Wii U FAQ and Buyers Guide – Everything You Need To Know
The launch of the Wii U is fast approaching, under a month now in America and a little longer for us here in Australia. It seems like only yesterday it was just a little blip on everyone’s radar, but as expected the closer we get to launch the more and more hype builds. The building hype though comes with questions, lots and lots of questions. To be honest we’re this close to launch and we, the general public, still don’t know everything.
This guide is everything that we do know about the Wii U.
So whether you’re a long time Nintendo fan, a gamer who hasn’t had a Nintendo console for a while, a parent or even a grandparent this guide is for you. Naturally we’ve probably missed something or you still have that lingering question I’m sure, so for that please leave us a comment below and we’ll add it to the guide so people don’t have to ask again.
What is the Wii U?
This is a Wii U console with the new GamePad controller.
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The Wii U is the next generation console from Nintendo. They’ve previously made things like the NES, SNES, Nintendo 64, GameCube and more recently the Wii. You might have heard of them. The Wii U is an entirely new console with a brand new and different type of controller. This new controller with inbuilt touch screen is set to bring upon the ‘asymmetrical gaming’ revolution. That means while one person is doing one thing on the Wii U GamePad (that’s the offical name for the Wii U’s controller) others can be using Wii Remotes, Wii U Pro Controllers or other controllers to be doing something different while all playing the same game. You don’t have to be playing against each other either, you could be assisting each other in a game or even a mix.
The Wii U
The Wii U also finally moves Nintendo into the HD era with a system capable of full 1080p HD graphics. Not only can it output HD but it also has the graphical processing power to bring great looking games in HD as well. The system also has an entire new and different online system called Miiverse, it can do most things you’d expect out of an modern console in regards to online but it also does it differently.
The Wii U will be going on sale in Australia and New Zealand on November 30th 2012. There are two different bundles the system comes in with two different price points.
Too long didn’t read, give it to me in bullet points!
– Brand new Nintendo console with HD Graphics
– New Controller with 6″ Touch Screen embedded in it
– Two models with 8GB (Basic) and 32GB (Pro) space in each
– Memory can be expanded with USB stick and hard drives and SD Cards
– Huge RAM for not only games but the OS
– Games come on 25GB discs with fast 22MB/s read speed
– Wii U GamePad has battery life of 3-5 hours (comes with charger)
– Wii U GamePad has a camera, dual analog sticks, motion control support, microphone, headphone socket and supports NFC.
– Wii U uses WiFi to connect to the internet
Hardware Bundles and Pricing
In a strange move from Nintendo the Wii U will come in two different sets, the Basic set and the Premium Set. The basic set is of course the cheapest and Nintendo has set the price on this SKU at $349. The Premium set is more expensive at $429, however it does come with a fair bit more in the box. The Basic Wii U set is only in white and the Premium set is only in black. Here’s what the boxes will look.
So which set are you going to pick? It all depends on what you want and what you can afford. The Wii U Premium set does come with not only some extra accessories but a copy of Nintendo Land and something Nintendo are calling ‘Nintendo Network Premium’. This initiative gives you 10% credit back on every item you buy off the systems eShop (Nintendo’s Digital Game Store) to use in the future. However this offer is only available with the Premium set and for a limited time.
What’s in each set?
- Wii U Console (Black) x1
- Internal flash memory 32GB
- Nintendo Land Game
- Wii U GamePad (Black) x1
- Wii U GamePad stylus (Black)
- Wii U GamePad Cradle (charges) x1
- Wii U GamePad Stand (non charging) x1
- Wii U Console Stand x1
- Wii U AC Adapter x1
- Wii U GamePad AC Adapter x1
- HDMI Cable (1.5m) x1
- Sensor bar x 1
RRP: $429.95 (find it cheaper)
- Wii U Console (White) x1
- Internal flash memory 8GB
- Wii U GamePad (White) x1
- Wii U GamePad stylus (White)
- Wii U AC Adapter x1
- Wii U GamePad AC Adapter x1
- HDMI Cable (1.5m) x 1
- No Sensor Bar is included, but there is one in the Wii U GamePad
RRP: $349.95 (find it cheaper)
As we get closer to launch expect stores to fight for pricing on both bundles. We expect that the cheaper unit will remain around $349.95 mostly with the premium bundle being bundled with more titles or accessories.
