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Console Review: Wii U (Deluxe Version)

December 21, 2012

If you asked me last year if I was wanted to buy the new Nintendo Console, I’d probably tell you that I was going to hold off for a little while. Heck, a few months ago I’d probably tell you the same thing. After all, the Nintendo Wii, while having quite a few games I loved, didn’t bring as many memories as the Gamecube, the Nintendo 64, and the Super Nintendo (which was the first gaming console I owned as a kid). Not to mention that it’s a little bit tougher to afford new consoles as they start to get more expensive. I barely was able to afford the Nintendo Wii six years ago, and that was only $250. It’s getting tougher and tougher to afford getting a new console when it first comes out. I don’t want to even think about how expensive the next Xbox and Playstation consoles will be.

But something changed a few months ago (besides finding a way to afford the damn console). They began to really show off how this console played. Some of the games I thought didn’t look interesting looked a little better. The features seemed neat as well. Sure, Nintendo wasn’t passing the 360 and Playstation 3 significantly in power, but did we ever expect that to happen? Let’s be honest, Sony and Microsoft were always going to beat Nintendo on that front, especially Sony. Nintendo hasn’t tried to put up a fight in the best graphics since they faced off with Sega. It’s a fight they aren’t going to win, and let’s be honest, anyone critiquing Nintendo for not trying to beat Sony and Microsoft in graphic power were never going to buy the new Nintendo System even if the Wii U matched the next Xbox and Playstation in graphics power. Nintendo just needed to get an HD console that could get up to 1080p for games now that the general public (for the most part) has HD TVs. At this point, you ought to expect Xbox and Playstation to go for the people who want the top of the line gaming experience. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t expect nice looking games from Nintendo though, or throw away your critiques either.

Nintendo delivered a great console though. And they threw in an HDMI cable, which allows me to play the games in the highest resolution my tv can provide. That’s something I know my Xbox 360 didn’t have in box, and I don’t believe Playstation did either. While it’s true that Nintendo has only just caught up to Sony’s graphical power, it’s good enough for the next 6 years. Give it a few years and the games on this system will look even nicer. It may not match the best of the best of the next Xbox and Playstation, but it will be good enough to keep up with the most current games.

Now the other big feature of the console is the Nintendo Gamepad, which is essentially a controller with a touch screen, or even a tablet controller if considering the features it has. I’m in love with this controller, as it feels great to hold and is a blast to use. It’s a lot lighter than it looks, and it feels great to grip. Not to mention it has the ability to sync up with both your television and cable box easily and without having to use codes like with all my other tv remotes. I can’t tell you how happy I am by this, considering for YEARS now I’ve been dealing with this issue any time I wanted to sync up a controller with a TV. Also, anything playing on the gamepad screen looks to me like it’s showing the same graphical power as the TV. The controller is wonderful, and I can’t stop prasing it.

Now, let’s talk about features of the system, both the good and the bad. I’ll cover everything I experienced MINUS Nintendo Land, which will be covered in a separate review.

Setting up your system: This system is extremely easy to set up for. You will need to sync up the controller and the system the first time you use it. However, once you do so, you’ll be able to turn the system on using the controller every time you want to use it, and you won’t need to worry about doing it again. Then you just need to quickly run through the usual language settings, internet connection, ect. You then either have to make a Mii for your profile, or import your Mii from the 3DS. You’ll also get a chance to use the controller to sync up to your TV to use as a remote, although you don’t have to do it right away if you don’t want to. An update will be required for the system (which will talk about in a moment), but you can pass on updating right away if you wish. And that’s it. Minus the update, it shouldn’t take long to set up the system at all.

Using your Wii Gamepad as a TV Remote: This is very simple to do, and shouldn’t take more than a minute or two. If you don’t do this when you set up your system (or want to also sync with your cable/satellite box), all you need to do is go to system settings and locate the tv remote feature. From there, it will ask whether you just want to control the tv or both the cable/satellite box and TV. Select the first letter of the manufacturer of either your cable/satellite box or your tv, find the brand, and then test to see if it reacts to your controller’s signals by using the input and volume test buttons. Pay close attention to both the tv and especially the cable/satellite box when setting this up for a reaction. It will save you a lot of time, as usually the first signal test gets it right. After that, you should be good to go and can regularly use this as a remote control, which can be activated by using the TV button located right next to the power button, as well as using the Nintendo TVii feature (we’ll get to that in a bit.) NOTE: The TV Remote feature without using Nintendo TVii only covers channel changing, adjusting volume, turning on the TV/changing inputs, and accessing the tv’s guide. Additional Menus and DVR functions aren’t available at this time. It’s a very basic remote set up. Still, it is pretty useful and I’m already getting used to using it as a remote instead of my using my standard remote control.

