Wii U Comprehensive Guide

Nintendo announced the successor to the Wii at this year’s E3: the Wii U, characterized by its HD graphics capability and tablet-infused controller.  Many people and even journalists seemed unable to follow the details of Nintendo’s announcement, thinking the announcement to be simply an add-on to the Wii console.  This article will serve as a clear explanation for all things Wii U.

What is it:

This is the 6th generation home console from Nintendo.  It marks the first time a Nintendo console is supporting high definition graphics.

The Name:

During the E3 press conference, Nintendo of America President, Reggie Fils-Aime explained that with the Wii Nintendo made the gaming about playing together, the ‘we.’  While this would remain a goal with Nintendo’s next-generation console, Nintendo felt they had neglected the hardcore gamer experience, the ‘you.’  Reggie stated to express that this would be a central focus for the next home console, the pronoun would be included in the name: Wii U.

Bringing the name, Wii into the next generation shows Nintendo’s intention of expanding on the massive success they have had with the Wii.  However, this is one of the reasons people assumed the Wii U controller to be just a new accessory for the Wii.  Aside from this, continuing the Wii brand name seems more akin to Sony’s PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox product lines.  Nintendo has traditionally chosen a completely new name for its home consoles, aside from the Super Nintendo (Nintendo Entertainment System, Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, GameCube, Wii).

The Wii U Controller and Inputs:

The yet unnamed controller was the primary highlight of Nintendo’s Wii U announcement.  This is another one of the reasons why some assumed the Wii U was the name of a new Wii controller and not a new full-fledged console.  The rechargeable controller is comprised of every input method utilized by Nintendo’s past consoles and portables.  It the middle exists a 6.2-inch, resistive touchscreen (similar to the DS handhelds– iPhones utilize a capacitive touchscreen) with a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio, which is estimated produce a resolution of 854 x 480.[i]

This screen has been shown being used in many ways including:  an extension of the game being played on the televisions screen, allowing players to ‘look’ into the virtual world, an inventory/map/review mirror similarly to how the DS/3DS second screen is often used, and a replacement of the television screen as it is capable of streaming the video footage from Wii U and Wii games to the screen.  Other features embedded: a built-in accelerometer and gyroscope, rumble feature, camera, a microphone, stereo speakers, a sensor strip and a stylus.

Currently, only there is only the ability to use one of these controllers with the Wii U console.  Upon being asked about supporting multiple controllers, Nintendo Global President, Satoru Iwata stated it was possible for the Wii U to support multiple of the touchscreen controllers, but the option was not being pursued due to issues with cost for the consumer.[ii]

Since the Wii U is backwards capable with the Wii, all Wii contollers and accessories are supported (excluding GameCube controllers and accessories that used GameCube ports).  Demonstrations were shown where the Wii U controller was used in conjunction to 4 Wii Remotes, allowing 5 people to play together at once.  The new console extends the Wii’s USB support from 2 to 4.



Nintendo confirmed that the Wii U would employ a proprietary 25GB optical disc.[iii] The console is also backwards capable with the Wii, so Wii discs will be playable.  DVDs and Blueray will not be supported since Nintendo feels everyone already has devices that play these anyway; therefore, the cost of adding the additional capability is “unwarranted”.[iv]



There were many people debasing the Wii U’s graphics capability when Reggie stated that it would be able to push graphics “at least as good as their PS3 / 360 counterparts.”[v] Many take this as the Wii U would not be able to beyond what current generation consoles are capable of producing.  However, “at least” would imply that at the very worst it would be on par graphically whereas “at most” would imply that the Wii U would only be able to match the current generation.

Engadget revealed that the Wii U would have a custom Radeon GPU with a chip comparable to the R770.  Even though this chip is past generation by current computer standards, Engadget described its power as making the Wii U “competitively stronger than the GPUs of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.”[vi] Reports have also surfaced stating that the Wii U would be 50% more powerful than the PS3.[vii] Hence, any concerns about the Wii U being underpowered appear gratuitous.



The Wii U will have a unknown amount of built-in flash memory (the Wii had 512MB).  But there will be an option to add memory through SD memory cards and USB external HDD.  No official size limits have been mentioned.  The 3DS has been confirmed to support 32GB SDHC cards.


Release date:

Nintendo stated the Wii U will launch during the fiscal year of 2012, which means sometime after March 30th.  In an interview with a Sega executive, he mentioned, “the Wii U is coming out next spring/summer.”[viii] But this can only be taken as rumor since, Nintendo still has not specified a release date.



Only speculation has been made regarding the Wii U’s possible price.  According to Iwata, the Wii U “is not going to be cheap” and will likely cost more than $250.[ix] The Wii launched at $250 with Wii Sports in 2006. Personally, I do not think the Wii U will launch at a 2006 PS3-level price of $600.   Iwata was merely trying to let people know that they should not expect it to launch with the same price at which the Wii originally launched.