[box_light]If you’d like to learn even more about how the Wii U was created then check out this Iwata Asks feature from Nintendo. In these interviews Satoru Iwata sits down with the development team who created the Wii U and interviews them about how they made it. It’s a real interesting read. [/box_light]
The Wii U GamePad
So we’ll get to all the graphical things soon, but first we have to focus on that controller, The Wii U GamePad. Nintendo’s gone all out with this thing, not only does it have a touch screen in it there is also a full compliment of traditional and modern controller options built in. On the traditional side there’s dual analog sticks that have a click button as well, the usual Nintendo D-Pad, ABXY button, start and select. There’s also shoulder buttons and (digital) triggers.
On the new side of things there’s a HOME button much like on the Nintendo 3DS, there’s the power button and something Nintendo are calling the TV button. This button will allow you to play the Wii U without the use of a active TV or to control the TV with a ‘Universal Remote’. You’ll be able to change channels, volume and see what’s on without even turning on the Wii U. This isn’t to be confused with Nintendo TVii (see below).
Outside of buttons there’s motion sensors in the unit, accelerometers, gyroscopes, and magnetometers. That means you can expect the same amount of motion range as Wii Motion Plus controller. There’s also a microphone and headphone socket built into it for headsets and a front facing camera. This camera can be used video calls and gameplay. On top of that there’s also an infrared port and if that wasn’t enough there’s a NFC contact pad on the front. This pad will allow toys, products or anything with a NFC chip to connect to the Wii U. So far there’s nothing announced to support it but there could be in the future.
[box_light]If you’d like to learn even more about how the Wii U GamePad was created then check out this Iwata Asks feature from Nintendo. In these interviews Satoru Iwata sits down with the development team who created the Wii U GamePad and interviews them about how they made it. It’s a real interesting read. [/box_light]
The Wii U console
There’s only been one console in history before whose controller got more attention than the console box itself. That console was the original Wii and the Wii U here is no different. The Wii U GamePad is rightfully the star of the show.
The Wii console box itself never got much attention itself for another reason too. While it’s small stature and straight lean design looked great it also meant the Wii was a weakling in the power department. The Wii U however stands somewhere between ‘as powerful’ or ‘more powerful’ than the current generation consoles but honestly no one knows for sure, all we know that is the system can run what the others can run and in Full HD.
Nintendo games too will be in HD for the first time ever, that’s exciting right there. For all the technical limitations of the Wii the system did have some good looking games and to see Nintendo get their HD shoes on and jump on the dance floor is something exciting.
Only limited specs have been released by Nintendo, don’t worry they always do this just like Apple do to avoid a numbers game. What we do though is that the Wii U has 2GB of ram, one for the operating system and one for the games themselves. That’s a huge boost over current generation consoles. If you’re wanting gigahertz, fill rates, RAM speed and all sort of complicated specs you won’t find them here.
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The Wii U box itself isn’t that much different from the Wii, it’s small, it’s rectangle (slightly longer though) and has many of the same ports on the back. There’s that new addition of the HDMI cable which will pump the HD visuals to the TV but everything else on the back is the same as the Wii. There’s four USB ports this time though, two on the front which can be used for not only accessories but also to extend the either 8GB or 32GB space that comes with the basic and premium sets. You can plug in any USB flash drive or hard drive to boost the memory of the Wii U. There’s also a SD card slot for further memory expansion goodness.
The only other new thing is the new disk drive that takes Nintendo’s new 25GB discs. It’s likely that this is Blu-Ray technology but don’t expect the Wii U to play DVD’s or Bluray discs any time soon as Nintendo has said it’s not on the cards.
There’s no Ethernet port on the Wii U either, so you’ll need wireless to connect to the internet or to use a USB Ethernet adapter.
This optional controller is for those out there who just want to play some games and not worry about that big old touch screen. Well that’s entirely possible on the games that support it anyway (which should be the majority).