Mii Maker: As stated above, you can create a Mii or import one from your 3DS (as well as old Miis from your Nintendo Wii Console). Making a Mii is pretty similar to both the Wii and 3DS, although you can use the controller’s built in camera to make a Mii as well. I did not do that though, but I have seen others use this feature, although I wouldn’t say the Mii made using the camera is entirely accurate, if you catch my drift.

System Settings: You’ll be able to easily adjust options from your TV, to internet connection, testing your Wiimotes and Gamepad, ect. The reason I’m bringing this section up is because this area has the control options for the Auto-Power down feature, which shuts off your Wii U after not being used for an hour (unless an update is being performed). For those of you who regularly leave the room and may leave the system on for a little while to take care of something, eat dinner, ect so you can quickly get back to what you were playing, I suggest you disable the Auto-power down set up immediately.

The Slow OS issue: Yes, unfortunately at the time of writing this, the OS can be a little slow (although if your patient, it doesn’t feel like forever, although this is unacceptable for video game consoles in this day and age.) However, an update will be available by the end of the month to fix this. I will update this part when that update comes out.

Update speeds, the dreaded console brick situation, and downloading things: Let’s get somethings out of the way. First off, downloading the day 1 update, while it takes a good half hour/45 minutes tops, didn’t feel as long as I thought it would be. It actually updated very quickly (although it was a bit misleading that once everything is downloaded, a second progress bar appears as the system updates itself with the downloaded information, instead of everything being done once all info is downloaded.) So, for those worried about bricking your console, as long as you don’t shut off your system (and hopefully don’t have a blackout/your internet connection drops) you should be fine. The update doesn’t take too long, and even then, I believe the upcoming update also deals with this issue. If your console does brick, Nintendo will fix it for free. You can also let your updates download while using your console, similar to how when downloading games from the eShop. You can check the status of your downloads in your Download Management by pressing the Home Button. NOTE: Any Online Features can’t be used without downloading the required update.

Setting up your Nintendo Network account: This doesn’t take long at all, and is FREE. You’ll need this if you plan on using the eShop, Miiverse, as well as many other features on the system, including playing online games. Just connect your Mii with your Nintendo Network account (Keep the name clean.), make up a password, and give some basic info (birthday, gender, state/country, time zone, e-mail address that you’ll need to confirm through an e-mail sent to you) and you’ll be good to go!

System Memory: I highly suggest getting the Deluxe Version if you don’t want to buy a Hard Drive for additional memory. Although if you’re buying retail games through eShop, you may have to end up doing this anyway. As someone who is going to end up buying physical copies of games until they eventually get phased out in the future, I don’t foresee having space issues with the 32 GB storage, even with the update taking up about 5 GB. Get the Deluxe Console, it is worth the extra $50 alone just for 4 times the memory.

Netflix: I do not have a Netflix account, therefore I was unable to use this feature. However, I have heard good things about the service on Wii U, and that you can watch videos on both the tv and the gamepad.

Youtube: The Youtube Channel/Program on here is TERRIBLE. It’s a pain in the neck to find and watch videos, not to mention you can’t watch them using the gamepad. The Internet Browser feature is a better alternative (and will be covered below.) Delete it and make space on your system for more important things.

Amazon Instant Video: While I don’t have an account, a family member of mine does and we tried it out with it. It seems to have everything you would expect from using it with your other devices, and can play from both the TV and your Gamepad. If you have Amazon Instant Video, I can recommend the Wii U version to use.

Hulu Plus: I don’t have a Hulu Plus account, therefore I did not use the Wii U version.

Daily Log: Similar to the 3DS, it records your playtime and shows you how long you used each feature. It does lack some things the 3DS version had though, such as ranking how long you played each game/used each program, which one you used the most, ect. It’s very simplistic.

Wii U Chat: As I don’t know anyone in real life who has a Wii U, I have not used the Wii U Chat feature.

Wii Mode: Wii Mode is essentially a emulated Wii System/Menu. You’ll be able to use your Wii Motion Plus Remote (not your regular Wiimote, and that goes for games also. Kind of disappointed about that) to do most of what you did on your Wii. Some Wii Channels, like the Nintendo Channel, Everybody Plays, ect, can’t be used on Wii Mode. Virtual Console, Wii Ware Games, Wii Shop Channel, ect can. Please Note that Gamecube Controllers can’t be used, since the system doesn’t have a slot to plug in your controllers. Also, you can’t use your Wii Gamepad in this mode.

