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Nintendo Wii U review

What can that GamePad really do?

2014 will be the year that makes or finally breaks the Wii U. For a long time it feels like Nintendo's home console has been treading water, kept afloat by the odd but brilliant first-party title.

But the PS4 and Xbox One are now in living rooms and the new-gen race has officially begun. Nintendo needs to speed up its output of games and show developers why the GamePad makes the Wii U like no other.

By the end of the year, the Wii U could well be a four-star console. For now, its small (but growing) library is what's really holding it back.

Wii U review
Can the GamePad refloat the Wii U's sinking fortunes?

We liked

The Wii U's GamepPad is a bold move but it's what makes the Wii U truly stand out - we just need to see it used better. It's a well-designed, comfortable device, offering a wide array of features for developers to play with.

Asymmetric gaming – where one player with a GamePad faces off against those with Wii Remotes – is a particularly neat twist that we especially want to see more of.

Online is also significantly improved, with MiiVerse making the Wii U feel like part of a larger gaming community, not just connected to your personal friends. But the infrastructure for more serious multiplayer is also in place.

Then there are the games. There might not be as many as we'd like right now but there are already some killer exclusives to Nintendo's platform. With so many titles shared across the Xbox One and PS4, the Wii U could become an essential console to have alongside your other new-gen console, rather than an 'instead of'.

We disliked

Ok, I've already mentioned the small library of games, but the lack of GamePad innovation being tapped into right now needs re-emphasis - this is its biggest weapon.

18 months down then line and still nothing has truly blown us away, but the potential is sitting there like a big flashing, singing, dancing, neon sign.

GamePad battery life is very weak, coming in around 3 hours for us on a full charge with maximum brightness. It can't be plugged into the hardware, either, which seems an odd oversight for something you'll be using constantly.

The tether between the GamePad and the console is also frustratingly short, and it seems unlikely that Nintendo will be able to change this.

Verdict

The Wii U might be unable to compete with the Xbox One and PS4 in raw power, but it's a console packed with some unique features and good ideas that are waiting to be properly tapped into.

Pushed to its potential, who knows what it might achieve? There are some strong games in its lineup right now but Nintendo needs to get more of its own titles out the door if it wants to lure more developers on board

Most importantly, it needs to show just how brilliantly that GamePad can shine. It's not going to change gaming in the way that the Wii's motion controls did, but with a bit more effort it could offer gamers an experience unique enough that the power differentiation with the Xbox One and PS4 becomes moot.

It's not too late to turn the Wii U's fortunes around. The potential is in there.

Tech Specs

Product TypeGaming Console
Scan Format1080p
Flash Memory Capacity8 GB
Processor ManufacturerIBM
Graphics Controller ManufacturerATI
Wireless LANYes
USBYes
HDMIYes
Product FamilyWii
Gaming Controller ConnectivityWireless
ColourWhite
Maximum Resolution1920 x 1080
Brand NameNintendo
Input Device TypeGame Pad
Green CompliantYes
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityRoHS
Graphics Controller ModelRadeon
Online NetworkWiiWare
Country of OriginJapan
Height45.7 mm
Width171.5 mm
Depth269.2 mm
ManufacturerNintendo Co., Ltd
Product ModelU
Product NameWii U Basic Set
Product LineWii
Manufacturer Part Number2300046
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.nintendo.com
Marketing Information

The new Wii U console introduces the Wii U GamePad, a controller with a 6.2-inch touch screen that redefines how people interact with their games, their entertainment and one another.

Package Contents
  • Wii U Gaming Console
  • Wii U GamePad
  • Wii U GamePad Stylus
  • Wii U Console AC Adapter
  • Wii U GamePad AC Adapter
  • HDMI Cable (1.5m)
Limited Warranty1 Year
Weight (Approximate)1.60 kg