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This one is fully wireless and has a rechargeable battery. You won’t need to tether this to another controller like the Wii Classic Controller before it. Pricing for this controller hasn’t been announced as of yet.
Wii Controller and Software Support
The Wii U is fully backwards compatible with almost every Wii accessory. The Wii Remote, Wii Remote Plus, Nunchuck, Wii Classic Controller and Wii Fit Balance board will all work with the system.
Don’t have a Wii or any of it’s controllers lying around? Never fear as Nintendo will continue to release the controllers for a while yet. You’ll be able buy a bundle with a controller, Nunchuck and a sensor bar too if you haven’t got one of them.
The Wii U will also run the vast majority of Wii titles, Nintendo’s not guaranteeing them all but there’s no conclusive list as of yet.
The Wii U has one of the best looking launch lineups for a console for a long time, but rather then dwell on it here in a FAQ we’ve made another separate guide for the games that are coming out on launch or soon after. You can find it by clicking this big image below.
That is Miiverse, it’s more than just a menu. Miiverse is Nintendo’s social network built into the Wii U. It’s also more than what you see above as well, that’s just the WaraWara Plaza where all your friends and family’s Mii can congregate. Those icons? They’ll be games you’re playing and others are playing and people will group around them.
Miiverse is the first thing you see when you boot up the Wii U and is available in all Wii U games without the developers having to do anything. Naturally, developers can make use of some of the more advanced features in Miiverse if they spend the time.
Miiverse features Nintendo’s version of Twitter of a Facebook wall. You can post about your problems you’re having in a game, share a screenshot of it as well and ‘reshare’ other peoples posts as well. All of your friends can contribute to a reply chain, just like Facebook.
As well as text and screenshots, you can also share drawings and text which can be marked as ‘spoilers’. You can leave messages in game as well, for example in New Super Mario Bros. U if you die a few times on a level you can receive tips from other players and then leave your own. If you get a silver medal in a game and want a gold you can leave a request for someone to help you out, maybe they’ll give you the information you need? They don’t have to be your friends either.
If you’re not yet friends with someone, it’s easy to add someone to your friend list as well. There’s no swapping friend codes, you just simply hit ‘Add Friend’ and when they accept you back, you’re friends. You don’t have to friend everyone though, some people you can just follow if you want to keep your friend list as clean as possible.
Here’s a video from Nintendo America explaining, with video, how Miiverse and the WaraWara Plaza will work.
Friend Codes, Online and User Accounts
First up when you boot up your Wii U you’ll have to create a user account, this is just a local account on the system. You can have up to 12 of these on any one system as well. Save games, game settings, browser history, bookmarks and your activity log are all tied to the user.
If you want to use Miiverse, Nintendo eShop and Wii U Chat you’ll need to create a Nintendo Network ID. To do this you’ll need to supply your email address and password, your birthday, your gender and where you’re from. How purchases are tied to accounts remains to be seen but you can share eShop purchases with other users on the Wii U console.
Adding friends is really simple now too, you can just bring up someones profile on the Miiverse and ask to add them to you friends list. If you like them but don’t really want to be friends you can just follow them just like on Twitter. You can have 100 friends and follow 1000 people. No trading of Friend Codes, just tap and bam you’re friends. You’ll need to enter your friends Nintendo Network ID to add them as a friend. They’ll have to accept you of course.
The Nintendo Network ID can also be used on other Nintendo game systems (when updated), smartphones and through your computer. These features might not be available at launch. You’ll also be able to use your Nintendo Network ID with third party network services such as EA’s Origin and Ubisoft’s U-Play.
Good news on this one, the Wii U will have a fully stocked eShop at launch, there’s going to be a range of brand new downloadable content including games such as;
- Nano Assult Neo (Shin’en)
- Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien (Gaijin)
- Toki Tori 2 (Two Tribes)
- Trine 2: Directors Cut (Frozenbyte)
Soon after launch games like Cloudberry Kingdom, Mighty Switch Force HD, Puddle and more will be coming soon after.