Wii Data Transfer: It’s a bit odd to do, but not as frustrating as it sounds. Make sure you download the Wii U Transfer Channel onto your Nintendo Wii, as well as download the Wii Transfer Channel on your Wii U (It will look like it’s already on your system, but you don’t actually have it). Move all your Wii Data onto the system and off the SD Card that came with the Wii System. Take the SD card and put it in your Wii U and go to the Wii Tranfer Channel and follow the instructions. When told to, take out the SD card and go to your Nintendo Wii (you can shut off your Wii U, it will continue where you left off) and put the SD card into it. Go to the channel and the system will begin to transfer your data onto the SD card (while showing an awesome sequence of Pikmin moving your data.) It took me 5 minutes tops for this part (although I don’t have a lot of downloaded games on my Nintendo Wii). Note that any channels that don’t work with the Wii U won’t transfer over. Then you take out the SD card, put it into your Wii U and the data will be transferred into the system. This part took a little longer, aprox 15 minutes (but again, I have less games to transfer over than others). After that, you should be good to go. It really isn’t that bad to set up, it just may be a little bit of a wait depending on how many games you have. Please note that anything you transfer over can’t be accessed on your old Nintendo Wii again, and your old Nintendo Wii data will override the Wii Mode data previously stored. That means you shouldn’t be downloading games through Wii Mode on the Wii U BEFORE you transfer your data over from the Wii. Also, please note that your virtual console games and WiiWare games can’t be used in Wii U mode and with the gamepad. This is very disappointing, as I’d like to be able to play those games without switching into that mode, as well as use them with the gamepad.

Nintendo eShop: The Menu looks very nice, although I feel it isn’t as organized as the Wii Shop Channel, or even the Nintendo 3DS’s eShop. Still, it gets the job done. You can download eShop exclusive titles and retail games here. Virtual Consoles games are not available at this time.

Internet Browser: This is Nintendo’s best version of an Internet Browser they’ve made to date. It’s very fast, and able to be used on both the TV and the Gamepad. You can play youtube videos here (which is preferable instead of using the horrible Youtube Program) and watch it on both the TV and the gamepad. NOTE: The only thing you are limited on is any flash programs online. The browser isn’t compatible with Flash. So please be aware if you trying using other video players online.

Friends List: The Friend Codes have been eliminated! You can either search for a friend (but must have both sides search for each other before you can add them to your friends list) or send a request through Miiverse. Please note: if you want people to send you friend requests, you must allow it in the settings option.

Miiverse: It’s a special social network for the Nintendo Wii U. It can be used to discuss games, ask for help, or draw things and make people who can’t draw (like myself) feel bad. Because I haven’t played any games outside of Nintendo Land at this time, I haven’t used this feature to the fullest. It is moderated by Nintendo though, which from what I’ve heard from others has made this social network very useful and slightly more intelligent than other social networks. So good work Nintendo!

Nintendo TVii: This was just added today, so you won’t have to click the icon for it and see a “Coming in December” screen on your gamepad. This will unite your cable/satellite guide, Amazon Video, Hulu Plus, Netflix, ect into one hub so you can watch shows, movies, sports, ect very easily. It has a remote feature that allows you to quickly access your favorite channels, as well as use DVR functions (although they aren’t working at this time, I believe they are coming next month, along with the ability to get Netflix set up). Note that you’ll need to switch your TV input to your cable box, as when you select the show on your gamepad, it only switches the channel on the box, and you’ll just see Nintendo TVii on your screen. The gamepad doesn’t show video, just an interactive area for social network discussion and other info (which is apparently limited to certain shows and movies…) It’s an ok feature (I’m looking forward to DVR Control so I can use my Wii U gamepad, for the most part, anytime I use the tv) but I feel that making you switch back to your TV Input to watch shows makes it pointless to use unless you want to use the social network feature with others.

Final Verdict: The price may be a little steep, but if you can afford it, I highly recommend you buy the Nintendo Wii U. Time will tell if it keeps up with having great first party and third party games at a steady rate, but so far both the game titles and features the system has make it well worth the purchase. I suggest you go after the Deluxe Version for extra memory and Nintendo Land, unless you’re planning on getting/own a Hard Drive for extra memory for the system. Bottom Line, I feel this system was well worth the money, and highly recommend it. Let’s just hope we have a steady flow of games for the system, and I think the Wii U will be up there as one of the great Nintendo systems.

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