintendo makes money off its console 3rd part developers do not. Because the only games that get sold are wii sports wii fit and mario/zelda. Compared to the 360 where ALOT of 3rd party’s make tons of money because it has a higher attach rate, meaning john doe goes out and buys the microsoft games and then also buys the other titles.

            My point wasn’t the success of the wii or not, but that it failed as a console for its 3rd part developers, which is DIRECTLY INDICATIVE from the attach rates. This makes it a POORER choice to develop on compared the ps3/360, again this is fact. So you need to stop twisting my words in your head to read whatever you think it is i am saying.

            So you still have yet to come up with a a real valid reason/response/rebuttle too anything I have said. You just devolved the argument into a poo flinging match like a troll.

    • “Have you ever heard someone say “this game would be better with touch controls?? No, but I bet you’ve heard 100’s of times, “this game was ruined by touch controls” or “I wish they didn’t use touch/motion controls””

      Pretty much every DS/3DS game is better with touch controls.

      • I disagree. I can think of very few that used the touch screen effectively, and most of those used it as an additional button. The Zelda DS games were point blank hindered by the control scheme.

        • There is something so much more intuitive in games like Pokemon, Phoenix Wright and Professor Layton to be able to use the touch screen rather than the buttons. Yes, some of the functions can be easily replaced by buttons but it’s still better and I sure as hell have never heard of someone complaining about using them. A lot of the mini-games that Nintendo have tacked on to their big titles are indisputably perfect for touch controls as well.
          Sorry, I just don’t subscribe to this idea that the touch controls don’t add anything to how games can be played and really show a lack of imagination. If someone can explain to me how Nintendo Land would be able to be played without a gamepad I’d love to hear it. I’ll also point out that even if a game were to use the gamepad to display inventory/maps/UI it’s still an improvement over using a pause menu and can unclutter your tv screen. The gamepad has also increased what is possible to play and makes MMO/RTS far easier genres to adopt to a console.
          This is coming from someone who never liked motion controls on Wii but foresees huge potential with a gamepad.

          • Are you delusional? Using pokemon as an example is a joke. The touch screen didn’t add anything at all. You cant play the entire game with touch, so you are forced to hold a stylus while in hand playing until a battle just so you can save 1/10 of a second?? That is not an improvement, it just offers a another “input”. Sure its not hindering like alot of other ds games but its not an improvement which makes it pointless.

            And what on earth are you playing because i’ve never heard of an mmo that can be played well with touch controls nor a RTS( which would be clumsy slow and annoying with touch). Both of those require many buttons and precision movement/clicks neither of which are done even remotley well on a touch device.

            And what is this clutter screen nonsense everyone is talking about, if you have paused the game and are ina menu there is nothing to be cluttered, it makes no sense at all. IF you talking about a HUD like health/ mana or ammo and those kinds of things, they are there because they need to be quickly and readily available. Having them on a different device ( like the game pad screen) would be a massive hindrance, because forcing you to (in a fps) avert your eyes from the action gets you killed.

            No vital information can be displayed on the game pad because of the above reason and everything else would be in a menu system which would be just as fast if not faster (if the poor responsiveness of the screen is going to be common place) to get your hands on quickly.

            I would like to see a REAL response about a REAL current benefit, not some alternate option, an actual 100% faster better easier to use reason/thing to do on this touch pad because no one ever has one. ITs “potential” doesn’t mean anything if no one can find a use for it ( which to my knowledge no one ever has)

          • Are you serious? Have you never played any touch dependant games on the ds at all? Games like The world ends with you and Ninja guidan dragon sword, just two examples, use the touch pad in such an excellent way, and its just brilliant. Even with the ps vita turning to touch, it seems kind of obvious that touch pads are the way to go. Not only is there so much more potential, the market’s there.

          • Nope haven’t played either of those games, they dont appeal to me, what i have read jsut now was that the world ends with you was criticised for its imprecise controls often confusing movements for attacks. Now to me that doesnt sound like a good thing, which is why i hate touch.

            I can only go from my own experiences and those of my many gamer friends, none of whom have ever told me about this awesome game that utilises touch controlls, they all have however told me how many games have shot them selves in the foot with poor touch implementation.

            In regards to the vita i find that a bit ridiculous, im a full grown man and trying to do any kind of touch or rear panel stuff is beyond awkward. Evne if i played a game where the actual touch controls where good ( that new paper game looks promising though) they would still be a hinderance due to teh very nature of removing a hand from and already awkward shaped device to “pinch” push pull or touch. Its not natural to combine touch controls and buttons 9/10 buttons would be a better use. In the rare case it can only be done by touch its used poorly and is made awkward and and then finally in the absolute minority its done well, but its never ever amazing.

            So hopefully you can understand why so many people are so fervently against touch, because there are so so so many failed attemps at “enhancing gameplay” with it, that most people, my self included despise its very existence becasue it ruins games.

  • “It more or less starts the next generation of consoles, one that will see a new Xbox and PlayStation late next year”

    I hope that’s not the case, I’m really happy with the PS3 and 360 at the moment, I don’t want new consoles to come out so soon.

  • I’m happy for the WiiU to be my main console for the next year or two until the new Sony console pops up. Then I will upgrade power wise still keeping the capacity to play 1st party ninty games.

    Personally I wish there was one brand of console, and it was updated every 3 years with a forced backwards capability for two previous generations. Never miss a good IP, newer, faster machines more often……then let the developer decide if they keep up. Let it be about the games.

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