It’s expected that all previous WiiWare and Wii Virtual Console titles will be available on the Wii U eShop at some point considering you’ll be able to transfer your items from your Wii.
Nintendo’s had web browsers available on their last few consoles. The Wii U of course is no exception, this time around though Nintendo is taking the web seriously with not only a fully featured web browser but one that also takes advantage of the Wii U GamePad.
You’ll be able to use the browser solely on the GamePad, on the TV and as well push video to the TV and continue to browse on the Wii U GamePad.
The browser of course works in game and you can pull it up anytime to hop onto a website. If you are playing a game and you go to search something, the browser will automatically fill in the game title in for you.
The browser is built on NetFront technology and supports all modern web standards including HTML5. That means it’ll play most kinds of internet videos. It does not support Adobe Flash.
Nintendo’s made a three and half minute trailer showing off the browsers features. It’s in Japanese but you should be able to follow it.
Included in the Wii U is the ability to chat to friends and family via the Wii U Chat application. You can only chat to your registered friends and you’ll need to update the console before you can use Wii U Chat.
Wii U chat is of course free and can be used independently of the TV.
See the below video with Nintendo President Satoru Iwata and Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime having a chat and using the drawing features of the program.
Wii to Wii U Transfers.
It’s one of the most asked questions about the Wii U: how do I bring my Wii purchases and data to the Wii U?
Well, thanks to the US media getting their Wii U consoles and them reading the manual included, we now know how. It’s pretty simple and only takes a few steps though and if you’ve ever transferred from a 3DS to another 3DS, you’ll know the drill.
Here’s how it goes;
- Make sure you have a SD card in your Wii U
- Run the Wii System Transfer Application (on the Wii U)
- The program will do its magic then ask for you to put the SD card in the Wii
- The Wii will then need a transfer program downloaded from the Wii Shopping Channel (not available yet)
- The data on your Wii will be moved to the SD card.
- Then once your put the SD card back into Wii U, it’ll erase the card after.
You’ll be left with a Wii U full of your WiiWare and Virtual Console purchases, your Wii retail save games, downloaded content (like Guitar Hero songs), Wii Shop Points and your activity log. Your Mii’s will also be transferred.
There’s still many questions to be answered thanks to this new information. Will transfers be locked to the new account or hardware? Can you transfer from more than one Wii?
You get the idea. Unfortunately there’s no way to know until Nintendo enable these transfer and all these options can be tested. Our advice, hold onto your Wii and wait until we have more information.
Don’t get your hopes Australia, this is one feature that’s soley for the North America market, Nintendo of America is even spearheading it’s development. But here’s what you’re missing out on;
Nintendo TVii is designed to help you watch TV, movies and sports. It’ll do that via hooking into Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Instand Video streaming options. All of which naturally aren’t available here of course. But if goes one further as the Wii U GamePad can be used to control not only the TV but also your TiVo DVR.
Say you want to watch a certain show, you can search for that show in the guide and then see your options for watching it. Maybe it’s on Netflix, maybe only Amazon have it. Then again it might just be on regular old TV and you can setup your Wii U GamePad to point to it. You’ll also be able look up IMDB information on movies and TV shows, see trailers for movies and even share what you’re watching with Twitter. It’s very very un-Nintendo like isn’t it?
Nintendo TVii will come out with the Wii on launch but only in North America, perhaps we might still get the TV guide or TV remote functions.
Media abilities, Blu-Ray and DVD?
Apart from the Nintendo TVii features and accosiacted services the Wii U so far has been revealed to have little in the way of multimedia functions. Despite it having 25GB disks which may be based on Bluray technology the Wii U will not play Bluray movies nor DVD (and CDs for that matter). If you want a multimedia hub the Wii U is not for you.
The Wii U is region locked and should follow the same pattern as the Wii and 3DS. A Japanese, America and PAL region which consists of Europe and Australia. Region locking sucks, it has since it was implemented and since these days there is no ‘PAL’ or ‘NTSC’ its original reason for existing is no longer.
Questions and Answers?
We’ll fill up this section with any questions you may have. Ask away in the comments.