First Party Games:

During the Nintendo 2011 E3 Keynote, Satoru Iwata announced that once the Project Sora development team finished the 3DS’ Kid Icarus: Uprising, the group would begin production of a Wii U and 3DS version of Smash Brothers.  He also stated that the two versions would interact in some way.  Shigeru Miyamoto revealed that development of Pikmin 3 had changed from Wii to Wii U.[x] A new Super Mario game was confirmed to be in development by Super Mario Producer, Yoshiaki Koizuma; although, he disclosed it was still in early development, causing one to believe it might not make it to the Wii U’s 2012 release.[xi]

One of the tech demo illustrating the Wii U’s graphical power featured a Twilight Princess-style Link battling a Queen Ghoma-type spider.  This could possibly be a confirmation that a High Defintion iteration of Zelda is in the works.  However, Nintendo did not divulge specifically, instead they opted to focus on the 2011 release of Skyward Sword for the Wii.  Other demos that were shown, but not confirmed to be official games include: Chase Mii, Battle Mii, New Super Mario Bros. Mii, and Shield Pose.


Third Party Games:

Bringing the power of their next console “AT LEAST” on par with PS3 and Xbox 360 is being met with huge support from the interactive entertainment industry.  Nintendo revealed an impressive list of third party games that are in development for Wii U.  Many are from series, which have never been on a Nintendo or have been absent for several console generations.


  • Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge – Working title
  • Darksiders 2
  • Batman: Arkham City
  • DiRT
  • Assassin’s Creed
  • Tekken – Working title
  • Metro: Last Light
  • Aliens: Colonial Marines
  • Ghost Recon Online
  • Lego City Stories
  • Raving Rabbids – Working title
  • FIFA – Working title
  • Madden NFL – Working title


Online Connectivity:

The Nintendo DS and Wii used different friend codes for every game on the system.  This proved to be one of the biggest complaints of using Nintendo’s hardware to play online with friends.  The 3DS changed this to being only one friend code per system.  Nintendo has not officially stated how the Wii U’s Internet functionality will operate.  Reggie did mention that the Wii U online ability will be on level with what the Xbox 360/PS3 offer.[xii] A Ubisoft representative made public that the Wii U would be dropping friend codes entirely and would be replaced by a more username type of system; in addition, Ubisoft stated that the Wii U would support friend lists, achievements, and online match scheduling.[xiii]

Something I have griped about for the past few years is how poorly Nintendo systems handle online communication.  The Wii had a sluggish message system and lacked system voice chat (specific games aside – i.e. Call of Duty, Animal Crossing).  The 3DS currently has no way of communicating with one’s friends list aside from the personal motto you can assign to yourself.  This abysmal communication support appears to be ending with the Wii U, which was revealed to support video chat through the new controller’s onboard camera.  Hopefully, Nintendo will create a full fledged communications system that will finally stop me from having to converse with my friend via cellphone/voip when playing Nintendo hardware online.

The E3 video of the Wii U demonstrated an Internet browser being used on the console.  As the Wii and 3DS both have web browsers, this is certainly confirmation the Wii U will continue that trend.

[i] http://golgotron.com/2011/06/nintendo-wii-u-tablet-screen-resolution-revealed/

[ii] http://www.n-europe.com/news.php?nid=15779

[iii] http://kotaku.com/5809701/wii-u-discs-will-be-25gb-in-size

[iv] http://www.engadget.com/2011/06/15/wii-u-will-not-play-dvds-or-blu-ray-iwata-says/

[v] http://www.gametrailers.com/video/e3-2011-nintendo/715143

[vi] http://www.joystiq.com/2011/06/14/wii-u-graphics-chip-outed-as-last-gen-radeon-which-is-still-pre/

[vii] http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2011/06/report-wii-u-50-percent-more-powerful-than-ps3.ars

[viii] http://www.g4tv.com/thefeed/blog/post/713605/wii-u-release-date-may-have-been-revealed-by-sega-exec/

[ix] http://www.gamebreakers.co/2011/06/nintendo-on-wii-u-pricing-its-not-going-to-be-cheap/

[x] http://www.1up.com/news/e3-pikmin-3-wii-confirmed

[xi] http://www.wired.com/gamelife/2011/07/wii-u-mario-zelda/1/

[xii] http://www.computerandvideogames.com/306013/news/wii-u-has-xbox-live-psn-level-online-capabilities-nintendo/

[xiii] http://thisiswiiu.com/more-wii-u-online-details-revealed-supports-friends-list-achievements-online-match-scheduling/460/

High Resolution Wii U Images taken from N-Europe

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